I am only approached by men who are much older than me. I approach men my age, and it doesn't go so well. How do I stop this?
posted by koucha to Human Relations (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I am 30, female, and have never dated. I would like to, and though I am somewhat shy, I make myself approach and speak to men, because I know that if I don’t, I will only have myself to blame, and I will never get better at it. My problem is that men that I perceive to be my age are consistently uninterested in me, and the men who do show an interest in me consistently look much older than me – 12 years or older, which I feel is too old for me. Do they walk around with their IDs in hand? No, but they frequently are gray-haired/bearded and/or resemble my father in appearance. This has been happening to me since I graduated from high school with no changes, and I don’t know why it keeps happening or how to attract attention from men who are my age.
Acquaintances and people who do not know me well who are invited to guess my age always guess correctly, or within one or two years of my correct age. I do not dress in a way that invites ogling, and in particular I avoid close that show off my chest too much. Friends and coworkers regularly comment on my fashion sense. I am careful to attend age-appropriate events and will leave if a bar gives off an “old man” vibe. I think that I am attractive, cute, and have a lot to offer the right guy. I don’t think my self-esteem is bad, nor do I think I give off vibes that would draw certain men to me. I am not always, or even often, “on the prowl”.
Some examples of what I mean:
1. I meet a man (early to mid-60s) while between jobs and networking who offers to mentor me. His wife (decades-long marriage, struggling with cancer) is publishing a book and I am interested in entering that field, so for a few months he periodically emails me with jobs he views or ideas of people I ought to communicate with. One day, completely out of the blue, he ends one of his emails with “If you don’t mind me saying so, if I was only a little younger I’d love to take you out for a good time. I know you’ll meet a nice man soon,” etc. To this day I wrack my brain trying to figure out what it was that led him to say this to me. I’m sure that I would not have mentioned anything about dating or relationships to him as it would be wholly inappropriate and outside scope of our relationship. I reply that his statement made me uncomfortable and that his wife surely could use all of his affection during this difficult time. He apologizes and declares that he will never email me again, and he hasn’t.
2. I was alone at a concert. There were a lot of attractive, age-appropriate men at the show. I attempted to chat with a guy who appeared to be alone, but when I spoke to him (about the weather, being purposefully mundane) he stared right at me, turned around 180 degrees, and marched off in the opposite direction. Then, temperature dropped considerably that night, so instead of waiting outside for my ride, I ducked into a restaurant next door (yes, I did make a purchase). An old man who did not work at the restaurant (I checked) came right up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and said “sweetheart, are you ok? It’s really cold out there.” I thanked him for his concern and said I was fine, moving to another part of the restaurant. He nevertheless followed me and asked if I needed a ride. I declined again and went outside to wait in the cold.
There are many more examples, but I'm trying to keep this short.
It started out as being rather funny and absurd, but the older I get, the more depressing it is. I have committed to Yahoo’s dating arm and then OkCupid each for a year, but quit both in frustration when the men that I messaged either did not respond or responded with chilling politeness (addressing me as ma’am despite their being the same age as me, answering any question that I might have posed with a minimum of words), and the men who did message me were – surprise! – in their 50s, despite my having clearly stated the age range that I was ok with.
I realize that I can’t make anyone do anything, but if there is anything that I can do to understand why this is happening and to stop getting attention like this from older men, I want to do it. Google has been unhelpful, as other sites either advise that I stop doing things that I'm already not doing (hanging out in old man bars, wearing suggestive clothing, chatting with older men, even innocuously) or to accept and flirt with these men and see where it takes me, which I'm not comfortable with.