click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




Dating Advice #54 - Over-40 Blues
Dating Advice 54

Dating Advice #54 - Over-40 Blues

She wants to marry a Jewish guy, but at this stage of frustration has turned to the Christian dating scene. Is something wrong here?

by

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 40-year-old woman who has never been married. When I was younger I used to meet men through Jewish events and synagogues. Unfortunately, I never met my mate. I did meet men who wanted to live with me without any commitment, but I always said, "No," because I honestly thought there was someone out there who would commit to me the old-fashioned way.

Well, obviously the optimism of youth was wrong. I now look back and I am feeling very depressed. I no longer attend Jewish events because I feel so isolated from them. The synagogues cater primarily to families. Single women are at the bottom of the totem pole, especially those past child-bearing age. What I find even more depressing is the Jewish community's lack of sensitivity to people my age who are single. Most single events are for people in their 20s or early 30s. Someone 40 is put in the 40-to-60 age bracket. There is nothing more depressing than to be courted by a Jewish man who is considerably older than me. I want to date men my age, or up to 5 or 6 years older than I am.

I started going to single events sponsored by the local church, because they are much more sensitive to the needs of singles my age. In fact, I was surprised to see how many Jewish women were at the church singles event. These were women I knew from Jewish singles events who were going to church events for the same reason as I.

At this point in life, I think that if I am given the choice of having a good, permanent relationship with a man my own age, versus keeping my Judaism, at this point I would choose the man.

Yet I'd still prefer to meet someone Jewish. What are the chances of a woman my age meeting a Jewish man in his early 40s? While I don't want to give up on the Jewish community, I don't want to stay single or marry someone who is much older than me simply because he is a nice Jewish guy.

Leah

Dear Leah,

We'd like to send your letter to rabbis, synagogue presidents and Jewish community leaders throughout North America as a wake-up call.

You are absolutely right -- many Jewish communities are insensitive to the needs of single men and women, who represent 40 percent of Jewish adults in certain geographic areas. The problem is compounded by the fact that synagogues and Jewish community organizations are populated primarily by married Jews, and they focus mainly on serving the needs of those members. As a result, we are losing the very people we should be trying to attract.

The good news is that community leaders and rabbis are now realizing that Jewish demographics have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. They are starting to understand that large numbers of single adults in our midst must have a place in our communities. However, it takes someone vocal, like you, to make them aware of the problem and suggest viable solutions. Have you and the other Jewish women you have seen at church events thought of mobilizing to open the eyes of Jewish leaders?

In the meantime, we'd like to offer suggestions to help you increase your chances of meeting suitable Jewish dates. It is possible for Jewish women in their 40s to meet suitable Jewish men who are close to their own age, and we know of many such marriages.

However, you must face certain facts:

  1. The older a man or woman is, the more difficult it may be to open up to a date and develop emotional closeness. "The Inner Circle - Seven Gates to Marriage" by Shaya Ostrov (Feldheim Publishers) gives a good analysis of the reasons behind this phenomenon, and suggests a 7-step process to help deal with the barriers that prevent many older singles from dating successfully. The book was originally written for a traditional audience, but its analysis and advice is helpful to a wide range of singles.

  2. Many of the most suitable over-40 men (in terms of common goals, functionality, compatible personalities) may be widowed or divorced. We know that many women who have never been married before would prefer to date a man who hasn't had a previous marriage, but we think that is a self-defeating stance. Most bachelors in their 40s have been involved in a long-term courtship, and their lives may be just as “complicated” as someone who has been married before.

    In addition, many never-married men have not confronted the commitment-related fears or other issues which have kept them single. Someone who has been married before generally is not plagued by fear of commitment. Finally, although a number of 40-plus bachelors with the "right" qualifications may have finally decided to settle down, those with a strong desire for children may prefer to date younger women. This may be less true of a man widowed or divorced. In fact, he may have children of his own. (Which is a whole 'nother story...)

  3. Singles events are a good social outlet, and while they have their share of success stories, they are not the best way to meet a prospective date. The best way to meet someone with compatible interests, goals and personality is through the introductions of the friends, relatives, rabbis, teachers, synagogue members, neighbors, co-workers, etc. It's important to cultivate relationships with your network and let the "members" know your goal of marriage and brief information about the type of man you're looking for. You should also consider some of the better Internet dating sites, as well as community-run matchmaking services. You can't believe how many married couples got started thanks to services such as these.

    There's an informal program called "Shabbos for a Novice" (www.shabbatdinners.org) that started in South Florida and has taken root in a few other locations. Jewish professionals, both married and single, get together once a month for a Shabbat dinner, learning and socializing. Participants come from all branches of Judaism. This is a great way to meet, socialize and network -- and has an added advantage of having marrieds and singles make much-needed connections. The idea is flexible enough that it could be tailor-made to your own community and broken up into two appropriate age groups.

    We've already passed your letter on to an international Jewish women's organization, as part of our effort to educate the community about the ineffectiveness of current services for Jewish singles and to work on solutions. We'll be passing it along to others as well. Thanks for taking the time to write, and we hope our suggestions are helpful to you.

    As you can imagine, we'd like to see you find "Mr. Right," and that together you will share a lifetime of bliss -- not in church, but in synagogue together.

    Rosie & Sherry

Published: December 23, 2002

Submit Your Dating Advice Question (Click here)


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 19

(19) Anonymous, February 12, 2010 2:37 AM

IT DOES NOT GET BETTER

I can totally relate to Leah, but I am 43 Jewish single female and never been married. I dated plenty but like Leah, never met my sole mate or even someone close! I can only speak from experience living in Portland Oregon, however it sounds identical to Leah's situation, the Synogogues cater to ages too old or too young. And it is sad to say I do not see it improving anytime soon.

(18) Anonymous, July 14, 2008 9:32 AM

Married in my forties for the first time to a good Jewish man

Probably no-one will read this, because this comment is coming a good seven years after the last one!, but just for the record, I am a woman who recently got married for the first time in my mid-forties. The man I married is within 5 years of my age, divorced, with great grown-up kids who are very accepting of me. We are both observant Jews. I really davened hard to Hashem, after many single years, never entirely gave up hope, and finally He answered yes. Like all marriages, it is not easy, but we are both committed to making it work and we love each other. So it can happen! Hang in there, there are good people out there, but you have to be flexible, open-minded (except with regard to the important qualities of character which really count) and above all, put Hashem first, continue to trust Him throughout the difficult frustating years of waiting, and marry only Jewish!

(17) Anonymous, March 20, 2007 1:38 PM

why not date younger men?!?!?!?

If it is so hard to find a childless man in his 40s to match a childless woman of the same age, why shouldn't she date younger men? Studies have shown that about 30% or more single women over age 35 who marry tend to marry younger men anyway. That is just a fact. Why not accept the fact that the older you get, the more likely you are to find a compatible partner who is younger than you are. The mindset that you can only be with a man if he is the same age or a little older than you is too inflexible for the 40-somethings (and even for the 30-somethings) these days. Most people in their 30s and 40s are already married and settled! If you don't expand the acceptable age range to include younger men, you are really shooting your dating life in the foot, and maybe preventing yourself from finding your soul mate. After all, why would God have made you wait until your forties to find your soul mate? Couldn't there be a strong possibility that the reason is because your beshert was born later (possibly much later) than you were? Try agematch, a site devoted to age gap matchmaking, or read the book Older Women, Younger Men : New Options for Love and Romance, by Felicia Brings and Susan Winter, for some serious advice for dating younger guys (alternatively, try reading Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men
by Valerie Gibson, for some humorous advice, and some tips on where to find your next guy). Good luck.

(16) Jan, September 13, 2002 12:00 AM

Understanding Leah

In regards to Leah's observations and complaints, I, too, am a 41 year old, so-called (by others) stunning Jewish woman who cannot seem to find a compatible mate.... or ANYONE for that matter. At this age, the men are either married, no matter how good or bad, divorced and not interested, or just plain interested in younger women for whatever their personal reasons may be, (they want more children, they want validation of their sexual attractiveness, whatever.) Additionally, I, for one, am interested in younger men as we seem to have more in common, but the men who approach and ask are usually in their 50's. I find most of them to be too boring, stuck in their own habits or "dead", however, the younger men seem to be interested in the young sexpots who think that Brittney Spears is a fashion plate! Will there ever be a happy medium? I am trying to get out more and mingle, so, by default, I am having a good time, but would love to meet the right one(s) for appropriate dating. I am in Houston, have been to the synagogue, told other Jewish friends to keep their eyes open, but.... By the way, I have started lying about my age or, at least, being vague. I have been told I pass form 33-37. Any suggestions?

(15) Anonymous, January 7, 2002 12:00 AM

try internet

Hi
I am in my early 20's so my situation is a little different. However, I have been trying to meet someone for a considerable time as well and went through the same problems that you are going through. What I have found to be more efficient is Internet. There are a lot of jewish dating sites and there are a lot of older people there. Have you tried that? I know it sounds a little bit weird at first, but it actually is even better. You get to find out about a person something before meeting and maybe even saving yourself time of going out if he is not what you are lookign for. So, just another window of opportunity.
Good luck

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub