Dating a person younger than you
Which makes sense — in the course of 24 months, I transformed from a college senior who'd never lived on my own and subsisted primarily on bagels stolen from the school cafeteria to a financially independent adult who worked a serious job and subsisted primarily on bagels stolen from work.I felt like I was racking up new life milestones every day, and couldn't imagine relating to anyone younger than me — and so I became fixated on dating older guys, because I thought it was the only way I could find someone who would be mature enough to make me happy.Sure, if you date someone younger than you, you may get to help them figure out some basic life admin stuff for a while — but it won't be a pure "teacher-student"-type relationship, not just because younger people still have plenty to teach us, but also because people figure that stuff out relatively quickly.The window of time when I was helping Jesse learn about credit reports and negotiating a salary was brief, while he continues to teach me new things about love and commitment every day (I know, barf).To act like youth is an eternal state — that a person who is currently 23 and not totally sure about how to pick a good bottle of wine or operate their dishwasher, will exist in that state forever — is actively denying the facts of our own lives.As noted relationship therapist Stevie Nicks put it, "Times makes you bolder/ Even children get older/ And I'm getting older, too".In our culture, dating an older partner is often seen as a status symbol for younger women — we're often told that older partners will be more financially and emotionally stable, which is why being courted by an older partner is often seen as a compliment, a confirmation that you, indeed, have your act together and are desirable.This is probably why heterosexual women's age preferences in partners tend to skew their own ages of higher (while heterosexual men's tend to skew younger).
In the early days of our relationship, I got a lot of a lot of exasperated eyerolls, "you go, girl"s, and questions about whether I was technically old enough to be a cougar.In an interview in Shape, psychotherapist Robi Ludwig claimed that, “In some cases, a younger guy is developmentally in a different place...he’s not ready for all of the pressures and responsibilities that go along with a committed relationship because his emotional maturity is not fully developed yet.”Again, this is generalizing that conflates age with a specific set of romantic values — plenty of people of all ages aren't interested in serious relationships, and plenty of people of all ages are interested in serious relationships, too.Ludwig isn't necessarily describing a younger guy; instead, she's describing a guy who isn't interested in a serious relationship, a kind of dude who comes in all ages.Although the idea of a "cougar" who dates much younger men has a certain cultural cachet, being a woman in your twenties who simply chooses a partner who's a bit younger is often viewed as weird, desperate, or deluded — basically, anything besides what it is, which is totally normal.People have a much easier time, it seems, getting on board with the idea of a woman taking a younger partner for purely sexual reasons than they do with the idea of a woman in a serious relationship with a younger partner.
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But this kind of thinking conflates practical responsibility with emotional maturity — which isn't really accurate.