They were even more eager to pick my brain on all things female when I started working as an engineer and data scientist at Ok Cupid, where I analyzed data from millions of daters to get a sense of the “correct” way to date for men, women, and everyone in between.But what I soon realized was that sometimes the best way to date is to go off script.There just weren’t any of them, anywhere (or if there were, they were in hiding).As the only straight woman within reach, I soon became the de facto dating consultant for my male friends, despite my waning expertise.I was wrong, and I was shocked, though pleasantly so. And my surprise reflected how unusual this situation is. Either they end in heartbreak, because the younger woman wants babies and the man can't bear the thought of starting over, or they stay together, and the man eventually becomes a father again in midlife. I mean, sure, their bodies are firmer, but why is this so fantastically important?
Not my ideal meet cute, but whatever — and it made me wonder: is the old norm of older man with younger woman out?OPINION: I clicked on the Instagram account of a male friend to check out photos of his new girlfriend.My friend is pushing 50, good looking, and a successful professional, and I was expecting his girlfriend to be attractive and young.So that’s what this column, Undressed, is about: gender, social norms, dating rules — and what happens when we break them.When I was a junior in college, a woman called “The Princeton Mom” wrote into our school newspaper telling undergraduate women to “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”“Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out,” she said.It can be enormously costly to start a new family in midlife, both emotionally and financially. Recently, I watched an interview about aging with Stacy London, the American stylist and host of And why do men devalue women over 40?"Maybe there's a fear of mortality when men watch women age," London suggests, "and that it's just too much of a mirror."For a man, an older partner is a constant reminder of his own age.Interestingly, because we women have "internalised the male gaze", the opposite can be true for us.We don't see ourselves reflected in our partner, per se; we see ourselves reflected in our partner's eyes.But perhaps men fear aging just as much, or more than, us.And perhaps if men were less afraid of their own mortality, they wouldn't gravitate towards younger women, and older women would retain their social value.