You want to date someone who appreciates you. Someone with his shit together. Someone mature, evolved. Ready to take you seriously. The problem is, you think that person has to be older than you. But you’re wrong. Just as chronological age doesn’t always “cure” one of immaturity, a man can be all of these things and still be 24, 28, 30 (depending on what you consider young). You just need to give him a chance.
You’ve told yourself you don’t really want a younger man. You use it as a reason to blow them off, pare back your options, and fuel embittered stories about how It’s So Hard to Meet Good Men. But that’s not a power position, and it does you no favors.
Here are the reasons you wave off the idea of dating young:
You don’t believe that a younger man would want you. You’ve been taught that past a certain age, you’re over the hill, undesirable. And you’ve swallowed it whole.
You cling to stereotypical ideas of What Young Men Are Like (aimless, noncommittal, out just for sex). Sure, some are. But these are not age-specific qualities. Beware of wielding stereotypes; they’re cheap shortcuts masquerading as wisdom, and if you use them, prepare to be judged by them.
You look at younger men through an “old” lens. You project onto them your storied disappointments and memories. You think, Ugh. I’m not doing that again. As if all the young men walking around are just iterations of your old heartbreak.
You don’t think a young man can appreciate you. Wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong. One of my most popular posts to date is 7 Reasons Why You Should Want to Date an Older Woman. Oh, ladies loved that piece—and so did men. But men don’t need convincing; you do.
You’re worried about what people will think. Regardless of how sexually permissive and progressive we think we are, there’s still a bit of eyebrow raising when a woman dates younger. There is a cultural stigma. I know because I’ve felt it myself. I just don’t give a shit.
My current boyfriend is nine years younger than me; the boyfriend before that, 10 years younger. When I was 36, I had a brief, wonderful affair with a lovely 24-year-old entrepreneur I met on an airplane. And when I tell people that (if they ask or if it comes up), I either get a lilting “Reaalllly” or a “You go girl!” followed by a high five, which is kind of odd when you think about it. You would only applaud someone if she succeeded in doing something impossible or crazy, or if she got away with something she shouldn’t have. And for me, dating a younger man isn’t a game. I just like them.
Wait. Am I a Cougar?
As I approached my mid 30s, I wondered if this meant I was now a bona fide cougar. I didn’t think so. The term conjures an image of a hungry, embattled woman with heavily coiffed hair, mummified in makeup, squeezed into a bedazzled top and looking to “score” a young man.
The cougar image is cartoonish at best, derived either from a culture fearful of a sexually empowered woman, or from the woman herself, who claims cougardom as a way to boost her self esteem via sex with a man many years her junior. But it didn’t seem to fit my reasons for dating younger, nor is it an accurate or flattering explanation of why younger men are worth dating.
You don’t need to make like Stifler’s mom and prey on young 18-year-old boys. You don’t even need to claim the cougar title. What you need to do is embrace the incredible sexual power you possess—and stop making excuses for why you can’t.
Why to Date a Younger Man
He’s bored with girls his own age. If there’s one complaint I hear from younger men—and the reason they’re interested in older women, is that they’re a little tired of the same old scene and games. They’re very into the idea of spending time with a woman who brings a little more to the table—a whole world of experience and interests outside of his own. He’s not dumb because he’s 27. He’s smarter than you think and would welcome a grown-up conversation, not to mention a mature relationship.
He’s not just out to hit it and quit it. To say men JUST want sex, especially young men, isn’t a fair assessment. They’ve been having sex for years, and it’s not like they can’t get it if they want it. They may be less inclined to marry right away or at all, perhaps, but that’s not the same as not wanting a real relationship. And many desperately do.
He thinks you’re hot. Stop it with the, “Oh but he probably wants some 21-year-old chick with perfect breasts.” There will always be scores of young hot girls roaming the planet. You’re wrong to think he couldn’t be turned on by you. Guys aren’t all looking for a girl off a billboard. Men like curves—and the women who bear them with an air of self-possession and desire. Guys like pleasing women and being enjoyed by a woman who appreciates them. You know your body, what makes it tick, and what turns it on and makes it happy. He’s really, really into that.
He’s not hung up on age; you are. I haven’t met a young man yet who said they would never date a woman older than him. Sure, some may be a little hesitant about how to handle or be with a woman’s children, but it’s not always a dealbreaker. But as for not liking you simply because you’re whatever age you are? Nope. Quite the opposite; he’s proud of it. You make him feel like the man he wants to be.
He’s got energy and optimism to spare. I’m not making a stamina joke here. I mean sheer energy—a bright, capable man who’s in the earlier phase of his career and life can be a thrill to be around. He’s not jaded by losses, failure, or the spectre of retirement. Any man who hates where he is in life and resents others for it is going to be a drag. But if he’s young and he’s got plans, that momentum can be inspiring. Even contagious.
What he lacks in money, he makes up for in resourcefulness and ambition. If you happen to date a 25-year-old who just sold his start-up to Yahoo, then money is no issue. But for most, money is tight. My boyfriend is a musician and composer who also works a part-time job, and he doesn’t have a disposable income. But he’s scrappy and resourceful. So no, he’s not springing for big dinners or trips to St. Bart’s. But he cooks an outstanding meal. Sometimes I’ll cover the check when he’s in a tough spot and I’m feeling like sushi. But the idea that a man will ciphon off money is only as true as the person’s character, not age. A man struggling to make it knows the value of a dollar, and that alone is far more appealing than the one who throws money at you in an attempt to impress.
He’ll make you feel like your old self. I don’t mean “old” as in aged, but old as in best version of you. The fun, spontaneous you. Any good relationship should do this, regardless of age. And no one can make you feel old—that’s on you. Let go of your inhibitions and run around a bit with an energetic 24- or 31-year-old, and what you may discover is that the world feels a little bigger, and the night a lot younger.
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