Not too long ago, I was asked to write a thesis to wrap up my apprenticeship with Elephant Journal. Since it was due shortly after getting back from an out of province trip to see family and would be busy heading back to earth, I knew I needed to write about something that would just flow out of me. I was missing my boyfriend and suddenly realized he could be the subject of my article. Why would someone be interested in this? Because we have an age gap and aren’t in a stereotypical relationship.
I was thrilled when I received notice that my article had been accepted for publication. It made me feel good on so many levels; the most important of which is to openly and honestly discuss a topic and help others understand and expand their minds. I hope that this article is of benefit to others.
I was outside my apartment complex wearing pyjamas. It was the evening before my moving day, and I was waiting for a girl to pick up my couch from a Kijiji ad I had posted. I noticed a handsome young guy walked toward me, and I could tell he had just gotten off work. His clothes were dirty and he carried a large lunch box with him. His bright green eyes mesmerized me as he introduced himself.
He told me he had noticed me in our building before, but we had never had a chance to meet until now. He told me his name, we talked for a bit, I enjoyed his humour and was completely surprised when he asked for my phone number. I know I don’t entirely look my age, especially wearing worn out pyjamas, but I was flattered he had asked. I responded, “Um, I think I’m a bit older than you think I am.” I smiled at him sweetly. He replied, “Well, how old are you?” Hesitantly, I responded, “29. Almost thirty. And you’re what, 24?” He smiled. “I’m 22.” I gulped. That’s an eight-year difference. Surely this guy must be nuts. I was skeptical, but he took a step forward, told me I was beautiful, and asked me on a date.
We have been together since last fall. Unlike any guy I have ever dated, I cannot think of any reason to break up with him. Nothing he does annoys me, and believe me, I have quite a few pet peeves.
After our first few dates, I was at the point where I wondered if our relationship could be sustained. I wondered what people would think of me. Was I now classified as a cougar? Could I be a cougar if I unintentionally picked him up? Did he want what I wanted in life? Would his family think he was crazy for dating an older woman? Would anyone I know think less of me for wanting to date him? Was I going through some weird phase in life turning 30? Did all 30-year-old women want to date younger men?
Amidst all the thoughts running through my head since the moment we met, one thing was for certain. I knew I felt something very deep for him, and could feel he felt the same about me, if not deeper at the time. He was ready for me to be his girlfriend. But was I ready for him to be my boyfriend?
After careful deliberation, I listened to my heart.
Unfortunately, at times, being in a relationship with a younger man comes with its own set of challenges versus a relationship of similar age. I am a confident woman, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m well aware of how he could easily be with a smoking hot 20-something-year-old, just as he is well aware that I could be with an older, well-established man. But would we be as happy? Doubtful. The heart wants what it wants. And my heart wants our ageless connection.
Knowing that he could be with a much younger female, I have come to realize what it is about me that he finds attractive. So what is it about an older woman that a younger man would find attractive enough to make his life partner?
Surprisingly, it may not be what you think:
Having been alive longer than a younger man, older women have experienced, learned and grown from life’s trials. Older woman can provide valuable advice and guidance that comes through those extra years of life.
Older women know what they are and what they aren’t. They have had enough time to come to terms and accept who they are, and what they want in life. They have also experienced enough to know what they can or cannot provide, and may find it unnecessary to “compete” with other females. They know their own self-worth and understand that confidence is not all about physical beauty. Confidence comes from many aspects of life, but it can also include the ability to not become jealous, insecure or vain.
There is nothing more boring than being on a date with someone who has nothing to contribute to a conversation. The ability to converse in a meaningful, intelligent or thought-provoking way is genuinely attractive regardless of age or gender. Being an “airhead” and not contributing or being of mindful benefit is not sexy. Meaningful and deep conversation is.
Knowing what is important in life is very attractive. Planning ahead, taking one’s job or career seriously, not going into work hungover, not blowing a paycheque on silly things, and not focusing on all the small, irrelevant details in life is hugely understated in life. Having the ability to know which battles to fight, and which ones to dismiss helps keep what matters in life in check.
Older women know the value of a good relationship. They have likely had their heart broken and understand where relationships went wrong in the past. They know the qualities they want in a partner and know the importance of putting their faith into another person. They understand the value and importance of giving their partner freedom. Having the ability to trust someone is essential to a healthy relationship.
Speaking from the heart can be scary for many, but when it comes down to it, the vast majority of people want, need, and crave emotional connection in a life partner. Finding someone you can open up to without judgement and feel supported by is an extremely important aspect of any relationship. Connecting and speaking the same soulful “language” as someone is a rarity that must be treasured when found.
Older women have had time to think of what they want in life. But having a life plan and simply plunking a person into it is not healthy for either parties. This can lead to a life of misery and resentment. Instead, having a vague outline of the things you both want to accomplish, and planning together is healthier than knowing you are one piece of a preconceived puzzle where everything has already been planned out. Planning together also ensures that neither parties can easily be replaced.
All in all, I have discovered that age is simply a mindset. Men have been dating younger women for centuries and people rarely think it to be odd. Our viewpoint of what is “normal” comes from what we are used to seeing, that which we are taught to accept, and that which we understand. No relationship should be judged without first understanding the hearts of the people involved.
Maturity does not correlate to a person’s age, and it seems that there are many benefits of dating younger man. Many authors argue that age has nothing to do with love. When you find someone that speaks to your heart, age really does not matter.
At least for me anyway.
Image: My own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen