Men and Women

Why men don’t age like wine

By Ed West

Back in the glory days of the hedonistic 1990s one of the women most beloved of frustrated adolescent males was Anna Nicole Smith. Smith was blonde, Texan and blessed with phenomenally gigantic breasts, qualities which by 1993 had helped her achieve the coveted ‘Playmate of the Year’, the prestigious award initiated by elderly sleazebag Hugh Hefner.

Married once in her teens, Smith rather surprised the world in 1994 when, aged 26, she wed Texan oil baron J. Howard Marshall II, who at 89 was somewhat her senior in age. Cynics questioned what attracted her to the billionaire octogenarian but they lived happily ever after; well, in the sense that he died of old age a year later.

Being a fixture in the world of glamour modeling and reality TV, the surrealism of this marriage rather fitted in with Smith’s chaotic and tragic persona (she went onto die of a drug overdose at 39, having lived quite a sad life and lost her son to the same growing scourge). But it was perhaps only a more extreme and absurd example of the double standard that exists over age gaps, and the greatest illusion that men have when it comes to dating — that they age like fine wine, rather than sour milk.

The male psyche is filled with delusions, forming a sort of psychological protection against real life. Just as men tend to overestimate how competent they are at any given task, they are programmed to wildly overestimate their value in the mating market. The brutal truth of dating apps has shown that around 80% of men are basically unattractive and, in many societies, a significant chunk would fail to find a mate at all, forced to set out on a longship in the hope of winning glory and a girlfriend. We don’t contemplate this, because reality would be just too much to take for most of us.

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