Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Call to Arms

First, let me start off by wishing all of my faithful readers a very happy New Year! Let's hope that 2010 is a year filled with much good for all those we know and love (and even those we don't know and love as it's good karma to wish positive things for others).

Ok, the blog …

Not too long ago I met with a woman who was turning 41. She was attractive, bright and successful. We talked about her prior relationships for a while, what she was looking for in a partner, etc. (the usual stuff) and then she uttered two short sentences that seems to sum up all that I have come to know about the dating world for 40+ year old single women in New York City. It was candid, direct and succinct but also profoundly full of meaning: "Nobody told me. No one warned me how things were going to suddenly change." Across from me was a woman who had never lacked for male attention or serious suitors in the past and now men that would have previously been interested weren't asking her out because she's over 40. The landscape had changed.

We all know that men are attracted to pretty women who are in good shape and take care of themselves - nothing earth shattering in that statement. But what really surprised me after I started my matchmaking business, and what may surprise some of my readers, was how many men I have met over 40 who are not open to meeting anyone remotely close to their own age. Indeed, I speak frequently with men who are in their 40s and 50s, etc. who provide a laundry list of what they are looking for in a partner - as you can imagine, they are seeking the works - and then they hasten to add that she should also be [insert age a minimum of 8 years younger than the speaker's age]. No matter how wonderful or interesting or attractive these 40+ women are, they are not going to have a shot at being considered by a certain percentage of NYC guys of their equivalent age or a few years older because they just don't make the age cut. The Millionaire Matchmaker had a show on this where she referred to these men as “ageists.”[1] A great term for it, really.

The reasons for this "ageism" vary. Sometimes it's just a value system. Obviously, there is a premium placed on youth and good looks in this world. Younger is often "better" and that's reality. That being said, to some, experience, wordliness and maturity are more valuable than a tight ass and perfect skin. Sometimes men don't want to acknowledge their own aging and a young partner may make them feel better about themselves.[2] I am going to skip over these types of analyses (perhaps to be tackled another day) to address the reasons articulated most frequently for the age discrimination I witness.

Many guys will simply cite the woman's age and say they want kids. With an attitude of “’nough said.” As if the number 40 speaks for itself. If you spend 20 minutes online you can find ample information showing that many women in their early 40s have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Yes, everyone knows that there is an increased risk of infertility and complications in pregnancies as women get older but these issues actually start to become relevant in pregnancies where the women are 35 and over (should these still aspiring papas now drop their maximum age limit to 30?).

Not so fast - women under 30 beware. Research has shown that for women under 30, a male partner aged 40 or over reduced their chances of conceiving by a quarter; for women between 35 and 37, a partner over 40 reduced conception to a one-in-three possibility.[3] Studies also show that men over 35 are twice as likely to be infertile.[4]

Other research shows that there is an increased risk for autism in instances of men in their 30s fathering children and the risk of having an autistic child is five times higher when the father is in his 40s.[5] For men having children over 40, studies show there is also a dramatic increase in the risk that the child will be affected by schizophrenia, dwarfism, bipolar disorder, certain childhood cancers, or even, later in life, Alzheimer's.[6] In fact, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine "has set an upper age limit of 40 years old for semen donors because of the increased risk of genetic abnormalities in the offspring of older fathers." .[7]

Thus, these men who are so quick to point to the women’s biological clock as a deal breaker are truly an example of the pot calling the kettle black. Sure Tony Randall could have a baby at 77 (whereas a septuagenarian women has long passed menopause), but that does not mean the male’s biological clock does not exist. For some reason it is just never discussed. News flash: Men have a biological clock and it ticks pretty damn loudly.

Another reason 40+ guys have given in regard to not being interested in meeting women closer to their own age is they have a time frame for kids that is still years away. This issue was already addressed briefly in my prior blog Peter Pan Lives on Perry Street (Nov. 11, 2009) (please reference the section regarding dads too old to play sports with their teenage kids and add the additional factor that studies show older dads have less patience with their children), coupled with the paragraph above, I think it's fine to leave this reason and move onto the next.

The next reason comes compliments of "Al". Al was 46 but easily could have passed for 56 (I know he was actually 46 because I checked his license). Despite this, Al told me his age cut off for women was 37. Stunned, I asked him why and he shared his view that women who are over 37 and never married tend to be bitter. On the surface it seemed like a valid reason ... but to stereotype every woman over 37 in such an unflattering way is like saying everyone from Wisconsin loves cheese (I know this is not true because I once met someone from Madison who did not). The irony of this guy is that he was so woefully, unhappily single and yet was ruling out an entire segment of women simply based on likely bad choices he had made in the past. I know a lot of happy, not-bitter, joyful single women in their late 30s and early 40s (some never married and some divorced).

In fact, while the bulk of my female clients are under 40, some of these phenomenal 40+ women are my clients. Which brings me to the real point of this blog. The women who come to me looking for help in meeting that special someone could easily be your friends, co-workers, family members ... people you love and respect. So I am asking you, Dear Readers, if you know any men who are in their 40s and 50s (they could be your friend, a colleague, an uncle) who are open to meeting quality, very attractive women who are 39 (ok, yes, the bias actually starts a wee bit prior to 40) to 49 they should contact me and I may very well be able to introduce them to the love of their lives. They don't have to become a client[8] and they don't have to spend a dime (other than treating for the date). You're thinking of someone in particular and he's divorced? Perfect - regarding men over 40 that is actually the preference. He has kids? No problem (in fact, it is a preference for many of my clients who are divorced, do not have kids and are not looking to start a new family). If you're wondering what kind of men I'm looking for, that's easy - the standard: good guys who are kind, interesting, fun, active, successful and looking for a real relationship.

Who knows? By playing assistant matchmaker yourself you may start 2010 off with some very good karma. And a little good karma never hurt anyone.

[1] The irony of that episode was the 45 year old gentlemen millionaire on the show who asserted he wanted to meet a young vixen ended up having more in common and, picking, the successful female millionaire client on the show who was the CEO of a high end fashion label, absolutely gorgeous … and 40.

[2] This can often have the opposite effect, however, when the courtship phase is over and the men realize that they really can’t keep up with their younger counterpart.

[3] See Men's Reproductive Function Can Be Damaged If They Have Children After 40 http://english.pravda.ru/science/health/04-05-2006/79869-men-0; see also Male Biological Clock Also 'Ticking': Fertility Problems Greater For Men Over 35


[4] See Is Your Sperm Too Old?, http://www.themalebiologicalclock.blogspot.com, Nov. 22, 2009 Blog, see also Research: Male Biological Clock Winds Down After 35


("According to the ASRM, infertility is a male problem 35 percent of the time; a female problem 35 percent of the time, a combined problem of the couple 20 percent of the time, and the final 10 percent is unexplained. The Columbia research found that the risk of miscarriage of a fetus conceived by a father over age 40 was 60 percent greater than if the father were 25 to 29, irrespective of other factors that have been linked with increased miscarriage risk, such as the mother's age, maternal diabetes, poor maternal health and smoking during pregnancy. The increased risk of miscarriage does not just apply to fathers in their 40s, however. The miscarriage risk in a pregnancy involving a father aged 35 to 39 was three times higher than the risk if the father were under 25.").

[5] Id.

[6] Id.; see also It Seems The Fertility Clock Ticks for Men,Too

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/health/27sper.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 (very good New York Times Article worth taking the time to read).

[7] See Research: Male Biological Clock Winds Down After 35, supra.

[8] For those who are unaware of how my business model works, I take on clients both male and female and set up personalized introductions. The introductions can be client to client or between a client and someone who is in my “database” (the database consisting of hundreds of single NYC men and women who I personally screen before any introduction). I can assure my readers that should you send someone to me who would like to be in my database and is open to meeting the 40+ women I have referenced he will not be pressured in any way to become a client.


  1. Marni, great post. Thanks for raising this issue and being honest. I am one of those women you described and have to say that problems start from age 35, my observation… Part of it is “ageism” of men my age and part is the true problem of women’s reproductive systems closing earlier than men’s just because they are more complex. As a biologist, I followed all those articles you quoted and completely agree that neither men or women are immune to lower fertility, lack of libido, birth defects, diseases and other things that come with old age. It’s completely unfair to point fingers only at women, when the difference is maybe a few years and much depends on individual health. However I want to look at the problem from another angle. I think these legitimate concerns and groundless “ageism” ( yes, if those men really wanted children perhaps they should have thought earlier) conspire to create problem not only for women, but for men also. I know many men in late 30s-40s, who are bored and dissatisfied with their young spouses and girlfriends because they don’t have much in common, have to take larger financial obligations, rather than being equal partners etc. The problem is that what becomes difficult after 35 is to marry your equal. First, many people are already in relationships. Second I find men over 35 set in their ways and also “bitter” :) or otherwise affected by past bad experiences, of course not everyone, but… And finally many men don’t want to give you a chance because of the kids issue. Which leaves them to marry someone much younger, often leading to unsatisfactory relationship. What is an attractive 40 yo a girl can do in these circumstances? We can talk about possible guys I can recommend to your clients, although potentially they may also be affected by ageism, but we will see:). There are good men out there, who still are reasonable, but they are hard to find. My advice is to broaden the horizon, maybe look at people from other countries, cities and other age groups after all! Not all older men have a choice of young women like in NYC. On my part I just date younger men, who don’t have these kind of problems, you have to make compromises, but nobody is perfect:)

  2. Hi Marni....Cool post & I thought these problems only existed in developing countries like India. This post completely shattered my image of the "ultra cool" NYC. Well, I thought like Sandra Bullock's character in 'Proposal', smart successful women in their 40s wouldn't have any trouble finding younger 30-something men...

    As you said women still have natural successful pregnancies in their 40s here in Mumbai also. My grandmother told me that it was a normal thing to have kids in the 40s & even 50s some 20 years back. But now, the situation seems to have changed--I am still in my 20s but every other day some or other relative or friend quotes innumerable researches & studies to emotionally harass me into getting married soon...sigh!!! I now suspect that the very thought of inadequacy caused by these studies are actually increasing the chances of complications than age itself! After all, latest Science says that subconscious mind has tremendous effect on health, hormones & genes! Otherwise, how could my grand mother cite so many perfect examples of healthy pregnancies in 40s & 50s? She herself had a healthy baby at 50. Till date that baby is healthier & wiser than her other kids born in her 20s. Lol...

    Now, one of my friends has abandoned the idea of having kids altogether since she is 30! According to her, after 30, the kid is bound to be either Schizophrenic or autistic!!! She completely ignores the "higher chances" part & takes them as the ultimate truth!

    One solution to the above problem is to go for younger adult men...lol!!!This will increase the 40-something woman's chances of having a successful pregnancy since miscarriage risk is higher once a man is above 35 irrespective of the woman's age!


  3. HI Manish,

    Thank you so much for your comment to my post a while back - for whatever reason, I was not notified of it and am just seeing it for the time 2 years later! Your comment on the subconscious mind's affect on fertility and physical health in general is spot on - and I love your creative solution to women facing some of these issues!

    And I hope since your post your love life has been wonderful and that you have found a wonderful partner so your well-intention family members can see you are doing just fine. :)


  4. Also, Angelica -a long overdue thank you for your comments above - your comments are always thought-provoking and engaging!