Q: I am almost 50 but look much younger, and I’m noticing that a number of the guys who are pursuing me are in their early 30s. I’m flattered but not really interested, as I want to get married again and I’m thinking that these guys are too young to consider that and probably want to have babies. Am I a magnet for guys with mommy issues? What gives?—Puzzled
A: Nothing like rolling up to your guy’s band’s gig and having everybody be all, “Mike, your mom’s here!” As for these young whippersnappers’ intentions, chances are the only “aisle” they’re looking to walk down with you is the one from the front door to their bedroom. Of course, men, just like women, can get to a point where they’re ready for cuddlyschmuddlywuddly forever—which is to say, a relationship.
However, evolutionary psychologist David Buss explains that there’s strong evidence from a good deal of research that men evolved to “have a greater desire for short-term mating”—casual sex with a variety of partners. Buss notes that there are some stumbling blocks for men in short-term mating mode. A major one is “the problem of avoiding commitment.” That’s where you older-but-still-hot ladies sometimes come in.
Older women are less likely to demand a relationship with an age-inappropriate partner. Of course, older women are also likely to be sexually experienced and sexually adventuresome in a way younger women aren’t. And, unlike younger women, who are often shy about expressing what they want in bed, older women can stop just short of going all Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: “Faster, you maggot, faster! And three millimeters up and a centimeter to the left!”
The thing is, sometimes two people with the most casual of sexual intentions unexpectedly fall for each other. But if you and the young hardbodies can stay in the sex-only lane, your having regular sex might help you take your time getting to know dates with real partner potential for you rather than flying right into bed.
Q: I’m a woman with a male business partner. He just got a new girlfriend, and he pretty much goes MIA whenever he goes to visit her. It can take him up to two days to return my phone calls, and I’ll have to call or text two or three times to get him to respond. (I’m contacting him about business, not social stuff.) He is usually—well, used to be—very available by phone. His disappearing act when he’s with the girlfriend is really annoying and detrimental to our business and, frankly, pretty disrespectful. I’ve made jokes about it, but nothing’s changed. Help.—Annoyed
A: “Hello, Search and Rescue? Can you send out a team? I think my business partner is lost in his girlfriend’s pants.”
Tempting as it must be to blast your partner for constantly leaving you in the telephonic lurch, you’d be better off simply telling him that it feels really crappy to have your calls and texts go ignored for days; you feel disrespected. Research by social psychologist C. Daniel Batson and his colleagues suggests that we have an evolved motivation to try to alleviate others’ pain. However, there’s a caveat: If a person’s pain or need is expressed with an attack on our behavior, we’re likely to go into fight-back mode instead of “there, there, lemme see what I can do to make things better” mode.
As for why you have yet to get through to him, you write, “I’ve made jokes about it, but nothing’s changed.” Jokes are just the thing if you’re putting on a show with a two-drink minimum—not so much if you’re trying to communicate your needs (especially to a man). The same goes for hints. Instead, opt for healthy assertiveness—from the start. Figure out what you need—how soon you’d like to have a callback—and then express that.
You may not get exactly the timetable you want, but this at least opens up a discussion: “Call you back within three hours?” he responds—countering with “Ehh . . . how about five hours?” You should ultimately find this approach vastly more productive than going snarky and, say, suggesting that he and his girlfriend make love like they do in the movies—specifically, the video in which Paris Hilton answers the phone in the middle of having sex.