Mother Nature’s Trap

So many times I see it play out. I’m in a store or a restaurant and I will notice that the young girl at the register is in her early 20s, and I think to myself that she is the same age as my son. As we get closer I can’t wait to see if she notices him or even flirts with him, or vice versa. The moment comes and goes without any words, maybe a smile and that’s it. Then it happens: I go to pay for my food and the young girl is completely different. Very flirtatious; sometimes going as far as announcing she doesn’t know what to do this evening. Now, I’m sure that there are men out there who say I should be flattered, but I’m not, I’m mad. What does she think she is doing flirting with a man 20 years her senior, while ignoring the boy her age?

As we grow up we are taught that girls mature faster then boys. They certainly seem to hit puberty faster, but only by a couple of years. I remember when I was a young kid the girls always went for the older guy. The freshmen girls went for the seniors and the senior girls went for the college-age boys. I always remember being told all along that the girls knew they were so much more mature, and that explained their preference for older guys. I wonder who it is that tells them this, and if this explains the behavior of the young girl in the check-out line.

As young adults you can see where there would be an advantage to the guy who’s a couple of years older than the woman. If your age group is 15, and the 18-year-old has a car, why not? It’s certainly better than riding around on your boyfriend’s bicycle. So what about the 20-year-old? Certainly most of the guys her age are driving. Is she attracted to the 30- or 40-year old because he might have more money, and be able to pay for nice things?

I’ve always thought of it as cutting in line. You start out broke in life and have to work your way up. A young woman married to a man her own age struggles with him. They both work a lot of hours; paying their dues, so to speak, and finally they’re able to enjoy the nicer things in life.

So who wouldn’t want to skip the hard part and go straight to the good, easy life? Is this the reason younger women go after older men? I know what some of you may be thinking; that it’s a two-way street, and what about the man who is flirting back? What does she have to offer him?

Well, of course, the obvious answer has been around since the beginning of time: sex, of course. Now she is not offering sex right at the the first meeting, but she is doing something very closely related, she is flirting. For a large portion of men this is maybe something they miss; maybe something they are not getting at home.

Although it’s taboo to speak of it, most men will reveal in private that their wife’s sex drive has drooped off completely after they started a family. When the couple is young they’re attracted to each other all the time, both looking for intimacy with each other. When they start a family and start having children the man’s sex drive doesn’t change at all, whereas for many women, the same desire is simply just not there. They’re getting up early, feeding the kids, paying the bills, all the time trying to hold down a career at the same time. After a long day making ends meet, jumping into bed with their husband is not the first thing on their minds. Unfortunately – or fortunately – for men, they can be completely exhausted and the sex drive still doesn’t change. I’m sure we have all seen that cartoon that shows a man control panel with just one switch. On or off, that’s it. On the following page it shows a lady’s control panel with a thousand switches and dials that all need to be perfectly aligned. This is one of my wife’s favorite cartoons. For most men the feeling of desire is so strong it overpowers any other stress. Now I’m not saying that men are animals and are looking to jump anything that’s in front of them. I’m just saying that the sex drive between men and women changes over time.

So there you have it: Mother Nature’s perfect setup: the young girl who maybe would like to skip the difficult times, and the older man who misses having someone with the same desires. Now, of course the wise man just smiles and does not fall into the trap. But not all men are that wise. As for me, I think of that 20-year-old young man in line being ignored by the 20-year-old young woman. I remember being him and not being able to compete with a guy who had the nice car and career. Sometimes I wish I could be more rude and call the young girl out about flirting with someone twice her age, but to be fair, I should also call out the older guys flirting with women young enough to be their daughters.

So how do we change this? The answer is I don’t really know. I do know that constantly telling young girls how they are so much mature than the men their age is not helping. As for the wives of the man in his 30s and 40s, I’m almost afraid to comment. I can tell you this story. When our first child was born my mother-in-law called on the phone to congratulate us. She spent some time talking about the birth and how adorable the baby was, but then I could hear my wife’s voice change, as so did the subject. When my wife got off the phone I asked her what her mother had said. She was embarrassed, but told me anyway. Her mother had explained to her that many young moms forget to keep flirting with their husband after the baby comes. I thought this was strange advice. Why would a mom tell her young daughter this just days after their baby was born? Was it because she was older and wanted to avoid her daughter any pain in the future, or was it that she knows there will be young women in the future who will try to steal her husband away? Years later I understand what she was trying to say, as uncomfortable as the subject is. This advice has helped us through our 23 years of marriage, and of course, communication is always the best answer.

As for the young girl at the counter, I’m sorry, I will not let you cut the line. My wife has been through the years and the most trying times. She gets to keep her man. I only hope that the girl gives the young fella a try. One day she just might be that mom who is just too tired and stressed but wouldn’t appreciate a young women flirting with her man.

Dan Adams
Dan Adams has been a licensed plumbing contractor for nearly 30 years. He owns and operates Edgewood Plumbing  in Redding with his wife, Holly. In 2000 he and Holly moved to Redding from the Bay Area in search of a better place to raise their sons.
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101 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    This incredibly sexist rant is beneath the dignity of A News Cafe. While it may or may not lend credence to the idea that women are more mature than men, it certainly tells us that some men never mature at all.

    Don Adams – despite your highly biased personal observations (wishful thinking?), there aren’t some vast number of young women aggressively pursuing older men with rings on their fingers. In your determination to assign nefarious motives to young women (and apparently to even denigrate older women who you feel don’t continue to build up their husband’s egos at newly-wed levels), did it ever occur to you that young women talk more easily to older men because they see them as father figures, rather than as someone they are attracted to?

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      For once I tend to agree with Patrecia, a rather odd article if you ask me. It was my experience when I turned 40 that I became pretty much invisible to younger women. Almost completely ignored…I never gave it much thought because I was happily married. I would never consider a young woman being nice to me as flirtatious. Sorry dude, hang onto your fantasies about hot chicks wanting you, that’s all it is is… fantasies.

      • Avatar Joe says:

        Old fat bald guy looking like your cheap and broke is not very appealing.

      • Hey, take note of this day: When Doug Cook and Patrecia Barrett agreed. It’s a beautiful thing. I will bask in this for as long as it lasts.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Doug — That wasn’t my experience at all. I love teaching, and in my business that takes the form of mentorship. My field of environmental sciences is female-majority, and most of my young employees were smart and well educated, but came into the profession greener than spring grass. And without going into detail, mentorship can be a very tricky business. Sexual dynamics in the workplace often get painted as simple coercion: man with power taking advantage. The reality is far more complex.

        Eventually and inevitably, maybe a decade after the age you threw out there, I became “invisible” to my female colleagues in their 20s and early 30s (and now in their 40s). If I’m being totally honest it’s mostly a relief, but also a bit of a bummer.

      • Avatar Val says:

        Totally agree! *CRINGE* All the way through. LOL! You wrong, Mr! Bout ever thang! LMAO

      • Avatar Valerie Franco says:

        Preach

    • Avatar Candace says:

      There are so many things wrong with this rant on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. Instead I’ll end by saying “No. Just No.”

    • Avatar Valerie Franco says:

      CRINGE
      In his dreams!
      I hope this wasn’t for a thesis!

  2. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Don, I agree with Patricia. This young woman might not be friendly with someone her age because they don’t want it to go further but feel safer talking to an older man. I saw this a few times at the Redding high schools where I worked where older staff would think teen girls were flirting when they were just being friendly. In fact a security guard at Enterprise was fired for making improper remarks to a female student who smiled at him.

  3. Avatar Carrie says:

    Well, dang, I simply enjoyed the article! I’ve seen this happen myself. ?

  4. Avatar erin friedman says:

    Huh? When one’s job is customer service, being respectful and kind comes with the territory. Perhaps what the author considers “flirting” is simply a woman trying to do her job — while a man reads all sorts of convoluted psychological implications into it?

  5. Avatar Carrie says:

    Well, dang, I simply enjoyed the article! I’ve seen this happen myself. ?

  6. Avatar erin friedman says:

    And also — no one had to “tell me” that girls mature faster than boys. I’ve observed it time and again – first as a girl and then as a mom. How that plays out in the way we choose our spouses is complicated by love and luck. Ok. I’m done. 🙂

  7. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    In my opinion this entire whine is nothing but adolescent male fantasy, and is highly offensive.

    In my younger days I was frequently hit on by older – often married – men beginning at about age 14, which unfortunately is not an uncommon experience. It took no encouragement other than being minimally polite, if that. This hit piece is an example of men seeing only what they want to see, and is just another version of the “she asked for it” excuse-making that leads to girls and women being exploited and abused.

  8. Avatar erin friedman says:

    Apparently I’m not done…Can we also address the author’s implication that if a husband strays it is somehow his WIFE’S fault – for not “flirting” with her husband enough? It’s almost 2020 — WTH?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Yeah, that part landed with a whale dropped from 10,000 feet.. Research shows that the sex drives of men peak early, in their teens or early 20s. With women it’s more like late 30s/early 40s. Libido in men can really go over a cliff as their free testosterone levels drop below a certain point.

      In fact, it’s a sitcom trope—the hot-to-trot middle-aged wife and the not-interested middle-aged husband. Helen and Stanley Roper…Peg and Al Bundy…

  9. Avatar Cathy Allen says:

    I have to echo the other comments here, this opinion piece is problematic. I’d encourage the author to spend some time in self reflection. There are some really unfortunate sweeping generalizations here about the motivations of people the author has only met (by his own admission) one time for less than 2 minutes.
    Wow.

  10. Avatar A. Gail Paulsen says:

    Well, I agree with all of that ??. I think it’s quite telling that the son is referred to as a “boy” at the beginning of the article.

  11. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I got about one paragraph into this and mumbled to myself, “Oh shit, oh dear….”

    I’m in no position to pile on. I’ve published a few essays and many, many comments on ANC that I wish I could take back. If you dare bare your ass for all to see, yeah, you’re taking a risk. I commend Dan for taking his cuts at the plate.

    And anyway, Dan’s essay doesn’t stray that far from the tenets of sociobiology that are being taught today in universities worldwide. The area of sociobiology having to do with mating systems was initially plagued by an overriding focus on why males do what they do (as studied by men). Then the eminent and brilliant Dr. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and others began focusing on female mating strategies. (I was lucky enough to count her among my dissertation committee members, and I recommend her popular books focusing on female motivations and strategies.)

    What young women are up to when they solicit the attentions of men twice their age sounds creepy coming from a middle-aged dude, but sounds scholarly and is roundly respected coming from a Harvard-trained female UC professor.

    BTW, I had something of a crush on Dr. Blaffer Hrdy in grad school, along with probably 20 of my fellow male grad students.

  12. Avatar Candace says:

    “What young women are ‘up to’ when they ‘solicit’ the attention of men twice their age” (in this case in a brief encounter in a grocery store setting involving a young female customer service employee). Talk about problematic language and innuendo. In that particular setting, and in all settings, people of all ages and genders engage with others for all kinds of different reasons. As far as marital advice to a woman after birthing children? How ‘bout
    “You and your husband are more than likely ( and understandably so) mentally and physically exhausted while doing the best you can to take good care of your children. It’s understandable that you might put your own relationship with each other on the back burner. If you’ll permit me, my unsolicited advice would be to try your best to make a deliberate effort to take care of and pay special attention to each other as well.” This “don’t forget to flirt with your husband thing sets us back about 50 years.

  13. Avatar Joe says:

    Mining for gold ! Younger ladies love nice gifts and seeing new places. It’s Daddy love.

  14. Avatar Joe says:

    Warning for the married ladies, don’t let yourself go, because there is always a better looking younger lady willing to take your man. Woman are the gate keepers of sex.

  15. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thanks for the article Dan. Like Steve mentioned, it’s sometimes risky to put your work out there for others to read. There is mild flirting and then these are verbal exchanges that might be inappropriate at work or at school. It sounds like you received a definite “come on” at the grocery store and formed a negative opinion of many women’s motives for flirting.
    In defense of these women, flirting with friendly strangers in a grocery store is safe for them and pretty harmless.
    It’s important not to judge all people of one sort or another by the actions of a few.

  16. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    I also have to remember to avoid judging all men because of sexual abuse by some men when I was a young women, and because of the words and actions of some men in power today.

  17. Avatar Tim says:

    Maybe she just wants a 1 night stand with someone who won’t get all possessive & attached?

  18. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Dan,

    Thank you for going out on a limb and expressing your observations. Though I do not happen to share your views, the above comments show that your article elicited a vigorous response from both females and males, which is in itself is a worthy result.

    Given the personal challenges you have previously shared with ANC’s readers, please do not let the critical comments dissuade you from continuing to offer your experiences and perceptions on a variety of topics. Many of the commenters above have themselves contributed highly controversial opinions, and the stimulating conversation which follows is often quite informative and illuminating.

  19. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    I think some critics of Dan’s piece are being overly harsh. I don’t think he intended to provoke such vitriol with this anecdote. That said, not being obsessed with sex is one of the great things about getting older.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      I agree, R.V. While I groaned when Don seemed to imply that straying is usually the wife’s fault, I didn’t think his other observations were that off the mark from what I’ve observed and, in the distant past, occasionally experienced. (Now, when a younger woman engages me in conversation, I have no doubt that it’s because I’m deemed “safe.” I’ve worked hard to make myself believe that getting older, heavier, and bald means becoming increasingly more irresistible, but my efforts are for naught.)

      It seems a shame that so many of the comments here are dismissive and rancor-based, because I think explorations of what Steve referred to as “female mating strategies” are fascinating. It would have been great had folks said more about *why* they differ with Don’s points instead of just lining up to give him a spanking.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        I think we did a fairly good job of explaining why we found this juvenile rant offensive.

        Aside from the fact that there’s not a shred of proof that the young restaurant worker was actually flirting with him, the implication that some vast number of young women are gold-diggers who don’t want to “pay their dues”(and are just looking for someone else’s husband to steal), and that married women are to blame when their husbands cheat because their “switch” isn’t in the on position at all times is sexism on steroids.

        As I mentioned earlier as a young woman I learned early that it takes no real encouragement at all for older (often married) men to come on to young women. I’m sure every one of them had the self-serving sexist attitude that if she is polite, makes small talk, does her job, or (heaven forbid!) smiles at him, that she must be making herself available and should be treated as either fair game or as an object of condemnation (as in the letter above).

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          Patrecia — None of us doubt that you learned early, through direct experience, that “older (often married) men come on to young woman.” You offer no proof that this happened to you, but we have no reason to doubt it.

          Why then do you demand that Dan provide “proof” that a young woman flirted with him? Why refuse him the benefit of the doubt?

          Granted, even if she was flirting, that’s many country miles from wanting to cut in line ahead of his wife.

          • Avatar J. Haynes says:

            I may be completely off base here, but what the heck. My wife was a middle school teacher for over thirty years. There were times I attended school events, dances, open houses, etc. as a chaperon. I was obviously three times the age of any of the female students. The amount of attention I got from many of the young ladies was flattering but also off putting. What I began to realize is the possibility that in this world we live in today, with so many single parent families, that these girls are looking for a strong male figure in their lives. Nothing sexual. Unfortunately, there are likely many men that can and do take advantage of this situation.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Steve,

            I could offer many examples that reach beyond any grey area (some of which involved actual groping I had to physically fight off), as I’m sure most other women of any age could. The earliest was probably a married man in his 40’s who I babysat for when I was 14 or 15. He was the proverbial devoted family man (deacon in his church, awards for charitable work in the community, respected business man, etc. etc.). When he drove me home one night he pulled off to the side of the road, told me he’d seen how I’ve been “looking at him” (I had never thought of him as anything but a nice older man, and a contemporary of my father), and was instantly all over me. I had to fight him off and run screaming into the night.

            As to giving Dan “the benefit of the doubt” – I never gave any of the men I got uninvited attention from as a young woman any encouragement aside from being polite or (at most) very causally friendly. The male mind seems to have an infinite ability to imagine that attractive young women “want” them, based on absolutely nothing real.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Patrecia — You act as if I doubt you. I guess I have to say it again: I don’t doubt you at all.

            I just think it’s incongruous that you expect us to take you at your word, but require Dan to provide “proof” of his assertions—an absurd standard that is of course impossible to meet.

            Worse, if he can’t provide impossible proof, you strongly imply that he’s making it up or is delusional.

      • Avatar G. Randall Ford says:

        Well said Hal…

  20. Avatar James Montgomery says:

    Well, you are a brave man, Dan! The reactions of most of the women are quite predictable. As soon as I started reading it, I thought, “Man, the women are going to roast you!” They did, too, of course.
    The men, on the other hand, know there is truth in what you say, and all the disapproving women in the world won’t change that, tho they can keep us from talking about it around them.
    The change in women’s sexuality you talk about is very common, I believe, and women who want to keep their men around really should make an effort, even if they don’t feel like it. Marriage is an ongoing negotiation, and for most men, sex is an important part of the deal. Women, too, of course, but not as constantly. That’s just how it is.
    Women who are aghast at the thought that a man might break his marriage vows should reconsider their viewpoint. It is reasonable to expect your husband to be faithful, but not to expect him to be celibate. When the marriage bed grows cold, nothing good happens.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      James,

      I’d wager that a considerable number of married men who cheat aren’t doing it because they aren’t getting any at home. Men like variety and conquest, and need constant ego-building. Of course they’ll tell other women that they never have sex with their wives, which is nearly always a lie.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        Patrecia states:

        “Men like variety and conquest, and need constant ego-building.”

        That appears to be a grossly sexist and offensive generalization.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Richard,

          I was responding to the “grossly sexist and offensive generalization” that men only cheat when their wives expect them to be “celibate”.

          Women see a side of men that other men don’t. Ask any girl or woman who has been molested or hit on by a highly respected pillar of society with a doting and compliant wife. In fact, I would say that only women can truly know men.

          • Avatar James Montgomery says:

            Only women can truly know men? Thank you for sharing your wisdom. That’s great; it saves us dumb men the trouble of self-analysis.

          • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

            Patrecia,

            It is interesting to learn that your response to what you perceive as a “grossly sexist and offensive generalization” is to offer one of your own.
            Only women can truly know men? What arrogance and hubris that statement displays.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            I don’t think my comment in any way precludes men being honest with themselves. In fact I agree with another reader who mentioned that the author of this letter could use some self-reflection himself.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Richard,

            My point (obviously) was that men are not generally the objects of unwanted sexual attention from other men. They don’t see the baser side of some men, and neither does the rest of society they are trying to impress. Only women they conveniently label as loose and/or predatory (often based on nothing but wishful thinking) are treated to that view of the male mentality. In my opinion the author of this letter has done everything in his power to promote that sexist stereotype of women.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Patrecia — Uh….the bits about conquest and ego-building are unnecessary, but the part about males craving variety is nearly a universal in mammals.

        The term “the Coolidge effect” was coined by behavioral endocrinologist Frank Beach in 1958 (the year of my birth). He named it after a (possibly apocryphal) story featuring President Calvin Coolidge.

        President Coolidge and his wife were touring an experimental government farm. When Mrs. Coolidge came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” Mrs. Coolidge said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.” Upon being told that his wife had asked that he be told this fact, the President asked, “Same hen every time?” The reply was, “Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” Cooledge: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

        In a comment up above, I mentioned Dr. Hrdy’s research on female mating strategies. Turns out—gasp!—lots of women are up for some variety, too. They are—for sound biological, social, and economic reasons—often considerably more secretive about it.

  21. Avatar candace says:

    I think that the reason this opinion piece evoked such strong responses from both men and women alike is due to the fact that (“female mating strategies” aside, ugh) the assumptions the author puts forward regarding brief encounters with friendly young women in public spaces (coupled with the age old “women take care of your man or he’ll stray” stuff ) is insulting to many of us for reasons that should be obvious by the year 2019. I don’t think it’s quite fair to chastise commenter’s strong responses by accusing them of lining up to give a spanking. As other commenters know, strong opinions often result in strong push-back. You write your pieces and you takes your chances. That said, this is the reason I’m so far too chicken to write an opinion piece of my own. For that reason in itself I give the author cudos for sticking his neck out.

  22. Avatar Candace says:

    James, interesting that you “correctly predicted” women’s reactions but not the men’s seeing as male commenters did not all agree with the author’s opinions and said so. The piece was not about the differences between the changes in men and women’s sex drives as they age. Other than the mother-in-law’s advice about wives flirting with their husbands, it was about assumptions being made in regard to young women flirting with older, married men with the intent to “cut in line” (author’s words) in front of their wives of many years.

    • Avatar James Montgomery says:

      The article was about both subjects. You don’t think the roasting was done by the women? Maybe I misread the comments. It sure seemed to me the men who disagreed did so mildly, and with reservations.
      Personally, I think a little casual flirting livens up our lives, as long as we don’t take it too seriously. And I’m pretty sure that male and female sexuality are very different.

  23. Dan told me when he turned in this column that he was nervous about the reactions. As with all ANC contributors, I don’t choose their topics, and leave it up to them to write freely. And as an old editor once told me, if you write something and some people love it and some people hate it, then that’s just about right.

    OK, so nobody is openly saying they loved Dan’s latest column, but there are those who agree with points, and who give him kudos for going out on a limb and, as they say, speaking his truth – as he sees it.
    It takes so much courage to write something, and then put it out there for the world to see (and critique). And for that, I give Dan a standing ovation.

    I also give him credit for sparking an interesting discussion here on ANC, a place known for (mostly) civil discourse. I have to say that I agree with something I read on FB recently, that made me think of this incredible site and its smart and civilized people: “Discussions are always better than arguments, because an argument is to find out who is right, and a discussion is to find out what is right.”

    When it comes to the topic of the sexes and gender and behavior and expectations and assumptions and fears and prejudices, it’s ripe for some heated discussion, as happened here with Dan’s column.

    When I read Dan’s piece I thought back to when I was a young woman, working as a clerk at a department store, and throughout my entire life as a woman, having times when my friendliness and my smile was misconstrued as my being interested in a man when I was just doing my job and being friendly. And the older the guy was, the more comfortable I felt about not worrying about that, because, after all, he was old enough to be my dad. So I was open and friendly, which might have come off to him as flirty. Now, on the other hand, the more closely someone was to my own age, or the more likely I was to feel attracted to him, the less friendly I appeared, and the more guarded I behaved. Maybe that clerk really liked Dan’s son (and his sons are awesome), and she was just being more chilly to avoid any sign of flirting, and with Dan (no offense, Dan) she saw him as the safe guy. I could be wrong, and I have no doubt there are younger women out there who test the fence with a guy and see if she can get a rise out of him, because I’ve seen that, too. But who knows?

    And as a single woman of a certain age, I know I’ve felt my share of frustration as men my age gravitate to younger women, and the guys who are interested in me are much, much older. The whole age/sex/attraction thing is complicated, but it’s fascinating to talk about it and compare notes and see what we come up with. Frankly, I’m always wondering what makes guys tick (other than sex), and I love hearing their perspectives.

    So, thank you, Dan, for opening this discussion. Thank you, readers, for responding with your thoughts and observations. So interesting!

    Carry on. xodoni

  24. Avatar Candace says:

    Doni, in that one isolated instance regarding Dan’s son and the young woman musing out loud that she had no plans for the evening I wondered if it might have been the same thing you were thinking. Much safer and less awkward to muse out loud to dad about plans with the hopes son will hear or be told and therefore react. That said, of course it’s nothing other than conjecture since none of us are mind-readers and it’s always problematic to assume.

    • Yeah, Candace, that would have been interesting if the young woman was talking to Dan, the dad, about being available that evening, hoping the son overheard. (Not that Dan hasn’t been hit on before, without his son in earshot.)

  25. One more thing I’d like to ad to this discussion, is the fact that there are female predators – sirens of any age – whose feelings of self worth and power depend upon making sure that they turn men on, regardless of whether the men are spoken for, regardless of whether they really have an interest in the guy. It’s like a sport. I’ve seen them at work. It’s a scary thing to behold.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      “It’s a scary thing to behold.” Yeah, it is. It’s also kind of sad.

      Related to that, I think, are the women and men who are motivated to prowl because of the sense of power they get from taking something that isn’t theirs.

  26. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I too feel some of the comments were over the top but I think the one point in this article that stands out is Don felt he was being flirted with by someone whom he had just met in a few minutes. That this young girl was in a hospitality position where being friendly is almost a job requirement. Had this been a person that he had known for awhile it would be different.

  27. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    I think a man’s perspective can be summed up this way. Picture this (if you dare, lol)
    We’ve all seen the cartoon character with the little red devil sitting on a shoulder whispering into the ear of the character.
    And I think we’ve all heard the expression that “he’s thinking with his little head”, referring to letting the sex drive overcome rational thinking of the “big head”.

    Men have the dilemma of reconciling these two, often opposing view points and it’s how we, as individuals, can control the outcomes of these “debates” that happen. I use the term “debates” loosely because testosterone fueled feelings don’t debate, only the rational “head” looks at it that way.

    And then throw in peer pressure (even from parents) as well as pressure from society and culture and you end up flailing about with both angst and visions of normalcy.

    The opinion piece by Mr. Adams is just an example of how these forces play out in individuals without me placing judgement. We all have had our issues with the opposite sex and hopefully, as we get older, realize that both sexes suffer from insecurities and false hopes that end badly and that we all just want to get along in an open and honest relationship. But that takes work and dedication.

    I was celibate for 4 years between 19 and 23 years old and it had nothing to do with religion. My big head needed to take better control and I knew of no other way than to abstain.

  28. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    “But you could run out of gas on boyish, that was the thing. A message that should be engraved in every woman’s wedding band.”
    Dellarobia Turnbow in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior”

  29. Avatar Candace says:

    James, I agree that male and female sexuality are different in many ways. One of my brother’s books (Darlene knows him) is called “The Penis Chronicles”. It’s a compilation of a variety of men sharing there feelings regarding their own
    sexuality. It’s pretty interesting.

  30. Avatar Candace says:

    James, Whoops, the title if the book is The Penis “Dialogues” not “ Chronicles” (which in itself is amusing if one shares my at times, literal, “low-brow” sense of humor).

    • Avatar James Montgomery says:

      I get it. The male genitalian answer to the Vagina Monologues. I kinda like “Chronicles,” actually.
      Male and female perspectives are so different on the subject of sex, its like we live in parallel universes, with a small socially-acceptable area we meet in, so the race can be continued.

      • Avatar Candace says:

        James, while you’re correct regarding the obvious title of my brother’s book that’s not the “literal image I find amusing” I was referring to. Anyway, like I said, verrrrrry low brow humor. In my weak defense it may stem from my early “accidental” exposure to “Kentucky Fried Movie”…

  31. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    I think there are a plethora of misconceptions here. First, of course is that there are a lot of misogynistic ideas. But what really stands out to me is that the young woman is assumed to be flirtatious because of attraction, when she is most likely being flattering to facilitate a better tip. This says more about the author than the young woman.

  32. Avatar A different Dan says:

    LOL. I got a kick out of Doni’s comment. “One more thing I’d like to ad to this discussion, is the fact that there are female predators – sirens of any age – whose feelings of self worth and power depend upon making sure that they turn men on, regardless of whether the men are spoken for, regardless of whether they really have an interest in the guy. It’s like a sport. I’ve seen them at work. It’s a scary thing to behold.” I have seen some of these over the years..male and female. Semi-Professional flirts and daters. Kind of like the sport of Fly fishing…they present that “fly” and make it dance over and lightly on the water. ..they usually throw the fish back. 🙂

  33. Avatar James Montgomery says:

    Most interesting to me is the extreme range of differences of conception – not perception- about the encounter expressed by the various commentators. Remember that there is only one person in the whole discussion with actual perception of the event- the author. All of the rest of us are super-imposing ideas about what happened, based on our own experiences and preconceived ideas.
    Gosh, human sexuality sure is a complicated subject!

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      James,

      Actually the only person who knows if Dan’s perception is correct is the young woman who is the object of his scorn and condemnation. Without that his account is just a type of male fantasy that most women are all too familiar with.

      • Avatar James Montgomery says:

        Ah, yes, if she remembered and would tell the truth. You don’t like men much, right? That may color your own interpretation of the subject.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          James,

          Well, in my opinion it seems pretty obvious that you don’t like WOMEN.

          As far as my not liking men – I freely admit that I don’t like men who fabricate excuses to push their unwanted attentions on women, or (as in the letter above) who assign women nefarious motives they couldn’t possibly know, then self-righteously pat themselves on the back for not taking the “bait” .

          • Avatar James Montgomery says:

            You are entirely wrong. I love women, and I do not mean just sexually. I have had a great many wonderful women in my life. I am very happily married to one of them.
            The vehemence of your tirades tells me more than their content. To be honest, I don’t really blame you. The urgency of the male sex drive can be quite a problem, and I do not question your stories of atrocious male behavior. Obviously you have quite a store of resentment.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            My comments are very little different than those of the other women on this thread, so I can’t imagine why you’ve singled me out as someone who has “quite a store of resentment”. It appears that even some of the men agree that this letter is rabidly sexist, offensive, and largely made up of imaginary generalizations that denegrate women in general.

          • Avatar James Montgomery says:

            The vehemence of the invective.

  34. Avatar Valerie Franco says:

    Meh.
    Patrecia: more than well said.

  35. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    Hi, Dan. Whooo poppa, there’s a lot to unpack, here.

    Upon first reading this piece (after I realized you were serious) I was filled with angry indignation. My fingers flew to the keyboard but then I paused. Finished my coffee, did some chores, thought about stuff. I am still filled with indignation, and some residual anger as well, but that’s what happens when one feels tarred with the stinky, sticky brush of generalization: “The young girl who maybe would like to skip the harder times…” What? I find that to be an abhorrent, narrow view, to be honest. We’re not that calculating (at least most of us aren’t), and I think you are putting far too much emphasis on this. (NOTE: I do not speak for all women. We can only speak regarding our own experiences, after all. Maybe the women of ANC will let me know if I’m on the mark, or way off.)

    So, flirting and motives, let’s look at that. Women flirt. So do men. Of all ages, on both sides. I was a massive flirt in my younger days because flirting is FUN. My own age, a little bit older, a little bit younger, men, women, it was fun to have a bit of banter back and forth. It made us feel attractive and desirable, but it didn’t mean any of us were necessarily trying to hook up with each other. There is such a thing as innocent flirting, and maybe that’s something that is too subtle for men. I’m not putting men down by saying that; I truly don’t know if all flirting, to men, is supposed to lead to sex, so perhaps in a man’s mind there IS no such thing as harmless flirting. Perhaps the men of ANC will let me know if I’m wrong or right, or somewhere in between.

    Now that I think about it, though, maybe this is what it all comes down to: some folks understand that innocent flirting exists. Others think it means it will lead to sex and if it doesn’t, then the flirt-ee feels hard done by (no pun intended) by the person doing the flirting, or the flirt-ee feels that the person doing the flirting must have had some kind of agenda, i.e., looking to ruin a marriage in search of an Expressway to Stability. Ugh. Maybe it was just flirting. Nothing more.

    But then there’s the next question of, “so why did she flirt with me and not with someone her own age?” There are many reasons why someone might NOT flirt with another person. Body language, general vibe, maybe that person just isn’t their type, maybe they think someone their own age would read too much into it so it’s safer to give it a miss. So should women (already always being told to “smile!”) flirt with every man they meet, just so that some of them don’t get offended or think that the woman has an agenda? No, wait, then she would probably be considered “easy” or “a tease.” No matter what we do, it seems we’re in the wrong… It makes me think of these ‘incels’ I keep hearing about. “Women don’t flirt/date/have sex with me! Rotten bitches! Who do they think they are!” This way of thinking makes me uncomfortable on a visceral level.

    For the record: I have never, ever dated (or flirted with) a guy because of the car he drives or how much he earns. Yes I’m sure there are women who do, but I would thank you to not smother us all under that crusty-blanket-statement. I’m sure there are also creepy men who refuse to date women over the age of 25 because women their own age hold no appeal for them, but that doesn’t mean I will ever accuse ALL men of taking that view.

    I’m kind of curious in a peek-through-my-fingers way, here, though. Am I reading you right? Do you really think that all, or even many, young women (a) are trying to “jump the queue” by snagging an older, established, wealthier man, and (b) need to stay perky and sexy to hang on to their men (of whatever age), or else it’s their own fault if they lose them? Because that’s what I took from what you wrote, in a nutshell. The amount of woman-blaming with only a passing “to be fair” comment about the men taking a tiny bit of responsibility in this Blame Game is astounding, and disheartening. I really, really want you to *not* be That Guy.

    Then came the part that really dropped my jaw: “They’re getting up early, feeding the kids, paying the bills, all the time trying to hold down a career at the same time.” Hey, here’s a thought: perhaps if their husbands would help with the kids, the housework, the bills, etc. rather than leaving it all to the wives, then maybe the wives would have more energy for sexytimes after the kids are in bed. What a novel idea…! Instead, it seems to me that you were basically saying that women should do it all AND keep up the flirting / make sure to be up for sex on demand so that their men don’t stray. Ouch. That sounds incredibly one-sided (seriously, what are the men in this equation bringing to the table?) and I truly hope I have just misunderstood your words. As for sex drives changing over time, again, one size does not fit all. So if a man’s sex drive tanks, is it then permissible for the woman to go find sexual fulfillment elsewhere? Oh wait! No! A woman is supposed to “stand by her man!” Sigh…

    You said your wife “gets to keep her man,” because you choose not to fall prey to a younger woman (and presumably also because your wife has taken her mother’s advice about how to “keep” you). There is a smug sound to that “gets to keep her man” statement that made me flinch. In all of this women-are-scheming-gold-diggers-who-drop-sex-as-soon-as-it-is-convenient (so they’d better know that if their husbands stray it’s their own dang fault) thinking, hopefully you know that you are fortunate that you get to keep your woman, too. I suspect you do. While I am disturbed by what you’ve written here, I don’t think you’re a bad guy… just maybe one with a skewed view of things.

    It’s hours later as I get back to finishing up this comment. While I am still indignant on behalf of myself and all the good women I know, I am actually more sad, now – for you, and for the women you encounter, if this is how you view them. Isn’t the world divisive enough, right now, without perpetuating the Us vs. Them thing?

    • Avatar erin friedman says:

      Deb — You did a marvelous job articulating the many troubling points in this piece — and you did it kindly and graciously. I thank you, because I was pretty much dumbfounded, and my ability to craft coherent comments was hampered by the smoke coming out of my ears. So glad you posted.

  36. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I really enjoyed your comment, Deb. Thanks for waiting until you were less pissed. 🙂

    The issue of flirting is interesting to me. I worked in Louisiana for a big chunk of my life, and it’s safe to say that flirting is more common there. In fact, I think that flirting is offen considered a form of politeness in the Cajon country south of I-10.

    And y’know, it is nice to get the ol’ male ego bolstered by a compliment from the opposite sex, even if you’re pretty dang sure the compliment is fabricated.

    In my case, even if I thought that a young woman actually wanted to borrow Daddy’s pirogue and do some boinkin’ on the bayou, I wouldn’t take her up on it. It ain’t worth the risk that I would hurt those I love for ninety seconds of pleasure.

    • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

      Thanks, Hal. I feel a bit sheepish now that I see how long my comment got, so I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      I stopped a lot of my flirting when it almost went seriously wrong. I worked at a family-run business, run out of their big farmhouse. I did everything from fill orders to run copies to chase the family pony when it got loose. There was a copywriter who came in every few weeks who was a huge flirt (and so was I, at the time). He was funny, warm, and married – I knew he was, and he knew I knew he was – he didn’t hide it or anything. Our flirting was light and jokey, never overtly sexual – stupid double entendres and the like, that were more based on getting a laugh than getting aroused. I thought he was cool, and even sexy, but I thought he was my friend, nothing more. Heck, he regularly called me “kid.”

      Then came the day the family were all out, and he came by to pick something up. He found me back in the garage and we had a jokey back and forth, and like many times before, he left with a laugh and a wave, and I turned back to my work. I can still hear his urgent, pounding footsteps as he burst back into the room and said, “Let’s stop this messing around,” and grabbed me.

      I was fortunate. I managed to extricate myself, keeping the tone light, saying, “You’re married.” His reply was, “Who’s talking about marriage? Get over here.” I dodged him and told him he had the wrong idea and that I thought we were friends, just having a laugh. His eyes flashed in anger, but he did walk away. I stood there shocked. I had truly thought we were just joking, based on his responses (until that day), and the laughter and lightness of it.

      I internalized it all, took all the blame for it, knew I’d be accused of being a tease, all the ugly names men call women, you name it. So I quit the job that very week. I didn’t tell my bosses why, and when they said, “Oh hey, Joe wants to know where you’ve disappeared to,” I made up some excuse. He looked up my information in their files and called me at home a few weeks later, aggrieved. I told him I wasn’t that kind of person, and I told him not to call me again – and he didn’t. He did apologize, and gave me a sad story about his wife being ill and how he wasn’t happy at home, and something shifted, in me… and I stopped flirting, even in a light-hearted way. I only flirted if I “meant it” after that.

      When we’re young we stretch our experiences, sort of testing our attractiveness and desirability, and we hope our instincts tell us when – and with whom – it’s safe to do so. Sometimes we get it wrong. But I can honestly say that as a 20 year old flirting with an older, married man who I got along with really well and felt friendship towards, I had no designs on his marriage or his life. I thought we were *just flirting*. He didn’t. Lesson learned.

      • Deb, your story brought tears to my eyes and made my heart pound, because I could see you so young and happy and innocently flirty, and it was all ruined, and it changed you forever. I’m so sorry.

        (And that’s why it’s so nice to have gay guy friends; no fear, no misunderstandings.)

        • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

          Thanks, Doni. It certainly did, but I guess we all have to grow up sometime.

          And you’re right… my gay guy friends are awesome, too :-). Also, some of them are masters at harmless flirting – one of my nearest and dearest often did that Eartha Kitt growl/purr thing at me if he thought I looked cute that day, which was hilarious in its own right, very flattering, AND I knew he had no designs on me sexually and meant it purely in a complimentary – and yet still flirty – way.

    • Avatar Joe says:

      Bingo… control the id.

  37. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    I believe a fair synopsis of this letter would be:

    1. If a young woman who works in a public setting talks more to an older married customer than to a younger single one, that must mean she’s trying to steal that older man away from his wife so she can “cut in line”.

    2. All young men are deserving of a specific amount of attention from all young women, and if they don’t get it that’s only because some vast number of young women are gold diggers who are chasing after older married men.

    3. Married women who don’t give their husbands enough ego-building (flirting) or enough sex of the newly-wed variety (by his lights) are to blame when their husbands cheat.

    I have no doubt that the author of this letter was concerned about the reaction because he knows that rabid sexism doesn’t generally go over very well (with one or two notable exeptions).

  38. Avatar Tim says:

    Glenn Frey’s take on this letter would be:

    City girls just seem to find out early
    How to open doors with just a smile
    A rich old man and she won’t have to worry
    She’ll dress up all in lace and go in style
    Late at night a big old house gets lonely
    I guess every form of refuge has its price
    And it breaks her heart to think her love is only
    Given to a man with hands as cold as ice
    So she tells him she must go out for the evening
    To comfort an old friend who’s feeling down
    But he knows where she’s going as she’s leaving
    She’s headed for the cheatin’ side of town
    You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
    And your smile has been disguised
    I thought by now you’d realize
    There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes
    On the other side of town a boy is waiting
    With fiery eyes and dreams no one could steal
    She drives on through the night anticipating
    ‘Cause he makes her feel the way she used to feel
    She rushes to his arms, they fall together
    She whispers that it’s only for a while
    She swears that soon she’ll be coming back forever
    She pulls away and leaves him with a smile
    You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
    And your smile has been disguised
    I thought by now you’d realize
    There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes
    She gets up and pours herself a strong one
    And stares out at the stars up in the sky
    Another night it’s gonna be a long one
    She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry
    She wonders how it ever got this crazy
    She thinks about a boy she knew in school
    Did she get tired or did she just get lazy?
    She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool
    My oh my, you sure know how to arrange things
    You set it up so well, so carefully
    Ain’t it funny how your new life didn’t change things?
    You’re still the same old girl you used to be
    You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
    And your smile has been disguised
    I thought by now you’d realize
    There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      Tim,

      To paraphrase: “I thought by now you’d realize….” that testimony from Glenn Frey and Don Henley may be less than persuasive to those reading Dan’s article and the comments which follow.

  39. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Deb,

    Thank you for sharing your insights, experiences, and analysis in such a fair and balanced manner. Perhaps you would agree that neither the female nor male readers of ANC comprise a representative cross section of our society. Although it sounds elitist, I would argue that Doni’s constituents are better informed, generally more civil, and are often committed to finding some degree of common ground whenever disagreements arise.

    I was fortunate to have had a strong, loving, capable mother, and a sister and a wife who both possess those same qualities. All three achieved professional positions requiring considerable talent, dedication, and responsibility, and it has never occurred to me to consider females less worthy of admiration and respect than their male counterparts. Working in a female-dominated institution for many years, and primarily for female managers, was in retrospect both fortunate and professionally rewarding. Not because of their gender, but because of their values, emphasis on collaboration and consensus, and their honesty, integrity, knowledge, fairness, and experience.

    While my wife and The World’s Best Mother-in-Law are in Portland this Friday meeting the newest addition to our extended family, I will be hosting a Quid Pro Bono Guys’ Night here in which at least a dozen of us possessing a “Y” chromosome with gather over pizza and libations—something we have periodically done for over 35 years. Be assured that each individual in this group has deep affection and respect for women in general, and those closest to us in particular, and if ever it was learned that an attendee was guilty of the actions that you and other female commenters have shared, he would be immediately ostracized. One issue we will undoubtedly discuss is the #MeToo movement, and I suspect that most of my friends will express shock, ignorance, and condemnation of the vile and inexcusable behaviors perpetrated by what we can hope is a small percentage of our gender.

    I deeply regret that you and other women and girls have been subjected to the vile and inexcusable behaviors that you and others describe, and appreciate that you have not chosen to paint us all with the same broad brush. Thank you.

    • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

      Hi Richard, thank you for your reply to my comment.

      Other than the anonymous commenters and the trolls (sometimes those are the same), I do think you’re right about ANC readers. Most of us want to be fair and balanced, at least I believe we do. It can be difficult when there’s a topic that feels very personal or unfair – which is why I had to walk away for a while first!

      It sounds like you have excellent women in your life, and men, too. That’s the lovely thing about humans – there are a lot of very good ones. I think that’s why we resist these generalizations… because we know there’s more to us than our gender. It frustrates me no end to hear someone say that men are this, or women are that. We are – or can be – better than that kind of blanket-statement thinking, if we just consider each other as individuals.

  40. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Deb, this is certainly a great site to air an idea and get feedback. Not all people are the same. The man who flirted with you could have been the “adult” in this situation. He wasn’t. The law these days gives women under the age of 18 the same protection as children because, despite how mature they look, young women don’t have the experience or knowlege to avoid the sort of situation you described.

    • Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

      Thanks, Joanne. For a long time I was upset with myself for “leading him on” but at the time I had no such intentions, and all indications (from him) seemed to point to him having the same lighthearted view towards our flirting as I did – until that day. The fact that he tried to follow up even after I quit the job certainly shows him definitely not being the adult, in that situation.

      It wasn’t the first time I’d been treated inappropriately by an older man (no, the first time when I was about three years old…). But it was the last.

      Fortunately there have been awesome men in my life, too. And that’s why I don’t tar them all with the same brush.

  41. Avatar Common Sense says:

    Dan dan dan, have a seat on the couch there. Dan first we need to know why you haven’t gotten over the fact that in high school all the girls wanted older more mature guys. That obviously left and impact. Were you ignored a lot or was there just that one time that really left an indelible impression?

    Dan keep in mind that the Waitresses are paid by Tips. They have figured out that if they put a hand on your shoulder and pay you a bit of attention they tend to make a little more at the end of the day/night.It probably has to do with economics more than your boyish charm.

    Do wives chill up as the marriage continues? Of course they do.They got their prize, you bought the cow. So no use putting out the free milk anymore. But men are just as easy to blame. Not understanding what women do. The long hours of taking care of the shopping/kinds/animals/dinners etc along with work stresses if they work etc! And let’s face it….most men can’t quite perform like they could when they were 25.

    Yes Communication is key. Flirting has been around since caveman days. It doesn’t mean the 21 year old is trying to steal any one’s “Man”….although I am sure there are a couple line cutters out there.

    You get what you bring…….we all experience life through our own glasses. So the guy that’s 60 that been married 5 times and has paid out Millions in Alimony will have a far different view of the mating game than the guy that’s 30 and never married.

    So how do we change this? Answer: We don’t….you are assuming there is a problem. You can’t change Biology or human nature as a whole. We can only individually change ourselves and learn and grow and that will affect the collective conscious but it’s an individual that needs to change first.

    It’s a common thing. We All want to Love and Be Loved. The ironic twist is….we are Love. We have just forgotten that. There is Nothing “Out there” that will fill that hole that one has inside. As within, so without.

    The last paragraph is funny Dan……you must be something in your mind. The Catch. The young fellas will survive Dan…….you are imposing your experiences on your son and the current young men out there…..you made it also. I am guessing Melania didn’t marry for looks or brains? If she did…she got short….changed.

    Lol.

  42. H. A. Silliman H. A. Silliman says:

    Mr. Adams did not rant as some say. His is a calm observation from personal experience. Commentors have been unfair to him. Here is a dispassionate article based upon research that speaks to the subject.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-bad-looks-good/201908/why-younger-women-prefer-date-older-men

    • Interesting article, Hal. Thanks for posting it. I hope Dan gets a chance to read it. He might feel somewhat vindicated.

      I have to say, this has been an especially interesting conversation. I’ve learned a lot.

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