I am in my late twenties, but I don't really look like I am. On average, people will guess that I'm about seven years younger—and yes, I am fully aware that when I turn 40, I will appreciate this and recognize that it's a good thing. At the moment, however, it can be frustrating in both my career and in my dating life.
When I was working as an adjunct-English instructor at a university, I taught classes of college freshmen who greeted me with suspicious stares, and later admitted that they thought I was only a few years older than them. I had to work hard to earn their respect. When it comes to dating, the men I meet often assume that I'm younger, as well, which means that the ones who take an interest in me remain around the same age, while I continue to age. Year after year. I'm still in the process of deciding how I feel about that.
If you were to examine my family tree, you would note that I am surrounded by couples that are made up of older men and younger women. My dad is eleven years older than my mom, and my brother is eight years older than his wife. Both are happily married to this day. When I was younger, I naturally assumed I would marry an older guy, and believed wholeheartedly in the notion that women matured faster than men. I assumed it was a scientific fact, although I never did any research to back it up. All I had to do was look at the immature guys at my high school. They were proof enough. Three Relationship Killers: Emotional Immaturity, Selfishness, and Instant Gratification
Later in life, after I had finished college and moved to New York, I became roommates with a girl named Tiffany who had a drastically different perspective on the subject. One night, she and I were hanging out in our Manhattan apartment, drinking wine and chatting about life. I asked her what it was like to date younger guys, and she told me this: "Once you start dating younger men, you'll never go back."
I looked at her skeptically.
The closest I had ever come to dating a younger guy was an attractive, younger fireman I met while on a mini-missions trip with my church. Our group had driven from Southern California to Tijuana and constructed a house for a family in only three days. Dating Younger Men: Would You?
One afternoon, the fireman taught me how to run electrical wires along the walls of a bedroom, and while I was assisting him, I learned he was 25 (I was 28 at the time). For the rest of the weekend, whenever we passed each other on the construction site, he would greet me by saying, "Hey there old lady," and I would routinely respond by punching him in the arm (which, given that he was a fireman, was like a punching a wall and resulted in a decent case of sore knuckles for me).
Yet, in spite of his rock-solid biceps, stable job, fancy electrical knowledge—oh, and did I mention he was saving up to buy a house?—I went out with him once and then decided I couldn't get over our age difference. Stupid, I know.
"The thing with younger guys," Tiffany said, "is that they secretly love that you're older because of what they think it says about them—that they're cool enough to have gotten an older woman."
I laughed. One of the many things I love about Tiffany is that she will always be blunt.
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