Men of a Certain Age: Things I Learned While Dating an Older Man…It Ain’t Easy.
By Valerie Jean-Charles
A few weeks ago, a conversation emerged on my Twitter timeline discussing whether or not black women should seek older men for dating and relationships. Many young women may hold the belief that an older man will be more established in his career, more protective and eager to settle down with one woman. Yet, as someone who has dated older, I now know this is not always the case. There are a few major differences in the way that older men do things that any young black woman should respectfully consider before embarking on a May-December romance.
One of the first factors a woman should weigh is that an older man may not be as mature as she might assume him to be. The general assumption is that a man of a certain age will be very mature, what with the assumption that he’s gotten all of the partying and “playing” out of his system. A man should be judged individually for what emotional and mental state he presently is in, not for where society dictates he should be at a certain age. My experience has taught me that there are plenty of men who are well into their 30s and 40s who still possess the behavioral traits of an early-20 something, college-campus playboy. Unless you are looking for a fun and light partnership, such a man – regardless of age – is not the type to pick when ready to settle into a serious relationship. Trust, the old saying, “with age comes wisdom” does not apply to everyone. More or less, the experiences of a man can be what makes him more mature, or what has him getting his Benjamin Button on behavior-wise.
On that note, another major difference that is sure to arise is the large gap in life experiences. Although, a young lady may feel as if she is too mature for men her age, her lack of experience will more than likely cause her to come off as young, inexperienced and even immature in front of an older man. Let’s face it: the things we experience by the time we are in our mid-20s will pale in comparison to the journeys and obstacles we will have endured 10-20 years down the line. A woman in her 20s can only act as what she is – a young adult, no matter how mature she is. Such a difference in life experiences can prove to be thrilling at first. He may be invigorated by her youth, while she is enthralled and inspired by his background and knowledge. But the very things that may cause a strong connection, may threaten it. The power dynamic may be more tipped in the man’s favor due to his array of experiences and age. Being older, the man may be more grounded in his beliefs and habits, being less likely to change them; regardless of how they may affect his partner. The younger woman, on the other hand, may grow weary of the adviser role the man may assume, feeling as if he is being more condescending than mentoring, more stubborn than willing to compromise.
Lastly, a woman should consider if she is ready for what she is asking for in a relationship with an older man. She may feel as if she is ready to settle down, when in actuality that may be the farthest thing she needs, and even understands. An older man may be at the point in his life where he is ready to find a wife – and not just a girlfriend. He may be hoping to get married in a couple of years, with babies soon to follow. A younger woman must really ask herself if she is truly ready to experience such life changing events, and willing to give to her significant other what he is asking for. On the other hand, there are some older men who have already been married and have children, and may not wish to have anymore, or go through the experience a second time around. Because of that, they might want to take things at a snail’s pace. A young woman should weigh whether or not she is ready to make such definite decisions that may affect the rest of her life and alter plans she’s had for herself.
I am, by no means, slamming or demonizing May-December relationships. As I have learned in the past, they can be both thrilling and daunting, and some can be a big success. It all depends on the guy. With more and more articles continuing to question the marriageability of black women, I understand why some may look at men they may not have considered before. And I do advocate for women to keep their choices open as love is such an indiscriminate force. However, I do ask that we keep our heads leveled when trying something new, especially when picking mates who are more seasoned than us.
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