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Dating After 40: What Do Men Want?

By: Dr. Aesha 

Dear Dr. Aesha–

“What do men in their forties want in a relationship?”

~Dating after 40 and Still Confused

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Dear Dating After 40 and Still Confused,

I’m so glad you asked me this question! 

Since you didn’t give me any details about yourself, I have to make a lot of assumptions here about your age and what you’re looking for in a relationship.

I’ll draw from my experience coaching women in their forties who are serious about finding “The One.”

The very first thing you should know is that men in their 40s who are serious about relationships tend to want something very different than women in their 40s.  

It’s a little shocking to women to hear this because they expect the men in their peer group to want similar things as they do. 

But once you are over 35, you’ve entered an experience I like to call  “Grown Folks’ Dating” and the dating game has changed! 

Think about this: when you were in high school, you dated guys in your own peer group. I mean, dating an “older” man consisted of picking someone 3 years older but who didn’t own his own car and thought burping games were fun. We all wanted the same things then, right? 

In your 20s, you were probably taught to focus on school, travel, and your career goals before settling down to start a family. Most men probably weren’t told anything about when they should think about marriage and family. There’s no strong social pressure on men to settle down and their biological clock isn’t really ticking for them. 

You might have set a goal to get married in your late 20s, but you were still having a good time building your dream life and dating. 

Now you’ve hit your mid- to late-30s. You had a great birthday bash, but Mr. Right still hasn’t shown up. You’re either burnt out from dating, divorced, or never married and starting to get a bit concerned. 

On one hand, you’re climbing the corporate ladder; on the other hand you want kids, and you want to get started soon. You know it’s medically possible, but you’re not wanting to get started with a family at 40. The pressure is on! 

The 30-something guys, however, don’t seem to be on your level. They’re not thinking about marriage, or they’re choosing women a bit younger or less ambitious than you are. If they’re the kind of men you like—successful, professional, handsome—they’re in high demand and you can’t understand why you can’t find one. 

If you’re doing well financially you start thinking of freezing your eggs like the women featured in recent issues of Businessweek and Essence Magazine. That way you can increase your chances for having a baby in your 40’s if your Mr. Right takes his time coming around.  It’s a scary thought and costs thousands of dollars, but you go for it. 

Now you’re 40. 45. 47. Not married. . . and kinda freaking out! 

The guys in your peer group, however, are starting to settle down.  

So what do 40-year-old men want?

  • They want a woman who is confident, giving, fun, supportive, attractive, compassionate, caring, intelligent, and easy to be around. 
  • They want a long-term relationship. Dating casually just isn’t fun anymore. 
  • They want a woman who knows what she wants. 

Yes! you think to yourself, That’s me. But wait. Why am I still single? 

Well, if he’s 40, never married and no kids, he’s likely to want a woman who wants to have kids. Maybe even lots of them. 

Yes, he’s judging you entirely by your age. You may be beautiful, successful and a great partner, but he doesn’t want to marry you because in his mind, you can’t have children. 

Now before you get upset that men are judging you, let me remind you that you’re judging them as well. There are men in their 40s who don’t want kids. But many of them are in categories YOU don’t find attractive. 

•    Single father (with young kids).
•    Divorced.
•    Less educated or intellectual or successful as you.
•    His belly may be flabbier than you’d like or he may have less hair than you imagined.

These are the guys who are actively looking for you, but you don’t want to date them. 

What should you do? 

Well you could do 1 of 2 things:

1)    Get frustrated, angry and give up on relationships because your blueprint of how things are supposed to work out didn’t happen.
2)    Change your blueprint. 

What does #2 look like in real life?

  • You can either look for a man in your peer group who wants to adopt kids or who doesn’t want kids at all. That may take quite a bit of work and effort, but it’s possible. 
  • You could open yourself up to meeting men who are divorced and/or who have kids. 
  • Or you can adjust who you’re looking for. Make little tweaks in the categories of age, location, income, and/or educational level.

For example, an older man, maybe in his 50s, may not be so focused on having kids. He may even be looking for someone exactly like you!  

Ultimately, you should look for the people who are looking for you, focus more on the core values you’ll share with your Mr. Right and stress less over how old he is. You’ll increase your options and your odds of finding love now!

With love, 

Dr. Aesha

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Are you dating over 40? What’s your greatest challenge?
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