In the ongoing laff riot that is dating, especially on Match.com, I have been at times hugely entertained-and saddened- by those men who feel the need to fire off attack emails to women they don’t know and will never meet. These women have done them no harm. They exist in another universe. They’re minding their own business, living their own lives, looking for love in…well, clearly the wrong place.Yet these men, who seem to have nothing else better to do (read: retired or out of work) troll Match.com and decide to send searingly ugly emails to do…what? teach someone a lesson? Take them down a peg? Make themselves feel superior?
As an international adventure traveler/writer/blogger, I spend a fair bit of time every year doing pretty epic stuff. At 65, I’m still just getting started. My Match.com profile featured photos of me skydiving, scuba diving, riding horses, biking, kayaking, climbing mountains, massaging all manner of insanely amazing animals in some of the world’s most remarkable places. This is what I do. It’s my joy and passion and I worked my ass off to make it happen. I’m a multiple prize-winning author and journalist. A high achiever. Successful in my business working with Fortune 500 companies as a professional speaker. My profile also stated that I date men 15–20 years younger. Always have. Probably always will. Because I can.
Preferences Aren’t a Crime
Since I was thirty, I have dated younger men. Like most other athletes I know, we tend to prefer people who are in the same kind of shape we’re in. Suffice it to say, not many guys in their sixties do what I do. Many of those explorers are married. Not many men in their sixties are in my kind of shape. On top of this, and let’s call it what it is, most buff men close to my age prefer younger women. Because they can date younger women. And why not? What on earth is wrong with this? If younger women find them attractive, have at it.
Why do people — and that includes female trolls on the dating sites — feel the need to punish someone for a preference?
“Date Someone Your Own Age”
On several occasions men have demanded that I “date my own age.” Really? Honestly? Who woke up this morning and gave you permission to dictate to me who I get to date? This guy hadn’t seen the inside of a gym for thirty years. At least. He isn’t attractive to me.
All my great loves and one marriage were to much younger men. That’s my right, just as it is anyone else’s right to prefer a body type, a hair color, a personality. You may prefer twenty- something women who sport purple hair and multiple tattoos. Someone else likes milquetoast men with a bit of a belly. Why on earth does that matter? I like studly younger men. They like me back.
So What Have You Done Lately?
Twice I have received emails from men in their late sixties who, in their youth, summitted Everest. They both came after me their claws out. I didn’t reach out to them-they were angry after reading my profile. Apparently my live-out-loud lifestyle offended them- that I was still doing pretty radical things in my sixties. Well, forgive me for asking the obvious question, but what have you been doing for the last forty years? Still bragging about Everest?
Let’s be fair: this isn’t to say anyone has to do anything else. Robyn Davidson, who in the 1970s took three camels, herself and a dog solo across the Australian Outback (Tracks), never did anything like that again in her entire life. She was also famously reticent about her experiences. It wasn’t something she did for press, publicity or exposure. Davidson has spent the rest of her life writing, and championing Aboriginal rights.
What’s different is that these men wielded their Everest summit like Thor’s hammer in an attempt to bust me down. And this does what for you, pray tell?
Don’t Let Your Trophy Room Become Your Mausoleum
The great blind climber Erik Weihenmayer wrote that the most important lesson he learned after summitting Everest was not to let his trophy room become his mausoleum. My distinct impression is that this is precisely what had happened for these men. Like Billy Joel’s “high school star in the corner bar”or Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” they topped out early. For decades, Everest was the rock they rattled in the coffee can. Impressive, but man, do something else with your life already. Erik recently kayaked the Grand Canyon. Big rapids. Blind. He is constantly pushing the boundaries of devices for blind athletes. Opening doors for others.
Every year I pick up another sport. Explore different countries. Find ways to push my boundaries and my comfort level. Find new areas of work and to make a difference. As an inspirational speaker I walk my talk.
Without knowing anything of my background, what I do to coach, support and inspire women, one man took umbrage at my profile (which was written with tongue firmly in cheek) and sent the following:
“What a self-absorbed, narcissistic profile. When I climbed Everest, you are precisely the opposite of someone we would have wanted on our team. I have no doubt that you will not die in a ditch…But I’m pretty damn sure you’d leave your teammates to die while saving yourself. As your profile shows — it’s all about you. Here’s hoping you don’t need any support from your 20-years-younger man as you age and he loses interest.”
How does a guy who once stood on the top of the tallest mountain in the world get reduced to sitting in his chair blasting a 64-year old-woman he doesn’t know with insulting emails? What a comment about character and a lack of humanity.
But I’m a GREAT GUY
Being a journalist and a glutton for punishment, I read his profile. Here’s what he claimed about himself:
“I embody traits that most of us are looking for. I’m respectful, considerate and honest.”
Um, no you’re not buddy. If you had been, you’d have reviewed my profile, recognized that we weren’t a match, and respectfully moved on. You didn’t have to flail me because I’m not attracted to older men. What a childish, puerile, thoughtless act.
Not without humor, I copied and pasted these comparative comments and sent them back. He’s alone for good reason. I suspect he will stay that way.
And frankly, so are women who viciously attack older men who prefer lithe, active women twenty years younger. For heaven’s sake, grow up and leave people alone.
Fifty and Wiser Men
Yesterday I was picking up calcium supplements from Nature’s Grocer. My eyes fell on this bottle of Vitamin Code 50 and Wiser Men. What made me guffaw is that it is precisely this age bracket that I’ve observed behaves most angrily online. I wish I had a nickel for every email just like this that I’ve received, all from men over sixty. Being over fifty doesn’t make anyone wiser. Hard work does. Honoring others’ right to have a preference is part of that wisdom. Respecting that some women (or men) aren’t going to be interested in you is part of that wisdom.
Showing up for Others
Not long after this, while walking back to my car at Costco, I stopped to help an elderly Vietnamese man load about twenty very large cartons of water bottles onto his truck. He was beside himself with delight in part because I spoke to him in his own language. When I was on bivouac during officer’s basic training, I shouldered a fellow officer’s backpack as we climbed a mountain near Anniston, Alabama. I never left anyone behind. If I’m part of a group traveling on adventure travel, especially if our group leader is less than competent, I take on extra responsibilities to help others with their tents, get water for the team, help tack up the horses, comfort people who are scared, help with cooking, serving and cleanup. This is what the Army taught me about leadership.
A Match profile is a few paragraphs, at best. An impression. It cannot possibly convey the depth and breadth of a long lifetime, the complexity of who we are. It’s only a way to express a few facets, and to draw someone of like mind toward you. Nobody signs up to be a dartboard for others’ insecurities and hate.
Women Troll Too
Now let’s be clear. Angry, lonely women do this, too. I’ve heard lots of stories from my male buddies. They get verbally body-slammed about a photo showing off their hot bod from a super conservative chick who found it offensive. Why on earth couldn’t she have just moved on to another profile? As though shaming someone about a preference is going somehow beat them into submission.
Its sad that anyone is so angry about their condition that they take it out on others online. It’s like intentionally spreading the ebola virus just because God didn’t wake up this morning and decide to make YOU happy. Get over yourself already. Being happy is a choice.
Age Only Guarantees Wrinkles
Wisdom isn’t conferred by virtue of age. It is earned through the sweat, blood and tears of deep emotional work. For example, learning how to accept that some women aren’t going to be interested in you. Plenty of men aren’t interested in me just because I’m 65. Who cares? Let it go. Leaving a legacy of viciousness online only gets you kicked off. More lonely, more isolated, and more bitter. Our lives are a reflection of what is within us, and language is the geography of our consciousness. Why my preference for younger men should offend anyone is simply beyond me.
This man may have climbed Everest. But he, and all too many men just like him, learned nothing about themselves in the process.