Have you thought about dating a younger man?
What is it about relationships between women and younger men that intrigue us? Is it simply because this kind of relationship is the opposite of what we expect, of what society has condoned for centuries? Occasionally, news of a tryst between a 70-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman raises an eyebrow (or at least gets the family members all riled up about what’s in the will). But for the most part, such romantic partnerships are commonplace. The man has the money. The woman has the face and the body. Everyone’s happy.
Demi Moore forever changed our assumption that the woman never publicly pursues a younger man when Moore dated and then married Ashton Kutcher, 15 years her junior. She was immediately labeled a cougar. And she was, apparently, and in hindsight, the only one to take their marriage vows seriously. Several years have passed since their separation and subsequent divorce.
I like to think the public is more accepting of dating a younger man than it used to be, even as recently as a half-decade ago. To be sure, where one lives and what’s learned from one’s parents, peers, and politicians make their mark. And we all pre-judge whether or not we have enough self-awareness to admit it. But there’s an increased curiosity about allowing others to be their true selves and an expanding infatuation with allowing people to live a life that feels right to them. And for women who make their own money (thank you very much), the object of their romantic vision may shift from the stereotypical father figure to the handsome younger guy at the office or the other end of the bar.
Are you a single woman considering dating a younger man? If so, don’t ask him out until you’ve read these insightful thoughts offered by a 48-year-old woman with a 34-year-old boyfriend. She has a lot of helpful advice for dating a younger man.
“He was looking for a change,” she said in an email interview. “The women his age? They are always on their phones. There’s a lot of negativity. And it’s all about them. They would spend the entire evening talking about themselves—hardly ever asking a question about him—and then expect him to pick up the check.”
Does this sound like the kind of date you’d want to go on? Me neither, and men feel the same way — regardless of their age.
“I give him 100% of my attention when I’m with him. I’m nurturing and caring. And yes, there is a kind of mothering aspect to it. I take care of him, and he appreciates it. I can do this because I’m not looking for him to ‘complete me’ or to make me a better version of who I am. He likes that I know who I am and what I want in life.”
That sounds like the kind of relationship anyone would want to pursue. The idea that someone cares about you simply because they like you and aren’t looking for you to change or fulfill all of their needs. Being a strong, self-assured, mature woman is very appealing to men of all ages.
“I’m pretty confident about my outside appearance, how I look and how I dress. But I started second-guessing myself, wondering if the outfit I had chosen was an attempt at looking younger. I am critical now of how I look in the morning, and I have feelings of jealousy when I see him talking with an attractive woman who is closer to his age. But he doesn’t make me feel this way; these are my perceptions. And I do what I can to ignore them.”
From a young age, we begin to compare ourselves to others. Not just physically, but when it comes to athletics, academics, style, popularity… the list goes on and on. Realizing that our self-comparisons to others aren’t true reflections of who we are is a huge step in self-acceptance. And not letting anyone else dictate that can make all the difference in how we feel about ourselves.
“My friends haven’t been particularly supportive. I didn’t tell them at first – and they were mad when I finally did tell them because I hadn’t told them sooner. I don’t see why this mattered, though, because now they seem to be indifferent about him. They don’t ask about him, even though I think they’re having a conversation about it when I’m not around. This kind of behavior has been hurtful. I don’t feel as close to these friends now, which is okay. But it also means I have no one to talk to about him.”
Honestly, we need to have supportive friends in our lives, not just in romance, but in every aspect. You have to ask yourself if they don’t support and encourage you in your decisions, especially one that is so personal, are they really someone you want to be friends with anyway?
“There’s a chance something can come of this. I don’t know. I sometimes ask myself, ‘Do I stay with him if it’s just going to be for a couple of years – and then I’m devastated as well as being two years older if it doesn’t last? And then will the older guys I end up dating after him not live up to his standard?’ We don’t talk about the future, other than about all the things we’re going to do this summer. He was in a very long relationship, and I think he’s still afraid of having someone in his life.”
Taking your relationship day by day keeps the expectations from becoming unrealistic and keeps you from feeling disappointment when your plans don’t pan out. Keep it simple and accept each day as a new adventure – one with someone you truly enjoy being with each day.
“He can definitely act his age. He can definitely act like a 12-year-old! But I think a lot of guys are like this. Sometimes he talks about stuff that I don’t know about. And sometimes I reference things that he doesn’t know about it, like a TV commercial from the 80s that makes only me laugh. But there’s nothing of substance that really gets in our way.”
Regardless of age, we’ll have differences with our potential mates; it’s not just generational differences but where and how we were raised. Keep in mind that the differences are what keeps it fun and interesting because if you always agree on everything, there’s no room for growth or self-evolution.
“We talked quite a bit before we first went out. In fact, when he did ask me out, I thought it was as a friend that he wanted to talk to me about his girlfriend! And we are still talking. It’s easy for both of us. He tells me that he always feels better after he’s been with me. And for me, being with him is pure joy.”
Again, this should be the standard for every relationship. Be with someone that makes you happy and encourages you to be your best self. It’ll make your time together – and apart – so much more satisfying.
If dating a younger man is something you’d like to read more about, Susan Kietzman’s fifth novel, It Started in June, follows the on and off relationship between Grace Trumbull, a 42-year-old media relations executive, and Bradley Hanover, a 30-year-old work colleague, that begins with an unplanned, after cocktails intimate encounter in the back seat of her car. The resulting pregnancy, also unplanned, further complicates what their friends and family see as an ill-fated union.
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