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Post by Herr R on Wed Nov 12, 2014 2:37 am

Some of you who know me when I first came in on the old forums, know that what brought me to the forums in the first place was my doomed LDR with a girl 13 years my junior (I was 33 and she just turned 20). While that wasn't a huge point during the discussion, I recall that one of you found it somewhat uncomfortable that I was willing to pursue a relationship with someone so young.

But since the inception of the new forums and seeing a few posts on age differences, I can say that I find it mildly surprising that it seems a common sentiment amongst most of the women here that guys shouldn't date someone more than at least a decade younger than they are.

I can understand that trying to connect with someone whom is at least a generation later than the one you grew up in can be difficult. But the feeling I get from the objections to such relationships here is that despite being of legal consenting age, that such relationships are somehow unethical and perhaps abusive. But then what are your thoughts on the Cougar/MILF phenomenon of older women with younger men? Guys going out with younger women are seen as creepy and manipulative, yet at the same time we celebrate older women chasing after men old enough to be their own adult children.

Opinions?

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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:00 am

The folks who "celebrate" older women chasing after younger men might have relatively little overlap with the people who object to men going out with younger women. The people who think it's icky that a fictional high school girl is in a relationship with a 100+ year old man are a very different bunch from the middle-aged women gushing over the twenty-something actor who plays him in the movies. There's no overt double standard.

More specific to these forums, the sentiment I've generally seen expressed is that saying you're willing to date women ten years younger than yourself but not women three years older doesn't look good, and is therefore bad strategy, regardless of the truth of that statement or the morality of the matter.

There's potential for unethical abuse in a relationship between people of different ages because the older person tends to have higher income and greater stability, and they also (generally) have the experience to know what they're looking for in a partner and how to get it. This is especially true when someone in high school or college is dating a white-collar professional (or even higher up the socio-economic ladder).
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:41 am


More specific to these forums, the sentiment I've generally seen expressed is that saying you're willing to date women ten years younger than yourself but not women three years older doesn't look good, and is therefore bad strategy, regardless of the truth of that statement or the morality of the matter.

There's no morality at play at all if everyone's substantially over the age of reason. There are values being expressed by those preferences, however, and I maintain that it's pretty reasonable for 29-year-old woman to delete the message of a man who's 32 and whose age range is 18-29. That person has expressed that he values youth. If you have a limited amount of that to offer him, I think it's reasonable to assume that you are at best his "settle for" partner and at worst that he's pursuing people who meet his standards better than you do. That doesn't make him a bad person (though perhaps he will become an annoying one if you don't date him and have to listen to his complaints), just an incompatible one.

I am one of the people who have advised men who market themselves that way to market themselves differently, and it's on the assumption that they'd find a woman 3 years younger to be compatible. If a particular man is only interested in women 10 years younger, then I'd say he should market himself as such and be aware he'll face a high rejection rate. If you do want to date someone 3 years younger, however, I'd say it's wiser not to align yourself in that group and get ruled out by many women you'd find compatible on the assumption that you mostly are the sort who's looking for 18-year-olds.

There's potential for unethical abuse in a relationship between people of different ages because the older person tends to have higher income and greater stability, and they also (generally) have the experience to know what they're looking for in a partner and how to get it. This is especially true when someone in high school or college is dating a white-collar professional (or even higher up the socio-economic ladder).

I think this is mostly at play with very young people. Past that? It's not something I'd suggest that people of either gender rely on.


Last edited by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by BiSian on Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:00 am

Backstory: I dated a 31 year old when I was 19. I dated a 38 year old when I was 23.

I (obviously) don't find such relationships unethical. My relationships were unhealthy in some ways, healthy in other. I'd say the age gap was a significant factor in both breakups--but then both relationships lasted for a decent amount of time (8 months and 1 1/2 years).
However, I am highly squicked out by men who deliberately, regularly pursue women 10+ years younger. Because it reeks of objectification, trophy-hunting, looking for someone you can control.
Being attracted to a person who you like because she...makes amazing cookies, rants with you about hipsters, looks amazing in a sundress, and shares your passion for fluffy bunnies...and happens to be 13 years younger? Not a problem.
Being only attracted to women 10ish years younger, not considering people your own age as viable partners? Problem.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:06 am

R, at that time more or less I was in a similar relationship with a similar age gap. BiSian has discussed dating guys considerably older than her. You find love where you find it. Both of us also date people closer to our age range as well. The issue, as stated above, is mostly with people who only look for love in that specific, much younger age range. If you keep getting older but your dates never do, it might be worth examining why.

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Post by Lemminkainen on Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:10 am

A question on behalf of past-me*: What sort of advice would you offer to a man who wants to attract women** slightly older (less than a decade) than himself? When I started dating online in college, I noticed that a lot of the people who I thought were interesting were at least a few years older than me. After I went to grad school, the issue became sharper-- most of the women in the area where I lived who were adults intellectually appealing enough for me to consider dating but younger than me were undergraduates at the university where I work (which means that dating them would be undesirable for a whole bunch of reasons, including potential power dynamics), so almost all of my potential dating pool was a year or more older than me. I did have some measure of success (for example, getting together with my partner, who is a year older than me), but I found that my age was a handicap. A few women just two years older than me rejected me for being too young!*** And a lot of women who I knew who were in their mid-20s expressed a preference for guys in their thirties. How should a guy get around this issue? (I'm talking about the initial stages here-- I know that once you start going out with somebody, demonstrating intelligence, emotional maturity, and basic self-care and housekeeping skills is really important, but in initial encounters, I could only really perform the first one of those, and even then only in a limited way.)




*I'm in a relationship which looks like it will last a long time, so this isn't relevant in the way that it used to be, but it once definitely was.

**I also am sexually interested in men, but I found that I had the opposite problem dealing with the advances of older guys, including, when I was an undergraduate, a professor who came alarmingly close to sexually assaulting me after we went to the opera together. I tend to get... twitchy around anybody who starts talking about me like he wants me to be his eromenos.

***It might be relevant that I look rather young for my age.

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Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 12, 2014 5:42 am

Lemminkainen wrote:A question on behalf of past-me*: What sort of advice would you offer to a man who wants to attract women** slightly older (less than a decade) than himself?  When I started dating online in college, I noticed that a lot of the people who I thought were interesting were at least a few years older than me.  After I went to grad school, the issue became sharper-- most of the women in the area where I lived who were adults intellectually appealing enough for me to consider dating but younger than me were undergraduates at the university where I work (which means that dating them would be undesirable for a whole bunch of reasons, including potential power dynamics), so almost all of my potential dating pool was a year or more older than me.  I did have some measure of success (for example, getting together with my partner, who is a year older than me), but I found that my age was a handicap.  A few women just two years older than me rejected me for being too young!***  And a lot of women who I knew who were in their mid-20s expressed a preference for guys in their thirties.  How should a guy get around this issue?  (I'm talking about the initial stages here-- I know that once you start going out with somebody, demonstrating intelligence, emotional maturity, and basic self-care and housekeeping skills is really important, but in initial encounters, I could only really perform the first one of those, and even then only in a limited way.)

What age group of men are you specifically asking on behalf of? If we're talking about the prospects of men who are college-age of finding women who are in their middle twenties, I'm going to be a realist and say that those are dim for most guys. The women I've known in those age groups have been proud of the small steps they've taken away from college lifestyles and have not been very interested in men who are still in that stage of life.

If we're talking a bit older on both parts (let's say the younger partner is at least 22 or 23), I might have some insights (as a 30-something whose current teasing among friends is about my theoretical "26-year-old boyfriend"). I'd say don't mention the age thing. Don't mention school. Don't mention career frustrations or worries, though we all have them, including the woman in question. You guys can talk about that later. Lead with being a fairly established, confident, interesting person who has his own adult life or at least professional ambitions. Don't talk about cougars or about the difficulties of finding women of your age who are mature enough for you. Talk to her like you're her age, or a year or two younger, and you're awesome. Some women won't even read it after seeing how old you are, but some will. Behaving like a regular guy who's the same age as her will make both the woman who likes younger guys and the one who's not but open to thinking about it more likely to write back.
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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 9:36 am

When I graduated college, I went to a lot of graduation parties. At one of them, I met a guy. He was 27. I was 18. He and I started seeing each other, not terribly seriously. I recognized that the age gap was there, but I was just kind of okay with it. It happens! We fit well.

Until I learned his last relationship was with a girl my age, as well. And all of a sudden, I felt deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

I get it: sometimes you meet a person who is 15 years younger than you (or 15 years older!) and the connection is just there, and good. But there's a huge, huge difference between: "I am 45 and Katie is 30, and I think Katie is fantastic; I want to see if Katie's open to something more" and "I am 45 and I want to meet someone who is 30 and open to dating me: how do I make that happen?"

There's an implication there that people your own age are somehow inferior, and that despite you being that age yourself, you are too good for them. There's even a faintly predatory feel to it for me. Here is this herd of younger women: how do I identify the susceptible ones so I can ease them away from the pack?

Now, I say this as someone who IS specifically targeting folks in a different age range from mine, but it's mostly about stage of life for me. I'm 34, and I have 3 kids: my eldest is 9. I started being a parent very young for the area I'm located in, and when I look for men who are in a similar place in their lives, who are ready to say, "Yeah, I'm open to a woman with 3 kids; I'm stable in my job; I'm looking for a relationship that can unfold in the weekends she doesn't have the kids," I'm mostly looking at guys around 40. But I'm not trying to figure out how to get "an older guy". I'm trying to find a guy who fits my needs, and "look at older guys" is a strategy for finding them...

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Post by Herr R on Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:35 am

Okay, I get you guys now. So basically it's just guys who go exclusively for much younger women that could be a problem?

For the record; I would be open to dating women my age and older. The problem I would have is relating to them, seeing as how most of them would be now probably have had a whole host of life experiences regarding relationships and sex, whereas I'm still pretty much like the kid trying to score a date for prom.

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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:40 am

Herr R wrote:For the record; I would be open to dating women my age and older. The problem I would have is relating to them, seeing as how most of them would be now probably have had a whole host of life experiences regarding relationships and sex, whereas I'm still pretty much like the kid trying to score a date for prom.

See, and I think that's TOTALLY fair game: "I want people at a similar stage of relationship experience to me, and it's easier for me to find them if I'm open to a younger range of women." That, to me, is a perfectly legitimate reason for your age range to skew younger.

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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Nov 12, 2014 12:11 pm

Herr R wrote:Okay, I get you guys now. So basically it's just guys who go exclusively for much younger women that could be a problem?

For the record; I would be open to dating women my age and older. The problem I would have is relating to them, seeing as how most of them would be now probably have had a whole host of life experiences regarding relationships and sex, whereas I'm still pretty much like the kid trying to score a date for prom.

Personally, I would say yes to the bolded bit. I don't think it's a hard and fast rule, but I'd definitely give the side-eye to a dude like this while still allowing that it's POSSIBLE that he'd just happened to keep falling for much younger women (N.B., this doesn't include dudes in their 20s or above that go for high school students at any time because that is a whole different kettle of fish). The thing is that it's super easy to tell if a serial much younger dater has just happened into that situation versus engaging in behavior that's troublingly predatory. Because guys who are REALLY into exploiting that power dynamic don't really bother to hide it when it comes to the way they interact with young women and that tends to manifest in a few ways: the whole "you're so much more mature/special than all those other girls your age" line, actual controlling behavior (e.g., I'm going to tell you all of these things you didn't know about yourself with the benefit of my age and wisdom), or constantly harping on the age difference (e.g., you're such a baby, I bet you weren't even born when [X thing] happened).

The sad thing, to me, is that this can happen at any age. I thought that as I got older people would eventually stop trying that shit on me because who gets into their 30s without hearing variations on that song a bunch of times, you know? And when I was online dating, my friends would sometimes encourage me to widen my age range to guys 10 years older (IIRC, my range was 4 years older or younger) but the two times I tried that with people I'd actually met in person and not via OKC, it was just a total bust (they tried numbers 2 and 3 on my list, bleh). That doesn't mean that every older guy would do that, but I decided that, personally, it wasn't worth it. Especially as Mr. Number 3 was low-level obsessed with me for over a year after we went out 5 times in as many weeks: kept trying to give me gifts or get me to meet him alone and then complained to a friend of mine when I said that I wasn't comfortable with either.

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Post by Lemminkainen on Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:16 pm

eselle28 wrote:
What age group of men are you specifically asking on behalf of? If we're talking about the prospects of men who are college-age of finding women who are in their middle twenties, I'm going to be a realist and say that those are dim for most guys. The women I've known in those age groups have been proud of the small steps they've taken away from college lifestyles and have not been very interested in men who are still in that stage of life.

If we're talking a bit older on both parts (let's say the younger partner is at least 22 or 23), I might have some insights (as a 30-something whose current teasing among friends is about my theoretical "26-year-old boyfriend"). I'd say don't mention the age thing. Don't mention school. Don't mention career frustrations or worries, though we all have them, including the woman in question. You guys can talk about that later. Lead with being a fairly established, confident, interesting person who has his own adult life or at least professional ambitions. Don't talk about cougars or about the difficulties of finding women of your age who are mature enough for you. Talk to her like you're her age, or a year or two younger, and you're awesome. Some women won't even read it after seeing how old you are, but some will. Behaving like a regular guy who's the same age as her will make both the woman who likes younger guys and the one who's not but open to thinking about it more likely to write back.

Thanks! I was writing more on the behalf of start-of-grad-school me, who was 22 and financially independent. I suspect that your advice would have been helpful. I approached women of all ages in basically the same way, but presenting myself as more established might have been more helpful.

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