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I also had a lot of friends who couldn't believe how dumb I was — didn't I remember how difficult it was to get a guy to commit at age 24? Of course, I didn't "go through that again," and five years into our relationship, no one really gives a sh*t about how old either of us are.But the experience has made me think about how women are discouraged from dating younger men — especially women in their twenties.They won’t be interested in pumping your ego or making you feel young.Rather they will be someone who will have realistic expectations of you and be accepting of who you are at this time of your life.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.But this kind of thinking conflates practical responsibility with emotional maturity — which isn't really accurate.We might think that certain concrete markers of adulthood — a prestigious job; a working knowledge of personal finance; properly assembled Ikea furniture —signify a related degree of emotional maturity.
You're supposedly an immature doofus who can't attract partners your own age, or maybe a delusional narcissist who can't cope with aging (I've heard both! Again, all these ideas are based on stereotypes — primarily, that youth is one of the only valuable traits a woman possesses when dating, and that to take a pass on using it as a bargaining chip to find a more desirable mate is insane. (But, of course, if calling yourself a "cougar" gets your rocks off, then more power to you, my friend.)There's another myth out there that dating young people means that you'll never get serious — that dating a younger guy or girl means that you're signing on for a relationship purgatory full of half-assed plans, a lack of emotional commitment, and being introduced as "this girl I'm kinda hanging out with" at parties.
When I met my boyfriend Jesse, I was 28 and he was 24 — not too much of a dating age difference in the grand scheme of things, but to hear some of my friends at the time tell it, you'd think we were Harold and Maude — or at the very least, Ashton and Demi.
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.
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.
The thrill and excitement of a younger woman is so compelling. Someone who will appreciate what my age and wisdom brings to the partnership.