In high school, I always had a crush on the “older” guy (me a freshman, him a senior—back then it seemed like such an age disparity), and I never looked twice at the dudes my year or in the grades below me. I had concocted this fantasy that an older man would save and protect me. Some may call it “daddy issues;” I’ll leave that to the experts.
At 18, I encountered my first taste of the ubiquitous older man. The story is so cliche. I was traveling around Europe with a girlfriend, I met a French guy many years my senior, and we had an epic weeklong romance. No, sex was not involved. Yes, feelings were. I look back on this tryst with fond memories, and I know now that it was the beginning of a pattern that I would come to live out for a good portion of my 20s: the older man/younger woman scenario.
Without going into my entire sexual and dating history, let’s just say I’ve had more than one dalliance with a (much) older man. I’m not talking two or even five years older; we’ll leave it at that. What I noticed in my younger years is that I gravitated toward older men because I found them to be more mature and stable. They were successful and (in many cases) powerful. They took care of business, in more ways than one.
And then, one day, as I was rehashing my evening with one said older man to a girlfriend, she stopped me mid-sentence and blurted out: “Just imagine his a** in five years.” I gasped. OMG. Think Jack Nicholson in the hospital scene of Something’s Gotta Give, and you’ll get the image that plagued my mind from that moment on. I’ve never been able to get it out of my head.
Soon after, my love affair with the older man ended, and as I approached my 30s, I noticed a new trend emerge: the younger man. To be fair, this seemed to be a trend that exploded in pop culture too: Madonna, Janet Jackson, JLo—they were all fans of the younger man. And the 30-somethings weren’t interested in me; even the 40-somethings now wanted the 20-somethings, but the 20-something dudes? Well, let’s just say they were very eager to accommodate. After a rather tumultuous breakup with a boyfriend of two-ish years, my ego yearned for some serious boosting, and the more I hung out with younger men, the more I remembered what FUN was all about. Sure, perhaps it was all a bit more no strings attached when it came to partnering up, but for a flirty fling, the younger man had me at “you’re hot.”
So, yes, I’ve sampled both younger and older partners. I’m in no way a dating pro, but here are my pros and cons to each.
NOTE: I am not generalizing age groups here. OK, I am slightly—but these are my experiences, and if even one of them rings true for you… take it and feel free to leave the rest.
PROS – They know what they want. They’ve had enough time to test the dating waters and—unless they have an inability to commit, which could certainly be the issue—the older man is laser clear on what he’s looking for.
CONS – They know what they want, and they’re less malleable to change, which likely means that if they are inept at communicating or if they don’t remember important dates like your birthday or anniversary, chances are they never will. That ship has sailed, to keep with the water metaphor.
PROS – They have their sh*t together. At least when it comes to a job, a place to live, a means of transportation—and if they don’t have these things… run, don’t walk, away.
CONS – They come with their fair share of baggage (and I’m not just talking about the bags under their *slightly* older eyes). The older you date, the more baggage your partner will have. It just comes with the territory. Think: exes, kids, business failings, etc.
PROS – They tend to provide compelling conversation. If you’re one who likes talking politics, international relations, distilling whiskey, etc… the older man can be a veritable teacher of sorts.
CONS – They have a schedule, which isn’t necessarily a con for everyone—for some this may even be a pro. But I’m not into the 10 p.m. lights out, 6 a.m. rise and shine, and can’t even meet me for an impromptu lunch because… he doesn’t take lunch, and work comes first—how do you think he can afford that nice house and those pristine wheels? YAWN.
PROS – Confidence. They haven’t been burdened by as many rejections, or it just hasn’t bothered them yet. So they barrel in at 65 miles per hour… with the compliments, the texts, and the kisses. The dating rules? Not in their vocabulary.
CONS – The thing about an overly confident male is that you’re likely not the only one he’s DMing, sexting, or even kissing. Protect your heart (and your other precious parts).
PROS – They’re spontaneous. Think a weekend jaunt (whatever town is drivable from where you live) in a moment’s notice. Sex in the hotel lobby bathroom. Showing up at your place in the middle of the night because you were on their mind. Spontaneous gestures are definitely exciting and, for some, a great reminder that your partner doesn’t just talk the talk but can also walk the walk. Aka: actions speak louder than words.
CONS – They can be immature. Like the younger guy who invites you to the house in the hills that he’s housesitting for the weekend. You show up, only to find that there are a dozen other youngsters milling about, smoking weed, drinking, playing video games. You just wanted some sexy time, so you manage to pull your dude away from the keg and find a random room with a futon and an overflowing ashtray. The next thing you know it’s 5 a.m., your back is killing you from the futon mattress, and some half-naked guy just walked past you to puke in the bathroom. And your guy has slept through all of it.
PROS – They speak the language of flirtation—and they’re damn good at it, too. This complements the confidence pro above, but in my experience, younger men are just so much less intimidated with what they say and what they do to their lover.
CONS – They’re less serious about everything in life—and that includes you. When the BBD comes along, you’re lucky if you even get a “sorry, we’re done” text. Much more likely he’ll ghost you and you’ll find out about his new girl after some Instastalking. Don’t try to have a “closure” conversation with the younger man, it’s not his “vibe.”
FINAL THOUGHT: As people love to say, age is just a number. But it truly is… what matters most is timing and compatibility. What you want will change at different stages in your life, so go for the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself, regardless of their birth year.
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