Jewish World Review June 9, 1999 / 25 Sivan, 5759

'Appropriate' dates

By Allison Kaplan

(JWR) ---- ( A 38-YEAR-OLD Jewish woman from California writes: "I'm recently single after a long-term relationship and find the singles world bewildering. After scanning the people connector ads where men seek women, it appears that most, if not all, desire a woman younger than themselves. Are these men a) looking for someone to mentor; b) looking to improve their ego and appearance by being with someone younger; c) afraid to compete with a woman their own age whether professionally or maturity-wise?"

A few thoughts immediately spring to mind.



Mid-life crisis.

Econophone But in all fairness, I’m female. So I took this touchy question to a couple of single men in their late thirties who have written to me in recent months with their own frustrations about the Jewish dating scene. They responded enthusiastically, but anonymously.

(Apparently, some people feel that pontificating about the opposite sex and the perils of being single isn’t going gain them any ground on the dating scene.)

I’ll start with the response women will most enjoy getting hostile about.

"I find that women who take the best care of themselves (and I don't mean by the plastic surgeon's knife) are the most physically attractive. Without being hypocritical, I try very hard to take good care of myself, so I don't think that I have a double standard. Of course, women become more or less attractive to me based on their personality. I think, then, that it is very natural for a male to be attracted, more often than not, to a woman that might be younger, because it is more likely that she has been able to keep herself in good shape."

Allow me an editorial comment. Whatever.

But this 37-year-old pediatrician, who really does seem very nice, went on to offer up one of the major dating rationales I heard from several men his age. He’s getting older. He still wants to have kids. He figures his best shot is finding a younger woman.

I decided to run that one by the woman whose letter opened this discussion.

"It’s a valid response," she said. "And it might be true for some men who’ve suddenly grown up. But I don’t think it’s the real reason. I’d also like to have kids, and I figure I’ve still got six years. That’s a long time."

Fair enough. So we go to a 39-year-old Chicago male who sounds more like a psychologist than the lawyer that he is.

"I think the simplistic or surface answer is that men want that which is not readily available. A man, from an ego perspective, wants to attract a woman who (in his mind) is worthy of his attention and, to a certain extent, the attention of other men. In this way, his ‘choice’ is validated. A woman who is ‘appropriate’ (at least from a set of criteria including age, general appearance, etc.) somehow seems too available and, in a peculiar way, not worthy of his attention."

We’ve got to give him points for honesty, don’t you think, ladies?

I was particularly interested in how our psychologist/attorney would respond, since he wrote to me a few months back saying that he has no problem getting dates with non-Jewish women, but the Jewish women he meets are either overly career oriented or concerned only with his bank account.

As I suspected, he had a few thoughts on the subject.

"Most Jewish men and women start out wanting to find a compatible Jewish mate, but the expectations... sabotage the dating process. Instead of focusing on the joy making a ‘Jewish connection’ with a member of the opposite sex, many people really don't know why they want to be with someone Jewish... hence, the resentment and feeling of losing control.

"When Jewish women treat Jewish men solely as marriage material, as opposed to sexy, exciting, interesting and fun (traits they probably ascribe to non-marriageable, non-Jewish men), Jewish men rebel from ‘appropriate’ Jewish women."

I’ll give our letter-writing female the final word. She agrees that many Jewish women are looking for educated, professional men, but says that’s because they are educated, professional women who are looking for an equal.

If there was one accusation vehemently denied by the men I questioned, it was wanting someone younger who they could mentor. On the contrary, they spoke of wanting a woman who would challenge them. And women, I know that’s one criterion most of us have no problem exceeding.

JWR contributor Allison Kaplan is a columnist for the Chicago Jewish Star. You may contact her by clicking here.


05/11/99: Lost in (cyber) space

©1999, Allison Kaplan