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Single Guy Over 50?


Want to improve your success rate with women? Follow this wise advice on what to say in your profile, which gals to pursue, and whether to pick up the tab.

By Jane Ganahl

ome might think that by the time a man hits the mid-century mark, he’d have his game down. But, based on my own experience, it ain’t necessarily so. Never fear, I’m here with some sage reminders on how to improve the quality of your love life in all areas, from your profile to what to do during — and after — your date.

Your online profile
Most women I know say that a clever profile counts—especially now that (ahem) you’re over 50 and can’t count on washboard abs to make the deal. Funny is also good—a little
Have the courage to date a woman your own age.
self-deprecating humor is often much more impressive than the standard “Hey ladies, get a load of this!” posturing.

In terms of photos, skip the shot of you and the sports car. Unless your last name is Andretti, it’s just too much. And take off the baseball cap! Seriously. We know that you’re covering up a less-than-bushy head of hair, but I’m here to tell you women care more about honesty than follicle count. And if a lack of hair is a deal-breaker for some women, then why would you want to date someone that superficial in the first place? Take off the hat. Strike a blow for being yourself—and for honesty.

The age issue
It’s a fact: Women don’t respect men who don’t respect women their own age. And yet, men are constantly pursuing women who are younger, sometimes much younger. I asked a male friend once what that was about, and he replied that men’s fragile egos flourish more easily in the company of a young woman. “Men love it when a woman is awed—when she wants to learn from you,” he told me. “You don’t find that in a woman your age; in fact, they refuse to take any crap.”

So, it says something to a woman when a man is 50 and looking for 35-year-olds: that he does not want a level playing field, and that he thinks women his own age are chopped liver. Many dazzling women I know in their 40s and 50s find it frustrating to come up against this time and again. So men, at least try my advice. If you’re interested in growing in a relationship, have the courage to date someone who went to college at the same time you did. As opposed to… you know… going to college currently.

Once you’re on a date...
Listen, I know. Once you hit 50 you’ve racked up countless great stories—from your kayaking expedition in Prince William Sound to the mergers you’ve brokered to your
Most women you date will have their own lunch money.
son’s first Little League home run. And women tend to be listeners; so she’ll want to hear every last story. But men over 50 — especially those who have achieved some kind of status — also at times have the tendency to think they have the podium cornered during a date. Women frequently complain that trying to get a word in edge-wise can be as difficult as interrupting the president’s state of the union address. Share the stage.

When the bill comes...
This is tricky. Assuming you’re not dating a college student, most women you date will have their own lunch money. The questions you must ask yourself before those early dates are: Was she raised a feminist? Would she find it insulting if you automatically picked up the tab? Or was she raised with more old-fashioned beliefs? As a woman who never assumes a man will pay for her drinks (hey, Bombay Sapphire is expensive!) and who has money of her own, it’s hard for me to imagine assuming I’ll get a free ride in this regard. Yet, many women do.

My advice to the man is to tune in to her during the date and try to get a handle on her philosophy. And failing that, when the bill comes, take her lead. If she reaches for her wallet and you were charmed enough to want to treat her, wave her off. “Oh, let me get it this time!” (The “this time” implies both that you want to see her again, and you appreciate her gesture.)

And if the woman doesn’t reach for her wallet, then you know you’re dating a P.P.—a pampered pet. It’s up to you to decide what to do with that information. And if the woman insists on buying (as I have sometimes, when I did the inviting), you’ll have to decide how to handle that potential blow to your masculine pride. The bottom line is: It’s gallant to offer, but be gracious if being paid for doesn’t suit a woman’s philosophy.

And after the date...
Don’t forget romance! Find a favorite poem by Rumi or Neruda that you can send her if you are really dazzled.

Don’t play games like not calling for two days to keep her wondering.

You should know that life is too short (at this point, anyway) to not throw yourself into a relationship with wild abandon, if the spirit strikes.

Any man is capable of being a romantic and suave lover, no matter your age—or name. Don’t forget, Cary Grant (sigh) was born Archie Leach.


Jane Ganahl is a non-fiction author and journalist who wrote for San Francisco newspapers for 24 years. Her novelized memoir, Naked on the Page: The Misadventures of my Unmarried Midlife, was recently published by Viking. In 2005 she edited the anthology, Single Woman of a Certain Age. She is also the co-director of the Litquake literary festival.
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