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Droop therapy

Last night, a man my age (44) asked me if I know any single women in their 20s. He explained he'd be happy to casually date a woman our age, but he's seeking a relationship with a younger woman because he wants kids. But even beyond the kids issue, I know many women over 40 who rarely get to date. How many guys can you name who date older women, apart from Ashton Kutcher? Why do women always have to date much older men? Until my divorce four years ago, I had no idea age was such an issue for men. Why can't they see that we older women have our charms, too? -- Mature and Mad

When you see some rich old geezer with some hot young thing, don't kid yourself; the girl isn't going to tell you, "I tremble with longing every time his hair plugs catch a glint of sun bouncing off his walker." Like all women, she's on evolutionary autopilot, making a beeline for a "provider" -- regardless of whether she even wants kids. Think of it as a form of genetic math: Multiple mansions cancel out multiple chins. What's a little thing like male pattern baldness when it's driving around in a Ferrari?

Of course, women who want boyfriends apply Maybelline, not Mercedes. While, in a study I've mentioned before, women said they'd rather date an ugly businessman with a Rolex than a handsome man in a Burger King uniform, men overwhelmingly shoved aside the homely businesswoman for the hot hamburger helper. But don't blame them: Their genes made them do it. Most inconveniently, women lack blinking LED screens on their foreheads indicating their level of genetic fitness, so men evolved to be attracted to youth and other physical characteristics that say "I'm fertile!" and "Your genes and mine -- good to go for generations!"

Think about it: If men evolved to be attracted to grandmas, and women to men who do bong hits and nap a lot, the human race would've died off before it ever got out of the cave.

It used to be that 44-year-old men could only stare at 22-year-old girls while piloting the wife and kids around in the minivan. Now these guys are divorced, and tooling around in classic convertibles, and, hey, it doesn't hurt to try. Yes, this is depressing, but constantly snarling about it will only give you mouth wrinkles and the aura of a dour headmistress who makes dating feel like detention. There are guys out there who aren't aspiring daddies, and who don't want girlfriends for whom discussing current events means talking about what went down at prom. You won't land them by trying to out-22 the 22-year-olds -- so don't bother squeezing into a push-up bra if what you're pushing up is mainly a lot of back fat.

What you might consider is compromising a little -- no, not by scanning the obits for dates, but by rethinking the standard, one-stop shopping approach to love, sex and lifelong friendship. If you have friends, you have love in your life. If you want sex, you're a woman -- just tell them where to line up. In other words, maybe you can have it all -- you just can't have it all in one place. The irony is, by easing up on your demands, you're more likely to have them met. In the meantime, vacationing with your best friend and hooking up with the cabana boy beats staying home and paying some doctor to inject your thighs into your face.

Most likely to secede

Over the seven months I was seeing my boyfriend, he became more and more withdrawn. Last week, he suddenly tells me he loves me, but two days later, he's back to his old, "Can I call you tomorrow?" I told him it's over, but now I'm wondering why I feel safer clinging to a sinking ship than trying to swim. How do you recover your self-worth after a breakup? -- Lost at Sea

It's called self-worth, not exit polling. The word "self" should be a major hint -- as in, whatever were you doing looking for it within your boyfriend or your relationship? Clearly, what you're mourning isn't the relationship you never had, but the chance to keep trying to have it. Month one, month two, you weren't getting what you needed, but you stuck around, continuing to not get what you needed. Oh, yay, he finally told you he loved you -- after seven months of sitting around mute. What does this say about you? Only that you need to cut way back on relationships until you recognize self-worth as a strictly B.Y.O. item. Being liked is always nice, but the real mean feat is being popular with yourself, not other people, which only takes walking down the street handing out money.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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