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Curmudgeons Need Love, Too


The curmudgeon is cheerless and demanding, and unless your idea of a good first date is sipping Styrofoam coffee with Yosemite Sam, you should carefully inspect old guys’ dating site profiles for signs of dyspepsia.

I enjoy cynicism, irony and sarcasm as much as the next gal, so I’ve let one or two curmudgeons into my dating life, and I must say they’re not really evil or spiteful. The poor things are simply worn out from the effort of complaining artfully to everyone within earshot.

This is because “curmudgeonly” and “taciturn” are mutually exclusive terms. The essence of the curmudgeon is his vocal presence. He complains out loud, with what Jon Winokur, author of The Portable Curmudgeon, calls “morose glee.”


Often a curmudgeon’s discontent is wittily conveyed, and then it’s known as entertainment. Think of Archie Bunker’s outrageous and oddly endearing rants, to which those around him react with appropriate disbelief.

Like Archie, the curmudgeons lurking on dating sites need a straight man — or in our case, a straight woman. The role of the curmudgeon’s female companion is to appear long-suffering, while in reality she serves to convey the message that his antagonism is theater, mere chatter — what in Yiddish is called “shtick.”

The curmudgeon is incomplete without his companion. If you are good at conveying he-is-a-sweetheart-pretending-to-be-an-ogre with a tilt of your head and a broad, engaging smile, a curmudgeon may be just the man for you.


Why ever would you love such a grouch? Because he’ll love you right back. The curmudgeon disapproves of everything, with the notable exception of his own decisions and designs. About these he is filled with enthusiasm. Ethel was Archie’s foil, his defender, his choice. They were a golden couple.

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'Curmudgeons Need Love, Too' have 12 comments

  1. September 15, 2016 @ 9:52 am Sienna

    Meme — Humor is everything when you’re with a curmudgeon. Your laughter is music to his ears. I’m so glad you’re having lots of fun!! Thanks for this great comment.

  2. September 10, 2016 @ 9:04 pm MeMe

    My male best friend, whom I adore with every fibre of my being, is a curmudgeon. I laugh and laugh, and oftentimes he’s right. He’s extraordinarily conscientious, has a strong sense of what’s right, and has a loyal, tender, romantic heart. He’s never mean, cruel, or abusive, just very very much a curmudgeon.

  3. June 4, 2014 @ 11:15 pm Sienna

    Joanne – There are 2 kinds of carmudgeons – the one who regrets his outbursts and the one who stands by them. If your guy is the first kind, maybe you can talk to him about how much these events, when they happen in public, are hurtful to all within ear shot, most notably you. Praise his comic abilities and try to show him that because he has this special talent he can draw on humor instead of rage, that he’ll get more social mileage (be more popular) if he’s entertaining instead of embarrassing.
    If he’s the second kind of carmudgeon, it’s harder of course, but both these kinds of men are doing this because they’re getting away with it. Some women I know simply get up and walk away when the outbursts come. This doesn’t have to happen with dramatic flourish. You can politely excuse yourself to go to the ladies’ room. Over time he will understand that he is ranting to an audience that doesn’t include you, and he may rethink his actions.

  4. June 4, 2014 @ 6:49 am joanne smestad

    I married a curmudgeon. He can be entertaining and funny and reminds me of Archie Bunker. He has angry outbursts and is without a filter for what comes out of his mouth. I find this hard not to personalize and get embarrassed when he has this moments in public. How to handle???

  5. June 17, 2013 @ 10:37 am Pollyanna

    Hmmm….I think I dated Yosemite Sam once. The guy looked like him, and the carmudgeon thing was definitely there.

  6. May 6, 2012 @ 6:41 am Tracey

    Life is too short. No thanks.

  7. November 4, 2011 @ 6:19 am Teri

    My Dad was one of these and my Mom was crazy about him. I don’t think I’d mind dating one. Because of my experience I think I’d understand him, and I would use my mother’s tactics.

  8. August 24, 2011 @ 7:03 am Lillian

    My sister is married to one of these men. It was funny for a while but with age he’s becoming less like a carmudgeon and more like a pain in the ass. You’re right about needing a straight man (woman). My sister is tired of being part of the show, and since she has dropped out he just sounds boring and unpleasant, like any other old complainer. I’m not happy about being single, but married like this – no thanks.

  9. June 9, 2011 @ 9:34 am Madame X

    I think they’re entertaining, but I can’t take it for too long, and I don’t see taking them seriously as long term alliance.

  10. May 26, 2011 @ 8:20 am Liz

    Just one more excuse for it to be all about himself! I agree that most are older men – guess it comes with age!

  11. May 25, 2011 @ 5:56 pm Penelope

    Most curmudgeons are actually usually sweethearts with a good sense of humor.

  12. May 25, 2011 @ 6:04 am Patsy R.

    I think these guys are funny, but I don’t want one for my very own. Too much wasted energy IMHO.

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