A while back, I wrote a post about finding a husband in college, and why it’s not realistic nowadays – at least, not for me. Out of all of the feedback I got, one of the most interesting comments was from “Tia Truthteller” who asked if I’d ever tried dating older men.
Tia wrote: “The very fact that you didn’t feel right betraying your values speaks to your sense of self love…a self-protective characteristic many young women nowadays see [sic] to lack. I think the dating frustrations you describe are normal for that age group. I’m new to your blog, but have you considered older guys?”
First, let me give you an e-hug for making me sound all enlightened and mature. I’m trying and sometimes failing. Hate to say it, but the answer to your question is a resounding “NOPE!” A man more than two or three years older than me, isn’t for me. And even though it sounds close-minded, I’m not budging on that rule.
I came to this realization during the first semester of my freshman year of college. After everyone had settled into their little cliques, there was one girl who seemed to only hang out with older guys, and her reputation was suffering as a result. I knew her a little, but not enough to tell her what was being said without it being awkward. Give me a break. I was 18.
Instead, I tried to shut down the gossip whenever I heard it, and in doing so, I got into an interesting discussion with an older guy that I knew. He’d noticed that I kept older guys at a (far) distance and wondered why. My answer was that our lives were in two different places. I said something like, “They’re worried about starting careers and I’m hoping that there’s something good in the café today.”
I also assumed that they would only be interested in me because they thought I would be easy to manipulate, or because they had some younger woman fetish. (Maybe I was so suspicious because of the fact that grown men from all over the city were known to drive by the freshman girls’ dorms, trying to catch a glimpse of the “fresh meat” that had just moved in. Charming, right?) It was an awfully jaded theory, but I believe that it helped keep my freshman year relatively drama-free.
It’s almost five years later, and I still feel the same way. I graduated from college about a year ago and am currently stumbling through my first “real” job. My life is in transition, I’m in the middle of a quarter-life crisis, and when I’m frustrated and on the verge of tears, my first impulse is still to call my parents. A 30-something man who’s been there and done that might not be sympathetic to my early 20’s whininess.
Not to mention the fact that plenty of my friends have had terrible experiences while dating older men. Age does not equate maturity and most of them grappled with the same mind games, commitment issues and lies that younger men are supposedly prone to – which made most of them even angrier because they expected a more from someone with a couple of years on them. What’s the point?
Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I was harassed by strange, much older men from a very early age. Maybe that irreparably damaged my perception of older men. Maybe it’s the fact that time and time again, an innocent encounter with an older man has morphed into something ugly in an instant.
For example, during my junior year, my roommates and I met a man at a nearby Wendy’s who chatted with us about his local tutoring program. He was looking to hire some college kids, and we exchanged phone numbers. I walked away excited, thinking I’d found a positive way to make quick cash, only to have him text me later that night, wanting to know if I wanted to come “chill” at his house. My skin crawled.
I have scores of stories just like that one, where an older man approached me about something harmless, like a job opportunity, only to turn it into something ugly. It feels predatory and off, and until I feel like a “real adult” (read: someone who’s furniture doesn’t come from Ikea and thrift stores) I’ll probably be suspicious of any older man who is interested in me. By then I’ll just be “grown,” and the age difference will cease to matter. Probably.
What do you guys think? Am I being too close-minded? Have you ever dated someone much older and had it work out? SHARE!
— Lauren McEwen