Last night I wound up watching this horrendous Millionaire Matchmaker show.
I got sucked into it for one specific reason: one of the two guys featured as these fabulous millionaire catches was 39. And refused to date anyone older than 28 or 29 - I don't remember the exact age, but just under 30.
Because, of course, he's so "young and heart" and active and fit and blah blah blah. His last girlfriend was 21 - and it hadn't worked out because he just "wasn't ready." But women 30 or over just wouldn't be able to keep up.
The millionaire matchmaker woman, who I quite liked, surprisingly enough - this pissed her off. She was determined to set him up with hot women over 30 and teach him a lesson - he could fall for someone over 30! Which ultimately didn't work.
But what this made me think of was Match, which I got on - the first of many on and off three-month stints - when I was 35. What I learned was this. Because you have to put in your birth date, and the age you're searching for, there is a huge focus on age.
Or maybe there was always this huge focus on age in the real world, and somehow, I'd almost always just been in serious relationships with younger men and I'd always been oblivious.
And then reality hit me on the Internet, and hard.
Turns out 30 is a cutoff age for lots of men. Then 35 is the next jump, I think.
I'd get emails from guys older than me whose cutoff age was younger - sometimes much younger. And they'd express such surprise. You're so hot! And you're this age!
I didn't actually feel flattered when I was 37 and some guy my age, whose profile said he was looking for someone 21-29, contacted me.
Rather, I felt like - and sometimes said, "Listen, if you're looking for a 21 year old, you're definitely not looking for me."
A couple times, I actually asked guys if they really, genuinely, were open to dating an 18-year old, being in their mid-30s and all.
But for the most part, I just didn't write back. Really, if you think you want someone that young, you don't want me, no matter how I look. Because I'm so much more settled in who I am and so much less tolerant of ridiculousness than someone really, really young.
What it did, though, as I turned 36 and 37 - particularly 37, which was a craptacular year - was serve to make me feel bad about myself.
The Dementor started it, saying that since I was 36, he'd have to worry about me wanting to settle down and have kids. You know, because I was getting old. And then of course, from that minute on, I was just getting older. As you do.
And then so many men made comments - by email or on actual first dates - about how surprising it was that I was this old, this attractive, and still single.
This old. This old this old.
Honestly, it's what I eventually found so demoralizing about the Internet dating. Who needs a constant reminder of how shocking it is that you're single, never married, and this old?
Coming from men your age or older than you?
Obviously, it's not every single person. I met guys my age and younger who made no issue of it. I met Nick, and he thought I was fabulous. He never once mentioned my age.
But once it was there, it was there.
Honestly, age is the only thing you really can't change about yourself, no matter how hard you try. But making you all about your age is something I just don't understand.
While I think it's stupid, we all have our own thoughts on ideal. The only terrible thing, really, is to make someone else feel bad about where they are, just because of your own parameters.
You want what you think you want. Whether it's working for you or not.