I want to be a codger dad

In my 50s, I'd finally like to settle down and have kids -- but I'll need a younger woman

By Cary Tennis

Published March 7, 2012 1:00AM (EST)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Hello Cary,

My unusual plight is I am a man out of time. A nerdy INTJ, a university dropout, my singular lack in life has been sex. It has been my primary and largely frustrated drive in life to get sex and more sex.

I married thrice, each time with the naive expectation that a lifetime of inexhaustible sex would naturally ensue. So wrong!

And so, duh, I've been thrice divorced.  

I honestly believe all of my ex-wives would concur that our mismatched sexual appetites were the primary deal-breaker in each marriage.  

Since my third divorce was final in early 2010, I've dated avidly, happily. I never approach a woman now without putting sex squarely on the front burner; no longer assuming "it will all fall into place," I make it explicitly known to each prospect that whatever else we share, sex must be there, or the wheels'll fall off our little jalopy. Well, hosanna! Now at long last I get all the sex I want! Sans any matrimonial shackles! I have a cool bachelor apartment appointed to my taste, a grotto of pleasure in which my conquests are welcome guests. I am generous with each to the full extent of my material means, bestowing gifts and hospitality, and I am emotionally lavish: I share my history, foibles and dreams without exception.

What then is my problem? Life's a bed of roses now, right? Well, not quite.

I am now in my 50s and childless. And I've discovered that I want not just sex, but kids too. Now, you might assume that one would lead to the other. But the women I am naturally drawn to and who are receptive to me are my age or older, and past childbearing. Fertile women (all of whom could be my daughters) respond to my overtures as if I am some pederast proffering candy with evil ulterior intent. So I just leave them the heck alone. And my desire for sex (progeny be damned) remains unabated.

My compromise accommodation is to serially date these lovely, mature women, relishing the most unrestrained and fulfilling sex of my entire life. When, inevitably, each one wants to "take it to the next level," meaning that talk of "love" and "commitment" becomes rife, I explain with unalloyed sadness (and I do find these endings agonizing) that since I want a child, an exclusive  commitment is untenable.  Thus, we part, and the cycle begins anew with the next delectable romantic quarry. [So many! And never enough time!]

I genuinely believe that at a point within the next five years I will find a woman of childbearing years sufficiently blind to my seniority that she will allow us to bond and build a life together, abundant sex and a child or two included. Until then, my current lifestyle satisfies my need for sex at the cost that progeny remain in abeyance.

Do not mistake me, this wish is not some passing fad. I am the eldest of my dad's four sons. My dad died when I was a boy of 8, and he is my lifelong hero whose line I intend to perpetuate. I love children. And I am primed for the minimally two-decade project of fatherhood: financially stable, exceptionally healthy and also socially integrated.

My question to you is whether my present behavior as outlined here is proper, morally and pragmatically. Especially as regards the cycle of emotional hurt I both sustain myself and inflict upon these women whom I serially date, might there be some better way to go about fulfilling my need for sex and intimacy while awaiting the advent of the mother of my future children? -- which advent I can no more hasten than you can make the sun rise before its appointed time, of which I am sure.

Codger Sowing Wild Oats

Dear Codger,

Morally, there doesn't seem to be much wrong with what you are doing, as long as you are being honest with these women.

There is a flaw pragmatically, however. You have an image problem. If the right woman came along today, the impression she would get is that you're not interested in settling down and having kids. You say you are, but it doesn't look like it from the outside.

In her decision to bear and raise a child with you, a woman is likely to be mercilessly pragmatic in her assessment of your suitability as a mate. Until the day comes when it's hard to imagine that a man might say certain things to a woman just to get her into bed, women will look at what a man does, not what he says.

That doesn't mean you have to begin living a monastic life. A woman who wants to have kids will not look for a monk; she will look for a man who demonstrates an active interest in having kids. I suggest you keep living as you are living, but cultivate the friendships and activities that a man who wants to settle down and have kids might reasonably be involved in.

What does a man do who is in his 50s and wants to have kids for the first time? Maybe he hangs out with other couples who have kids. Maybe he looks for people in the kinds of marriages he's hoping to have -- older men with younger women and kids -- and befriends them.

Where might he find such people to befriend? Well, children have to go to school, so wherever there are schools there are kids and wherever there are kids there are parents. You might go to some soccer games or softball games and look around for older parents. If you see a guy your age who's got toddlers, strike up a conversation.

The "older dad" might turn out to be the granddad, but he probably won't mind being mistaken for the father. If he is the father, he might be willing to share some of what it's like to be an older dad. You and he might have some things in common.

As an INTJ, you may find it difficult to strike up casual conversations. A rationale would be useful. Perhaps you can volunteer in some service capacity.

Where there are children, there are also women. Many of these women will have an active interest in children. Some will be mothers. Some will be women who wish they were mothers.

You might meet somebody.

Top Ten Old Guys Who Fathered Kids

You know you're an INTJ when ...

"In 1980 in America, only one in 23 births was to men ages 50 or older. In 2002, that share grew to about one in 18."

Cary Tennis

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