This week I have had requests to talk about Younger Women Dating Older Men and Older Women Dating Younger Men, and I had to squish up my inner eye and stare into the dark shadows of my memories to try to see this all from a younger woman's perspective. For lo, I am 39+ and married, and incredibly tolerant about both situations.
If you are being pursued by an older man, and his grizzled charms make you go weak at the knees, by all means go out with this older man. If you are being pursued by a downy faced infant and you think his blushes are adorable, by all means go out with the infant.
By infant, I mean an infant over the age of 18, of course. And by you, I mean adult readers.
The older you get, the less age gaps seem to matter. When you are eighteen, it seems wrong to date a fourteen year old and worrisome to date a twenty-two year old. But when you are thirty, nobody worries if you date a thirty-four year old, and dating a twenty-six year old may seem a bit of a coup.
Incidentally, the age gap is not as pronounced in Europe as it is in North America. Europeans are just not so obsessed with age. It is not unusual for European university students to seek friendships or romance with people much older than themselves. Attractiveness is not equated with youth. Catherine Deneuve is in her 60s, and young men still fall down and worship her. Behold:
The title means "You or No-one", btw.
But even in North America young men can find older women attractive, and one of the most charming couples I know became a couple after the surprised woman decided that the younger man wasn't, as he complained, "just some kid."
Frankly, I think such younger man-pursues-older woman relationships very likely to succeed, if the woman actually does like him, because women are usually too
That said, some women are just not attracted to younger men. I think this mad, as younger men are much better looking than older men. And as an older woman it is so much easier to deal with all their young man storminess. The sulks, the rants, the poses, the politics, the confusion that so oppress you when you're their age are much easier to deal with when you're over 30.
But I can see that a very gentle woman might want to give youthful Sturm und Drang a miss altogether and just date a kindly older man. It is not a hideous insult to be wooed by an older man, by the way. If you want to see him, see him. If you don't, say "No, thank you." All you have lost is your right to complain that nobody ever asks you out.
If he tries to make you feel bad for not wanting to go out with him, however, tell him to go to hell, gramps.
I was once in a marriage-track relationship with a man ten years older than myself. It didn't work out because he wasn't Catholic. Also, he had non-age related health problems and my mother was worried I was going to end up his nurse. Well, if you love someone, you don't mind being his nurse, but if you don't, you do. So it wasn't just that he wasn't Catholic but that I wasn't just that into him.
But a pal of mine married a man about 20 years older than herself--a big, funny guy with a motorcycle and a receipt showing an enormous bar bill taped to the wall--because she was that into him. We had a conversation about how they might not have a really long time together, given his age. She was a bit sad about that, but that's just how it was. And is. Sure enough, he got cancer five years later, but it looks like he's pulling through, thank God.
I realize that people are always jabbering on about "Is he too young for you?" or "Is he too old for you?" but once you are both ADULTS, and nobody become a really, truly adult magically at the age of 21 (let alone 18), these questions make little sense. In the case of teenage girls, everyone is terrified that Mr Older Guy is going to seduce her with the shameless lies teenage boys haven't yet figured out how to tell convincingly.
Yes, most of us westerners are adolescents until we are about 25. Girls mature faster, apparently. I didn't. But if you are a 30+ year old woman, the only thing you need to worry about is if your under-25 boyfriend is an adult yet or not. And maybe you are the patient kind who can put up with adolescent sulks and storms, and the smart one who isn't going to be his Older Woman Who Initiated Him Into the Sweets of Love, like an 18th century courtesan, only unpaid.
"I'm not going to be one of those b*itches who ruins children," said Brett, Lady Ashley in The Sun Also Rises. Words to live by.
As for older men, I could barely see them until I was over 30. I thought it was an age thing, but now I think it was a North American thing, too. But anyway, it was only after I was 30 that I would ever ever ever have considered going out with someone as old as 40.
It is traditional to complain that men always want women much younger than themselves, but I don't think this is true. Single men generally pursue women their own age, and most Single men are in their 20s. Most Single women are in their 20s, too, which may be why older Single men are so willing to try their luck with them. And I don't think older men who think twenty-something women are luscious are any less moral than older women who think twenty-something men are toothsome.
It has also been complained that playboys suddenly panic at the age of 40 and then start looking for women to have their babies. Well, more fool them. The way not to be hurt by playboys is not to go to bed with them. Indeed, quite a lot of modern misery could be solved by just not going to bed with men. Complaining because a man has had 20 years of strings-free fun and now is looking to settle down strikes me as a waste of breath and ink.
I shall end with my usual kind of advice.
* Do what you want as long as it isn't a sin. Smoking a cigarette or eating meat is not a sin. Going for coffee is not a sin. Heavy petting is a sin. When in doubt, check with your confessor.
* Don't chase men. Wait and see who shows up. Say Yes to what or who you want and No to what or who you don't want. It's your right.
*Stay rooted in reality. Don't delude yourself. If a man walks you home after dark, it is not a sign that he is that into you. Particularly not if you asked him to walk you home in the first place.
Update: I acknowledge the screams of horror from Women Younger Than I at the idea of (female) young things giving (male) old cougars the time of day. The idea is that older men are wily and experienced and wicked.
And to be honest, I was thinking of 30 year olds dating 40-plusses, since I can't imagine why a 20-something would want to date some guy with orange peel skin when she--unlike me--has access to all those toothsome 20-something hotties.
No offense, 20-something hotties. You're not supposed to be reading this blog.
Anyway, I have put up two new surveys. The top one asks "How old is too old?" and the one underneath wants to know how old you are, so that I will remember that some of you are bouncing babies.