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Anyone whos been in a serious long-term relationship knows the journey isnt without certain challenges, and when youre dating an older manwere talking a decade or morethings can get even trickier.
I know this firsthand, as Im 25 years old, and Ive been dating an older guy nearly 15 years my senior for almost four years. While you figure out the math, let me be clear that Ive met several other women in their early- to mid-20s who also prefer to date from a much older pool for various reasons.
And while clich dictates that, sure, men are into it, theres been some recent research done aboutwhyyounger females often gravitate toward mature men.Evolutionary psychologists saythat relationships like this often occur because while fertility lasts only from puberty to menopause in women, it starts at puberty and can extend long into midlife for lots of men. That means theres a strategic advantage for women to snag an older genthes had more time to accumulate resources and stability than his younger counterparts, which could make him a more viable partner and father.
Now, Im not saying these are conscious reasons whyImdating a man quite a bit olderthere have been several moments when Ive thought that going out with someone closer to my age would be much simpler. I even tried it when my boyfriend and I took a short break, and I found it was painstakingly difficult and more complicated than my experience dating an older guy.
You know what Im taking about. Thetexting games(How long should I wait to text him back? Why isnt he textingmeback? Should Inotbe the first to text? Its exhausting), the fear of commitment that plagues most twentysomethings, and the simple fact that most guys my age arent as emotionally mature as I am.
It can be tough when you and your older partner cant share childhood commonalities (dudes never read aGoosebumpsbook!?), but the benefits can certainly outweigh those little things. That said, there are not-so-little things that can cause friction too. Keeping in mind what Ive learned from my own relationship and anecdotes Ive picked up from women in similar situations, Ive outlined the perks and challenges of dating an older man.
Jason Statham and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: 20 years apart. (Photo: )
Hes often financially stable.I get asked a lot of questions about my boyfriends finances (why else would I date someone much older, right? Ugh.). Its not actually anybodys business, but I can tell you that Ive never dated anyone because of money. In general, theres a stigma that a younger woman dates an older man because hes more powerful and can essentially take care of her.
And while that may be true for some, a2010 studyby the University of Dundee in Scotland found that as women become more financially independent, their taste may skew toward older (and better-looking) men. What does that mean? As a woman becomes more confident in her own career and finances, she seeks a partner who matches that, which often is not a 25-year-old guy.
To be clear, my boyfriend isnt rich, but hes picked up one important habit over the years: investing. I have to admit its comforting to be in a serious relationship with someone whos somewhat financially responsible (read: less impulsive). From what Ive gathered, a man in his 20s is more likely to blow his cash on frivolous things, while men in their 30s and are likely to save money for the future or for experiences, like a romantic vacation (wink, wink).
No more texting games.He texted me an hour after I texted him. What should I text him back? Sound familiar? I can still remember the days when Id utter those words and essentially have an anxiety attack every time my phone buzzed and it was a guy my own age Id been casually seeing. When I first started dating my boyfriend, it threw me off when he didnt text me, butwait for itcalled meinstead.
And continued to call when he said he would and replied to messages fairly quickly. In general, dating games are rather boring to a guy whos probably had his fair share. This alone is a reason why I refuse to go back into the dating pool with guys my own age.
Olivier Sarkozy and Mary-Kate Olsen: 17 years apart. (Photo: Getty Images)
His confidence gets major points.When Im out, the guys I seem to attract are generally in their mid- to late-30s. Rarely do younger guys approach me. To find out why, I asked a straight twentysomething male friend, who pointed out that younger guys are simply intimidated. After all, going up to a total stranger in a bar and making an impression isnt easy, and it takes a certain amount of confidence, which often comes with age.
Persistence also takes confidencemy boyfriend extended three invitations before I finally agreed to get coffee with him. As Aaliyah once said, If at first you dont succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Older men know this.
Hes chock-full of knowledge.I wont lie: It can be annoying at times dating someone who has been there/done that, but it can also be helpful when your partner can use his experiences to guide you. I can recall numerous situationswork issues, arguments with peoplethat my boyfriend was able to help me with based on his own mistakes and victories. Plus, when it comes to things like taxes, real estate, and life hacks that you pick up over time, an older guy can be a goldmine of useful information.
Jealousy takes a backseat.I dated a guy right before my boyfriend who was really clingy. Im the kind of girl who looks up to independent women, and I tend to put my girlfriends before dating. He just didnt get that and wanted to be around every second. I dont necessarily think that he wanted to hang exclusively with me all the time, but I think he felt insecure that Id meet other guys when I went out with friends.
One thing Im incredibly grateful for is not having to deal with jealousy in my current relationship. Sure, it occasionally happens, but my boyfriend understands that being in a codependent relationship leads to all sorts of trouble and that spending time apart sometimes is key.
Getting awkward questions (wait,howdo you know each other?!).I find it difficult to explain to people how my relationship came to be. Im often asked how we metand not in a giddy kind of way (its more like concern). People are shocked when I respond mutual friends. How could a girl in her early 20s be friends with people in their late 30s? Well, I was (and still am) friends with a select crew of musicians and creatives in Los Angeles, and my boyfriend happened to be a part of that scene.
I get the impression that people outside my inner circle wonder if Im lying and that maybe he picked me up at a hotel bar or something clich like that. Other inquire whether I was purposely seeking an older man when I met him. (Spoiler alert: I wasnt.)
Introducing him to your family wont be easy.I was dead nervous to reveal my boyfriends age to my parents, so much so that I stalled introducing them for six months. If your family is fairly protective, especially your dad, it can be a pretty nerve-racking conversation. What helped me most was talking about how wonderful he isa lotleading up to their meet and asking my older sister to talk to them too.
You cant expect him to drop his life to chase your dreams.Starting out in the fashion media industry isnt an easy task, especially when you have zero connections. Thats where I was when I first met my boyfriend. I was a fresh-out-of-college aspiring digital fashion writer with no clue on how to break in. My boyfriend had been steadily working in his field for years, so it was hard to get him to understand things I felt I had to do in order to find success in my field.
Luckily, my boyfriend understands how important my career is to me, so there was never a question if I wanted to take chances like moving back and forth from Los Angeles to New York for amazing opportunities at dream companies or postponing planned dates because there was an event or story I needed to cover. But being with someone who has an established career and fully formed network hasnt made it easy.
Im aware that he will probably never move back to the East Coast, and I sometimes feel like Im constantly straddling the line between doing everything I can to succeed in my career and maintaining my relationship.
Alec and Hilaria Baldwin: 26 years apart. (Photo: WENN)
Get used to the fact that hes lived a whole life before you met.While I dont have to deal with an ex-wife, stepkids, or any other ties to a former personal lifeI dont think Id be able to handle that kind of responsibility yetI know it can be a huge challenge for women who are in that situation. If your future with your boyfriend is important to you, these things might take a lot of talking and compromise to fit into your current life.
Your friends are very different.You can bring [insert boyfriends name] if you want, but he might get bored. I get that a lot. It doesnt come from a negative place on my friends part, but they often dont know how to react to my bringing someone whos significantly older than them. Ive done it, of course, and have witnessed some awkward exchanges between their twentysomething boyfriends and my own. Its just something to get used to.
I wont take him to a house party where Two Buck Chuck flows like water, but I will bring him along for some casual bar hopping. The same is true for me with his friendsI get bored sometimes hanging out with his friends girlfriends and wives. But its great to know the people that he considers his second family, to interact with friends that have witnessed him grow over the years, and to learn more about him through them.
As tricky as it can be at times to maintain your sanity in a relationship with someone older, if you love the guy as a person then its worth it. Not only has it taught me patience (which isnt easy), but Ive always been free to express myself and simply be me. Hes accepting.
Plus, its opened me up a whole network of people I wouldnt have met and experiences I wouldnt have otherwise had, which I feel has matured me a bit too. Thats not to say that I dont act my age (trust me, my friends have the Snapchats to prove it), but I like that my relationship allows me to grow into the person I want to be.
Originally published October 2015. Updated April 2017.