My Very Own “Tea Cake”: The Time I Dated A Younger Man And Why I Haven’t Regretted It Yet

August 6, 2013  |  

When you’re relatively inexperienced in any area of your life, more often than not you patchwork other people’s ideas and beliefs into something you think is good enough for you.

That’s the main reason I opted out of dating anyone younger than myself since I began dating at 19. Younger dudes were immature, sex-crazy, terribly uneducated, with no mind for the future and no ambition. At least that’s what I gathered from the absolutely insane stories my girlfriends shared about dating this one or that one. They all told me to date older. So I did. But I was never really satisfied. They all had what seemed to be the total package but something crucial was always missing. Intellectual stimulation. Conversational skills. There was always something lacking.

And then someone quite a few years my junior came along. He was handsome and well-read. I was finishing my MBA and he was still an undergrad student, but he was VERY engrossed in his field of study. We could talk about anything. For hours. Some of our best dates were simple things like going to the park or slices and soda at the local pizza parlor. The comfort I felt with him was unparalleled by any relationship I had had before.

I adored this man. Age went out the window. No, he wasn’t as established as I would have liked. And no, he wasn’t making a ton of money. But in dating him I was reminded of what really counts. Real multi-level connection is a non-negotiable for me. I don’t care how much older a brotha is, if I can’t connect with him mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, and if I have to TRY to get a conversation going because we share none of the same passions or interests – it will not last.

I had to check my checklist at the door of this relationship with a younger guy. He had the two or three things that mattered most. Everything else was frivolous. But more than anything, he made me want to become a better woman. I felt like I had a lot to learn and a lot of walls to break down if I was going to become the best woman I could be both inside a relationship and outside of it. I realized that I didn’t know EVERYTHING and I could stand to learn a little more humility where relationships were concerned.

With this younger guy, we’ve known each other for quite some time now, growing by leaps and bounds as a result of our connection and our increased willingness to put pride and pre-packaged ideals to the side and simply learn from each other. His code name is “Tea Cake” because he has done for me something equivalent to what Tea Cake did for Janie Stark in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. There are worlds of possibility beyond my previous little basket of strict ideals. No age or education level or tax bracket holds the monopoly on strong connection and life-changing relationships. That was a box I had constructed for myself. And I’m ever so glad “Tea Cake” entered the equation to show me just that.

La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.

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