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.