I am 41 and have been dating a 49 year-old man for six months. When I first men him, all my friends asked, “Has he been married before?” When I told them “no,” they were immediately suspicious. They asked if there something wrong with him, if he had ever been engaged, if he ever wanted to get married, if he had commitment issues, or if he was a mama’s boy. As I’ve gotten to know him, I can tell you that the main issue I’m concerned about is only whether he has commitment issues. He says he wants to get married and start a family, and has recently told me he loves me, but there has been no mention of his time frame. My biological clock is ticking loudly, and I need to find out if he’s wasting my time. I am in love with him and want this to work out.
–Ticking in Oakland
The good news is that you’ve found someone wonderful. He loves you and you love him. It’s always tricky to battle the suspicions in our society toward older never-married men. Of course, the same suspicions hold true for women (“She’s 41 and single? What’s wrong with her??”). If your beau has a major character flaw that has been preventing him from having a lasting relationship, I think you would have seen it, or seen some clues, during the last six months. Has he told you about past relationships, and whether he has been able to form other bonds, even if they didn’t work out in the end?
There are many issues that may have prevented him from finding a mate in the past. Some of these include:
- He may have The BBD Syndrome (Bigger Better Deal): always looking for someone 100% perfect, thinking someone better will come along
- He may have conflicting feelings about marriage (perhaps his parents are divorced, or some of his close friends are getting divorced recently)
- He may be too set in his ways, thinking he has to compromise too much and give up his freedom for marriage
- He may have invested years with another women (perhaps living with her) that didn’t work out and left him scarred
- He may have devoted years of his time to his career or another priority
- He may simply have not met the right woman yet.
Whatever the reasons may be, the important question is to find out if he’s wasting your time. After six months, you need to have a serious conversation with him about his time frame. This does not mean that you give him an ultimatum, but you ask him frankly what he is thinking about your future together. (Step #15 provides a script for this kind of conversation in my book “Find a Husband After 35: Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School”).
The bottom line? There is nothing inherently wrong with a 49-year old bachelor, but you need to discover if there is an issue with YOUR bachelor, and what are his particular thoughts about marriage to you. If you see warning signs that he’s a man unable to commit, you must walk away no matter how painful it is (assuming marriage is your goal).