1. Different viewpoints
If you’ve spent the last decade in the same queer community and friendship group, however loving and generous, dating a younger person from a different social background and with different experiences and expectations of coming out, living as queer and building relationships can be a breath of fresh air. She gets to meet all your kickass comrades and you get to meet her crowd of hot twentysomethings and everyone hangs out and cackles. What’s not to like?
Younger people are often more energetic than their elder counterparts, and very much still at the stage of life where they’re experimenting with everything to see what works. Dating someone younger often means nights out, creative hobbies, fun activities, and a partner in crime for anything you’ve always felt you wanted to try. If you’re a homebody, dating somebody younger can encourage you to get out and do things you’d never have tried on your own.
Younger people can be less jaded and cynical, still in the process of discovering the world and themselves and how those two things might work together, That often translates as boundless enthusiasm for new things, different things, silly and fun things – and they’ll drag you along for the ride, no pun intended.
If someone’s significantly younger than you, the chances are they’re less experienced than you, too – in bed and out of it. They’re more likely to be still discovering their sexuality, keen to experiment and try new things. Sometimes it’s fun to be the experienced one – especially when it’s fulfilling for both parties. Which is another good point: beware of internalised ageism. If your younger partner is dating you, that means they find you sexy, wrinkles and all!
5. Curiosity about the world
Another fruitful outcome of different life stages is often the exchange of ideas. Younger lovers are often curious about the world, willing to explore with you and genuinely interested in your thinking and how you arrived at it. Talking it through often gives you fresh insight and a whole new lease of life as well – younger eyes help you see things from a fresh and different perspective.
6. Lack of pressure
One wise friend advises me that ‘an upside of dating someone younger is that they may feel less pressure (internal or external) to “settle down”, so they won’t push the relationship towards a commitment too soon. On the other hand, particularly if you are their first serious partner, they may be swept up in “first love” and want that fairytale happy ending,’ so you may need to be the one to put the brakes on if that’s not really what you want or where you see things going.
7. Pop culture
Dating anybody more than a decade younger than you – or sometimes even less than that – means that they’ll probably a) be much more plugged into the current cultural scene than you and b) have a totally different frame of cultural reference. This is basically a joy – you can share things with one another and spread the love to your friendship groups as well. Just be careful that neither of you make the other feel excluded if you’re hanging with your contemporaries!
Younger lovers often haven’t progressed as far in their careers as older partners, or are still studying. That often means less money – but also more practice and expertise at having fun on a budget. Anyone who’s not taking advantage will make it obvious by inviting you out to (cheap/free) things, or cooking for you, even if it’s just pasta or grilled cheese sandwiches. Once again, this doesn’t just mean practical new fun things to do with your partner you might not’ve thought of, it also means (re)introducing you to ways of living and thinking you haven’t inhabited for a while.
It’s worth being prepared for backlash from your friends or theirs about the age difference. Some may call you cougar or creepy behind your back (or even to your face). Whilst this isn’t exactly much fun, it does challenge you both to express directly precisely what you like about the other and why it’s valuable to you, which makes for a more solid and respectful relationship.
10. Mutual learning
It’s easy to learn things from younger partners as well as older ones. On one level, you can find out cool new things about developments in politics and the way the future is turning and what to watch on Netflix. But there’s also another level, on which you learn about yourself and your needs and wants and get to be part of someone else’s learning curve, too. The campsite rule** undoubtedly applies. That is, according to Dan Savage, the idea that “in a relationship with a large age and/or experience gap, the older partner/more experienced partner has the responsibility to leave the younger/less experienced partner in at least as good a state (emotionally and physically) as before the relationship.” As the older partner that is on you – but often, it’s a joy and a privilege to be trusted to take part in someone else’s emotional development.