How to develop attraction to post-menopausal women?
March 9, 2023 7:42 AM   Subscribe

I’m a 40yr old guy who has never had much dating or relationship experience. Lately I’ve been getting more matches on online dating with women over 45. When meeting up I rarely feel physically attracted to them. How can I change this? Will it change? How can I get my attraction to synchronise with my aging body and dating peers?

This isn’t an issue of values - it’s an issue with attraction. I’m not proud of how I’m feeling but I am struggling to find any physical/sexual feelings of attraction to most women who look like they’re well into menopause. Many women in their early 30s feel viscerally attractive to me but by age 40 feelings of attraction are quite rare for me - and by about 45 I’m struggling to find it at all. In fact (again I am NOT proud of this) - I’m often feeling subtle disgust when I try to perceive them in a sexual way while trying to figure out if I’m attracted on date one or two. I think part of me is seeing grey hair, wrinkles, middle-aged body shape, slight jowls, the way flesh hangs on older hands, and just saying “Eww - old lady!” But instead of it being a thought it’s a feeling (or a lack of feeling).

When I was younger my range of partner-attraction would gradually keep pace with my own aging but I feel like my body has hit a wall around the menopause.

Is there something I can do about this? I’ve tried looking at mature porn which doesn’t really interest me and hasn’t translated to real life attraction. I’m continuing to try dating but so far it’s just reinforcing this blocked feeling with anyone who looks properly 40+. How can I get myself in synch with reality?!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

First off, the majority of women in their 40's are not post menopausal. Most of us that age aren't even perimenopausal. So I wanted to set that straight.

Second, the way you get over your mental block (because it is mental) is you get to know these women as individuals. When I met my husband, there were many things I never considered attractive that I do now. I don't think there's any magic hack to this.
posted by jraz at 7:51 AM on March 9 [141 favorites]

Have you talked to a sex therapist about this? I think you might find it very helpful and illuminating, even if it’s only a few sessions.
posted by Bottlecap at 7:52 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]

I had similar thoughts when I was meeting men online. My target age was 50s+ because men my age by and large weren't interested in meeting me (cis woman, early 40s, quite attractive for my age I've been told). I had a hard time adjusting to the being attracted to older bodies and faces because when I met my ex husband we were were hot late 20s, so being back into dating in my 40s was a very different experience. I felt like my mind had not aged and was not used to confronting my own physical state. I found that if I spent time with someone I thought was interesting, I later did become physically attracted to them. It took a while but I realized that my attraction to men was really so much deeper than first appearances and needed to be nurtured. And I tell you, it was worth the effort! The attraction I feel toward my now husband of ten years took quite some time but I am so into him. He's 70 and I am late 50s. It's weird, but it's real and powerful. Give yourself time to nurture a real relationship of psychological attraction to someone you are curious about and want to spend time with and the physical attraction will follow.
posted by waving at 7:53 AM on March 9 [25 favorites]

if you're looking at purely physical attraction on first encounter, many people feel as you do about partners in that age range.

you can try to train yourself to find these aspects of middle-aged bodies immediately attractive, but that'll be a lot of work and probably won't succeed, and as far as i can tell most people don't bother.

instead, they start out by paying attention to other things that attract them in other ways - emotionally, intellectually, perhaps physically in a not-immediately-sexual way - and build the initial relationship on that foundation. when you've developed that kind of attraction to someone (which needn't take very long at all), sex with them appeals much more than it might have done on first meeting (sex being an emotional encounter as well as a physical one).

and over a slightly longer time, when you're attracted to all these other aspects of someone you're sleeping with, you develop a purely sexual attraction to them (in addition to all the other ways in which you're attracted to them), because you're attracted to the idea of sex with them as a person, not as a body.

(also, side note: talking to a sex therapist would be a good idea generally, but especially so if you think that your prior lack of dating and relationship experience has left you feeling like you missed out on having relationships with the kind (age) of women that you do find immediately attractive, and resenting the fact that you're now expected to date outside that age range.)
posted by inire at 8:04 AM on March 9 [8 favorites]

I am a jowly grey lady and I take absolutely no offense to your post. You are in sync with women your age: 40-year-old women are typically still pre-menopausal. That may even be a more acute attraction for you if you don't already have children. That's 100% a guess so take it as such, but when I was on the apps, men your age were still raising kids/open to more, whereas men my age wanted empty nesters.

FWIW I don't find men in my age group particularly attractive either, or even interesting in general, but it's a different story for one specific man who's a decade older than me and has all the issues that go along with living that long. It's in the eye of the beholder, right?

Try to look for a person instead of a category. If you don't have much dating/relationship experience, you may be so focused more on what you should want based on what you've read about it that you don't really know what you do want.
posted by headnsouth at 8:08 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]

On a hunch: stop spending time looking at women for arousal/enjoyment if they are any more than 5 yrs younger than you. Yes this includes porn but also stuff like lingering over celebrity photos or Instagram models etc. In general consume less TV and movies, that shit messes with your head on a deep level, especially when compounded over a lifetime. If you allow your beauty standards to be set by capital interests, you're setting yourself up for disappointment in reality.

You know that bit about how 'ugly' people on TV are actually also generally decently attractive? It's real, as is the fact that women over 40 are highly underrepresented in media, and when they are, they almost never are presented as attractive or desirable. Also if you spend less time consuming TV, you may end up becoming more attractive to more women, broadening your dating pool.

Finally, 'mature porn' is typically gross. Not bc women over 40 are gross, but bc it's often wrapped up in context of degradation and shame. There are places to find sexy erotic content featuring women over 40 in a sex-positive and non-misogynistic framing, but you won't find it by searching 'mature' on pornhub. So don't let that set your expectations either!
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:12 AM on March 9 [37 favorites]

As others have noted: you don't seem to actually understand how women your age are aging. You're not talking about post-menopausal women. That makes me wonder - do you have women your own age in your life in a non romantic capacity? Do you have siblings, friends, colleagues who are women whose lives you are familiar with, interested in, and empathetic about? If not, honestly, you may have a bigger project ahead of you of just "experiencing women your own age as full, interesting humans with value to your life beyond whether you want to sleep with them." Getting there might also help you break down whatever barrier you've run into about physical attraction.

It might also be that you just need to decide up front that you're past a point in your life where you're going to make your decisions based on first-date chemistry, and you're going to give anyone who seems nice and interesting a second or third date and see how things develop. That would be an easy enough experiment to try out.
posted by Stacey at 8:21 AM on March 9 [42 favorites]

Don't underestimate how much hotter people become once you get to know the true beauty of their personalities. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's really true. The two hottest people I know have grey hair and wrinkles - they look wonderful, and to me the grey hair adds to their distinction and the wrinkles are a marker of a life spent smiling and laughing.
posted by unicorn chaser at 8:32 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]

I question the entire premise: people don't start looking like 'old people' until well after 40 years old. I'd go so far as the average person could not pick a person's age within 3 years between 35-55 year olds, when comparing the same people who get the same amount of physical activity.

You need some therapy.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:36 AM on March 9 [65 favorites]

Do you think you're looking for a relationship or are you looking for someone to have sex with?

If you're primarily looking for immediate hot sex - eh, you do you. I'd be very impressed if someone could articulate how to create the precise sense of immediate attraction you would find satisfying based on your question.

To the points made above, if you want a relationship, try looking for a relationship. Find out if you *like* the person. Even people younger than 40 still do the "old fashioned" thing of getting to know someone before dating/sleeping with them. And even in super physical romantic relationships, people spend a lot of "regular" time together, so using sexual attraction as a proxy for general compatibility is not necessarily a useful path. Once you discover you like a person, if you still don't find them attractive, then yeah, maybe they're not the romantic partner for you. But it seems unlikely you're going to know what works for you by playing a high stakes version of hot-or-not on the first date.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 8:49 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]

When meeting up I rarely feel physically attracted to them. How can I change this? Will it change?

Being young is like wearing beer goggles all the time. As you get older the goggles start to do nothing, which means that all those physical cues your brain has been relying on for fast evaluation of who you're attracted to and who you're not just stop working for you.

Which means you're forced to fall back on personal attraction rather than physical attraction. And to the extent that you keep trying to force your brain to go the old way and look for physical cues, it's just going to keep tripping over itself and getting in your way.

So yes, it will change, but only after you stop trying to force it to.

The upside of being 40+, by the way, is that you have enough life experience to have a much faster read on personal compatibility than you will have done when younger, and once you learn to drop the OMG Hot filter and start applying the Are We Just Irritating The Tripe Out Of Each Other Right Now filter instead, you'll likely find that it actually works quite well.

You'll learn nothing from porn that's in any way useful for meeting people.
posted by flabdablet at 8:51 AM on March 9 [9 favorites]

Yeah, this is one where I guess I question the premise. Do you...know what 45-year-olds look like?? Obviously there's a range, but there are many, many, many women in their mid-40s who are smoking hot, and the specific things you're describing -- old people hands, gray hair, loads of wrinkles -- aren't things I really notice on women in their 40s (and often even 50s). If you're dating age-appropriate women, it's wild to me that they look "old" to you. I personally know so many hot 40- and 50-somethings, and I run with a pretty nerdy crowd!

(All the other advice is obviously good, re: dating people for who they are not for their initial hotness, but I do also think you should like, actually look at some 40-year-old women.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:54 AM on March 9 [33 favorites]

Hey, welcome to middle age! Guess what: a lot of women ALSO have trouble finding men who are older than them physically attractive. We all feel younger than we look -- and we're comparing our insides to others' outsides. You're gonna have to switch from being initially attracted to their body to being initially attracted to their mind.

The nice thing about this is that you have to spend a little time getting to know people to decide if they're compatible in the important ways: interests, goals, effort... which will lead to better compatibility in the long run anyway. If, along the way to figuring out if you're compatible, physical attraction doesn't start to happen, you can always nope out. But give it a little time. Don't begin your evaluation with the physical. Begin with the personality.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:02 AM on March 9 [9 favorites]

Mod note: Comment removed. The question is sensitive, but please help the person by making your answers constructive and helpful, thank you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 9:02 AM on March 9 [5 favorites]

I sympathize with this, and have occasionally struggled with it myself as I get older. I think we're collectively sold a bill of goods about youth and beauty which is *particularly* pernicious against women. There is a huge industry devoted to promoting this, from Hollywood to hair dye. Recognizing that was a big step for me. And it's not just a hetero thing, it's pretty pervasive across sexualities.

As a CIS white man, at 44 I look a bit younger than I am, and through good luck, mostly clean living, and exercise, I'm healthy with a full head of hair. Society has basically encouraged me to continue viewing younger people as viable dates, and vice versa. I've been monogamous for my entire adult life, so I haven't pursued any of this past the point of being flattered. In my immediate friend group most couples are roughly the same age (not necessarily my age, just, similarly-aged). But I've known men (always men, not always straight men) to blow up their lives "American Beauty" -style specifically because of waning attraction to an aging spouse and fetishization of youth. It usually seems from the outside like the cliche "midlife crisis" response to confronting your own aging. It's never ended well, with one glaring exception where I think it was probably better for everyone involved and the age difference really wasn't that meaningful.

Anyway, this is all a rambling way to say there's nothing wrong with you, this is all pushed on us by media and marketing, and actually spending some quality time with more women in your peer group who you're actually friends with will go a long way toward helping you find the attractiveness of people your own age. Dating in your 40s seems like a total shitshow regardless, so maybe get out of the dating and more into doing activities where there will be other people who share your interests.

And yeah, therapy might help, but I feel like the declarative that "you need some therapy" is a little harsh. People are attracted to what they're attracted to, and between consenting adults this isn't such a big deal. If you can genuinely stand dating a thirty-year old (I almost certainly couldn't), and they're also genuinely into you, that relationship is going to take some work, and might be a sign that you need to do some work on yourself. But it's not some enormous moral failure, and doesn't make you some horrible asshole.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:12 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]

I'm 50 and have female reproductive parts that are not yet menopausal or even perimenopausal, just to add to the chorus that you may have your timelines for human reproductive aging not quite right. I think a definite set of changes to your media diet really will help you with this. If you watch porn, you should stop -- like, all the way stop -- or at least look for feminist/sex positive porn that will depict women of the age you're interested in dating in attractive ways; I know Carol Queen has made some pornography that looked at aging in a positive way. You should actively follow on instagram or other socials older women who talk about fashion/beauty/sexuality/attraction. Both Michelle Pfeiffer and Paulina Porzikova have instagram accounts, if you want to start in the easy/shallow end of the pool. Advanced Style and the various women Ari Seth Cohen interviews might also be good follows (@stylecrone for example). You just need a broader set of images of older women in your brain pan (and women a lot older than 45!). I also agree with folks wondering if you're actually meeting 40-50 year old women -- many folks this age look exactly like 30 year old women and you couldn't tell.
posted by shadygrove at 9:17 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]

Good on you for interrogating this and trying to expand your attractions. I think one crux of this is your relative inexperience with intimate relationships. Those daily interactions in romantic partnerships show us that even the most conventionally attractive young people still fart, wake up with bad breath, have features that are not idealized by our society, and yet the intimacy of long term connection can create feelings of love toward those parts as well. This doesn't happen without that real-life intimate and continuous exposure because we are inundated with sexist, agist, consumerist propaganda about what is attractive.

So to me a key is just exposing yourself more to women your age and older. Like, socially. Form closer relationships with women of all ages to normalize how our bodies necessarily change with time. Make a point to foster those social spaces and build closer friend-relationships with women peers. Learn in your bones that we are people.

In terms of media exposure, I think you might do better looking to women your age or older in mainstream (not porn) media. Again, this is about just normalizing how sexy, charming, clever [whatever other qualities you are drawn to] women look as we age. If you like TV, watch shows with charismatic women in their 40s and 50s. If you like movies, do the same with movies. Honestly I feel like whatever we masturbate to in porn is fine and at least for me bears zero relationship with what kind of real-life human sexual or romantic relations I seek.
posted by latkes at 9:21 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]

Women do not instantly hit menopause at 40 any more than men instantly develop erectile dysfunction at 40. (In fact, one could argue that the latter is more likely.)

You are certainly not alone in this struggle, though. Many men are conditioned to believe that all women and only women become less sexually desirable with age. Neither is really true, of course, but if you grew up watching Mena Suvari and Scarlett Johansson fawn over Bill Murray and Kevin Spacey, it’s easy to get it distorted.

I agree that a media diet is probably in order here. Step away from any entertainment that panders to aging-dude wish-fulfillment, including porn, May-December romance stories, and whatever Leonardo DiCaprio is doing in the tabloids this week.

My least-popular advice for any guy on the dating scene is to focus on your own desirability first, because this isn’t something a lot of guys are conditioned to do, and it will absolutely affect the size of your match pool. You don’t have to pluck your unibrow or work out every day, but you certainly should if you expect your prospective partners to do those things.

Try to bear in mind, too, that age wears very differently on different people. I’ve met stunners in their 50s and college kids who looked like waterlogged corpses, and I bet you have too.

You really do have to think of people as individuals instead of demographics, though. And you have to make peace with the fact that individuals have bodies, and bodies of all ages do all sorts of things that PhotoShop and Instagram filters would shield you from.

Good luck out there.
posted by armeowda at 9:38 AM on March 9 [16 favorites]

Therapy would be a really, really good idea.

Every time your brain says, “Ew, old lady!”, pause and recognize that this is a voice, not a fact. That voice is a little kid, maybe a teenager, who was taught by an onslaught of cultural messaging about the relationship of women’s appearance to their value in the world. He was taught that women should make themselves look good for men, that women’s value is their appearance, that a woman who isn’t physically attractive is a bad choice for a partner. Those messages were often targeted at him as a boy or a man, but they flood over everyone, of every gender.

You’re the only other person who can talk directly to that kid, and so you’ve got to say, as directly as possible, “Hey, that’s bullshit.” Tell that kid that women are people, and shouldn’t be judged solely or primarily by their appearance. And I don’t mean figuratively. If you’re on the street, murmur it under your breath. If you’re watching a movie at home, say it out loud. If you’re on a date, excuse yourself from the table at the restaurant, go to the bathroom, and tell yourself in the mirror, “That thought is bullshit. This woman is a whole human being whose experiences and interests are what make her compelling. I don’t have to be attracted to her personally, but automatically judging her by juvenile, sexist standards doesn’t reflect my values.”

If some other voice sails in with some evo-psych bullshit about young women being the natural target of men’s attention, tell it to fuck off. That voice is the voice of men in research science who are so scared of sharing personhood with other human beings that they have dedicated their powerful human brains not to improving society, but to justifying their uninterrogated desires. If you can hold a poop long enough to find a bathroom, you’re capable of building the habit of regulating biological urges to such a degree that it feels natural. In fact, that the idea of dropping trou as soon as the urge arises probably feels horrifying.

You get to live your values inside your head, and your behavior communicates your values to the world. All of the advice given above assumes that you do value women as equals. (If you don’t, you shouldn’t be dating women.)

Men who don’t value women as equals often become much more obvious as they age, and refusing or finding it impossible to date women their own age is a pretty strong tell. Physical disinterest is pretty obvious, too. I watch dating shows for fun, and the feelings you describe are plain as day on men’s faces: even if you ask for second or third dates, you might not get them, because men who think old ladies are gross aren’t men old ladies want to date or sleep with.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:43 AM on March 9 [24 favorites]

Keep in mind that older people often lie about their age on dating apps. This might explain the disconnect between how you’re describing 45-year-olds vs the appearance of the average 45-year-old.
posted by Comet Bug at 9:56 AM on March 9 [12 favorites]

A lot of folks in this thread are talking about how folks in their 40s don’t look old, but that’s way more true for middle class and rich people. I look decades younger than the people I grew up with because I got out young. I don’t know if this is true for you the asker here, but you really may be in an environment where people in their 40s are wrinkled and greying and starting to have the kind of health issues associated with aging. A lot of the advice about connecting with people as individuals still stands, but your impression of reality may not be as warped as some answers suggest.
posted by congen at 10:01 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]

Also yeah, the whole menopause/reproductive cycle thing is a red herring and def makes me think you might want to spend more time with women your age.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:02 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]

I think you're a little confused about perimenopause/menopause, but whatever. It doesn't really matter what the particular physical aspect is that you're finding unattractive. Your problem is your lack of experience with the way relationships work. That's it. The entire problem. Every day, all around the world, people find themselves in sexual thrall to partners who didn't seem attractive to them at first. Many of them go on to have lasting emotionally and sexually satisfying relationships. This is normal and in fact at least as common as entering into a relationship with someone to whom you immediately felt sexual attraction, and has obvious benefits for the longevity of a relationship. Online human shopping is directly at odds with the way most relationships develop, so of course you're finding it difficult. The only solution is to find ways to get to know women as whole people.
posted by HotToddy at 10:04 AM on March 9 [13 favorites]

Yeah it's media and marketing but it's also biology and personal preference. Reese Witherspoon is 46-years-old. Rashida Jones is 47. Kerry Washington is 45. If you were on a date with these women, would you think of jowls or menopause? If so, why not change your settings in your dating app? Why not direct your energies to women your own age or younger? I think preference is a hard thing to change. It's true that knowing someone can increase attraction, but if you are repeatedly running into the same problem why not try to find someone younger. You can question your motivations and preferences if you cannot tolerate them aging along with you. If you find yourself a 30-year-old girlfriend will you be okay when she reaches 45 and beyond?
posted by loveandhappiness at 10:07 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Hmmmm...I think it might help you to remember that you are 40, so whatever you're seeing happening to them is happening to you too. We all like to think we look the same as we did when we were 25, but we don't. Recognizing your own ageing might help you recalibrate who you're attracted to.
posted by figaro at 10:07 AM on March 9 [11 favorites]

As someone who is fat has been for quite a while, and therefore, very used to people looking at me and feeling an immediate "nope," PLEASE do not date anyone hoping that at some point you will stop becoming disgusted with their body/looks.

The intentions are good, I'm sure, but I have absolutely no interest in dating someone who is actually disgusted or repulsed by me, and I imagine basically nobody else does either.

It's one thing to find someone less than ideal looks wise, or to not feel a spark, but if you're feeling disgusted, do everyone a favor and move on.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:11 AM on March 9 [29 favorites]

What do you find attractive about women? (If all you can think of are physical qualities, that would be a great place to start in therapy!)

When you’re on dates, what are *you* doing to try to to connect with those qualities in women? If you love people who are adventurous, are you asking about their most thrilling experiences? If you love humor, are you being playful in conversation, trading jokes? Do you love a sparkling genius? Someone you can be companionably quiet with? Foodies, sports fans, opera buffs? How can you up *your* skills at discussing/exploring shared values and interests?

If your brain is reaching for judgments of physical attractiveness *first*, spend time working on the conversational and dating-planning skills that would best help you connect with the kind of women you want to meet. Rock-climbing might not be the best first date idea, but if you want to meet someone adventurous, grabbing a coffee and walking through a city or a park might be a better gauge for a match than sitting in a cafe. Generic beers or well drinks or a Coke at a bar with four giant screens playing four different news or sports channels is not happy hour at a tiki bar is not cappuccino at the museum is not the best Cuban sandwich in town is not a free concert in the town square is not a picnic. So… where are you from… is not What did you want to be when you grew up when you were ten? is not Who has been most influential in shaping your career values? is not Do you have any comfort movies, books, or music that you come back to again and again?

No one is obligated to be attracted to anyone else. If looks don’t actually matter to you, then it should be easy to identify the real issue - she’s funny but hates live music, or didn’t really seem interested in current affairs, or whatever other mismatch of values and interests would preclude you building attraction and relationship. *You* can play an active role in skillfully connecting to the qualities that you actually want to be attracted to (with the bonus of demonstrating the values, interests, and thoughtfulness that can make you attractive to others).
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 10:40 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]

Do you have friends (male or female) who are about your age? Do they appear unattractively old to you? Does it differ if it's someone you've known for a while versus someone you are just meeting?

I think one way to examine your perceptions might be to take pictures of yourself with people you know who are close to you in age and get used to the idea of what that age looks like, both on you and on others. There could be all kinds of reasons why someone your age looks older to you. People in their forties do sometimes seem to age all of a sudden; there's a French term for that: "coup de vieux". And yes, that perceived aging could coincide with appearing less fertile or whatever, but I don't think that can be all of it. Maybe it's just my reaction to the wording of your question, but I get the sense that it might be useful to make sure you're comfortable with your own body and your own aging, and aproach people from a place of being very grounded in that.

But if you don't want to date people that are five years older, then don't. No one's going to tell you a 38-year-old is not age appropriate. I'm not sure that is the whole issue, but I think you are making things harder than they need to be.
posted by BibiRose at 11:42 AM on March 9 [5 favorites]

Lots of people are making some excellent points here, but I also want to point out something you might be neglecting to consider. In my everyday life, it really seems like that past three years have taken a huge toll on folks. While not universal, a lot of us gained weight during the pandemic. A lot of the stress we experienced could be manifesting in some physical aging. And, a lot more women (based on anecdotes) stopped coloring their hair.

So some of what you are associating with women over 45 might be changes that are happening with lots of people right now. And that means that you're not comparing women in their 40s to current women in their 30s, but women in their 40s to your memories of younger women when you were also younger.

And, a lot of people aren't happy with their changing bodies and might be using older photos on apps. So there might be more of a difference between how people are presenting themselves on apps and what they look like now.

Also, when you say you're attracted to women in their early 30s: is that on the apps and in media and porn, or in real life? Because people in real life, no matter their age, will never look the same in the real world as they do in highly curated environments, even something non-professional like photos they chose for a dating app.

But why not date women in their early 30s? Maybe it would be good for you to go on some dates with women a decade younger. That's not unethical. It might be helpful for you to walk down this path for a while, to see if you are connecting more than physically with people where you have an immediate attraction. I wonder if you're not getting hits from women in that age range, and that's why you're matching with older women?

When I think about the men I'm dating now (late 30s to early 50s), and what I find attractive about them, it's not typically their physical appearance, or at least that's not where it starts. It's usually a zing in our interpersonal interactions, a sense of humor, the energy between us when we spend time together. And then a physical attraction follows. That doesn't mean I don't think they look good. But a few years ago, I dated an extraordinarily attractive man, but I didn't really enjoy talking to him or hanging out with him, it turned out, so my physical attraction waned too. In my dating, I focus my attention on what I do find attractive.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:46 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]

If it makes you feel any better, I’m a woman around your age and am not typically physically attracted to men that much older than me either. But echoing those who’ve said that women around your age are not usually post-menopausal anyway.

Like others have said, if you’re looking for a relationship (and it isn’t clear if you are) you’ll be better off if you focus more on getting to know individual women as whole people and relationship partners rather than objects of sexual desire.
posted by wondermouse at 11:48 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

I think in addition to what others have noted about the majority of 45-year-old women not actually being postmenopausal, maybe you could start by letting go of the idea that "menopause" is some nasty goblin that transforms once lithe and attractive women into asexual and physically unappealing monsters. For example, I have been post-menopausal since I was 24.....and as far as I know I do not now nor did I then have jowls (slight or otherwise), middle-aged body shape, skin-hanging hands, or anything else that might subtly disgust you.

I appreciate your honesty in asking this question, so I will be just as honest in answering it: if you're only attracted to people you perceive to be younger than you, only pursue dating those people. Be prepared, though, for them to have similar notions to your own regarding dating "old" people.
posted by Dorinda at 12:31 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]

And yeah, the average age of menopause in the US is 51. So unless you're dating women in their mid 50s and olders, you're likely not dating women "well into menopause."

There's traditionally been a lot of shame around open discussions of menopause, though that does seem to be shifting a tiny bit right now, but it's certainly no surprise that you don't understand it better given that many health care professionals don't either. And many women don't know much about menopause until we start to experience the symptoms too. Here's an article that offers some helpful information for men about menopause.

“We can’t blame men for not understanding menopause. It’s surprising how many women I speak to don’t either, how many younger women are unsympathetic towards those in middle age. It’s one of those messy bits of female biology that society prefers to hide away, and especially from men,” she adds.

Indeed, that menopause is still taboo is a product, she argues, not only of ageism, but in part also of vanity: women in a lookist society often refuse to admit they’re peri-menopausal, a particularly challenging thing to accept for some, it’s argued, when their daughters are often simultaneously at the most vital stage in a human lifespan."

posted by bluedaisy at 12:32 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]

Reese Witherspoon is 46-years-old. Rashida Jones is 47. Kerry Washington is 45. If you were on a date with these women, would you think of jowls or menopause

Well, I think this is a pretty strong argument for "rich 50 is middle class 38," which a bunch of people have pointed out in other parts of this thread. I feel like it's gross to speculate in too much detail but I think it's probably safe to assume all three of these people are investing a lot in various ways to look good, and in a lot of ways our culture considers looking good to be the same as looking young.
posted by pullayup at 1:58 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]

Gorgeous 40-something and 50-something celebrities aren't really a winning point here. First of all, we are generally seeing their styled, curated, often edited images. Next, these are folks who are in a career based generally on physical appearances, so they were already exceeding cultural standards for beauty. And finally, since their job is partly to look good, they spend a lot of time and energy and money on their appearance.

Let's please not set the standard for 50 as rich women who have access to prescriptions and surgical procedures that enhance their appearance according to cultural norms of youthful beauty.

Honestly, I think the OP could be well-served by spending more time with a range of women in their 40s who aren't dating interests.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:35 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]

Honestly, I'm reading this question as you fishing for permission to date younger women. Perhaps that's unfair, but you're using some fairly dramatic language that seems like it's intended to exaggerate the severity of your challenge, and invite advice to just stop trying to date women your age. And here's the thing: you can choose to date younger women. You don't need anyone's permission to do it. But if you run in generally liberal, educated circles, you will likely face silent (or not so silent) judgment from peers, especially women. I think you want to hear that your peers will think it's okay, and we could lie and say yes, but the lie wouldn't serve you well.

If you earnestly desire to date younger women, accept that you will be judged for it. There is no cheat code out of that, just as there is no secret method to suddenly be attracted to women over 45. It sounds like you'd need to do serious work on yourself to achieve the latter. For one thing, I doubt you're at ease with your own aging. For another, you've clearly internalized a lot of toxic societal messaging about what makes women attractive. I imagine getting over this stuff will require real self-reflection, therapy, and time. And, perhaps, doing more socializing with women your age in general.

Perhaps you don't have the space or time to dedicate to this process. Perhaps you just don't want to. That's between you and your god(s). Just own your decision, whatever it is. Frankly, if I were a woman over 45, I would not WANT to date you in your current state of mind. If I knew someone was trying to force himself to feel attracted to me despite his distaste, I would cut things off right away.

I'm sorry if this is off base, or is hitting you hard at a moment of vulnerability. But as a trans person who's mostly been involved with cis people, I think about similar issues a lot, and this is my honest perspective.
posted by desert outpost at 2:37 PM on March 9 [36 favorites]

The advice “date younger” is what my friend in your situation (older than the women he was most attracted to) tried. From watching him it’s really not that easy. He’s worked hard to keep himself physically attractive, he’s amazing at striking up friendly conversations with women he finds attractive, and overall is an interesting and witty person. It has not worked out. He hasn’t had a relationship in several years. He’s so unhappy about this, and as he gets older it becomes harder and harder for him to even get a first date within his preferred age range, which is now about 5-10 years younger then him.

So it’s good that you are addressing this now, I don’t know what the solution is but I look at who all my other single male friends in their 40s date and know it can’t be a universal problem.
posted by lepus at 2:38 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

You know what... I'm giving you permission to date younger women. Whether you will actually get anywhere with younger women is well beyond my knowledge, but go ahead and set your parameters younger if that's what you want. An older woman wouldn't want a man who is forcing attraction anyway, so it's not like the over 40s are missing out on something here.
posted by kingdead at 2:44 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]

Mod note: A few deleted. Please remember the guidelines for participating in AskMeFi and hold off on pointing fingers + making comments directed at other users in the thread.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 2:52 PM on March 9

Sure, date younger women — if they’re into you.

You do mention a relative lack of dating experience. When I was 20, I might have been flattered that an older guy just hadn’t found anyone right for him Before I Came Along.

Flattered, that is, if said older guy was reasonably charming, decently put-together, self-sufficient, established in his career, and generally progressive in his outlook.

On the other hand, if it was clear he held women to higher standards (of attractiveness, success, fitness, maturity, whatever) than he had for himself, I’d have figured he was lonely for A Reason, and I would not have been interested. I had higher self-esteem than some of my friends did, though.

Whether you’re the former kind of guy or the latter kind of guy, make sure you’re healthy enough for whatever kind of fun you want to get up to. If you’ve never been with a woman, I cannot emphasize this enough: almost nobody looks flawless naked in real life, at any age.
posted by armeowda at 3:15 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]

I wrote a long answer that I don't know is worth editing for clarity and tidiness, but here's a quicker run-down.

The short version is that you are in this situation because you have never chosen to engage with women on anything but easy mode. You're just a passive consumer who's never actually learned to appreciate things, and probably also don't know much about sex outside an extremely heteronormative allowed list of thrusts, and that is largely what society wants from you so that you are also a mindless consumer of goods and services with little to no complaint about the quality of the gruel.

If you really want a satisfying second half of your life on sexual terms, you have to unlearn all this. I personally think you should take a year off from dating, like full on monastic celibacy so that if you must have orgasms for physical or mental health you use a necessary physical stimulation and non-objective fantasy (as in you can meditate about ya stuff feeling good but nobody else's body is involved), and focus serious daily practice on NOT relating to every woman in the world as fuckable vs not. Embark on therapy to work on your misogyny and probably mother issues while you are engaging in this practice. Keep doing it until a woman can walk in the room and you're only registering body language and general energy - like you would a man - rather than what your boner thinks. Are they armed, do they look as if something is on fire, do they look mad at me, do they have a check for me - the important questions.

Then you can start making friends - explicitly stated as non-dating while you work through some shit, but would like to have meaningful social interaction with women your own age - with real women with entire personalities and lives and insight and energy. No fucking, just respecting and learning how to not bring the worst of you to their table.

Then you can start learning about real fuckability, the kind that actual people have as a part of their personhood and not just as a specific kind of fat distribution. If you've never been into someone because of their ideas, or the energy they have when they do their job, or the way they talk about the things that are important to them, you've barely even had sex. Bodies are hot when people are hot, not the other way around.

You'll need some of your own fuckability as well, by the way. You will have to know how to be hot. This has nothing to do with the kind of body you have, it's all personality and energy.

It doesn't feel like a ton of men are willing to do this work, or the ones that do largely stay married. Up to you whether you want to see that as an opportunity to bring your best self to an enthusiastic market or just too much work, but if you DO think it's too much work do us a favor and stop trying.

If you're going to stick to women under 35, just keep in mind that the further you get from that number, the more likely you are to be getting scammed for money and protection. People who are scrabbling for survival will see you coming from a mile away, because That Guy is basically a cliché.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:33 PM on March 9 [24 favorites]

An older woman wouldn't want a man who is forcing attraction anyway

I came to say this. You're attracted to people you're attracted to, and you don't need to apologize for what you like.

For most women, no matter what their age, the idea that the man sitting across from them is "feeling subtle disgust when [trying] to perceive them in a sexual way" is horrifying.

Don't waste your time, or anybody else's, trying to be something you're not. Life is to short, for you and for them.
posted by rpfields at 5:32 PM on March 9 [13 favorites]

Why are you trying to date 45+ when you’re 40 and not interested in women who are older than you? Why not date 34-44?

I too think you must be absolutely dreadful at determining ages if you’re into early 30’s but consider 40 “old lady” age (flesh hanging off hands?? Post-menopause? At 40? There’s nothing wrong with menopause or aging flesh, happens to all of us unless we die young, but this isn’t a description of a person in their late 30s-early 40s— rich or poor, any gender.) You’re 40; are you an “old man?” Are sexual depictions of you in the “mature porn” category? 40 is young! And you missed a whole step because then comes middle age, and only after that comes old.

So the hard part after adjusting your age range and getting your facts straight about stages of aging will be that if you want a long-term relationship, they will age and attraction will come and go.

This is why most people use their dating years to learn that attraction isn’t shallow; it’s a deep connection to someone you care about. Like your balls and ears and nose hair are going to be absolutely off-putting icky grandpa in a few years here, but hopefully your girlfriend or wife can still bring herself to be with you and see you as YOU, not an age or a collection of superficial flaws.
posted by kapers at 5:44 PM on March 9 [11 favorites]

From another responder (forgot their handle in the time it took me to scroll down (I'm 72! repulsive!) --

"Yeah it's media and marketing but it's also biology and personal preference. Reese Witherspoon is 46-years-old. Rashida Jones is 47. Kerry Washington is 45. If you were on a date with these women, would you think of jowls or menopause? "

I just want to point out that the actresses cited may well have had "work," like "injectibles" and other stuff, which IS part of media (after all, you're only seeing their (often altered) images, IN the media, not in real life) and marketing (these actresses are doing all that TO market themselves).

So I have to disagree that the way to find women over 40 more attractive is to look at movie and TV stars of those ages!! Au contraire!

and next, n'thing that 40-45 is not typically menopausal!

I think there's a lot more going on here than on the surface (therapy seems like a good idea!)
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:03 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

Every single image you see that is meant to register as a beautiful or sexy woman is either a young woman (most likely) or one of a very small group of middle-aged women for whom wealth, genetics, body modification, styling, makeup, and photo editing create the effect of a more youthful appearance. You have been conditioned to see women outside of these parameters as non-sexual, grotesque, and old. You can try to engage in counterconditioning in a few ways--therapy, looking at candid images of diverse women, people-watching in public spaces (non-creepily, of course). Whatever you do, I think it's crucial that you reckon with the fact you've been conditioned by society's beauty norms. It's not your fault, we're all exposed to this conditioning.
posted by theotherdurassister at 6:08 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]

What are your relationship goals? Because if you date a 35 year old, long term they will end up mid 40s. Eventually they will hit menopause. They will also likely turn into old ladies even.

If you think, “well I will love them then!” Why is that? Why couldn’t you love them now?

If you’re not looking long term and are looking to “trade in” over and over, just know it will get harder if you don’t have solid things to offer in a relationship that is likely transactional.

I agree you shouldn’t date people you find unattractive, that’s unfair to them. I agree it concerning as to why you want to date younger people - and how much younger? I don’t see much difference between 35 and 40. It depends on the person more than age. I agree that menopause isn’t happening to most at 40 and when it does, we don’t turn onto hags or pumpkins. (And I’m 33 and in surgical menopause, so there’s that.)
And I agree that you need to work to view women as full humans, not objects, if you want any success in dating in any capacity, short or long term. And really, I think this work should be done anyway because you should see the other half (ish) of the population as human anyway, regardless of dating.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:05 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]

Grey hair, wrinkles, middle-aged body shape, slight jowls, the way flesh hangs on older hands

Ha, this is me, but I survived a pandemic with two young kids and lots of trauma, so unsurprisingly, I've aged. I will say though, this isn't most of the women I know in that age bracket - but I live in a pretty health-conscious place where people are fit and take care of themselves. So maybe, move?
posted by Toddles at 9:28 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]

I think the solution is for YOU to become more attractive yourself by working on your personality, social skills, physique and more so these younger women actually want to date you. I'm a curvy almost 40 year old who has literally a neverending list of men of all ages to date on the apps. Don't feel bad for being ageist because you like what you like; also, we "older" women don't need you to like us because we have plenty of other options who find us sexy and interesting. A right swipe on the app is not a marriage proposal; it just means they find you at least somewhat attractive. You don't have to reach out or respond or make a date for any reason. Furthermore, you can set age ranges and swipe left however many times you like; I certainly do.

Become your best self and more people of your target age will be attracted to you; maybe you'll even find your peers and slightly older women more attractive. As someone who has dated a lot of younger men and older men, the thing they all have in common is confidence and kindness. It seems you are lacking in the former and absolutely working on the latter. You're on the right path so keep it up!!
posted by smorgasbord at 10:00 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]

You are not wrong that the median 20 year old is more physically attractive than the median 40 year old. You're basically wrong about how much that matters, because you lack relationship experience (and because of the culture: for men, attractiveness of partner can signal high social status, so there are many men who go for the most physically attractive partner that will have them, regardless of other qualities. This doesn't usually go well).

When we are young, we don't know what we are looking for in a partner, so we lean more heavily on what we can see. What we can see generally looks really good among our youthful peers! And so a lot of us get in relationships, even very casual, sex-focused relationships, with people that we don't particularly like and who don't particularly like us, just because the person looks good, and those relationships turn out to be unhealthy and/or unfulfilling.

As we make mistakes like this, we learn to evaluate potential partners (again even for very casual sexual relationships) along axes besides physical attractiveness. We learn that someone who is objectively less attractive can be immensely more attractive in other areas, that physical attractiveness is just a small piece of the puzzle. You have not had the opportunity to do this learning. Some people never do the learning--they are the people who continue to chase youthful partners as they age. I recommend, as you go on dates, not worrying so much about whether you feel a 'visceral physical attraction' and more time thinking about whether you are enjoying yourself and whether your date seems to be having a good time.
posted by Kwine at 4:56 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]

I think it's perfectly possible that you might only be sexually turned on by quite young women, just as it is personally possible for someone to only be turned on by men, or for someone to have hard lower limits and not capable of being turned on by anyone under twenty-one. A lot of people have situation specific arousal and can only be turned on if their partner takes the lead or, or can only be turned on if there is a specific type of role play. Others require a specific body type. We have a certain amount of sexual hard wiring, and while that will be tempered by our cultural norms, there are a lot of people who in the end are quite inflexible. It's not nice when we realise it makes us shallow, or socially unacceptable but it also may not be something we can change.

So what if you can't really motivate yourself to get into a sexual relationship with anyone under the age of forty? Well, it means you're not strongly sexually motivated. It means that really sex is not that important to you. Getting back into dating you may be thinking it is, because it was cool and fun when you first started getting into dating and could experience a sense of the possible with the people you found attractive. You expect that feeling again because you had that feeling the first time. It may not be recoverable, though. You're not a horny sixteen year old who would jump anyone's bones if you get a chance. You're much smarter than that. You wouldn't do anything that got you arrested and you wouldn't stick it in crazy.

The solution may not be to look for younger women to date. There's a fair chance that there will be no meeting of minds and emotions there because they will still be starting out and their needs and preoccupations and abilities will be focused on stuff you have long since left behind. You may feel creepy about this, or you may feel bored and disconnected, the way you would when you realised you were in a relationship with someone who was trapped in the past, unable to get over it. Looking back might not work at all.

It may also be that your libido is not a strong one to begin with, and you require rather specific and limited types of stimulus to be turned on. If you lean a little bit towards being ace, you may have been unaware of it when your hormones were at peak and your cultural conditioning to go out and find partners was at peak. Exploring the possibility that a relationship without sex might meet your needs, instead of trying to change yourself so you want sex, or changing the people you date might be a quicker way of finding the relationships that would give you joy.

Being inhibited about who you get turned on by is not an entirely bad thing. For one thing it means that you are unlikely to go around tricking one night stands from women who are looking for long term relationships, and sexually exploiting them. For another thing it means that you are unlikely to topple into a bad relationship because your little head is doing the thinking for you.

Sexual revulsion is a natural thing, designed to protect us. You might want to think about what your feelings of revulsion are trying to protect you from. It might not be your prospective partner's age, so much as a sign that you are not ready to get into a sexual relationship or even a dating relationship. If you are getting back into the dating scene at forty it is possible there are things about your past life that you really, really want to avoid, or things about your current life that you really, really want to retain.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:37 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]

I was thinking about this overnight and two things occurred to me:

1. It feels like you're reaching for a "real" "medical" reason why you can't date women over, say, 35 - like, Something Chemical has changed and they are therefore, sadly, objectively unattractive to you because they don't have enough estrogen. Which is why you're assuming that women are post-menopausal at forty - it can't be culture, it can't be you, it must be unattractive-witch-lady menopause situations and you will just have to date thirty year olds until you drop in your tracks.

But it's culture.

2. I suggest that you start thinking of your lack of desire for women over 35 as a liability and something that places burdens on you, because it does.

Misogyny creates a narrative which says, "women have an expiration date because they are interchangeable sex providers and status markers, but men are unique and should be loved for themselves alone, so any old forty year old should be a desirable boyfriend for a college student". But that's not how it works. Women who categorically pursue older men, especially much older men, are pursuing them because the men have gained something from age - self-awareness, knowledge, money, charisma, connections, Handsome Older Man looks, etc.

If a woman pursues significantly older men, she is often hoping that they are ready to settle down and marry/have babies, or that they have greater financial stability, or that they have a successful career, or that they have charisma, connections and expertise, or that they have George Clooney/Don Draper Older Guy Looks. That is, that they have gained through age. We think women don't gain through age, so we discount that stuff for women, and we assume that men are Special and Unique and women Shouldn't Care About Looks, Status, Personal Charm, etc, but in reality the expectation is that an attractive older partner is attractive because age has made them into a more attractive person.

So as you age, young women's expectations for you go up. Some lithe age-peer with a full head of hair, one pillow, nothing in the fridge and an entry level job is fine, but if you're dating Daddy, he'd better be Daddy, because that's what makes him attractive.

My point being that if you're going to date women in their thirties (and presumably have trouble staying attracted to them as they age, so you'll need to rotate them) you need to bring particular strengths to the relationship to be an attractive partner. Many men don't understand this and think that young women owe them attention just because they are men and that it's unfair that they don't get to date a lot, that young women are mercenary gold-diggers, etc.

So you need to bring a lot more to the table to continue to date thirty year olds as you age - you need to work out a lot and mind your diet, you need to make sure that you are doing well career-wise (whatever that is for your social world - you don't need to be a billionaire), you need to have a pleasant home, you need to have charisma and charm and the knowledge that the years bring, you need to keep up with young people things so that you don't seem like an old fogey, you need to dress well and look contemporary.

And if you're talking about just dating young women for a couple of years around the time that many are getting ready to have kids, you really need to bring it - you want to date thirty year olds and presumably dump them as they turn into thirty-eight year olds, so if they want kids you are wasting their time. That means you need to bring something unusual, probably money and fun, to the equation.

My point, as a middle aged trans masc who spends a lot of time in age-diverse settings, is that chasing the eternal youthful partner is basically a full-time job in itself, and not necessarily that fun of one. The people I know who always seek meaningfully young partners as they themselves age are not in fact really happy people, and the ones who are just average schmoes don't date a lot.

If you internalize that Wanting Only Hotties is a problem for you and not a special unique cross that chemistry has determined that you bear, you may be able to overcome it or at least get some peace with limited dating options. I mean really internalize it - you need to see it as making work for you, limiting your choices, limiting the amount of intimacy you develop with people, etc. A lot of men who Want Only Hotties end up resenting women and getting bitter because they think Wanting Only Hotties is a normal, reasonable condition that the world should accommodate instead of a burden.
posted by Frowner at 6:03 AM on March 10 [30 favorites]

I think your limited dating and relationship experience is the issue here. If you have had some experience in this area, you would have learned, for example, even hot people have times when they are not super attractive. You might have learned that, to use an old saying, "All cats are grey in the dark".

If you don't want to date someone who looks old and unattractive to you, don't. But what is it you want? Do you (for now) have no grey hair, wrinkles and are very fit? My sense is no--your question isn't "I want to date someone who is my physical counterpart."

I could be wrong, of course, but my take is you are using common cultural values to fortify your resistance and fear about this this endeavor.

Good luck.
posted by rhonzo at 6:37 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]

We've covered the "stay away from menopausal hags" front pretty thoroughly, but is anybody thinking of the children? Has anyone mentioned the campsite rule? My old gargoyle nabbed a poor child 34 years his junior (okay, not a child but a near-child: 22 when it began) and before I made my final escape from him, I saw reliable evidence that he was running her regimen in the same criminally ungenerous and destructive ways he'd been running mine.

Fortunately I was a lot older than she when I got entangled with him (fifteen years younger than him, so his exact age in bitch years) and so was not permanently destroyed, but the new kid? I worry. She was so young, and she had a traumatic sexual history. (Should I know that? Fuck no! But he told me all her private details because... why not, I guess? He didn't even owe the two of us our privacy because, whatever, we're meatbags? Don't ask me, I don't understand the logic.)

So she was fragile and vulnerable but he proceeded anyway--very much ashamed of himself the whole time, very loudly protesting that he was awful the whole time. I can't remember his exact words, beyond "Roman" and "Polanski," whose legacy he loudly invoked every time the subject of the young woman came up, but he probably said something like "I’m not proud of how I’m feeling but I am struggling," and "again I am NOT proud." So he was always virtuously not proud, but did that virtuous feeling translate to any good action? Did he control himself and prevent himself from doing anything he would later have to not be proud of? Did he, for instance, proceed with caution and keep their relations platonic to protect a vulnerable person? Naw.

I ran into the old nightmare at the butcher years later (all trying to flirt by striking doddering kung fu poses, har!), and I asked whether she had escaped him, yet. He affirmed that she had. I felt a little better, at least--it's not like him to outright lie and he wouldn't have been dropping into horse stance for flabby old me if she were still around. He does know how to stretch and spin and gloss, though, so I can't be entirely sure she was truly finally disentangled and not just off WWOOFing in Vermont for six months or something like that. I still worry about her.

So I second all the people requesting that you please GTF away from the 45+ crowd because we super don't need you peering at our handskin, but also:
Follow the excellent advice in this best answer before you date again, because if you succeed in attracting a vulnerable young person, you can harm that person. You should know that all your potential partners, not just the ones who disgust you but the ones who attract you, too, risk harm if you don't get beyond "I'm ashamed of myself but waddayagonnado."
posted by Don Pepino at 7:31 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]

From Frowner's excellent comment: That means you need to bring something unusual, probably money and fun, to the equation.

Yeah, you would need to bring something. Success, status, or maybe some kind of sophistication that the younger person hopes will rub off on them. In college, I think a lot of us dated older people-- professors and so on-- not because we wanted them but because we wanted to be them. And we enjoyed feeling like our youth was very exciting to someone. But that someone would have to bring their own qualities, and just being a few years older would not do it.

I mean, it feels fairly horrible to say this but even as our culture allows people to cold-bloodedly classify woman as hot or not, it encourages people to classify men beyond a certain age as winners or losers. You can adjust this if you're not talking about a cishet relationship but for any variation, is that the world you want to live in? Imagine if you were reading a question from a young woman that said, "For some reason, I can't make myself feel attracted to a man who doesn't have money and an upper middle class background (or whatever). What should I do?" Would you want to go out with that person?
posted by BibiRose at 8:03 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]

I think a lot of folks responding had some pretty strong reactions to the original question, as did I. I want to point out that a 40 year old man dating women in their early or mid 30s is hardly a scandal (the original question mentioned finding women in their early 30s attractive). Not every 34 year old woman dating a 40 year old man is looking for financial security, a Daddy, etc. And that's not an age gap that would be visibly noticeable often times (we are not in Leonardo DiCaprio territory here).

Yes, of course this man would be well-served by working through some of these issues (which he seems to know, given his question!), especially if he wants a longer term relationship with one human, who will herself age, no matter what she looks like now. And yes, working on ourselves and feeling good about ourselves is a great way to be attractive to others. But there's a lot of handwringing about this person dating someone on the cusp of adulthood, and I don't think that's what he's proposed, or at least not what the question is about.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:25 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]

I'm going to answer your actual question.

Your (as well noted entirely off-the-mark by definition) focus on "post-menopausal women" as a both a psychological and physical category that you find repulsive likely has something to do with how you immediately size up someone as able to get pregnant or not because they are no longer menstruating. Various physical features you focus on are kind of red herrings, not the reverse, because individually they are things that a lot of humans over 30 have and also things that a lot of women who are in their 40s and 50s don't have. You're lumping everyone you don't find attractive (and even repulsive) into a category that by name = doesn't menstruate, can't get pregnant. Hence the kind of creepy insinuation (unfounded) that you want hot fertile babes of any age as long as they are ovulating and menstruating and fertile. Perhaps your underlying focus on menstruation and fertility is the source of your problem, and you're not into women you think you can't get pregnant. Otherwise I am not really sure why your focus on menopause is so...well, categorical.

FWIW I'm 53 years old and single and have attracted a wide range of men since I was divorced a few years ago, ages 35 - 70. The man I have been dating for the longest period of time since my divorce is 41. However, the man I have been most into sexually who doesn't really want me back as much as I want him in terms of a full-blown relationship is...73! This was a shocker to me. He is hot as hell to me. He wouldn't be mistaken for a younger man but he is healthy and fit and loves life and sex and his body and mine. His body is different because he is older. But the idea that all old bodies are "ugly" and "repulsive" is not true.

You have permission and encouragement *not* to date people you find repulsive. Date people you think are hot! Focus exclusively on why you lump everyone you find repulsive into one category that means only "doesn't menstruate, can't get pregnant [by me]" -- that's my advice. It might explain what's going on in your mind.
posted by desert exile at 3:22 PM on March 10 [10 favorites]

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