I am a single, never-married gentleman in my early fifties. I am baruch Hashem very successful and handsome. Some people even take me for being in my thirties. Up until recently, I tried to be honest about my age. But I realized that my honesty is working against me in finding the shidduch of my dreams.
When I am not asked about my age, girls who are in their late twenties to mid-thirties go out with me. When I tell them my age, even though they are disappointed that I am older, they still continue to date me. The truth is that a girl in her thirties should feel lucky to get a guy like me.
The problem I have is that when I speak to shadchanim and they hear my age, they only set me up with women who are 50. I try telling them that I don’t want to marry an old lady, but they either do not listen or they stop setting me up.
I am ashamed to admit it, but a few months ago, I went to a new shadchan and told her that I am 39. She believed it and introduced me to a very nice girl who is 35.
We have been dating ever since, but I feel that I have to tell her the truth if we get more serious. I am scared that she will break up with me. But I am even more scared that my future does not seem promising.
Why can’t people respect that an older guy has the right to date a younger woman? Why can’t a shadchan ask which range of ages I’m looking to date, rather than how old I am?
By Baila Sebrow
I will begin by saying that under no circumstances can I ever condone acts of lying, whitewashing, or withholding information when it comes to shidduchim. No matter how you carve it, at the end of the day, a lie is still a lie. At the same time, I can appreciate how you feel. You want what you feel rightfully entitled to: “the shidduch of your dreams.” That the shidduch of your dreams means marrying a woman 20 years your junior appears to be only a tiny hitch, in your view. Now, if only everyone else in society–namely, the younger women–would think the way you do, this discussion would not even be taking place.
It is not easy being over 50 and never having experienced sharing your existence with a wife and children. Although you are successful in the career aspect of your life and additionally blessed with a handsome, youthful appearance, it still sounds like you are experiencing deep anguish about that missing piece–your soul mate.
There is no point in speculating about why you have remained single all these years. The fact is that time did move on; and, just like every person alive, you got older. However, your mindset regarding what you are seeking in a spouse never changed. You still desire that which you did 20 years ago. The reality, my friend, is that you, like many other single men (divorced or never married), still hold on to the same attractions of the past. And that is why you cannot fathom dating a woman closer to your own age.
There may be other reasons you yearn for a much younger spouse. Being with someone younger may in some way give you a grip on youth. Or you might be concerned about fertility and the health of mother and baby. If that is the case, understand that there is considerable positive medical advancement in those areas.
It is very easy to place blame on shadchanim, saying that they refuse to set you up with women who are in their twenties and thirties. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the women these shadchanim deal with may not be amenable to dating a much older guy?
Conversely, women in their thirties are constantly complaining to me that shadchanim are trying to suggest men in their fifties to them. You may not be aware of this, but a woman finds it hurtful when a shadchan suggests a man 20 years her senior. In her mind, it is like saying that she can never get someone her own age. Whether that is true or not is not the issue. The suggestion itself is taking any semblance of hope away from her. I understand that you may not see it that way, because as you state, “a girl in her thirties should feel lucky to get a guy like me.”
As a shadchan, I frequently face the same challenge that you complain about: men your age seeking a much younger woman. While I respect where they are coming from, at the same time, I also need to respect the desires of the women who are seeking shidduchim. Their needs also matter!
Bear in mind that there are younger women who find the idea of dating an older guy distasteful. Some describe it as feeling as though they are on a date with their father. Moreover, my heart aches for the 50-year-old woman who, although close to your age, is brazenly referred to as an “old lady.”
Your situation occurs not only when shadchanim try to set couples up, but also frequently at singles’ events. Men who are much older than the marketed age for the event oftentimes show up expecting to be allowed entrance. And when the organizers of the event, be it shadchanim or singles, refuse to let them in out of sensitivity to the younger attendees, these guys, instead of respecting the rules of the venue, become irate. There have been times when a few have managed to gain entry anyway, disregarding the feelings of others.
With all that you find fault in with the shidduch system, nevertheless it sounds like you are not having much difficulty finding women as young as in their twenties to date you. And as it stands, you are currently dating a 35-year-old. If the circumstances regarding what you have disclosed to the shadchan and the woman were different, I would be thrilled for you. But the problem is that your relationships, past and present, are not based on honesty.
A shidduch is a very personal decision, and you deserve to marry the woman you feel will make you happy–but not at the expense of deceiving anyone. I am sensing that deep down you also believe that. As your relationship with this younger woman is intensifying, so are the strings of your conscience tugging.
While you know that this relationship would never have reached this point had you been truthful from the beginning, you also realize that sooner or later this woman will find out your true age. As expected, you are scared of the outcome.
It is a no-brainer to predict that she will initially respond with shock when she discovers that her young friend is really a much older man. However, there is no way to predict the decision she will come to after she has had time to absorb how she was deluded. There is the possibility that she might be so crazy about you that she will forgive the deception. But I sense that you are also bracing to face the likelihood that she will ultimately terminate the relationship. That is why you are expressing even greater fear for future relationships.
Should you find yourself back in the dating pool, I recommend that you reassess your priorities in attaining a healthy marriage. Accept that youthful femininity fades to a degree. Remember that the young get older. Most importantly, focus on the essential qualities that will ultimately build the strong foundation for your future marital home.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
Questions and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.