My friend recently started dating a younger man. He’s 24 and she’s 30. It wouldn’t normally seem like a big difference but through the constant stories I’ve heard from her, other women in the same predicament and a few of my own experiences, I though it was important enough to write about the difference between dating a man in his early 20s and a man in his late 30s. We have to remember to put ourselves in other people’s shoes so we can try to gain perspective. So here it goes…
First off, men in their early 20s are still figuring themselves out. They are pretty preoccupied with their own life course and life decision to have time to worry about anyone else. Can you blame them?? I know I’m only 27, but I remember myself at 21 and I was a different person. I have changed so much. My goals, the way I look at life, the way I handle situations… When I was 21, everything seemed so “black and white.” I think the “grey” in life comes with experience. I was so dramatic back then and talking to me when things didn’t go my way was beyond pointless. I knew there was two sides/perspectives to every story but I just couldn’t place myself in other people’s shoes no matter how much I reminded myself that I should. I was also in a place of self discovery. I was figuring out what I liked and hated, what worked for me and what people I wanted to surround myself with. My preferences changed with the wind and people’s opinions on my life and choices I made were overly important to me.
Now I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone but it seems to be a general path we tend to follow through our growing pains. I remember the day I had to put my foot down and in a sense “train” my parents to respect boundaries when it came to my life and trust me it was bitter sweet. I had just purchased my first house and I was filled with a new sense of freedom. I no longer “lived under their roof” or needed help paying bills so I naively thought they should have no say in my life. How ignorant did I sound? Looking back I’m glad I set boundaries with them but I don’t like my motivation to do so. I just didn’t want to be nagged about things. They are old school Romanian parents and if you know anything about the culture, most young adults in Romania live at home with their parents until marriage. So naturally, the parents are extremely involved in their lives. But I’ve always been different then the average “Romanian kid” as my parents like to remind me often. I was stubbornly independent since I was five or six years old and I fought people tooth and nail on points, sometimes even arguing the opposite position just for fun. For that reason my parents thought I was going to be a lawyer and a part of me is still kind of surprised that I’m not but once again I digress. Point is my new found independence carried me away and I started shutting my parents out which only made them freak out more. In hind sight, I should have had a conversation with them but as we all know, hind sight is 20/20. I pretty much did what I wanted, when I wanted and they had to get used to it or get out my way. Sounds harsh no? I agree, it was, but it did give me the drive to achieve anything that crossed my mind because I made sure I had nothing back to fall on. It forced me to make enough money to take care of bills and whatever else I wanted to buy at the time. I could date whomever I wanted and have parties whenever I wanted in my new house. My poor parents would resort to underhanded covert questions just to find out what was going on in my life and for that I will always feel bad. It’s not like I was doing anything crazy, after all, I was going to college full time and working full time as well. But still I got to have a bit of fun traveling with my boyfriend at the time, that I later found out my parents weren’t too fond of. So in my very long, winded way I’m trying to tell you I was stubborn and ignorant about much of the world and it seems like most (not all) young 20 year olds have not changed much.
So it doesn’t surprise me when I hear stories from my friend that takes me back to my 20s. Sometimes I wonder, why in the world would she choose to be with someone younger, keeping in mind that men mature way slower than women. Then I’m reminded that you can’t really help who you fall for and you got to make the best of your situation. Now you might be asking yourself why I took time out of my day to write about this? Well, just like you are not the only person that has ever gone through heart break or a tough life phase, she is probably not the only person dealing with this. So in the scope of staying true to my blog’s goal of being a place where we can all share our experience and thoughts, I decided to tell the story and hopefully some people reading this will relate and I can reinforce the thought that in our hardships, we are never alone.
Cons to dating younger than yourself
- They will always be bothered by “the ex”: what they don’t seem to remember is that “the ex” IS “the ex” for a reason. Whether you broke it off or the other person did, it is over now and the fact that you have a new person in your life shows that you have moved on. Granted “the ex” might always have a fond place in your heart (if you don’t hold grudges that is), people are extraordinary in their ability to move on and that should be signified by the effort you are putting into the new person in your life. But try as they might not be bothered, they have one bad day, a weak moment, or a fight and “the ex” looms over your new relationship like a dark cloud. It’s not until later in life when people are able to let go of things and not dwell on them.
- “What’s wrong?” you ask “nothing” they respond: This used to drive me crazy and it still does! People often have good intuition when it comes to the person they like (especially women) so when you are upset, they often can tell. It is extremely annoying when there is obviously something wrong yet they respond with “I’m fine” or “nothing’s wrong, I’m just tired.” I mean seriously, how many people can relate to this? Be an adult and talk about what’s bothering you. Don’t sulk and be passive aggressive with people as that often escalates the situation and creates frustration with the other party. My mom always told me “never go to bed mad at the person you like” and I try to abide by that. I understand not everyone processes situations the same, but if you are upset and not ready to talk about it, say so. At least this way, you’re acknowledging the situation and can return to it when you are up for the discussion.
- Fighting/Breaking Up through text message: This mainly happens with men but I’ve heard of instances when women have done this as well. It is NEVER a good idea to break up with someone through text. IN FACT, it is NEVER a good idea to have any serious conversations through text. This has happened to me in the past and let me tell you it’s so frustrating!! I understand that most of the time the other person can’t bear hurting people and this is an easier way to deal with the situation but it is not fair to the other person and quite childish. You can’t really infer emotion, tone and meaning from text except for the literal meaning. Emoji’s don’t count either. Please don’t have serious conversations with emoji’s. What you might be trying to say to someone might be taken in a very different way by the opposing party. Just have the talk face to face or at least through FaceTime or Skype. If anything, it will prepare you for other tough conversations you will inadvertently have later in life.
- The family/friends are overly involved in the relationship: This is sometimes the case with older people as well but I see it so frequently with people in their 20s. Apron strings often haven’t been cut until the early 30s and the family will have much to stay about the relationship whether you like it or not. Also, being in your early 20s your more impressionable to family and friend’s opinions and often times incorrect assumptions. No one really knows what the deal is with a relationship except for the two people in it, not even “the best friend” and let me tell you why. The best friend will always be on your side, biased and overprotective. They will only remember the bad times of your relationship, when you were crying or upset and bypass the stories they’ve heard of happy times. This is normal because you expect a relationship to be a positive experience most of the time, so you often don’t dwell on the good time. Bad moments tend to stand out more. So when you ask for an opinion of “what you should do” it will often be based on the memories that stand out in their mind. Then when you don’t take their advice time and time again they will be annoyed when you complain about the same thing, time and time again.
Pros to dating younger than yourself:
- You get to have guilt-free childish fun: Sometimes we forget to have some childish fun or we are too embarrassed to. However, dating someone younger often forces us to laugh more and be a little goofy. I often say “life is not that serious” but I myself tend to forget and am overly serious too often. Having a bit more fun will bring more joy to your life so if you feel like going to Disneyland every month and riding the teacups then go for it if that’s what makes you happy. Younger people tend to bring the fun out because they are not as jaded as someone that has had a little more life experience. Let your inner child out a bit.
- Younger people are often more spontaneous: As we get older, we tend to over-think situations. I know there are quite a few of you that can relate to this. I actually have a 20 something friend that often tells me I think too much and it’s true. The younger we are the more we take situations at face value. We don’t look for depth in situations or even worse, add layers where there shouldn’t be any. Circumstances are often as they seam but people tend to over think them so much that they turn them into problems. This can also be a con to dating younger if one person is overly serious by nature. You need to understand the person you’re with. Again, it’s all about perspective. I remember the first thing we learned in my micro-economics class in college is when someone asks you for a definite answer to a “grey area” question, the answer is ALWAYS “depends.”
- Younger people are more sexually expressive: I think we can all agree that as we get older, we become more set in our ways. We know what we like and we often stick to it. That also applies to sexuality. By your 30s most men and women know what they like in the intimacy department and often don’t deviate much from their usual routine. So when we date younger, often times, we are faced with novelty and intrigue. “Is that what the young kids are doing” often runs through your mind and your curiosity is peaked. According to research, mens sexual peak often looms around their 20s where as women peak around their 30s. Although, men and women in their early 20s are often more willing to explore different parts of their sexuality and tend to be extremely adventurous and free-spirited to the point where it makes the older of the two interested in spicing things up. I have heard of five different relationships where the age difference was a bit larger than normal, that the “sex life” was fun and exciting but when asked about the connection and sensuality level it was pretty similar to other past relationships.
This is an interesting articles on dating with an age disparity:
I’m curious about your thoughts on the matter. Please comment below.