He’s Still Single…At 40?

Forget conventional wisdom about older single men: Here’s why we say 40-something guys have a lot to offer in the romance department.

By Bob Strauss

hen I turned 40 a few years ago, the bane of my existence was every well-meaning article in women’s magazines explaining why guys my age were dicey propositions, relationship-wise. We’re too used to living on our own, the experts said. We have commitment issues or problems with intimacy (or both). Lost in the discussion were all the reasons an unmarried 40-year-old guy might actually be an excellent catch. Here are just a few:

We’ve learned how to take care of ourselves.
Explains Beth, 50, of Ohio: “Only after you’ve been
An unmarried 40-year-old guy might actually be an excellent catch.
the one totally responsible for the household and all those incidentals of life — home, appliance and car repairs; balancing your checkbook; paying your bills on time; doing the laundry and dishes; learning how to dress yourself without requiring another human being’s opinion — can you have a successful relationship.” (This doesn’t, of course, apply to 40-plus guys who still live at home with mother and sleep in the same bed they’ve been sleeping in since they were five years old.)

We’ve thrown back a lot of fishes, kissed a lot of frogs, etc.
Yes, there are some 40-year-old single guys out there who’ve never so much as held hands with a member of the opposite sex, but the rest of us have suffered through enough setups, blind dates and singles’ events to have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for. Says Mary Jo Fay, author of When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong, “If he’s been an active dater all these years and isn’t a hermit, then he has certainly experienced a variety of women. By now, a smart guy should know what he wants and what he doesn’t, and he won’t waste his time hanging out with the wrong gal.”

We’ve been busy establishing our careers.
David Sternberg, a social worker in Washington, D.C., has an interesting (and logical) take on a certain breed of 40-plus single men: “A man may spend much of his 20s in graduate school and his 30s cultivating his career, which leaves very little time to pursue romantic relationships. And now he’s ready to do so — with the advantage that he’s secure in his career and probably financially stable as well.” An added bonus: Even those of us who aren’t big earners are more likely to be satisfied with and settled in our careers at this age. (If this doesn’t sound convincing to you, flash back to that 25-year-old barista who vaguely told you he wanted to “get into
Guys in their 20s and 30s and guys in their 40s and 50s have vastly different testosterone levels.
venture capital someday” as he let you pick up the check.)

We may not have heard the question right.
If a guy has a legalistic frame of mind, he may answer no to the query, “Have you ever been married?” without going on to elaborate that he lived with his last girlfriend for 10 years and had a couple of kids. (On the other hand, if he doesn’t volunteer this information by the third or fourth date, you have bigger problems on your hands than his prior marital status.) Outside of certain communities, there’s no longer a stigma to living together in lieu of marriage, and some couples opt for the non-wedding route from strictly legal or financial considerations. You might want to cover your bases and ask something more specific, like: “Have you ever been in a committed relationship that lasted longer than two weeks?”

We don’t have enough energy to play the field.
If you’re not quite convinced by the above arguments, here’s something to seal the deal: It’s a scientific fact that guys in their 20s and 30s and guys in their 40s and 50s have vastly different testosterone levels. Even if he was a lothario in his youth, a 45-year-old man will be less inclined to juggle two or more relationships, because the logistics required will cut severely into his TV time. At this relatively advanced age, an unmarried man has exactly enough energy for three things: working, channel surfing, and loving and caring for the woman he’s finally decided to marry.

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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