Flirting Among the Wrinkled

When I was young I didn’t think aging would be much of a problem.  I imagined it was just a matter of becoming wrinkled and losing hair.  “Geez, I can handle that,” I thought at the time, but boy was I ever wrong.  I was reminded of those thoughts the other day when my friend Janis told me about one of the side effects of aging she hated.

I was telling her about Miss Austen Regrets a PBS biopic about Jane Austen, explaining it was essentially several theories about why she never married.  One theory appeared to be she didn’t want to give up flirting.  Janis said that was something she didn’t like about getting old, and I asked her to elaborate.  She said life was more thrilling when she was younger and got so much more attention.  She said it was depressing to be ignored more as her age increased.

I replied that I was very attentive towards her and weren’t other guys our age still flirting with her?  She said, yes, but it wasn’t the same.  I quickly shot back, “Oh, yeah, it’s only the young Mr. Darcy types that count,” thinking to be funny, but realizing it was masking a stab to my ego too, when I realized that all my flirty communiqués had probably fallen on her limp and impotent because I was not young and dashing.

Since I moved into my fifties I’ve tried to reign in my natural tendency to pay attention to women under forty and focus more on women my own age.  Now Janis was essentially telling me I was wasting my flirting time.  I had already discovered that post-menopausal women had a declining interest in sex that was directly proportional to a growing desire for independence and self-sufficiency.

Biologically this makes sense, because if the reproductive system shuts down why would women need any stinking men.  I use that last phrase because I have heard more than once women friends say, “I no longer want to put up with any stinking man in my life,” and then go on to describe supporting a husband being very much like taking care of a kid.  Many times I have talked to a woman my age who related fantasies about life without husbands.

I remember asking one lady what this freedom would bring.  She said she could go shopping after work.  I replied, you could go shopping after work now.  No I can’t, she said, I have to go home and cook.  I’ve learned not to ask “What’s for dinner” at my house after my wife has expressed suicidal rages at those words.

In the end, I think Janis is atypical.  I know lots of women my age and older that still like the attention of men, even if we’re bald or wrinkled.  Now they mentally may be putting a paper bag over my head and painting a picture of Mr. Darcy on it.  I tried to cheer Janis up by suggesting that getting old means adapting to new ways of flirting but she seemed to want to cling to the idea that if you’re female you’re only a target if you’re young.

There were scenes in Miss Austen Regrets where you could dramatically see this.  Jane was besotted by a young doctor who admired and intelligently flirted with her, but her face would pain when the doctor’s attention shifted from her to Jane’s niece, a girl half Jane’s age.  I tried to convince Janis we could have a flirting society just among our own kind but she didn’t buy that.  Do women need to be pre-menopausal to value the attention of men?

This might be another explanation of why older men chase younger women, and another reason why older women hate them so much for it.  The obvious assumption that I have always lived with was old men chase young women because they thought young women prettier.  As I got older I thought old men chased young women because they were the ones that put out.  Now I have to wonder if it’s because its the young women who value flirting and attention.

When I continued to try to convince Janis that flirting could exist at a different level among the wrinkled set she kept insisting it wasn’t the same thing.  I finally decided, at least with Janis, flirting is only exciting when it’s part of that whole gestalt of choosing Mr. Right.

I pictured a hot steamy pond with hundreds of croaking he frogs flirting with the she frogs and imagining a lady frog amused by all the bull frog attention trying to pick just the right Mr. Frog for reproduction that season.  The tension would be great.  Among humans it would be even greater because we mate for life, or so we think at the moment.

I have to wonder if my conversion with my friend wasn’t really Miss Janis Regrets.  I hated to see her unhappy over that, but I also realized that I had something new to be unhappy with too.  If women reach a point where they devalue flirting because of biological changes, and men don’t go through those same changes, then we become out of sync with women our own age.  I think this is one of the many reasons why women hate getting older more than men do.  We’re still game and they’re not.  That’s going to be painful.


8 thoughts on “Flirting Among the Wrinkled”

  1. What? Another Carl? 😉

    Most of the time I am not concerned about aging, but everyone once in awhile I get the distinct idea that I hate growing old. As they say, beats the alternative. But I would vote to stay perpetually 35 or so if the chance presented itself.

    In reading your post I realize that I’ve always found women of all ages attractive. Certainly young, beautiful women are eye-catching, but older women are as well. Women who dress attractively and take time with their appearance can be as stunning in ‘old age’ as their younger counterparts. I’d certainly flirt with Helen Mirren just as easily as someone 30 years younger! I certainly think it is important that we, at any age, continue to cultivate a bit of sex in our appearance, the way we carry ourselves, etc. Especially if we are in a relationship with someone else. It is too easy to give in to letting one’s appearance go when one feels safe in a relationship. That is not good.

    Great and interesting post. Now where’s that anti-aging serum?

  2. I thought the first Carl was you using another computer. I keep trying to convince my women friends my age that they are too hung up on youth and there’s plenty of guys out there admiring them just as they are.

    Sometimes I wonder if us guys don’t matter at all. Maybe women are biologically programmed to compete with one another and they are really dressing for other women and not us guys. They do make jokes about us not noticing new outfits and hair styles. Or maybe women just underestimate how much attention we do give them, or of what kind, because unfortunately we don’t seem to give them the kinds of attention they want.


  3. That is probably true about us not giving them the attention that they want!

    Women are indeed a mystery. I’ve certainly never understood how attractive women could find themselves unattractive. I don’t get it and never will.

    I do stand by my guns despite their protestations and say that I have seen many a woman in her 40s, 50s, and 60s that I wouldn’t have any trouble flirting with. So much is about attitude and the willingness to present yourself as attractive and confident. Beauty certainly doesn’t stop at 30.

  4. Well! George and I met and married in our late sixties – it was a very romantic courtship and proposal and, seven years on, and in our seventies now, we are still very happy. Life `over the hill` ain`t half bad!

  5. Your conclusions are generalized and therefore, flawed. They seem to be specific to that one woman frind of yours. I’m 55 and age is just a number….although I see a faint outline of jowels?!! I have long blonde hair, green eyes and enjoy men as much as ever. Age is also a state of mind. When I tried to use the Palais Royal senior discount the clerk said, I’d have to see your license m’am.

    So, maybe I don’t enjoy it as much when the oil change boy calls me mam? but I love men and cannot imagine that changing. And I still get a kick out of those 20 year olds.

    The desire to be independent has been with me since I was 17, so that’s not a post menopausal thing either.

    I think we are at a tipping point where women will be “able” to be considered sexy well into their 70’s with a lot of these older actresses looking well preserved to say the least; however, I don’t have an Aniston body and hope women can enjoy aging even if they don’t run marathons either.

    I do think we all have a human tendency to value what appeals to us with more of a weighted value – such that, if I find hunky young Hispanic guys exciting, that’s who I’ll most enjoy flirting with me. But that’s a specific thing to me, not a gender related widening separation.

    I hope you look for proof of the opposite of what you’ve concluded, as I’m sure you’ll find it!

    1. All generalizations are flawed, but we can’t talk much without make generalizations. Jlina, I think you’re more atypical than most of the women I know. 55 is much younger than 61. 55 feels very young now. I’m older now than when I wrote that post, and the trend has continued. Most women I know my age are losing interest in sex, some haven’t, but many have. However, most still find young men attractive, and long for the day when they were young and active too. They still love dressing up to the nines and going out, they love dating, but sex isn’t the drive force it was.

      Also, some of my women friends still have the desire, but they just don’t want to mess with men because they find men to be a pain in the ass. Everybody’s different. A male friend my age just got involved with a women our age that wants sex all the time. He was the one who had to back down.

      I see plenty of proof of the opposite, of older people maintaining their sex life, but I’d say the odds are more than half of the older people I know, interest in sex is fading. It’s not gone, but fading. However, there are some significant counter examples.

      If it wasn’t for Viagra a lot of older men would be out of the game. It’s actually quite hilarious to have a mind raring to go and the equipment stuck in neutral. It does make you feel old. But so does not being able to pick up all the heavy objects you once could, or to be able to hike all day.

      It is true we’re all different, but we all age, and getting used to the changes is very interesting.

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