It just feels wrong.
Even if he’s just a year younger, you’re still breaking the cultural commandment:
All women must date men their own age or older.
Flaunt this rule, and you’re a cougar. A cradle-robber. A woman with loose morals.
Maybe you throw caution to the wind. You go for it anyway. Your friends take you aside and ask you, “Have you ever thought about what’s going to happen when he decides he wants kids?”
Even when love feels right, even when it feels good, other people notice and whisper.
I learned a great question to ask when something seems unfair:
“Who is benefiting by this situation?”
Who benefits when we women are afraid to date younger men?
Because it’s certainly not us.
Women of a certain age, with confidence and experience, will always be attractive to the right men.
Whether they choose older or younger partners is a choice.
At least, it should be a choice.
Instead, there’s shame.
Hugh Jackman and Debora-Lee Furness. A 13-year age difference. Married 20 years and counting.
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. A 16-year age difference. Divorced after 6 years.
One’s a cautionary tale. The other one beats the odds. (Which is a backhanded way of saying they shouldn’t have expected it to last.)
Why can’t we date younger?
Here are a few of the most common reasons we hear:
- Younger men will always want children.
- You’ll have nothing in common.
- Older women don’t have anything to offer younger men.
- Men should have the power in the relationship.
Whoops, did I just say that? 😉
Someone does benefit by women being trained to look a few years older for their mates.
It’s older men, who can rest secure in the knowledge that they’ll always be the mature, experienced one in the relationship.
One popular theory claims that chemistry ignites from the contrast between masculinity and femininity. Feminine qualities include youthfulness, innocence, pliability and passiveness. Masculine qualities are power, wisdom, experience and strength.
It’s an equation in which women feel they must diminish their power to be sexually appealing to men. They sacrifice attractiveness if they dare cross the line.
But is that true?
Imagine this. You’ve fallen in love with a much younger man.
It’s a jolt when you realize he doesn’t even know your favorite bands, because they were before his time. You have to explain your cultural reference points to him.
Instead of rolling his eyes, he gazes at you admiringly and takes it all in. You’re gobsmacked. You have something to teach a man.
For many women, that’s a new experience.
After years of trying to teach old dogs new tricks, it’s a delight to meet a younger model eager to please. You do know a thing or two. Maybe your ex taught you to doubt yourself, but no more.
That feels fabulous. And darn sexy to boot.
I didn’t discover the delights of dating younger for a long time. I always dated older men. If I couldn’t look up to him, I wasn’t interested. Immaturity was such a turn-off.
Only now does it strike me that my taste in men reflected a certain powerlessness. Why did I have to be the ingénue on the arm of a man with wisdom and experience? Why couldn’t he look up to me?
Younger men are appealing partners in crime. They’re so enthusiastic. So willing.
They’re creating their future. Exploring what life has in store. Compare that to a fifty-something businessman concerned with his pension and portfolio. No contest.
It takes confidence to believe you have something to offer a younger man. Especially if you’ve hit one of those milestone birthdays where everybody’s congratulating you on being over the hill.
It takes even more confidence to discard the notion that you need an older man to protect and provide for you. You’re a big girl. You can take care of yourself, thank you very much.
Being sexy at a certain age is a choice.
You can choose to relinquish your sexuality to the expectations of age and fade into the woodwork. Or you can dress in siren red, brandish the mascara, and wink at any cute young thing.
Proving you’ve still got what it takes may be as easy as flirting with the guy making you your morning latte. You don’t actually have to date the guy. Just make his day.
Someone’s got to stand up to silly, outdated rules. And the one telling us we’re not attractive to younger men has got to go.
Yes so true Amy! I only started dating again last August after separating from my husband 2 yrs previously. He was younger than me, alot younger. In his situation I needed to let go of him so that he could become the man that he needed to become. With me everything was looked after he felt no desire to step up.
When I started searching again I was approaching men my age (early 50’s) thinking that the dynamic, the shared experiences would be better.
What I found & am finding is that men in the 50’s seem to only be responding to & approaching younger women. I’ve asked a few men that have become friends & they agree it’s an ego thing.
Interestingly I have been approached & have dated many men in their 40’s. Yes they love the life experience, the emotional maturity, and the fun & energy of my personality!
Many guys in their 60’s also approach me, I politely tell them that although they seem to be great guys, I don’t see the point in dating guys that are older as women live on average 6 yrs longer than men. Some men are understanding others get offended.
I’m learning to just enjoy the experience of dating younger men & see where that takes me!
Love your work… Rosanne xox
Amy Waterman says
Hi, Rosanne! You are so right. I’ve also seen that men in their 50s seem to gravitate towards younger women (often claiming no one would ever guess their age). But it goes both ways. There’s no rule preventing us from doing the same thing.
I was very interested in your comment, “With me everything was looked after he felt no desire to step up.” I think that sense of “being looked after” plays a part in any relationship where there’s a large gap in experience and maturity. It’s comforting being in a relationship with someone you can trust to know more than you do. But at some point that becomes limiting, especially if the younger party is a man. I wonder what you think the solution might be?
Hi Amy, yes, maybe every decade has it’s own dynamic, and it presents differently for both men & women? I can tell now from profiles of guys in their 50’s the ones that are desperately trying to hold onto their youthfullness or attract younger women. I see comments like… ‘I know it says 53, not sure how that happened, I feel so full of energy” or “I’m young at heart & I’m out on my jetski or riding my bike every weekend”. Possibly their ability to attract a younger woman is what makes them feel like winners in the world?
Mind you it definitely is a boost to your ego when younger men approach you. I don’t ever approach younger men, they always need to make the 1st move & then I take it from there. I have no idea what their thinking is around dating older women so I leave it to them to approach me. It would be amazing if older guys had the same approach. I wonder what guys in their 60’s would say about dating older women? A couple of guys have said to me that they believe that the libido of older women diminishes with age?
With my husband who was 24 years younger than me, I thought that his youth & my experience would make a good combination. I think that with the right personality types that it could work. Our situation was more complicated because my husband was African & he migrated to Australia to be with me. So not only a new relationship, but a different cultural experience for him. We had known each other for 3 years prior to getting married & I did spend in total about 4 months in Africa over those 3 years, and we were married for 4 years.
It was definitely very comforting for him being in a relationship with someone he could trust & someone that would ensure that all was looked after. At the start this was necessary for me to do as the country, the culture was all new to him, but I think that set the tone for the relationship. In many ways making it difficult for him to step. I tried to give him space to enable him to do that but he chose not to & then I realized that he just didn’t know how & that him being with me would never allow him to experience the challenges he needed to face to become the man he needed to become.
Many guys in their 40’s love my insights & life experience but I find that they also have life experiences to draw on so I learn so much from them, but I do deliberatly set out to do that. For me dating is a journey of discovery, not only about myself but the guys that I date. It’s such a shame that so many men & women get so frustrated & dissilusioned with the process.
Each date is another opportunity to learn, discover, refine! No matter how much we desperately want that destination, I think that it’s always going to be a never ending journey of self & other discovery, even if you are in the ‘perfect for you relationship’… so may as well find a way to get ‘ok’ with that sooner rather than later…. to make your life’s journey so much more enjoyable & meaningful!
So I don’t think that it necessarily needs to become limiting as long as the younger person in the relationship has had enough life experience to understand the dynamic of the relationship. Then both can grow together as they journey through life. If the partner is too young then I can’t see how it could ever progress out of the ‘mothering’ or ‘fathering’ that the older partner needs to provide.
Sue Ashby says
I am a 49 female dating a 24 man. He is exciting and full of life. I am so glad someone has written an article that us as older women should not be ashamed to date younger. I may be an old female in a room, but I can turn heads of males of any age because i walk with confidence and dress sexy.
Amy Waterman says
I love that! You hit the nail on the head: “Older women should not be ashamed to date younger.” How do men have the right to shame us for dating younger when they do it themselves? Why is it newsworthy when people find an older woman (e.g., Helen Mirren, Maye Musk) but not when people find an older man attractive? There’s definitely a power imbalance there.