Have you ever dated an older man?
Woman A: Many times, yes!
Woman B: Yes.
Woman C: Yes, I am dating one. I should also clarify he is my first relationship. I’ve had crushes and done the odd online date, but I’d never dated seriously before.
Woman D: Yes.
How old were you? How old was he?
Woman A: The longest lasting of these relationships started when I was 18 and he was 40.
Woman B: I was 23 when we started dating and he was 39.
Woman C: Twenty-six and 45.
Woman D: I was 17 and he was 35. However, we didn’t start dating until I was 18 and he was 36.
And how old are you now?
Woman A: Thirty-five.
Woman B: Twenty-seven and he recently turned 42 (we’re still together).
Woman C: Still 26.
Woman D: Thirty.
How did you meet?
Woman A: I was working in retail at the time, and he was a customer.
Woman B: I rented a flat in the backyard of his then-girlfriend. We discovered we had a lot of interests in common and became good friends. They split up around 2009 and I didn’t hear from him for 18 months. We got back in contact and I realized how much I missed having him in my life. We started dating and it developed into a relationship shortly after.
Woman C: In church, of all places.
Woman D: We met initially at a mutual friend’s house. My friend (who was my age and in high school with me) worked at a ski resort near us. Her older brother had invited a bunch of the people they worked with at the mountain over and I happened to be there. The next time we ran into each other was when I went to interview for a job in the ski resort’s lift department, which he happened to be in charge of.
How long did you date for?
Woman A: We were on-again, off-again for a decade.
Woman B: Four years and very much still going.
Woman C: We’ve been dating for two months.
Woman D: Nearly six years.
Was his age part of the attraction for you?
Woman A: Yes, definitely. Most of the men I dated more casually at the time were in their 30s. I think the taboo nature appealed to me. It also made me feel special — this man seemed so much more worldly than the men my age, and the fact that he was interested in me seemed too good to be true.
Woman B: It wasn’t at the time. I admired his personality traits. He’s such a kind and loving person. I’ve always loved that about him.
Woman C: I knew he was older, I just didn’t think that he was that much older. He looks younger than he is and is in very good shape. But I knew he was probably 10 years older than me and that was a little bit of the attraction, because I thought that he would be older and more settled with none of the bullshit that you have in your 20s.
Woman D: Originally I think I was flattered that somebody who had experienced so much of life was interested in me.
Do you think your age was part of the attraction for him?
Woman A: Looking back, I think he needed a partner who would tolerate his bullshit if he was to be in a relationship at all. Selecting a much younger partner increased the odds of him finding such a person.
Woman B: No. He has had three other serious relationships and they were all age-appropriate. He’s always been attracted to a person’s personality.
Woman C: Doubtful. He actually thought I was older than I am, and both his wives were close to him in age. I think he was attracted to me because I asked him out, and I was able to banter with him off the bat. I think he can’t really find a woman to keep up with him, even in his own age group.
Woman D: Definitely. The man I dated was essentially an 18-year-old himself when it came to maturity. Because he had a reluctance to grow up, he wanted to stay young in as many ways as possible. I think it felt good for him that an 18-year-old was choosing to spend time with him. I think it was a thrill for him and gave him a chance to relive some of his adolescence.
Would you say that you are more attracted to older men than younger men, or men in your age group?
Woman A: I’ve always been attracted to older men. I’ve also always been attracted to power dynamics and to the idea of inhabiting a more sexually submissive role. My theory is that the two are linked and that the age difference facilitates a dom/sub dynamic.
Woman B: I think I’ve always been attracted to people older than me. People in my age group have always annoyed me. There is a particular immaturity connected to the hookup culture which I just have no time for.
Woman C: Older. I’ve found that most guys my age have trouble dealing with strong-willed, smart-mouthed girls, even though we are supposed to live in an age of feminism and all. But it’s not an exact science — there are plenty of immature older men that would put teenagers to shame.
Woman D: I’m now married to a man who is five years older than me so I suppose patterns would say I’m attracted to men older than me. However, after the relationship with the significantly older man ended I vowed to only date close to my age again. I think that there is definitely some truth to the “age is just a number” mentality, but having the experience I did, I don’t buy it completely.
How did/does the age gap impact your relationship once you were in it?
Woman A: Like most 18-year-olds, I did not have much relationship experience, so it was easier for him to get away with things I would not have tolerated had I had a better sense of what a healthy relationship should feel like.
Woman B: It has very little impact, although it does lead to some amusing jokes at times. He is a film nerd and usually mentions the year a film came out. I’ll say, “I wasn’t born then!” It’s now at the point where he preempts me saying that.
Woman C: It actually doesn’t impact it that much. We are very much equals.
Woman D: At first there was really no issue. We began dating when I was on winter break during my freshman year in college. Because we worked together we were able to spend time together and I would come home from school on the weekends. Once we were a more formal couple things became much harder. None of my friends at school understood the relationship and they had no interest in hanging out with him when he would come visit me at school. Additionally, the friends that he had that were his age were incredibly judgmental of my age and the relationship. As a 30-year-old woman, I understand their hesitations now. As an 18-year-old, I thought they were close-minded.
Did/does it impact sex at all, for better or for worse?
Woman A: We didn’t ever have sex. This was one of the many ways the relationship was emotionally abusive — sex was always ostensibly on the table, but no matter how much I threw myself at him, I was always rejected. It was devastating to my sense of self-worth. The fact that this man didn’t want to have sex with me in spite of claiming to love me, in spite of the fact that men allegedly always want sex, in spite of the fact that they allegedly especially want sex with much younger women — all of this made the continual rejection especially painful.
Woman B: I don’t believe it has. We have different tastes sexually — I’m more adventurous — but that has nothing to do with age. If anything, his emotional maturity has allowed us to have those tough conversations about sex. We’ve had talks about what is nonnegotiable and about certain things he may be open to in the future.
Woman C: Better. I think he was much more secure and caring of the awkwardness of sex than a 26-year-old. But again, I think it’s more because of who he is, rather than the more experience.
Woman D: The impact on the sex was definitely negative. At 18, I was just beginning to explore my sexuality and he was already comfortable in his. I think that because I was 18, he had expectations that I would be wild and crazy and open to anything. There were things that he expected with his party lifestyle that I felt very uncomfortable with, but would ignore my instinct and go along with to make him happy. I guess that was the biggest impact on the relationship — I let him mold me into the girl he wanted instead of being who I really was.
What did/do you friends and family think of your relationship?
Woman A: They were mostly supportive.
Woman B: This is my first relationship. I don’t think they expected it to last because I had never been in a relationship before. A couple of my friends have similar stories about dating older men: they chose the person and not the age group. I’ve found that people don’t care, mostly.
Woman C: My friends were much calmer than I thought they would be — a couple said they always thought I would end up with an older man. My cousin actually said, “Forty-five is the new 30!” My mother was less OK with it, but I expected that. His family has been very accepting of it.
Woman D: My family, especially my father, were very much against the relationship. My mother was as well. My friends thought it was “gross” and it took them nearly all four years of college to warm up to my boyfriend. My parents eventually got to a place where they could be in the same room as him. I think that everybody thought it would fizzle out very quickly, but we lasted nearly six years.
Any other highlights or challenges readers should know about?
Woman A: There isn’t a level playing field. There can’t be when one person has lived for so many more years than the other. This isn’t inherently problematic, but this difference in life experiences does mean that it is easier for an unscrupulous older partner to exploit the younger partner. At the same time, I’m certainly not against relationships with age discrepancies: I’m currently in two long-term relationships with older men (one is seven years older, one is 19 years older), and they’re both great!
Woman B: He has been upfront throughout our entire relationship about not wanting kids. This isn’t an issue for me, as I’m unable to have children at this point due to health reasons. He has said that if he was younger he may have considered children. Now though, he is very certain about the type of life he wants and children don’t play a part in that. There is also the fact that he’s had some different life experiences, such as both his parents dying. And we are in different places financially.
Woman C: He has had a lot more history than I have. There are previous marriages and children. But I come with my own attendant baggage too. The challenges have less to do with the age gap and with the kind of people we are.
Women A and D, why did you break up?
Woman A: The most recent time he contacted me after a break in communication, I had started dating a new person. The new person made it easy for me to quickly see how toxic the old relationship had been; with them, I always felt accepted for who I was. That relationship didn’t last, but the lessons I learned from it have endured.
Woman D: We broke up because I turned 25 and had matured a great deal. I wanted to settle down and try to have kids and live the whole “white picket fence” life. Even though he was 43, he had no desire to do so. By 25, I had my shit together and had a steady job and he would float from one construction job to the next auto repair job without worrying about stability. I think that’s the main thing. I no longer needed a form of excitement or novelty in the relationship, I wanted stability and comfort. He wasn’t ready to settle down.
Looking back on the relationship now, how do you feel about it all?
Woman A: I think the main takeaway for me is that the relationship with this man
was damaging, and the damage probably stemmed in part from the age differential — but the age differential didn’t cause the problems. I didn’t come out of that relationship vowing to not repeat the mistake of being with an older man; I came out vowing to not repeat the mistake of being with a partner who didn’t respect me.
Woman B: I feel that it is the best thing that has happened to me. I chose the person, not the age. Sometimes our age difference is really noticeable and at others, it feels like I’m the more mature one in the relationship. He makes me giddily happy just by being there. I’m very glad I asked him out!
Woman C: I think it’s the best kind of insane.
Woman D: Honestly, pretty disgusted. When I was 18, it didn’t seem like a huge deal to me that an older man was interested in me. I think as a society we’re pretty used to that being common. However, at 30 and with a 5-year-old stepson, I am so horrified that someone that old would even consider dating someone so young. I was so naive and vulnerable, and he exploited that every single chance he got. I can’t say that I 100 percent regret the experience. We had some decent times together, and I learned a lot about myself and my strength in the process. However, if I could do it all over again, I’d stick with the college boys.
Article from : cosmopolitan.com