People tell me that I’m a “jerk magnet.” I’ve never been in a relationship where my partner loved me, and I loved him back. I used to think that a man would take me for a walk on the beach and hold my hand, or buy me roses. But none of the men I dated were ever interested in that. They only wanted me to dress up nicely and take me to a party or restaurant. From the time I was 13-years-old and first dating, boys would pursue me, and as soon as I’d spend time with them—and actually start to like them—they’d dump me. Or they would treat me badly.
The only time I was ever married was in the ’70s. It was a period in my life where I was so sad that I turned to romance novels, and they gave me hope. Then after my divorce I was completely confused. I didn’t know how to date. A friend told me, “You need to go out!” So I did. While I’d try to to enjoy my dates, when they were over I’d never want to see the person again. And I went on so many bad ones. I remember once on Valentine’s Day, when I was about 44-years-old, I was supposed to go out with a guy I’d been seeing for a while. We had plans to attend a dinner with six other couples. And that night he called me saying, “Actually, I’m going to a friend’s party instead, so I won’t be joining you.” Here I am, sitting at the dining room table, with an empty chair next to me, next to six couples celebrating Valentine’s Day. What a jerk.
Men would tell me that they didn’t feel confident enough to date me. Because not only did I put my children before them but I was also modeling, working as a dietitian, and flying around the world. I was more excited by getting a modeling job than I was when they came by and that probably hurt.
But when I turned 55, I decided to to really give dating a try. So I signed up for Match.com. I told myself, “I will date 30 men, and I will give it a chance.” I put one of my modeling photos on my profile, so I got a lot of requests. And, of course, none of the men looked like their photos. (Not that looks are the only thing that matters to me, if a man is charming and pleasant that’s more than fine with me.)
At first I went on dinners with my Match dates. But then I would be stuck listening to them go on and on for three hours, like a monologue. These men didn’t even know I had children—or anything about me at all—because they didn’t ask. They’d only talk about themselves. So instead I decided I would only do 30 minute coffee dates, and I’d tell them I had to leave to go walk my dog. That worked much better, but I still didn’t meet anyone.
Eventually I just said, “Okay, I’ve done my bit and that’s it. I really don’t have to date. I’m 55, I’ve dated a lot.” People would tell me, “Oh, but the right man will come along when you don’t expect it.” Let me tell you, I haven’t been expecting it for 16 years—and nobody has come along. But I’ve never been happier. I would say the last three years have even been the best times of my life. I have a dog and a career that I love. I have a wonderful family and great friends. I’m fulfilled.
People call women of a certain age who aren’t married a “spinster.” It’s ridiculous. Any man who calls a woman a spinster needs to not only be reprimanded by women, but by men as well. What kind of world is it where men disrespect a woman who isn’t married, and then glorify a man for being single? It has to change. Women need to support each other but men need to support us, and stand up for us, too.
All of this isn’t to say that I’ve sworn off dating for good. But the only men who ask me out are the strangers who slide into my DMs on Instagram. They write to me saying, “Hello, can we meet for tea?” Or, “You’re gorgeous. Let’s get together.” And at this point in my life, I’m done being a jerk magnet.
At 71-years-old, Maye Musk is the oldest spokesmodel for CoverGirl. She’s also the author of A Woman Makes a Plan, which is available wherever books are sold.
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