The Pros and Cons of Dating a Younger Man
We weigh in on whether you should, or shouldn't, consider dating the younger guy.
By JANET HO
Does age really matter when it comes to love?
There was a time when the Mrs. Robinsons of the world were seen as more of a joke and something to be ashamed of; The overly sexual older woman, teaching the naive, inexperienced younger man. But over the years, the age gap has shrunk and the stereotype has fewer relevancies.
Perhaps due credit should be given to celebrities such as Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who publicly paved the way for ‘the older woman’ everywhere. But can relationships with a younger man really last? With the breakups of these highly publicized celebrity May-December romances, it makes one wonder if the age gap is something that can't be overcome. Here, we look at five pros and cons of dating a younger man.
Pro: Younger men are willing to try new things
And we don't just mean sexually! Ask him to a romantic movie or an Adele concert. His answer will likely be yes. It's not that an older man wouldn't do those things; he'd probably just rather you did them with your girlfriends. Kim, a marketing executive, was 46 when she dated John, 27. In comparison, she found older men were less likely to think outside the box. Her younger boyfriend was interested in doing new things and in turn, she challenged herself to do new things too.
Valerie Gibson, author of Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, felt the same way. She described her relationships with younger men (and her marriage with a man 15 years her junior) as exciting and found herself trying new things. She says, “The generational gap is a plus because you get to learn each other’s worlds and there’s tremendous sharing.” Set aside your worries, the key is to be open to each other’s interests.
Con: He doesn’t know himself yet
This may be an issue depending on how old (err, young) he is. Gibson says this is especially true for men in their twenties. Eventually, those big questions start to come up: do you want to get married? Do you want kids? This depends on what stage of life you’re both at, what Gibson describes as the “seasonal aging process”. The age gap matters less when, for example, a woman is 55 and her partner is 40. Both may have already been married or have kids, so there’s less pressure to achieve those things.
But a man in his twenties is transitioning more so than someone who is older. He may not have matured enough to know what he wants in life. At this stage, women have described younger guys to be less reliable and the relationship as more casual. Gibson says it depends on what you want. If you’re looking for a fun, casual relationship, then it fits the bill. But if you’re looking to settle down, a man in his twenties may not be a good match. Depending what you want in life, you have to ask those big questions sooner rather than later. Gibson says it’s a matter of expectations and advises to expect a relationship with a younger man might not go anywhere.
Pro: He has less baggage, and is more emotionally open
A man’s baggage seems to get heavier says Jen, 31. She explains, “They get so protected when they’ve been hurt before”, making them less emotionally open the next time they get involved with someone.
Claudia Opdenkelder, President of CougarLife.com, a dating site for older women and younger men looking to connect, explains that “cubs don’t have any baggage or an inflated sense of self.” Younger men aren’t as jaded by life and are more willing to share their feelings. Kim, 53, compares the emotional difference between the ages, “In my opinion, older men tend to carry a lot of baggage and are very slow to evolve.” According to Natasha, 31, they have a “what you see is what you get” kind of attitude. She feels they’re more confident in discussing how they feel, making things less complicated. Open communication is the key to a successful relationship.
Pro: Comfortable with Miss Independent
Ever heard of the Oscar love curse? From Sandra Bullock to Hilary Swank, these leading Hollywood actresses found their relationships in ruins after winning an Oscar. Coincidence? Possibly. But for some men, the more successful a woman is, the more insecure he becomes, which ultimately strains the relationship. Younger men are less likely to be threatened by a successful woman. In fact, Gibson says, it’s why they find older women so attractive. They admire confidence, intelligence and independence. Natasha, 31, says younger men are more flexible in letting a woman’s career take priority. And perhaps because she’s older, it’s assumed she’s more successful in her career anyway.
Con: The meet and greet
The first time he meets friends and family will probably be awkward. Georgia, 27 found meeting her 22 year old boyfriend’s friends, aged 19 to 23, embarrassing. Though she felt less self-conscious telling her friends their age difference, she wouldn’t want to introduce him to her parents or bring him to a work event. These outside factors do play a part, and family and friends may not approve. External judgement can happen, and you may need to brace yourself.
Opdenkelder advises it’s important to explain that your younger man makes you happy and to plan group dates so other people can see what you like in each other.
Is a relationship with a younger man more difficult?
Well, no. As Gibson says, any relationship – no matter the age difference – can be difficult. With any relationship, there’s a chance of it failing or succeeding. Megan was 34 when she met her 27-year-old partner. Three years later, they're married with a three-month-old. She felt the age gap was never really an issue because they were so in love, "I think so much of a relationship working has nothing to do with age and everything to do with connection, experience and magnetism. In no other relationship did I connect so quickly and easily with someone."
So whether you're dating a younger man, an older man, or a man your age, the same rules generally apply. In love, it's all about the connection. And if that's with a younger man, have fun and wear your age proudly.
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