Pink Bikes, Missing Teeth, and the Perils of Dating at 40


Editor’s Note: Here’s a blast from the past, and one of the blog’s most popular posts. I think that’s in large part due to how interesting and hilarious it is navigating the dating world as a woman in her 40s. Some people say our standards are too high and some of us (myself included) have a history that proves that those standards probably should have been a little higher…

As I was leaving the grocery store this morning, an old man approached me hollering “hey baby girl…can I maybe…” NO. NO. NO. If you’ve got me by at least 15 years, you should already know that no self respecting woman in her 40s is going to respond to a “hey baby” hurled across a busy supermarket parking lot.  Or would she? Even on the rare occasion that she would, as Rachel alluded to a couple weeks ago, a neck is a desirable trait. And if a neck is desirable, then teeth are a necessity. My parking lot Casanova had neither.

Which brings me to the topic of the day. As we get older, do we “lower” our standards, or do people lower them for us? Of course there will always be men who think they can approach a woman of any age, with whatever game they happen to be playing on themselves at the moment.

Years ago when I volunteered to prepare dinners at a homeless shelter, I remember a young guy coming up to me as I was serving meals and asking me if we could go out. My first thought was, you need to have a place to leave before you can go out. I know, it was harsh, but sarcasm is how I deal with uncomfortable moments. And that was so very uncomfortable. I hear arguments all the time that professional women need to broaden their horizons when looking for a mate, and I’m all for that. But, I think you should at least have a place to stay before you try to pick up a woman. Don’t you?

The other incident that stands out in my mind is once again leaving a grocery store, (what is it about groceries that give old, toothless men gumption) and hearing bike tires screech to a halt as a man I can only describe as being old enough to be my grandfather, slammed what I assume was his granddaughter’s pink huffy bike into the ground. He ran up to me (breathless) to ask me for my number. I wonder if when he borrowed his granddaughter’s bike, he told her that he’d be using it to troll for chicks. While he did get a laugh out of me, he did NOT get my number.

Ok, so in both those cases the answer was pretty obvious, but in situations when we’re approached by men who, years ago, would not have gotten a second glance from us, are we lowering our standards or broadening our horizons when we go out with them? And then there are those of us who hear the opposite, that we’re being too picky. But when it comes to love, life and our future, can we ever be too picky?

Share your thoughts and pink huffy bike pick-up stories in the comment section, on our Facebook fan page, or tweet your response to

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m single

00255382_thumb.jpgEditors Note: Today’s guest post captures what many single women in their 40s feel. If you’ve been there, or are there now, this post will probably resonate with you. Whether it’s the off-side comments, the incredulous looks, or “the poor her” side-eyes that get thrown by the happily (and sometimes unhappily) coupled up, it all can be overwhelming at times. But there’s something this writer wants people to know about many single women (and men) in their 40s…

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m single by M.R. Wiggins

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m single. Never been married. No kids. Living life solo. I don’t say this to elicit pity and I also don’t wear it as some sort of badge of honor. I’m just stating a fact. It is a reality that many people live with daily. I stress the word live because that is what many of us are doing – living. We’re not cowering in a corner, weeping because we haven’t started families. We live. Oddly, many around us don’t see it this way.

If one has managed to get to 40 and not become a spouse or is not in a committed relationship, they’re often looked upon as damaged in some way. Something must be wrong with her if she’s still single. Sometimes people’s reactions are subtle, while others are blatant and in your face. For instance, I might attend a family reunion where I’m asked “So, do you plan to settle down soon?” Really, I don’t think that I could get any more settled than I am now. Or, I might run into a friend that I haven’t seen in years whereupon I’m asked if I’m married. “No.” “Are you seeing anyone?” “No.” This is usually followed by the ‘that’s-so-sad-what-a-shame’ look. I don’t think that most are aware of the small pangs that they’re inflicting with such comments, which is why I don’t generally address it with them. However, my passive stance goes out the window when I’m incredulously asked “Why don’t you have a special someone in your life?” My rote response is “I just don’t.” Simple.

The older I get, I notice some people giving me the occasional side-eye when asking about my personal status, as if something is wrong with me. Trust me, I’m a together woman. I’m intelligent, kind, witty, mature, mild-tempered, independent, cultured, ambitious, educated and attractive. I’ve been called “the total package” on more than a few occasions. I’m merely single. I’ve gotten used to the looks, the head tilts, the pity pats on my hand and shoulder. It’s almost comical.

I understand that we live in a culture where people are expected to be coupled up by a certain age and if this hasn’t happened, then there must be a problem with you as a single person. What I don’t understand is why singleness at a certain age is viewed as a flaw. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I love my life and I’ve always tried to live it to the fullest. I have a wonderful family and loving friends. I’ve had an interesting and varied career. I’ve literally traveled all over the world. I’ve even dated here and there. I am not unique. This is the life of countless post-40 women (and men for that matter) that I know. None of us have side-stepped life waiting on our ideal mate. We embrace life and all of its wondrous experiences.

While I believe that as humans, we all need human connections, I don’t think that everyone should be in a committed relationship. Some people just aren’t emotionally equipped for it. Others have no desire for such a relationship. To each his own. I, myself, am not against committed, monogamous relationships. Quite the opposite, in fact. I think that marriage is a wonderful institution. The idea of building a life with someone and loving them (and being loved) unconditionally is heart-warming and comforting. Who knows, I may even get married one day. However, I refuse to believe that my life is any less rich and eventful than anyone else because I’m on life’s journey by myself. I will continue to explore the world, to learn new hobbies, to develop new skills, to surround myself with things that make me happy and to love those in my life to the fullest.

I am a 44 year old woman and I’m (happily) single, living life.

Share your thoughts about being single, married, or somewhere in between in our comment section or on the Women at Forty Facebook page.

On Being Alone

Alone and Loving ItEarly on in the life of this blog, I wrote several posts about dating after turning 40 and the minefield it can sometimes be. Like when I was asked out by the homeless man I was serving at a homeless shelter or the time I got hit on by a man riding a pink child’s bike.  Not to mention Facebook’s recent mission to set me up with Cowboys and/or Native Americans.

I also wrote a post, about love, fear and everything in between, which received several emotionally raw comments from women who, at 40, had never experienced real love or relationships. I turned one comment, from a woman who was turning 40 and had never been in a relationship, into a post and that post hit a nerve, becoming one of the most commented on posts on the site.

Today a member of the WAF community, Tricia, is presenting an alternative view to the theory that every woman, and certainly every woman in her 40s, wants to be in a relationship. She’s alone and thrives in it. That’s not so unusual, as I have many single female friends in their 40s and older who enjoy their single status. Where I think she’s different is, well, read for yourself…

On Being Alone – by Tricia Amiel

I come from a large family of women.  At some point in my life, around the age of 40, I realized that all of them are alone.  There are no marriages that worked out, no long term relationships.  I don’t know what it is about us as a family, and I wonder what it is about me.

I’ve been alone a long time, after a failed marriage and a long string of short affairs.  It wasn’t a decision I made at first, but I’ve grown into aloneness and am finding comfort in it.  It’s now a solid decision that I’m making every day.  I recognize that I’ve made poor choices in the past, and that this has probably influenced my decision to be alone.  But it’s more than that. I really just don’t need or want to be with anybody.  I feel alone in that too.  It seems to me that everybody wants to find the right person to be with, and I’ve wondered what it is about me that finds me in this place in my life, and what it means.

Maybe this is just a stage in my life that will change, but I can’t even imagine that.  I can imagine doing the rest of my journey through this life without a partner.  In fact, I’m comforted by the thought.  There’s a certain joy in it for me.  It’s not that I never get lonely, because I certainly do.  But not often enough to make a difference in how I feel, and it’s easily resolved by spending time with my friends, my children, even the students I am compelled to connect with a couple of times a week.  I’m filled up by working, by writing, by achieving my goals.  It’s enough for me somehow, and more satisfying than any relationship I’ve ever been in.

Although I’ve been accused of deluding myself, of being bitter,  I like to think that maybe I’ve finally learned to love myself and my life enough, that I’ve come into a state of grace after years of struggling with life and with love.  There’s nothing bitter about this…this is a kind of deep, meaningful peace, something I’ve never found in romantic relationships.  It’s about me, and having the space to come into my own way of living and being.  That way simply doesn’t require the presence of another being.  There’s just enough of me now to give myself the joy, the comfort, the love that I need.

A very important person in my life once told me that the only way I was ever going to feel complete was to be with the right person.  I can honestly say to her that I’ve found that right person, after 42 years of searching, that she is my one and only, hopefully for a lifetime.  That she is me.

What are your thoughts on being single at 40? Are you like this reader who not only enjoys it, but plans on staying that way? Share your thoughts here or on The Women at Forty Facebook page.

Facebook Wants Me to Date Cowboys and Native Americans

The Village PeopleFacebook is on a mission to hook me up. With one of the Village People apparently. Let me explain.

For some time now Facebook has been “suggesting” posts in my news feed. Sometimes the suggestions are food related. Other times they’re of the health and beauty variety. So far so good.

But sometimes Facebook misses the mark.

A few weeks ago, it began “suggesting” I date Cowboys and Native Americans. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – she says in her best Jerry Seinfeld voice.

The fact is, I’m good with dating either Cowboys or Native Americans (or both, caus’ I got it like that), but not if they come by the way of a Facebook suggestion, and definitely not because they’re either one or the other. I’m trying to figure out what it is about my Facebook profile that says I’m ready to saddle up with a caricaturization of a man.

Full disclosure: I have started listening to country music again. I say again because back in the 80s while many of my peers were listening to R&B and Pop, I was twanging and twining with Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Barbara Mandrell and the Manderell Sisters.  And then there’s that thing I kind of have for Blake Shelton…but how does Facebook know that? Has Facebook determined that I’m an unmarried woman in her 40s so therefore I must be looking for love? Is Facebook mocking me? Facebook is mocking me.

The truth is, I got a kick out of the suggested posts. I even clicked over and checked out the sites.

I shouldn’t have.

But you can go see for yourself. If you’re interested in a “Handsome Cowboy”, click here. “Handsome Native American” more your style? Click here.  If you’re looking for unattractive Cowboys or Native Americans, or anyone else for that matter, according to Facebook, you’re just plum out of luck. 😉


A fool for love: Mr. Big in the real world

Carrie and Mr BigEditor’s Note: When I saw they were making “The Carrie Diaries”, (the “Sex and the City” prequel) I remembered this post and wondered if much had changed over the past couple of years. After overhearing a conversation among a group of late 20s/early 30s women I thought, “not so much.”  Are we still waiting for the Mr. Big in our lives to come around? Is he worth waiting for? Are we?

Technical difficulties (a malfunctioning laptop adapter) forced me off the computer for much of last week. So instead of spending mindless hours on the internet, I spent mindless hours watching movies. Sex and the City was one of them. I’d like to make a confession. I wasn’t one of the thousands of women who loved Sex and the City while it was on TV. I thought it was, at times, smart, interesting and funny and I thought the portrayal of women, friendships and relationships was (again, at times) spot on, but it wasn’t must see TV for me. So when the movie came out, I didn’t rush out to see it that first weekend. Or the second. In fact, I just saw it for the first time earlier this year on DVD. And once again, the portrayals were great and the relationships realistic.

That is until Mr. Big and Carrie got married.

I can hear some of you booing me already. And I’m going to make you hate me even more by admitting that I was rooting for Carrie’s and Mr. Big’s relationship to end. Not by him leaving her at the altar, but by her deciding that she’d had enough of waiting for him to come around.

One thing forty years, several boyfriends and watching friends with their boyfriends has taught me is that whoever that man is three months into the relationship is who he’s likely to be three years in. This is a generalization of course, but many male friends have confirmed this for me. Men know what they want and who they want to be with pretty early on in a relationship.  So, if he was non-committal when you met him, he’ll be non-committal 10 years later.  If he’s ghost on the weekend a month into the relationship, don’t be all “OMG!!” when you can’t find him on a Saturday night five years in.  And finally, if he was with someone else when he met you, he’ll be with someone else while he’s with you.

Sex and the City was just a movie, but the reality is, the reason the show and movie resonated with so many women is that we imagined ourselves as one of those women, living that life, being involved in those relationships – buying those shoes. So, when Mr. Big finally, finally, finally realizes he wants to be with Carrie we’re elated because if Mr. Big can finally come around, so can the guy we’ve been with for 10 years.

But in real life, it often doesn’t work out that way. And in real life, drama doesn’t make a relationship any stronger or more valuable – it just makes it more…dramatic.

Someone once told me, “a fool at forty is a fool for life.” Ironically he was a fool himself, but I take my wisdom where I can get it. For my own sake, I hope it isn’t true.  I hope that at forty and beyond I’ll still be able to learn from the foolish things I’ve done for love, and change course when necessary.

I suppose the Carrie Bradshaw-Big ending, as unlikely as it seems to me, does happen. I’m sure there are many instances where after years of not being sure about who he wants and how much he wants her, a man finally realizes that he just can’t live without her. I know it happens. But in my case, I hope it happens faster and with a whole lot less drama. Is that too much to ask?

Are we still waiting for the Mr. Big in our lives to come around? Is he worth waiting for? Are we? Share your thoughts in the comment section on Twitter or on our Facebook page.

Image source: Access Hollywood