A few weeks ago, I wrote a post outlining several reasons a man or woman may not have married by the time he/she reaches 40. You can check it out here. A reader and regular commenter asked a good question, which was:
“Why is it that once someone reaches their late 30′s (especially male), the status of “never married” is considered to be more of a red flag in dating, than “divorced”?”
There is some truth to this. But why?
As I discussed in the first post, being never-married at age 40 puts you outside the “norm” – i.e. not on the hump of the bell curve. And anytime you fall outside the norm, people wonder about you (or at least notice you). We all notice the guy with the tattoos on his face at the gym. We all notice the woman who’s 6’2″. We wonder about those people who have polyamorous relationships. Why? They’re different than most people. It’s human nature to notice what’s different. And, unfortunately, “noticing” can turn into “judging.”
Yes, a woman may consider a never-married man pushing (or over) 40 a Red Flag. Why? Statistically, it’s far less common than a man of the same age who’s divorced. She will wonder. However, if you’re 25, being never-married is the norm, and being divorced is far more unusual. In this case, being divorced becomes the Red Flag.
However, to rule out a guy only because he hasn’t been married by the time he’s 40 isn’t really fair. As I discussed in Part 1, there are many reasons a man may be in this position, especially in this day and age. Many of those reasons are not problematic for most women. The problem is, many women fear that the reason IS problematic – i.e. that he’s got “issues” or is commitmentphobic. And for a woman who wants marriage, a commitmentphobe is the worst type of guy to date. So she’ll opt for a divorced guy, who’s demonstrated that he’s the marrying kind.
As a never-married guy nearing or over 40, if you want to meet the right women for you, it’s important to know what you want. As I discuss in Changing Your Game, knowing why you’re dating is one of the most important factors in getting what you want from women. And many men aren’t clear on what they want. If you know you want marriage, it won’t be hard to convey that to women, which will increase your options with marriage-minded women. If you aren’t ready for marriage, but want a committed relationship, you can convey that as well, avoiding marriage-minded women and attracting women who want what you do. Whatever you want, there is a woman out there who fits your needs.
Fortunately, people are marrying later and later, and choosing to delay (or skip) marriage is becoming far more common. Rather than making snap judgments about a never-married man close to 40, get to know him a little. And remember, more than 90% of people marry eventually. It just takes some longer than others.
And here’s a tip: it’s OKAY to be outside the norm! Sure, people may wonder about you, but they may also find you interesting, innovative, or admirable. This is especially true if they sense you are comfortable with who you are.