Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Seraphic Rewrites a Dumb Personal Ad

I'm not Single anymore, and I hope B.A. has a good long life, but if there is anything that convinces me that it is best not to avoid meeting any but men in the traditionalist end of the Catholic spectrum, it was the news that on a Catholic dating website there is a man over 40 who hopes to have many children and a wife who will home-school them all.

My guess is that this man is not that rooted in reality. He certainly can't be interested in marrying a woman his own age. No, he wants a young woman.

How many young women--women in their early twenties--really want to marry a man twenty years older than themselves? If English literature is anything to go by, young women very rarely want to marry men twenty years older than themselves. And if they do, it is because the man in question has turned out impressively well, by worldly standards: he has gained a reputation, a good salary, a position in the world or at very least a well-tended back 40 (i.e. acres of fields). He might not be as good-looking as the girls' twenty-something peers, but he symbolizes what manhood can be and is therefore pretty darn attractive.

One thinks of Colonel Brandon. Colonel Brandon had travelled around the world, at a time when most people hadn't, and either inherited or amassed a large fortune. (Both, I think.) He had a very good character, he was spoken well of. As middle-aged men went, it is credible that a twenty year old girl might find him attractive.

I have limited time with the internet today, so I don't have time to find the statistic, but apparently there is evidence that most men prefer to marry women of their own age group, not women who are younger or older. And I think it very sensible for men who wish to have many children to know this when they are in their twenties, and to look for a mother to those children THEN, when there are still a lot of women his age available.

It is not very sensible, at the age of 40+, to get on a Catholic dating website, and inform the women of the world that NOW you want a lot of children and a woman to homeschool them all. I do not subscribe to that website, so I cannot tell you what this Single trad Catholic man has to offer this fertile, patient, home-loving woman in return for her youth. Social position? Riches? Come on, man. Come on. When you are mostly interested in a woman as a means to an end, you get what you pay for.

Nature is unfair, but she is not that unfair. Yes, women start to lose our ability to give birth to healthy children around the age of 35, but fertility starts to get a bit problematic for men, too, it appears. There is a link between old fathers and children with mental disorders, for example. And although women, who are said to be less interested in looks than men are (which I don't entirely believe), are more likely to be attracted to older men than men are to older women, there is a limit.

I think it is a very bad idea to use a Catholic dating website as a place to make public a Christmas List of fond wishes that reveal a man to be, not a man who wants to look like good husband material to the lassies, but a man who wants to use a woman as a means to an end.

Here is what I think would make a good dating website Intro:

I am a Catholic man in my mid-forties, never-married, who is an [profession], who earns X and owns my own X. I am currently employed and have no reason to believe I will lose my job despite the economic crisis.

You see that he is beginning his advert with what concrete goods he has to offer. A woman who is more interested in home and children than in earning money will want to know this. And not having a career in a society obsessed with "What do you do?", she might derive some identity from his profession. (How utterly awesome if I get to be Lady McAmbrose some day. Sure, it would rock to be Dame Seraphic, but Lady McAmbrose would definitely do.)

He might not want to say his EXACT salary, but I bet you dollars for donuts that he will judge all the women who write to him primarily on their photographs, so nobody talk to me about shallow.

Although I attend the Traditional Latin Mass to the exclusion of the Novus Ordo, I accept the validity of the Novus Ordo. I just like the TLM better, and would feel unhappy if I did not attend it. I strive to be as orthodox in my thinking and as orthoprax in my behaviour as I can.

Now we know where he stands on religion.

Although I am in my mid-forties, I hope to have children. I can support a wife and X children in comfort, although of course I will accept as many children (or none) as God sends. I am not so poor as to justify the use of NFP, although of course if my wife has emotional or physical needs that justify it, I am open to the use of NFP.

Now we know he likes and is orthodox about children. We also know that he is open to his wife not working. He doesn't say she can't work--which frankly he has no right to do, even in the abstract--he just says she wouldn't HAVE to work.

I believe with the Church that parents are the primary educators of their children. I am open to discussions about homeschooling.

That is the least scary way of introducing the homeschooling subject, if it really means so much to him that he has to mention it in a personal ad. Not that many women are on fire with the idea of homeschooling; it's a good idea to write an ad that attracts as many women as possible, and just mentioning homeschooling will scare off a zillion.

As I am a reasonably attractive man who enjoys life and has many friends, I believe I am not married because X [I am a convert/I have recently retired from the navy/I was in a long-term romantic relationship that did not end in marriage/I did not feel I had enough job security until now/my fiancee died when I was 25 and only now do I feel emotionally available/it took the Holy Father this long to get my name in the pile of laicization requests.]

Listen, if you're a man over 35 who is not married, we want to know why. I'm just kidding about the wording regarding the laicization request. Just say you had to be released from your vows as a religious.

Don't say "laicised priest" at once, if that's what you are, because quite a few Nice Catholic Girls will simply vomit at the abstract idea of marrying a priest, despite all the very nice married Ukrainian and ex-Anglican priests they may have met. Concretely, women will marry ax-murderers if they are in love with them, never mind the poor chap who got bullied into the priesthood by his mother. So the laicizied priest thing is something that comes down under the "Now that I know you better, I should tell you that" heading.

I am a practical man, but I have a romantic streak, so right now I am willing to meet many women and see if I "click" with any of them. Like everyone else, I hope to find love in this life, as well as in the next.

Okay, now I'm practically crying. Who is this paragon? And why do I spend so much time writing for free when I could be running an ad-writing service for Nice Catholic Boys?

At any rate, there is no point wasting energy getting really mad at men in their 40s who partied (or whatever) for twenty years, thinking now they can just have six kids and a homeschooling wife by snapping their fingers. Maybe they can. Maybe they can't. At any rate, you don't have to marry such a guy. But you might enjoy a chuckle at him and his complete inability to write an attractive dating website profile.

By the way, you will notice that my model profile is for a middle-aged man. It is not the profile I would write for a young man, unless he had an independent income. A middle-aged man needs to stress his accomplishments; a young man will have the freedom to stress his potential and not to explain why he isn't married yet. The line "I hope one day to be in a position that my wife won't have to work if she doesn't want to" is a polite yet practical way of saying he'd prefer to be married to a woman who stays at home. And if gives him the freedom to admit he simply can't carry the financial load on his own.

Update: I haven't been able to monitor the tone of the combox because I currently don't have internet access at home. Ladies, please remember that this is supposed to be a comfortable place for Catholic Singles and other Singles of Good Will, and many of those Singles are traditionalists. I am deeply touched that both sedevacantists and folk-Mass preferring Catholic liberals, both Thomists and Calvinists, read this site; this is, given the nature of the internet, an absolute miracle. I'd like to keep it.

For what it's worth, my TLM-loving husband has two portraits of Belloc over the fireplace: Belloc young and Belloc old. And yet B.A. is a kindly, sophisticated man who is deeply sympathetic to women. Please do not tar all men who love the traditions of the Catholic Church with the same brush. My ex-husband was an Anglican who loathed Catholicism, and yet you will not find a breath of disdain for Anglicanism on this blog.

Meanwhile, you know I have deep reservations about internet dating sites. If a dating site is not helping you, if it is actually making you more contemptuous of men and despairing of marriage, PLEASE QUIT and write to the site managers to tell them why. There is no substitute for meeting people and making friends in person.


hip2bsquare said...

Re: And why do I spend so much time writing for free when I could be running an ad-writing service for Nice Catholic Boys?

How much do you charge?

Seraphic said...

Hip, you are such a very old friend, that I would do it for free and, if you like, even post it on my blog for the perusal of my readers. Send me an email.

Melissa said...

Okay, am I the only one here who thinks that this man is asking for something that is contrary to the good of the person he intends to marry?

Let me explain. The having a whole passel of kids and homeschooling them route is a hard row to hoe. Rewarding, but hard. Those who choose this route are setting themselves up for economic hardship. Kids are expensive, and a family that chooses to homeschool chooses to forego a second income. The family who chooses this lifestyle will never be able to keep up with the Joneses.

That's all well and good, and a fair choice. But let's contrast the life of the couple who marries while both in their twenties with the life this fellow is proposing to see why I find his proposal so unfair.

Okay. The couple who marries while both are in their twenties will both be in their late thirties/early forties when their fertility wanes. That means that their youngest child will be leaving home when they are in their late fifties/early sixties. They both have a couple of years together to save up and prepare for their twilight years.

If this guy marries a woman in her early twenties, when her fertility wanes at forty, he will be pushing sixty. When that youngest child leaves home, he will be pushing eighty. There is a fair chance that this guy will leave his wife widowed with young children still at home. Let me make it even clearer: if this guy dies somewhere between sixty and eighty, he will leave behind dependent children, and a wife WITH NO WORK EXPERIENCE, because she has never worked outside the home. That is a horrible, horrible position to be in: a widow with young children and no work experience.

Unless this guy is a Rockefeller, or, at the very least, has a nest egg big enough that, should he kick the bucket, you would not have to work to support yourself, this guy's proposal is simply not worth considering. Run away; run far, far away and don't look back.

Jam said...

Well, anyone who spends even ten years at home and out of the job market probably doesn't have work experience worth much on the market. My mom got her degree, worked for a few years, "stayed at home" until I was 18 (exercising some managerial and clerical skills in volunteer roles), and when she tried to go back to work found out that her degree was in a subject that didn't even exist anymore. Granted, who knows if the pace of technological change will continue like it has for the last 20 years, but there it is.

That said, being left as a widow with young children would be awful, and I think it's reasonable that women would not want to increase their chances of that happening, for instance by not marrying someone twice their age or even -- say -- not marrying a firefighter or policeman.

Evelyn said...

Oh, Seraphic, it isn't just the NCBs who need editing help! I am waiting on a Tribunal, but occasionally amuse myself by anonymously poking around dating websites. Gentlemen, kindly have someone review your profile for grammar and spelling errors. It should not feel like I'm reading a text message. Further, if you are seriously seeking a woman, don't post a profile photo of yourself hanging off some other woman, or a dozen shots of different angles of your face. Show us what you enjoy doing and/or do well. Really, I think every NCB or NCG who uses a dating website ought to have good friends of both sexes look over their profiles. Otherwise you will attract more amused trolls than serious inquirers.

BurgoFitzgerald said...

I am a 41 year old female who has been a member of a large catholic dating site for the past eight years. As of this moment, I have ten messages in my message box from interested male members. Their ages are 55, 58, 59, 61, 62, 62, 62, 62, 65, 68. All claim to want to have many or more children. Most of these men claim to be part-time workers, going back to school, or in between jobs. All emphatically state that they are often told by other people that they "could pass for 40ish" and that they have "more energy than most 30 year olds." They seem to all earnestly believe this to be true.

What is interesting is that I joined the site when I was 32, and when I was 32, the majority of men that contacted me were 45 or older (except for the myriad of 25 and under crowd who wanted to use me as mentor and proofreader because I am an english professor.) As I grew older, the age of the interested males members seemed to grow older as well.

One night while "chatting" with a male member who was, shall we say, well into his cups, he admitted that the reason men like him on the site (56 years old) went after women like me (I was 35 at the time) was because they knew they didn't really stand a chance with the "30 and younger gals." He said, and I quote, "With gals your age, we know that you're kinda gettting antsy at being close to 40 and not married. We know that you might be able to have some children before it's too late, and you won't be so picky as some of the younger gals." In vino veritas!!!

When the subject is broached about these men perhaps trying to be a little more "realistic"(?), the usual pat responses are bandied about: "My uncle was 25 years older than my aunt and they had a great relationship with lots of kids!", "Age is just a number!", "Age is all relative!" and the like. These men also like to use "examples" such as Cary Grant, Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Richard Branson, or insert your own troubled celebrity name here, as proof that many women are attracted to men who are 25 years or older. It is amusing that they seem to forget that these examples are also extremely famous, extremely wealthy, extremely charismatic.

And I also agree with the comments made by some of the other posters about profile pictures and horrendous spelling and grammar errors!

Cindy said...

Agree but just one note: I think both men and women are single longer (late 30s/early 40s) these days. Sometimes there is no good explanation for it and it is not always a sign of a "problem." Both you and I (and our husbands) were not married until our mid to late 30's. It is hard to explain extended singleness when you are in the middle of it. God bless!

Cindy said...

BurgoFitz: OMG That guy that said those things to you does have a problem. Yuk.

BurgoFitzgerald said...


He was just being honest, and he was letting me know what many men he knew believed. I know from my own experience that there are many men who feel the same.

He was actually a very nice person, but his cocktails that evening loosened his tongue.

I remain a member on the site because I made some great friends from the site, it has interesting articles and forums, and it is a good way to keep up with catholic events in my city. However, I have no illusions that I will find "The One" on this site. I just find the entire medium tremendously unnatural and disheartening.

Julie M. said...

As a married reader who pipes up occasionally, I have to say I agree with Melissa and Jam. Women need to be very careful about choosing or agreeing to stay at home with their kids. I am currently a reluctant stay-at-home mom. I would rather be working, but my geographic location has made it difficult for me to find full-time work. However, I keep up a number of side-gigs that are keeping my skills and resumes up to date.

I can completely understand the motivations that would cause a woman to want to stay at home with her kids, even though I don't feel those motivations. But I strongly believe that woman needs to be doing something to keep her skills up to date - consulting, volunteering, serving in a leadership role in a professional organization, writing, teaching classes online, taking classes online, freelancing, or whatever.

Unless, as readers have said, your husband is fabulously and independently wealthy, I think it is irresponsible for a woman to begin a family that she could not support, at least partially, should the need arise.

Jam said...

Oh, well, I guess that's not quite what I meant; although I'm all in favor of people thoughtfully considering their life choices.

I was thinking that really, anyone could find themselves on the job market without good skills or experience. I had a friend who worked in IT who worried about staying with on company for too long; the longer she worked in one place the more out of touch she was with newer systems and standards. Plenty of people spend years going for a PhD and then quit, or graduate and realize there are no jobs, or they don't actually want an academic job. Or they spend years and big money going for a law degree and discover in the process that law is the last thing they want to do. Or how about someone who spends years, maybe decades in the military, and then has to figure out a civilian career? For me personally the prospect of having to take a job that I'm overqualified for, or of having to retrain, in say 15-20 years would not be enough in itself to make me choose not to stay at home with the kids. Granted, I'm an academic, and in academics there are so many ways to find yourself out on your butt with 20 years of activity that won't help you get a job, even if you spend all your time on your career.

But see, for me at least, it's all hypothetical. If God sends me a husband who can support me at home with kids, and if that's what works for our family then that's great. But He might send me a man who doesn't make much; or who does okay but lives and works in an expensive area; or He might not send us children; or He might only send us one child; or He might throw me a job that will be a great opportunity to use my training and serve Him. Who knows! I think a wife and mother can lead a holy life whether she has to work for money, or chooses to work for money, or doesn't work for money, and how can you pre-determine your path to holiness until God shows it to you. To loop it back around to the post, it seems to me that when you're single and looking for a spouse you're better off just knowing what you're open to rather than specifying the kind of lifestyle you want someone to provide you with. Particularly so for men, who even when well-intentioned, don't necessarily understand what a big difference these things make for a woman.

Andrea said...

I tried online dating for the first time last year, when I was 34, and the only men who were interested in me were between the ages of 51-68. Almost all the profiles of men in their 40s stated they wanted children, and in most cases lots of them. It'd just really frustrating when men older then me consider me too old. As a woman I've had to come to terms with the fact that I'll never have the big family I dreamed of, but there seem to be a lot of men who will never give up on that dream of a large family, no matter how old they are. Like BurgoFitzgerald mentioned, they all seem to cling to stories of celebrity men who have married much younger women, or some grandmother or great great grandmother who married a man 20+ years older and had a happy marriage and many children with her much older husband. There are a lot of mid 30s to early 40s women who would make great wives and possibly have 1 or 2 kids, who are not even given a chance by all these 40something men who wants big families. All I seem to be meeting these days are divorced men who don't want anymore children. Anyway Seraphic, the profile of the 40something man you read is not an anomaly. Most of the 40+ men I encountered in online dating want lots of kids. One early 50s man who contacted me wanted a women of childbearing age who could have 2-4 children. And that was all he listed in the seeking section. Like I said, so frustrating. I try to not let it get to me, but it does. Oh, and one more thing. Like BurgoFitzgerald said, so many profiles of 40+ year old men say things like "I look 10 years younger than I am", or "I'm in better shape than a 25 year old". So ridiculous. Do these men really think what it will be like to have a bunch of young children when they are in their 50s and teenagers in their 60s and 70s? Even people who started having children in their early 20s find it exhausting. These men keep getting older, but the women they are interested in stay the same age.

Charming Disarray said...

It's so funny because it's been ages since I've been approached by older men. I assumed this was because I'm no longer 21, but now I'm wondering if I'm just in a sweet spot and pretty soon I'm going to be on the radar of the 70+s.

A lot of the culture surrounding the Latin Mass encourages men to be totally separated from reality. No job? It's because of modernism and the fact that we know longer live in an agrarian society. No wife? It's because of feminism. You show up at Mass looking and acting crazy? It's because we're not supposed to care about what "the world" thinks. Don't feel like a man? It's because in the past, there were crusaders, and crusaders don't exist anymore because of feminism. So many of these men are the heroes of their own fantasy lives, so it's not at all surprising they think "the Church" in the form of a Catholic dating site will provide them with a young, beautiful, fertile wife who will provide them with the perfect family and they'd never have to lift a finger.

I know some couples with age gaps, but in NONE of those cases did the man start out by trying to find a younger wife. And both my best friend and I had interest shown in us as teenagers by much older men. One of them, interestingly, ended up marrying a woman his own age, and they're very happy.

I've done a fair amount of online dating, and it is always nice when the guy talks about what he has to offer. It not only shows that he's not showing up with a wish list but it also shows confidence. Actually, I once contacted a guy because he actually said, "I feel like I have a lot to offer" and outings ensued.

Now you're going to talk about how younger traditional guys will put in their profiles that they want submissive wives, right? :D Oh, the stories I could tell. (Including one that said, "It's not that I can't do housework. It's just that I don't want to.") Also frequent demands for "a woman who knows how to /what it means to be a woman."

Jackie said...

Seraphic, I agree, you would be awesome at editing online dating ads! ;-) Maybe your nom d'net could be e-Cyrano(a)? It would be a great sideline for extra income, for sure. :)

Charming D and Andrea, the "cradle-robbing" behavior in online dating is *everywhere*! One of my friends, a scientific atheist, recently told me about a prospective online suitor in his 60's! She is thirty-something.

And the same kind of lines boasting of their age-defying looks and abilities! My reply would be: Why aren't you contacting women your own age who, like you, look and act 15-20 years younger?

Another friend was talking about being so overwhelmed by the appearance of abundance online (not the actuality!)that she realized that she was turning down people she normally would have given a chance to IRL.

This isn't connected to online dating, exactly, but I wonder about those 40-50+ dudes who are fixated on the belief that they are going to marry some young thing less than half their age. Did they feel left out as younger men, and are resentful?

Maybe they are like one of my clients: He had a disastrous engagement, gave up and gained a LOT of weight, and felt like no one could ever love a heavy guy for a LONG time. :( He has spent over a year losing it and getting healthy. He has gained a lot of confidence and I would be thrilled to see him find true love!

It's the aging Lotharios and ancient PUAs that I can't seem to spare all that much sympathy for. They will have to weep their own vale of tears over their morning bran flakes. ;-)

Jackie said...

Oh and Charming D: I, too, have seen some "interesting" characteristics from more traditional types. ;-) One told me, quite upfront and at the very beginning, "Obedience is one of my marriage requirements for a wife."

Now THAT really sets the stage for some fun and light get-to-know you conversation, hahaha!

Eowyn said...

I'm sorry to say it, but here: What CD described so well is why I am so wary of taking opportunities to meet TLM guys. I know they're not all cut off from reality, but why isn't that the impression I get when I am around them?

(yes, yes, giant generalization, but STILL)

Cordi said...

Wanting a young wife to enjoy her youthful beauty and child-bearing potential is sure offensive, but isn't it also offensive to want a wealthy man to enjoy his income and social position? I mean, it seems a bit contradictory to ask both that a man not give certain utilitarian specifications that he's looking for in a wife AND suggest that he advertise himself by enumerating his utilitarian specifications...

Charming Disarray said...

Wow, Jackie. Just wow.

Sometimes I feel bad about ragging on traditionalists all the time, but if a woman comes from a normal background and has no idea to look for these behaviors, she could end up in a bad situation.

On the other hand, the boys in the traditionalist community associated with the highschool I went to were mostly just interesting in playing sports instead of domineering over women, and a lot of them wanted big families so they started planning early and got married young. Or planned badly and still got married young.

But I didn't want to get married super young or stick around my highschool forever, and my experiences with trad men in adulthood have been overwhelmingly negative.

Alisha said...

Ew. Ew. Ew. The cradle robbers and weird traditional men stories just make my skin crawl and thank God for all the good things feminism has brought about. Not only are these men not rooted in reality about themselves, it seems none of them have ever talked to REAL women or they would know how hideous they sound!! Are there not men around them that say "Dude! Snap out of it! You are not Tom Cruise. Being prolife does not mean treating your wife as a means to an end, even if the end is good. Your ideas of obedience are idiotic."???

MaryJane said...

Am I the only one who *doesn't* want Seraphic re-writing ads? I would much rather have men who are genuinely out of touch with reality actually display that up front! They are much more easily avoided that way. However, I think you could offer your services to help men get in touch with reality FIRST, and then re-write the personal ad. In fact, maybe you should write a different blog just giving advice to men. If they would heed your wisdom maybe the Catholic dating sphere would be more palatable!

(Also, why does it always come back to the traditionalist men? Is it because many of us know a lot of them? I'm glad Jackie pointed out that there are weird/creepy men out in the rest of the world, too.)

Seraphic said...

Okay, hold on a minute. I go to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass almost every week, and I do not know any men like the ones you are describing. I know traditionalist men who are very sympathetic towards women and often incredibly generous and thoughtful of others. The traditionalist men I know are very well-read and appreciate the good things the world has to offer.

For my sake and the sake of B.A. and our erstwhile swashbuckling protector Tobias and various Edinburgh eavesdroppers, I would like commentators to rein in the anti-trad stuff a bit. I appreciate that one or two of you are taking a much needed break from the TLM, but you are making other trad girls uncomfortable.

As for the lonely aging men with their dreams of children, I can't feel angry with them. I feel sorry for them. It's sad that they are blindly ignoring the women most likely to appreciate them--women their own age--and completely turning off the younger women. In thinking so belatedly about children, they are putting the cart before the horse. And that's really sad.

To speak generally, aging Single men (who aren't priests) are more to be pitied than aging Single women because men usually don't have the same emotional resources and ability to make friends and to appreciate the children of others that women have. And also to speak generally, men just don't know how to express themselves as well as weomen do, both in speaking and in writing.

Instead of being angry at these men, you could quit the sites or befriend these guys and explain how they might "market themselves" better. At very least, they might be shocked into a better character. How sad to be so self-centered at so old an age.

Seraphic said...

Oh Cordi. Since I was writing an ad for a man who feels most comfortable with a traditional family structure, I thought it very important that he say upfront how he can support it.

Meanwhile, I don't think it offensive for a man to say he wants to have children. I just think it is offensive for a man over 40 to say he wants a LOT of children.

sciencegirl said...

NONE of the traddie men who go to my TLM have acted like that.

In fact, most of them have cheerful marriages and nice, funny wives. A lot of them are converts. The single ones, men and women, are gentle and interesting people.

I have met pompous men in all walks of life, and while they are annoying, their attitude toward marriage or women or sex is not my problem.

I feel bad for men whose biological clocks start ticking way too late.
There are ways to have lots of kids in your 50s, such as being a foster-to-adopt parent of multiples, but that is a hard road to travel! And the foster kids really need someone who will be stable.

The guys are treating their dating profile as a wishlist/dreamboard instead of being realistic about what will attract women to go on the first date. It kind of makes me think of Lenny, always wanting a rabbit farm, but never saving his money.

Evelyn said...

Excellent point! It's better that true colors show in an unedited profile, so that we can really make an informed decision.

I have a male friend who says in his profile that the first thing people notice about him is that he looks younger than his age :) in his case, it's actually true. You have to get up close and see his skin when he's tired in the morning, otherwise he honestly looks 15 years younger. Disgusting ;)

Clare said...

Men should also think carefully about how much they want a "traditional family structure." A man writing that he could support me and that I wouldn't have to work would be a huge turnoff (not, of course, as much as a man saying he doesn't want a working wife and not demonstrating his own ability to provide). I'd probably put his ad in the virtual wastebin. Now, not all women are like me, but I've met enough who are to say that men should think carefully about whether this is actually important to them, or whether they are just parotting what they think is supposed to be important to them.