Before you read the following, understand that it is being written as a statement regarding the inevitability of Mother Nature as well as the often depressing and shocking changes women go through during the aging process( both emotionally and physically). It may start out sounding very egotistical and off putting. But I assure you that is not the intent. Thanks…..
Most of my adult life, I’ve had a seemingly endless supply of male suitors. Men would literally follow me around calling me things like “goddess”, “angel”, and “Hot”. I would often notice the looks of desire in their eyes and many times even outright lust.. I would receive daily messages from various men expressing their ‘crushes’ on me, and sometimes describing their desires in vivid detail( and i am not just referring to sexual ones here). The attention was both a heady as well as frightening experience. While this was happening, I was often afraid. Not only of being stalked , but possibly raped/attacked or even just persuaded into things I didn’t want to be doing at times out of guilt, fear and pressure. While I did have boyfriends, of course, I was afraid to even speak to most men at times or look them in the eyes for fear I was sending the wrong message. Part of the reason i drank so heavily at times was to overcome this issue.With practice, I learned how to deflect their advances in various ways, though, rather than risk the retaliatory behavior if they felt rejected. In the last few years , the #metoo thing started up and the term “Rape Culture” was commonly heard. Most of the time, I dismissed a lot of it- because it seemed an extreme way to describe what I had become accustomed to as just “the way men are”. Indeed , 75% of the men that I experienced on the daily were pretty harmless( even while exhibiting unacceptable behaviors) and I had simply learned to deal with it..
But here’s the point- After a lifetime of avoiding the advances of the male species in general–along comes menopause.
This is kind of what happens, in my own words.
One day, out of the blue, i woke up and noticed my face felt strange. It was as if it was being pulled downward by gravity. At first I thought maybe I was having mini strokes or something. Within a few weeks, it seemed like every day I was noticing more sagging , lines, and wrinkles that could not be resolved with extra moisturizer and drinking more water, getting extra sleep, etc. It was frustrating. Along with it came the mood swings- depression, anxiety, insomnia, and general moodiness. At some point I realized I was not getting periods regularly and understood that it was “starting”. And while I was somewhat happy to be rid of my monthly cycle, little did I realize the extreme changes I was about to go through and the effects it would have on my face, body, mind and the sudden change of attitude towards me as a woman .
Months went by , and I began to notice no one made comments anymore about how young I looked for my age. Men no longer looked twice at me. People no longer denied it when I expressed that I was looking older. It seemed everyone was telling me I looked “tired” all the time ( even when I wasn’t).All of the compliments and attention dried up along with the collagen in my skin. My body began to change as well. I began to gain weight that I could not lose, and cellulite, large pores and dark spots began to emerge. No matter what I did , nothing seemed to work and I was helplessly watching all of my youth wither away quicker than I could have ever imagined.
In only one years’ time, I feel as if I have aged 10 years.
While men will usually lose some hair, and begin to droop a bit, women go through drastic changes that affect them in every aspect of their lives, including the fact that suddenly , you are invisible to the very same species who previously pursued them with unbridled lust and passion. You become irrelevant and unimportant.
This same species, however, continue to pursue younger women, even as they themselves age and lose their looks as well. They still behave as if they are “Ladies men”. Their view of women their own age is that they are too “old” for them. It is quite incredible. Instead of looking for a partner similar in age, one who understands the nature of aging, and appreciates the value of an experienced and more mature partner it truly seems many are stuck in a time warp . It is as if our value to the male species ends with menopause and the effects of normal aging.
During this experience there have been quite a few times where I have thought to myself ‘well, finally I don’t have to worry about pleasing a man. I don’t have to fear that I will be stalked or bothered and now I can just live for myself and be comfortable in my own skin’. But there has been just as many times when I have felt the unfairness of it all, felt extremely unattractive and in despair at my lowered ‘status’ . Instead of being able to finally settle down with a mature and equal partner in life, I cringe as I see men my own age still chasing these younger women( or looking for one that looks younger).In some ways, the perversion of expectations placed on us is nauseating . Media , porn, and culture makes us feel as if we must have the energy & bodies of a 12 year old . We must be hairless, soft, unwrinkled and without curves.
Often I hear people talk about women my age,too, in negative ways. Statements about their bitterness and referring to them as crones or old hags. And I believe I understand why. Many women have felt betrayed by the male species in this regard, and do indeed become more cynical and distant.
There are many other things to blame-including upbringing, testosterone, and nature itself. Indeed, out in the wild, males of maturity still pursue young fertile females- but this is a matter of survival, and natural selection for the propagation of a species. Why is it that modern human males continue this pattern, when procreation is usually not the goal at all?
Although we tend to believe this is related to physical beauty( and some of it is- a need to have a” trophy” on one’s arm ) I believe the real answer lies somewhere between the usual “it makes them feel young again” and FEAR of the stronger , more experienced woman.
So, here’s the irony. While we women lament about no longer feeling adored or desirable, men also need to feel “admired” as well. They have an innate NEED to impress, and garner the respect of others- not ( usually)for their looks, but for their ability to provide protection, for their intellect and life experience, and their superior strength. They want to be “looked up to”. Dating younger women serves that purpose . Most younger woman are more easily swayed and impressed. Their opinions are not as firm due to lack of experience. Older men use this to an advantage– they know more useful stuff than most young women ( when & where to buy important items, directions, how to get a car fixed cheaply) so, it’s easier to impress, gain admiration and a sense of obligation. Additionally younger women are less likely to ask the really important long term questions ( like how much medical insurance do you have? And how will you pay our bills when you retire?) They simply don’t think about it. They just want to have fun- so- less pressure. (In some ways, I believe it is the same reason some men choose partners with mental health issues or addictions- it offers the opportunity to feel important or “needed”( a huge ego boost)But that’s another story.
In general , older women are less likely to subscribe to these needs, having lived a long life of experience themselves. They already know how to do most things, and are more independent. They no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant, and do not need to fear losing their freedom. They are not as easy to impress, and are not as easily manipulated or swayed. They have strong opinions and can return fire with equal velocity and weight in conflict. And all of this equals less easily gained admiration and this means, quite simply- we require more effort. So I can understand the fear and rationale.
On the other hand, there are a small % of men out there who do actually seek women of a certain age. I’m not talking about the young bucks who are just wanting to check “sleeping with an older woman” off of their bucket list either.( I still get plenty of those offers and sorry- not worth the trouble.)I’m speaking to those who have either pretty much always chosen women their own age as well as those who have learned from experience that they do not wish to deal with the follies of youth and the drama that usually comes as part of the package. Additionally, many younger women either have children from someone else already or can still become pregnant- wreaking havoc on the life of someone who very much prefers an uncomplicated lifestyle. When I have asked men at times why they prefer older women ( as opposed to why they DON’T chose younger ones) I have gotten the following responses:
-less drama ( #1 answer)
– the ‘character’ in their looks
– no risk of pregnancy
– more open minded sexually
-less pressure to perform
– less pressure to be a provider
As one man put it “ I can sit down to dinner and have a conversation about life and things that have meaning to me, things that younger women do not yet fully understand or appreciate. I don’t have to worry as much about my bald spot, having an expensive car, or the latest trends. I can be myself. It’s just more comfortable.”
So, my fellow ‘woman of a certain age’- take heart. Even if this group of potential partners is much smaller and difficult to find, there is hope.
As much as I abhor the changes I am going through, there is also pride, experience, discernment and achievement. And while I may no longer be pursued by the large majority, I, myself have reached a place in life where I am only interested in the substance and quality of a partner over most physical attributes. And it’s truly like finding a gem amongst all the rubble.
We cannot expect to change the deeply imbedded behaviors of human nature. But what we can do is learn from each other and learn to respect the similar needs we all have , working to create more relationships with mutual benefits- more productive, content and valuable relationships. We can admire each other more, respect the advantages of experience and learn to love & understand each other more in deeper ways. And most of all, we can learn to love ourselves,value ourselves, and live in the knowledge that we DO matter, regardless of social/cultural influences.