Updated: Dec 16, 2019
I'm a late bloomer who has enjoyed being single, but finally (in the past 3 to 4 years) truly desires a full fledged intimacy with the right man and would like to try for a small family (I froze my eggs four years ago in hopes of increasing the chances of being able to be a biological mother, and my doctor told me he was "optimistic" one healthy baby is a realistic possibility for me).
Being that I am also a late bloomer in the work realm, the past several years have been intense ones as far as career building. I finally have a stable stream of income (I'm an artist and teacher), a great apartment, and am in the best physical shape of my life.
When I was younger (up till my mid-30's, I'd say) I had a bit of a reputation for being a heart breaker and always was juggling a bunch of guys (I know that may sound obnoxious but I'm trying to be honest). Many of them I didn't sleep with, just enjoyed going out on dates with. Speaking of which, I always let them know I wasn't ready to settle down and was transparent about that (naturally, since I didn't want anything serious, back then they wouldn't leave me alone!) I think if I'd fallen head over heels for someone I thought was fabulous when I was younger, I might have married (and I believed that at the time), but short of the blinding, once-in-a-lifetime passion of true love (along with having a sense I trust and respect this man), I wasn't ready. Anyway, during those years, I was with several men who wanted to get married (was almost engaged once; we were discussing it) but I didn't move forward.
I guess you know where this is headed. Now that I am ready, not just because of my age (I'm 44), but because of work I've done on myself--introspecting about my own boundaries issues, my own deep-seated fears about intimacy related to my family of origin, which though loving had weathered a tragedy and could be smothering--I have begun to feel the yearning for a true partner in life. I no longer need or even strongly desire the attention of multiple suitors (I admit I still enjoy men's attention. What woman doesn't? But the thrill of admiring glances, and the even greater thrill of total freedom in life, have finally begun to wane in comparison to the longing for intimacy, stability, a true partnership in love, and yes, a potential father to a child).
Please forgive the lengthy background. Now the problem: I seem to attract two types of men. The first, young (20-something) admirers who see an attractive, fit (I'm a yoga instructor as well) older woman and want experience. We all know what that will get me, right? Though recently I have been spending time with a man who is 20 years younger who is smart, sincere (we went together to get tested for STDs and he made it there early with a smile on his face) and lovely. He is truly the kind of man I would marry at this point if he were available for husband- and fatherhood, but of course he is nowhere near ready (he is planning to move to another country soon). So, after two years of concerted effort on my part to attend singles mixers, online dating, go out with guys in my social network who approach me, etc. and coming up with bubkes (in Yiddish, that means nothing), I've decided to take a couple months and just enjoy myself with this young man, whom I'll call Isaac, before he emigrates.
Meanwhile, while the plethora of bachelors lining up to date me has thinned (along with their hair!), I still occasionally get approached by an attractive man my own age give or take a few years. I jump at the chance to go out with these fellows, hoping each time that the two of us, having gone through the ups and downs and wrong turns and surmounted the fears, will have come out the other end ready for the true--albeit imperfect, yet satisfying and passionate--love that I still believe is out there for us 40-somethings! In fact, lest you think I am some vampire obsessed with youth, in the past few years my appreciation has grown for men my own age, for their tummies and crows' feet (the latter of which I have too and think of as a badge of honor and a kind of "real" feature of the type described in the children's book, "The Velveteen Rabbit," which I also love and which celebrates love that is real ...)
The trouble is, these guys seem to either 1) disappear on me after 3 or so dates or 2) we get into a relationship, as was the case with my last boyfriend (we were together a couple years ago for almost a year). But after a passionate beginning I soon learned his life was so over scheduled (he was a real estate exec and very philanthropic) he would book up his weekends, and often in the evenings he was too tired to have sex, snuggle, talk, etc... All the things I am finally READY to enjoy with the right partner.
It's like, now that this late bloomer has achieved the emotional maturity to truly want to share -- my well-maintained body, apartment, and life -- the men in my age range either don't want me or can't keep up with me. And the younger men - including lovely Isaac who cares about me as a friend (I wouldn't be interested in even spending time with him otherwise) are just too young and not ready for what I am ready for ....
To further complicate things (and I'm coming to conclusion here, promise!) I'm sensitive, and I don't want to have sex with anyone I don't know pretty well, or if I don't feel the man cares about me and me about him. Over the past few weeks I went on a series of four dates with a man my age I was excited about. Twice divorced, Type A (which has always attracted me) and successful, but (or so I thought anyway) reasonably emotionally intelligent, which is also important to me. We were having a pretty good time, I thought, but on the fourth date, after making out for a while, he started touching me, and something felt a bit off. (I like a very gentle touch for a good while to start while making love, and his touch was a bit more vigorous and was hurting me. I find this is the kind of thing you can tell a lover but is hard to talk about to someone you don't know pretty well/trust, etc., which is another reason sex on the fourth date feels fast for me but I was pushing myself).
So anyway, I know there's no point in suffering in silence and I told him, "Sweetie, it's hurting," and his reaction was impatient, like, "Whatttt???" It's HURTING?" (as if I'm a freak or something). My young lover would not do that (take an impatient tone while making love); in contrast, he is enthusiastic and patient and sweet). I mention this because it is a microcosm of the dilemma I have: I am a deeply sensitive woman who has a great deal to give, and who needs a lot too in terms of patience and understanding from a lover. I am also full of energy ... and overall, I find that I am more compatible with younger men, but they are not ready for what I so ardently desire: intimacy with stability and a family.
Where are the men in their 40's who are not jaded, do not have severe sexual dysfunction (I am not looking for perfection and do not need a perfect performance every time), just a man who can sustain an erection (I'm a giving lover too, btw), who wants emotional and physical intimacy on a regular basis and carves out time for it enthusiastically, and who still has the ENERGY to take his time making love to his woman with tenderness and sensuality after a hard day at the office. AND who wants to try for a baby.
Where is he? Honestly, am I expecting too much?
Should I ask Isaac to come with me to the sperm bank before he leaves on a jet plane next month?
Or should I give it one (or a few?) more years of opening my heart, making a concerted effort, and hoping the right age appropriate man and I find each other?
With gratitude for any advice,
Late Bloomin' Rose
PS--I am a new reader and really love your column's honesty ... I think you really have the pulse of our unique, fast-changing time and place, and so felt you would be the only advice columnist whose insights might actually help.
Age: 44 - NYC
I think a big part of your struggle has to do with your expectations. You clearly desire someone virile and attractive, which is okay in theory. Sure, attraction is critical. But what you're seeking sounds unrealistic to me. All I hear in this letter is a verbose, self-indulgent justification as to why the younger guy is better because, well, he's not older. You don't want to be with a man your age unless he's virile and Type A and successful. Which, let's be honest, isn't an easy get for most women, let alone women our age.
The problem here isn't that men can't keep up with you. That's...not a thing. You are not some Olympian who travels the world and parties like Kylie Jenner. You're a woman who is in good shape, has taken care of herself, and who has a stable career. Those are all great things, but they are by no means rare or uncommon, certainly not in Manhattan.
It's not that you can't find age-appropriate men that you fancy, it's that you expect those men to look a certain way, a way that isn't easy to maintain at any age, let alone at 40 or 50. Our bodies change. Our metabolism slows. Our priorities shift, especially if we have dependents like children or ailing parents. It doesn't sound like you've had to deal with any of that. You answer to no one. You do what you want. I'm sure your life isn't stress-free, but it's certainly easier than those with real financial or health concerns and other obligations. What you seek is a unicorn of sorts. Matches like that are hard to find because they're rare. I assure you that the large majority of people who have aged like fine wine will expect their partners to do the same.
Personally, I'm tired of all the maintenance and upkeep. The yoga, the cycling, the facials, the hair coloring. Being with someone well-maintained has one huge downside, and it's that you'll feel - or actually be - obligated to stay that attractive and fit and stylish out of fear of losing them. That sounds exhausting to me.
If you want to be with a younger guy, by all means, do it. You're bound by nothing. If it makes you feel good and you enjoy it, then you should pursue what makes you happy. But don't put down men your age in the process, because that works both ways.
If you want to have kids, have them! Get those eggs fertilized! Just don't delude yourself into using that as an excuse to hold on to Isaac, because that's what it sounds like you're trying to do.
I think you need to stop kidding yourself about what it is you truly seek: a relationship with a relatively fit hot guy with a good job. Keep in mind that it's not easy to hold on to a successful career and hit the gym regularly. That takes a lot of time, time they won't be spending with you. It's a trade-off, you see. So really ask yourself what it is you want and stop wasting everybody's time, including your own.