Dating Over 40: Why Do Women Have to Change?

Last week I sent out my newsletter ,Kiss & Tell which comes out monthly, sometimes more. One of my readers, Lydia, shared her thoughts about the article I wrote on why one woman (let’s call her Betsy) might be attracting dysfunctional men. My advice included 3 possibilities why this might be happening for Betsy regardless of her good intentions and the Law of Attraction:

1. It’s possible she may be attracting men with similar dysfunctional family patterns
2. She might not believe love is possible for her
3. Her “type” of guy will have similar good AND bad qualities (i.e. flaws)

(You can read the whole thing on my friend Terry Hernon MacDonald’s blog – look for the post on November 2nd –  “Stop Attracting Dysfunctional Men”)

Lydia was put off that I suggested ways the woman in the article could change what she was doing to have more success and here’s what she wrote to me:

I’d like to comment on the 3-part advice you listed in your newsletter to Betsy who is still single at 49. I am 40 and have encountered all the same patterns. In fact, over the years, I have read countless exchanges like the one here, and they all have the same conclusion: the women must be doing something to make these things happen. Don’t get me wrong, this does happen, people do sometimes attract certain people or behaviors, or hold onto unhealthy patterns that ensure certain outcomes. However, there are several of us who are exceptions to this rule…

I may not be qualified to say this technically because I don’t have a psych degree, but how is it that, in every instance, it is the woman’s “fault”?

Even in best-case scenarios when … you fully employ every aspect of the golden rule taught to you by your parents, people sometimes will still not do right by you, or you still won’t attract the right kind of guy. Especially if you live in the Northeast. I … have read several articles on the “single man shortage” … and [how] men have taken advantage of this fact.

They know if they reject one woman they can always get another… They can be imperfect, but the women are expected to be perfect. They know they can get women 20 years younger, etc.; they know they can be simply more demanding than the women can be, and get away with it…

The double standard is unfortunately alive and well. Women somehow manage to live everyday with the hypocrisy, not to mention lower overall salaries and the pre-conceived notions and Hollywood caricatures of what it means to be female. Just my opinion. Of course, anyone who points these things out is branded a “man-hater.”

I’ve spent 15 years trying to figure out what I’m doing “wrong,” and I’ve decided I’m going to stop. It doesn’t get me any closer to finding the answers. All I know is I don’t have a “type” of man, project family or personal issues onto anyone I meet, or just cynically believe everyone is a terrible or dishonest person. They have to earn that label from me.

If women have done anything wrong, it is enabling the poor behavior of men.

That we are guilty of, hands down. I don’t pretend to know why some of us have a harder time than others. But I do know that we don’t all fit into the generic categories created by the psychiatric community or society to explain away everything. Some things do not have an explanation.

At the end of the day, I know what I’ve done wrong, and I know what I’ve done right. Sometimes the advice I’ve received is even more damaging than my dubious romantic encounters. Because family and friends, or strangers, however well-meaning, inevitably make you doubt your own judgment. I know that when I have a hunch about something, I am right on the money. Whenever I have doubted myself is when I’ve gotten into trouble. Thanks for listening.” –Lydia

I did respond to Lydia, mentioning that when we want change in our lives, it often requires us to change and make adjustments.  I also agreed with several points she made. Then I asked my friend and fellow blogger, Terry Hernon MacDonald, author of How to Attract and Marry the Man of Your Dreams to respond as well. This is what Terry had to say – she gives fabulous, sensible dating advice.

“Dear Lydia, terrymcd

You are right on so many counts:
-Even though you may live by the Golden Rule, a lot of other people don’t. They will not do right by you.
-Hollywood definitely promotes warped standards for women.
-In general, women do not earn as much money as men for doing the very same (or more) work.
-Women enable the bad behavior of men.

The last point is your strongest. I’m no psychologist, but I do know that we (meaning all humans, including men, women, and children) teach other people how to treat us. If we allow anybody (man, woman, or child) to treat us poorly, they’ll treat us poorly. So, if the guy says he’ll call Tuesday and doesn’t get around to us until Thursday, and we go out with him anyway, we’ve taught him something (the correct response in this situation is, “Sorry you didn’t call earlier in the week. I’ve already made plans. Maybe another time”).

You say a guy doesn’t have to treat you well because of some geographic man shortage, which will allow him to replace you in an instant. Well, let the guys who don’t know how to behave replace you with another woman. If she puts up with his nonsense, he’ll grow tired of her in a hurry. Nobody — man or woman — likes a romantic partner who’s “too nice.” We all love a prize.

I’m thrilled that you’ve decided to stop trying so hard to figure out what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right.  Stop trying so hard altogether. Go about your life as if you’re a treasure that some man will be lucky to discover. Keep in mind always the special qualities YOU have to offer. Get over this notion that you can so easily be replaced. And if some guy doesn’t “get” you and starts to pull away, let him go away. Good riddance.

Look, you’ve gotten this far in life without a man. Surely you can go a lot further. What are your dreams? You probably have other goals than a relationship, so pursue those goals. Do what makes you happy.  Happy people with full lives are attractive. Don’t give up anything that makes you happy to hang around with anybody who makes you doubt yourself.

If anybody (family, friend, stranger) pressures you to be married or in a relationship, take comfort that some of these very people are miserable in their own relationships. Maybe they’re even jealous of you.

Two of the happiest women I know are now in their 70s and never married. They are financially secure. They have good friends who they were able to rely on during health crises (one woman had a houseful of helpers after she was hit by a car leaving my sister’s Manhattan apartment; the other had friends who ran her errands during a cancer bout). Many married women can’t rely on their husbands to take out the garbage, so by all means hold out for a man who will be a friend as well as a lover.

Otherwise, what do you need him for? Why bother? I have a feeling you’re doing pretty well on your own.

All the best to you,

To learn more about Terry’s expert advise, I highly recommend that you order her ebook
Happy reading!

Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. So, she made a few tweaks and then dated 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late for Love to help other smart, successful women find love too! Her mission is to share her proven dating advice  and keen insights about men with women everywhere who are serious about finding love with the right man. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000’s of midlife women with her Love & Dating Coach services. She’s been featured on BBC’s 5 Live Radio, NBC, ABC, and Fox News, NPR, eHarmony,,, Connecticut Magazine among others around the world. An established author, you can find her 6 books on Amazon.

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