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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.
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, to be honest, it was exhausting to date him because he could never relax.
When I suggested just spending a night at home eating dinner, he'd beg to go out and try a new restaurant or get a table at a club.
To date someone younger is to consciously reject a lot of this.
For this reason, being a woman with a younger partner is often viewed in a negative light. We can fight this totally gross line of thinking by agreeing to view younger people that we have chemistry as real possible partners — and by not constantly "joking" about any woman we know who happens to have a younger partner.
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.
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.
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.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).God knows that's what I felt, while dating the above-noted older dude — I felt like his desire for me marked me as more mature and interesting than my peers.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.And sometimes, they do; sometimes someone who is older really is more emotionally intelligent. Hell, we've even developed a terminology to describe people who look like adults on the outside, but are basically middle schoolers on the inside — that'd be that scourge of the dating world, the "man-child" or "woman-child."In my own mid-twenties, I dated a 30-year-old, expecting to find someone ready to get serious sheerly based on his age and professional accomplishments; instead, I found an immature trainwreck who made rude comments about my weight and cheated on me basically every time I was out of earshot.