Does Age Matter In a Relationship?

Six months ago I was having lunch with a girlfriend when she confided in me that she was dating a man who was seventeen years younger. He was twenty-eight and she was forty-five. They had been seeing each other for one year when she told me about him. I listened to her talk about their whirlwind romance and how men date younger women all the time. My thought was the same as hers, what’s the harm in having fun? She seemed happy, and for the first time, this was the least complicated relationship she had been in throughout the twelve years we’ve known one another. I didn’t spend much time thinking about her younger guy until a few months later when my best friend called to tell me she was also dating a younger man ten years her junior. That’s when I became curious, does age matter in a relationship?

Still not convinced a younger man was my answer, I was looking for someone who fit a very specific age criteria: 40-50. After a few dates with these older men, who checked all the boxes, nothing clicked. I had very little satisfaction with a lot of men my age, especially older men. That’s when I gave up the idea of dating all together. It seemed pointless to actively be searching for something that left me frustrated and disappointed. Then COVID happened. My girlfriends had all committed to relationships pre-Coronavirus and were cozy quarantining with their younger loved ones. All of the men who were in their twenties. Did we just skip and entire generation and go straight for men young enough to be our children, or was lucky twenty-something the secret? Since I had all the time in the world to FaceTime now I spent hours with my friends getting to know their younger boy toys over our lockdown calls. I was impressed with how smart, funny, interesting and emotionally aware they were. Maybe I was wrong about younger men.

The days went by and the quarantine months felt never ending. Everyone had someone and my only commitment was finding a new recipe or DIY. Like any lonely soul I grew tired and put myself back out there. But I immediately changed the parameters of my dating profile to any age. Since I was already unlucky in love what could be the harm in meeting a younger guy? I gave it a few days before getting back on the app still skeptical about dating. When I finally checked the app it seemed every guy between the ages of 21 to 30 had messaged me to match with them. Knowing good and damn well nothing serious could come from dating a younger man, I still took my search seriously and matched with only two of them. As soon as I accepted the matches of my younger guys they wrote instantly. If only everyone in life was this proactive.

I told a girlfriend who I confide in about relationships, who was also dating a twenty-something guy, about my match and she insisted I meet him right away. Since the lockdown had been lifted and people were back to their normal lives I agreed to meet him, that same day. He didn’t skip a beat from the moment we matched, to asking me for a FaceTime call and planning a date.

I was already impressed with this guy showing up like a man the way he did. That night we meet to watch the sunset and I had one of the most magical nights I have ever had. I don’t know if it was his perfect smile, our intelligence conversation, or the way he sang country music to me as we sat positioned closely above the sunroof of his SUV, but I haven’t felt that ease and happiness since I lived in Texas and dated Southern boys. I felt at home––something I’ve never experienced once over the eighteen years I’ve lived in Los Angeles. For his privacy, I won’t go into the glorious details of that date, but I will say it far surpassed any man I’ve dated my own age.

I know some of you must be thinking what the hell? The rest of you are probably wishing you could live a little more freely. However, regardless of the opinions and stigma around age in a relationship, I am now convinced age doesn’t matter. Happiness matters. No two people will take the same path to get to the same place. Some people have children and get married. Others never get married and have children. I’ve wasted countless years with men who were wrong for me, and I still spent time trying to make us right together. I’ve seen red flags that I’ve ignored, and overlooked great people because of their age. I’ve dated cautiously and been honest about myself and what I want and have to give, and still haven’t found someone I could see myself with long-term. We are not guaranteed anything more than this moment though, and I’m not going to let age stop me from enjoying the best times of my life.

There really is only way to know if age matters to you and that’s to try it for yourself. I’m not saying every relationship will last for the long haul or won’t, but that’s the beauty in it: the freedom to live. For me, and where I see my future, it’s about living in the present moments and stop expecting it to be a certain way. I wouldn’t have come to this realization if I continued doubting myself and putting enormous pressure on where I am supposed to be at this time in my life. Maybe that’s the answer. There is no right place or right time, or right way or wrong way to do anything––including dating. It’s who and what makes you feel alive and feel your best that you should continue investing time into… even if he or she is in their twenties. In this case, the perfect catch-22.

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