This is a guest post by my friend, “Doug,” a 49 year-old who offers some great insight into dating a woman in her forties versus choosing a younger girlfriend. The choice is yours, and there is no right or wrong answer, but Doug offers a good perspective on both.
Of Two Minds on Dating by “Doug”
I know a woman in her late 40s – beautiful, elegant, sophisticated and smart (she has seen it all and not forgotten a thing) who for various reasons not uncommon in the world has not had any of her long-term relationships lead to marriage. Recently she told me “a secret” – at the beginning of last summer her Pilates instructor was asked for her name and number by his Pilates client that immediately followed her weekly session – he was a fit and handsome 25 year old law student. After some initial resistance, trepidation and disbelief, she gave the number and proceeded to have an old-fashioned summer fling with the younger man, including months of fully-planned dates to restaurants, festivals and theater (the way a young suitor might do) with flowers, opened car doors and next-day notes. The way she told the story was priceless, she beamed like a 10,000 watt halogen. At the end, I asked her what happened. She said “I had to call it off. I had an opportunity that seemed promising with someone my own age and I didn’t want to let it go for something that was fun but probably not long term.”
The point of that story is that people can be of two minds in dating. There is a part of them that is captivated, entranced and a little naïve about the joys of dating a significantly younger person. That youth can feel intoxicating, literally, as one taps physically, psychologically and emotionally into the typically higher spirits, energy, fitness and desire that often exists with relative youth (and, of course, it is all relative, as a 60 year old is the fountain of youth for an 80 year old looking for a new lease on life).
This applies to both genders but let’s face it (who are we kidding), it is most common in men (although rapidly changing as the economics of life and relationships puts the possibility of a youthful partner in sight of anyone who has “security” as a means of attraction). So yes, dating significantly younger happens (as does dating significantly older … actually it happens in EVERY CASE of someone dating significantly younger). What wise people understand is that it is, as my friend says, “fun but probably not long term.”
What women in their 40s have over their younger counterparts is that they are perfectly – miraculously – well calibrated to men their own age. They share maturity, life experience and even pop culture references. They often have similar aged kids and similar aged parents and similar gym habits (and other physical appetites) and, most importantly, similar life goals and horizons. They can go into the sunset together without a sense that their younger partner is looking for the right exit gate to go on the ride again (to quote the Eagles … the youthful partner that “can’t hide those lyin’ eyes”).
At the end of the day, everyone is looking for a transcendent match that makes their life feel enhanced and full. The benefits of a youthful partner are real but short lived. Someone who can’t shake the need for that youthful partner is announcing, loudly and to everyone, that they aren’t ready for the long term thing (or that they don’t feel like a peer with their own age). Their behavior is a gift of honesty … they aren’t available to you … so RUN AWAY and be grateful that you learned something you needed to know. Similarly, think twice about BEING THAT YOUNGER WOMAN to an older man, as it may be fraught with similar perils.
On the other hand, there are many men VERY interested in a woman in her 40s (typically because they are in their 40s too). This is a man whose behavior is also a gift of honesty. He is revealing something to which many women are blind (as they too may be preoccupied with short term and superficial qualities) … that he is wise about his wants, ready to connect with someone who is a peer and may want to travel a long exciting road with a well-matched partner. If we acknowledge that we are all of two minds in dating without feeling judgment, a woman in her 40s let go of the need for an unavailable partner and focus on the keepers … one that is looking for her and likes the idea of sharing a faraway sunset.