The Age Factor

The first time I ever dated a considerably younger guy, I repeatedly asked myself “What in the hell are you doing?”

It’s not like I was new to dating younger guys. In fact my first boyfriend was younger than me, my ex-husband was 7 years younger and my most recent LTR was with a guy 12 years younger. It wasn’t exactly new to me. But then out of nowhere it seems, the 20 year olds started appearing. I’d been hit on by 20 year old guys before, but none of them were ever able to truly capture my interest. There’s nothing remotely appealing about “Heyy whats up babe?” or “How r u?”  If he can’t string a simple sentence together, you kind of already know the deal.

But then twitter happened and it opened up a whole new group of guys – of all ages – who were actually thoughtful and funny and intelligent. Then add tinder (no explanation needed there) and the flood gates opened.

That’s when I decided to rethink the whole age thing.

I started out with just simple conversations.  I’d often ask these younger guys why they were interested in older women? Their answers were always the same:  Girls their age demand too much. They get upset if you don’t text them 20x a day. They don’t give a guy his space. They need to know where you are every minute of the day. They’re too dramatic. She was only interested in money. She wanted a serious boyfriend. She wanted to get married.  She was insecure. She was extremely jealous. The list goes on. All huge turn offs to a guy of any age.

Which brought me to why they were drawn to older women: Older women are confident. We don’t need to know what you’re doing every second of the day. We don’t care about that girl who you were talking to at the bar. We’re too busy to text you every single day. We don’t care how much money you make. We are busy with our own lives and careers. We’re more open minded and experimental when it comes to sex. And we certainly are not looking to get married.

Maybe dating a 20 yr. old would be fun.  I decided why not.

One guy in particular made me change my mind. It all started with a few sweet words. Not only was he articulate but extremely intelligent. Two things I can’t resist (even though I tried). Instead of partying with his friends, he chose to spend time with me. He was emotionally mature and genuinely interesting- both extremely sexy- which made him irresistible.

One of my flaws is that I sometimes try to end things at the first sign of trouble. Even if the “trouble” doesn’t actually exist.  I’m like the Runaway Bride of dating. So after only a few months of amazing sex and great conversation, I told him I could never see him ever again.

WHO DOES THAT?

Me, apparently. Well, I used to. (But I’m getting better.) It’s easy to let your head overthink and complicate things, but sometimes you need to think with your heart, which is kind of the same as NOT thinking.

Then a friend told me “Just let the relationship run it’s natural course.” Words I sometimes forget but should definitely try to remember. It’s sometimes difficult to enjoy time with someone when you’re constantly thinking “This can’t last.”

Luckily, he wouldn’t let me end it, so we continued to see each other.

And each time I would start to overthink it, friends would weigh in with “Just have fun. Who cares how old he is?”

It’s our experiences and the people we meet and share time with who ultimately shape who we are and who we become. So I did my best not to overthink it and just enjoy it.

Here is what I discovered. Age really is just a number. Your brain doesn’t say “You cannot be attracted to this person because they’re not the *right* age.” It’s all about chemistry and connection. It’s probably true that a guy in his 20’s isn’t looking for a girlfriend and is more interested in just having sex.  But that’s often true about guys in their 30’s and 40’s, too. And it’s a common fact that women reach their sexual peak in their mid 30’s to 40’s. We think about, enjoy and want sex, too.

I had dismissed many guys simply because I thought they were too young.  But there’s a difference between someone’s age and  emotional maturity. And just because a guy is older doesn’t mean he’s emotionally mature either (I’ve been down that road before, too).

Age doesn’t determine chemistry. If you connect with someone who’s fun and interesting, why not just enjoy it?

It’s all about mutual respect and how you make each other feel. If he makes you feel sexy and beautiful, and he’s respectful and honest, where’s the harm in that?

It doesn’t mean it has to turn into anything serious. Having fun together does not always equal love. It’s not a promise for forever. (I admit that’s a beautiful and romantic notion, but it’s simply not realistic.) It’s just fun and enjoyable and one more life experience that makes you a more interesting person. I mean the world could END TOMORROW. Would you really say no to having fun and good sex if you thought you only had one more day to live? I THINK NOT.

Find a person who you connect with, who you feel comfortable with, who you respect and trust. That’s when the sex really becomes amazing. If those pieces are missing, then you’re probably just having mediocre sex.

And age has nothing to do with finding that connection. Connection has to do with chemistry. And you never know who will have chemistry with until you actually spend time with someone. You shouldn’t dismiss a person simply because of their age.

I don’t often meet guys who can capture my interest. So when I do, why would I dismiss him simply because of his age? It’s all about how he treats me, how he makes me feel and how we interact together. And if all those pieces click, then why not just take it for what it is and simply enjoy it?

 

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Perspective

The first time I ever saw Kate, I did a double take. She was the kind of beautiful that made every person stop and stare. She had shoulder length black hair that fell in soft waves over the tops of her shoulders and a flawless complexion. She was tall and thin and had the body of a runway model. I smiled at her and she smiled back at me. I envied her youthfulness. Even in my mid-20’s, I never looked like that. She had the kind of beauty you only see in photo-shopped photographs in a fashion magazine.

I imagined that she had her own apartment and was going to school part time. That she had fabulous friends and an equally fabulous boyfriend. I imagined her life as fun and carefree, without a care in the world.

So Kate. Not her real name of course, but the stunningly beautiful part is all true. Each time I would see her, which was always in passing, I caught her staring at me. I would always smile and say hello and she would politely smile back. The staring part seemed a bit odd to me, but I didn’t think much of it. A few months passed. She always looked beautiful but distant. The staring and quiet smiling continued.

A few weeks later, we bumped into each other again at work. I made small talk but she seemed to struggle even with that. Finally it was time to go home. As we were getting ready to leave, I turned around and there she was standing a few feet away, staring at me. I found it odd but she seemed sweet so again, I tried to make small talk. She asked about my girls and seemed genuinely interested in my life. She seemed touched that I was a single mom, struggling to juggle work and career and kids and a social life. After all those months, it was the first time we had ever had a real conversation.

Then out of the blue she said “You are so beautiful. I mean that. You really are so beautiful, inside and out.”

I was completely taken aback.

Here was this young, gorgeous model-esque girl telling me that I was beautiful. I really didn’t know what to say. I replied back “No, Kate, you are beautiful. But thank you so much.”

She didn’t dismiss me as old or faceless, as young people sometimes do. She admired me and looked up to me. I was completely touched.

She looked like she might cry. My natural instinct was to hug her and normally I would have. But we really didn’t know each other very well so I held back. She seemed so lost and sad.  She smiled at me and then, without a word, she turned and left.

One evening, when I was out with a group of mutual friends, I hesitantly asked “What’s the deal with Kate?” I wasn’t trying to pry, but something just seemed off about her.

That was when I found out that Kate was an alcoholic. She was living with her boyfriend who had been in and out of jail for heroin possession.  Some days she wouldn’t even show up for work. And when she did, she would often arrive looking like she hadn’t showered for days. Her boss tried countless times to help her. Instead of letting her go, she kept her on part-time. Kate would lie to people and say she had graduated from college, when the truth was she dropped out after only a few weeks.

Friends, family and co-workers all tried to help her. But yet she remained with the heroin addict and was struggling with alcohol.

My heart completely broke.  Here was this beautiful young girl, throwing away what should have been some of the best years of her life.

 

I’ve never struggled with an addiction, unless you count the high you get when you *think* you are in love with someone (note that *thinking* something does not always make it real), but I imagine it is one of the most difficult things to overcome.

Too often, we see someone whose life appears to be better than ours. It’s easy to think everyone else has it easier or has a more exciting life than we do. But the truth is our lives are exactly what we make of them, which has absolutely nothing to do with looks or money or appearance.

What we perceive to be true isn’t always. It’s easy to hide pain and sadness behind a smile or false exterior.

I may not be model thin or have flawless skin but I actually have a pretty great life. A beautiful home, two amazing little girls and a hundred other things I am grateful for every single day.

I don’t know what will become of Kate. That was the last time I ever saw her. I don’t know what events brought her to such a low point in her life, but I hope with all my heart she finds a way out.

What I do know is that not everyone is able to deal with the difficulties that life throws our way. I have been very fortunate in that I have been able to overcome most of life’s obstacles simply by finding the humor in most situations and by always keeping a positive outlook. But not everyone is able to do that.

Life is fair in that we all have our own share of hard times and problems and difficulties. The unfair part is that some people ultimately fall apart and are never able to put themselves back together again.

I hope with all my heart that Kate is not one of those people. I hope she can find a way to pull herself together and come out a stronger person. And if I ever do see her again, I’m definitely going to give her that hug.

No matter what someone’s life looks like on the outside, maybe we all need to take a closer look.

By Mai Ramai from abstract.desktopnexus.com

By Mai Ramai from abstract.desktopnexus.com