This article was published in dr. rosiello’s sedona times psychology column in 2009.
A recent personal ad in an Arizona newspaper read: "60 year old man wanting to meet women in their 30s."
This request immediately reminded me of a discussion I had with one of my female patients who is in her late 50s. She had recently listed herself on an online dating service and was being pursued by two 30-year-old men. A bit incensed by their persistence, she emailed one of them saying he was too young to even remember who Gene Autry was. The 30-year-old man smugly responded that Gene Autry owned a professional ball team. "Oh no," she haughtily retorted, "he’s the Singing Cowboy and you just proved you’re too young for me." I pursued this young/old issue with her and asked what she thought this younger man wanted with a 50+ year old woman. "Either he wants a mother or he wants sex education."
This made me wonder about the personal ad, again. Why might a younger woman want an older man? When I think about my young heterosexual female patients who are dating or in long-term relationships with young men, I frequently hear the lament that the man doesn’t want to really know what the woman is feeling, doesn’t want to know what the woman likes, or care very much about her intimate thoughts. One woman said that after to listening to her boyfriend tell her about the events of his day, when it was her turn to talk about what had happened to her, he lost interest. When she confronted him, he was taken aback, almost unaware that she might have something to contribute to their conversation. Another young female patient told about visiting friends where the husband played video games and ignored his wife’s guests. Is this male behavior just a function of male 30-somethings having been raised on computers and video games? (All patients referenced in this article have given permission to be mentioned.)
Do men usually want more emotional distance in a relationship than women and are women always trying to squeeze intimacy out of their man? What is the answer to this issue of ‘What do Women Want? What do Men Want?’ or is it more ‘Who Wants What When?’ Well, this is one of those complex problems of human nature because one of the factors in this issue is hormonal. And, guess what guys…it’s you who eventually in your later years start doing the St.Vitus Dance.
Women’s hormonal state in their childbearing years is fairly consistently in flux and this is largely due to highs and lows in our estrogen levels. If nature gives us too much estrogen one month, we’ll just eat the refrigerator and blame whoever is in the room because it’s just got to be everyone else’s fault but ours. Whether we have children, or not, our hormonal levels are just banging around at the behest of the pituitary gland who rules the Land of Females. Estrogen, like all our hormones affect our mood and our mood in reaction, affects our hormones. Yup, it’s a cycle.
When women get older and estrogen slowly takes a back seat to other hormones, guess which hormone starts to motor up in women? It’s testosterone! Testosterone: the guy hormone, the football hormone, the golf hormone, the big Hummer hormone, the Harley hormone; the hormone that makes men, men. (When I first moved to Sedona I was told that women in their 50s and older seemed to be affected by the energy of the Red Rocks and the electromagnetic energy makes women even stronger and more independent. If that’s the case, I’d say that Sedona needs to be careful of us aging Sassy Sisters.) It’s men who in later years start to get a bigger dose of estrogen and a lesser dose of testosterone. That’s why your beards just aren’t as thick and why that hair around your ankles doesn’t exist anymore with the help of your socks. It is the estrogen increase that gives you guys your own form of menopause; it’s a male menopause, which consists of mild hot flashes/flushes and crankiness when you don’t get what you want. And, what do older men want? Older men want intimacy. They want a deeper form of love, they want nurturing, and tenderness in a way that just didn’t feel so important until you started to get older. This is not to say that many younger men don’t want intimacy, it’s just that for many men, the importance of having experienced an emotional closeness in their lives becomes much more crucial in later years. So, let’s go back to the fellow in his 60s looking for women in their 30s, because the common dominator is they might both be experiencing heightened levels of estrogen due to their age. That poses a good question: Should we build a relationship based on the delights/tortures of estrogen? I don’t think that’s a good idea. But, if you do, try not to eat anything spicy because you’ll retain water and that will upset your hormonal levels.