He pointed me towards a research website called Ok Trends, which draws on data supplied by more than a million members of Ok Cupid, one of the biggest dating websites in the world.
The typical 42-year-old man will accept a woman up to 15 years younger, but no more than three years older — and the women he enters into online conversation with are almost always at the younger end of the spectrum.‘My two terriers run barking to greet me, but apart from them, there is silence. I’ve lost a lot of confidence.’‘Over 40, most of the people you meet socially will already be in a relationship,’ he points out.
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‘I always had boyfriends when I was younger and assumed I would again after James was born,’ she says. These chats were fun — and sometimes quite flirty — but if I ever suggested we meet, the men would often back off, saying they were not looking for a relationship.’A dozen or so dates followed over the years, none of them quite right.
When she last registered with an online dating site she was 44 — and few men made contact.
Older women may also be scuppering their chances by being too picky.
In Cory’s case, she had low expectations of her initial meeting with Kevin because they seemed to have little in common: Kevin is a maths professor, while Cory only scraped maths O-level — and he’d listed ballroom dancing among his interests.
‘I read “Professor Parrott” and nearly fell off my chair laughing.
I said, “If I marry you, I’m going to have to change my name to Polly.”’ When they did marry, two years later, she signed herself ‘Polly’ in the register.
Never married, she has a son James, now 13, by a man she parted from before her son was born.
Ruthie has been looking for a boyfriend for the past decade.
I contacted The Plankton and she said the huge response to her lament proves there are many older women who feel just as she does.
‘I have had so many comments saying that finally someone has come out and said the unsayable, the self-same thoughts they’ve had for so long, but never voiced to a soul in the world,’ she told me.
The woman, who is divorced but says she would love to be married again, describes herself as being ‘on the wrong side of 45 with a brace of kids’ and bewails her place in ‘relationship no-man’s land’, condemned to be alone for the rest of her days.