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“Where are the single men?” is a question I’ve heard at least once a week for the 18 years I’ve been writing newspaper columns about dating after 50. The question comes from single women age 50+, frustrated by the shortage of eligible single men to date.

Over the 18 years, the shortage of men has gotten worse because the older we get, the number of single women grows and the number of available men shrinks. I took a quick look at the 2010 Census statistics for California to get a handle on the number of single women vs. single men in some of the age categories over 50. These are strictly estimates based on my interpretation of the stats.

The ratio of single women to single men is:

-At ages 50-54, about even

-At ages 60-64, close to 2.3 to 1

-At ages 70-74, close to 4 to 1

However, women are quick to point out that these ratios don’t capture the true picture, that the effective ratios are far worse. Why? Women say that many of those single men included in the Census numbers aren’t relationship worthy, and they rattle off a litany of reasons why.

Women say that men:

-Tend not to go to social and singles events

-Are too set in their ways

-Are boring, out of shape, lazy, or not healthy enough for a relationship

-Are grumpy

-Expect to be waited on

-Only want sex

-Are only interested in younger women

-Don’t want a committed relationship

-Want a nurse and a purse

It’s no wonder that women are asking, “Where are the men?” By age 70, with the above considerations included, the effective ratio may not be four-to-one, but six or seven-to-one. Of course, single men have their own lists of why women aren’t relationship worthy.

Widows don’t exactly have it easy either. In 2009, of women 65 and over, 41 percent were widows. There were four times as many widows (8.9 million) as widowers (2.1 million). When widows tell me they’d like to date a widower, they face a ratio of at least 4.2-to-one. They also ask, “Where are the men?”

At a convention I attended a few years ago, a 43-year-old woman TV reporter said to keynote speaker Dr. Ruth Westheimer, “I can’t meet any single men. Where are they?”

Dr. Ruth gave the best answer I’ve ever heard about the shortage of men:

“The ratio is a fact of life, you can’t change it. However, if you put your mind to having a nice appearance, an openness to meeting new people, a willingness to do social things, and you have a positive attitude, you can effectively reduce the ratio.”

Dr. Ruth also told the woman to acknowledge the ratios, be aware of them, but not to dwell on them or complain about them, nor make excuses because of them. And then she added: “Commit to having a good life, with or without a man.”

When single women realize that an important reason why they haven’t met a man is because the numbers are against them—that it has little to do with the women themselves—accepting the lack-of-men situation should be easier for them.




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In January, there will be one more singles 50+ meet and greet gatherings. On  Thursday, January 24, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For information, see

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