With some regularity, I hear women complain that men older than their desired age range are contacting them when dating online. According to some of the women who write me, the majority of the men contacting them are outside their desired range and they find this very frustrating.
I wanted to talk a little bit about this, first by looking at an email from a man wondering how he should handle this type of situation:
Last week I turned 63 and coincidently started a six month subscription to Match.com. As I’m sure you know, Match.com sends a number of profiles to subscribers each day, as suggestions of people to contact and date. However, what I’m finding is that most of these people specify in their profile that they are interested in meeting men who are younger than I am. Because of their age preference, I do not contact them. Would you say that I’m handling this situation correctly?
My Dilemma Giving Advice on this Topic
I struggled to answer this reader’s email. The reason why is I have two conflicting opinions on the topic:
- We should be open-minded and willing to take chances when dating online. The cost of writing an email would only take a man a few minutes and if she never replies, well, he’s not out that much.
- Men should try to respect the requirements in a woman’s profile. Many women become frustrated with online dating (and sometimes are driven away from it) because they feel like all they ever get is spam.
If a man only considers himself, then the first option seems fine. If 1,000 men then take this approach…well, you can imagine what happens.
This issue isn’t limited to older men contacting younger women: there is a whole group of men out there who spam every woman they find attractive with emails like “I’d hit that”. I’m imagine some of these men think to themselves:
“I’m doing no harm. Of the 100 women I contacted I’m sure 99 will be annoyed but then I’ll find the one just for me!”
If we only consider our own situation, I suppose a thought like that might be reasonable. However, there are other people involved and I know plenty of women who have been frustrated to the point of quitting because there’s a set of men out there making things hard for everyone else.
My Suggested Approach for These Older Men
Having some time to think about this, I think I’ve come up with advice I’m comfortable giving. The goal of my advice has two parts:
- I want to encourage men to contact women even when there is some risk
- I want to avoid making the situation that women have to deal with worse
With that in mind, here’s my suggested approach: older men should be open to contacting out-of-range-women within reason.
For me, “within reason” is going to be five years. However, I don’t want to stop there because I would prefer to offer advice that forces the man to really consider the woman before contacting her. With that in mind, I think there should be a scale where the further the man gets away from her age requirement, the more strongly he should be able to make a case for contacting her. Here’s my idea:
The Scale of Contactability
|Age Diff.||Requirements to Contact|
|1 Yr||If you’re only one year out of her desired range, I think you should be willing to contact her as you would other women. At this point, simply being attracted to her is enough reason to contact her.|
|2 Yrs||At this point, you should have things in common. It shouldn’t just be about how attractive you find her – you should really believe you would have some things to talk about.|
|3 Yrs||It’s clear that the two of you could get along well. The amount that you have in common is significant and you have areas you’ve identified where you’d like to learn more about her.|
|4 Yrs||The amount you have in common with this woman is surprisingly high. If you don’t contact her, you know you’ll be thinking about it the rest of the night. If you sat down to write her an email, you’d already know the things you’d like to say to her|
|5 Yrs||She’s amazing. She has described everything you would hope to find and you simply cannot wait to contact her. If you don’t contact her, this is something you’ll regret for years to come. If you sat down to write her, the words would come without thought.|
An Imaginary Scale to Help a Real Problem
So this scale is something I made up on the spot but I think something like this is going to be helpful. I’m certain this scale isn’t perfect and a man reading this may need to modify it for his own situation. The point isn’t that this table solves all the problems. The point is that guys need to take risks sometimes to find relationships but we shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice other people’s experience in the process.
At the same time, some women can be very rigid. A woman who rejects a guy because of one year difference isn’t doing herself any favors. The closer a man is to her desired range, the less I would require of him before contacting her.
My hope is that an approach like this will allow men to contact more women without frustrating those women. I’d be interested to see what others think on this topic.
Also, if you’re interested in my thoughts on age ranges in general with date, check out my article on Determining the Age Range for Dating. The math in the article ends up giving suggestions that I’m sure not everyone would be comfortable with but it’s at least worth consideration!