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What’s Your Age Range?

Yeah, this is one of those kind of “taboo” subjects that nobody ever talks about, except behind the backs of other people when they’re busy gossiping about other people’s relationships. So, of course, that makes it perfect to talk about here.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve seen one thing that a majority of my past romantic partners have in common–and they’re largely such a diverse group that they have little in common—and that’s not being anywhere near the same age as I am.

Of course, this is always a difficult thing to judge. I am one of those girls who doesn’t have many people accurately guess her age, thanks to a petite stature and annoyingly high-pitched voice. So, although I might find hanging out with a 22-year-old to make me feel like a creepy future cougar, the rest of the world wouldn’t give it a second glance. Likewise, I tend to have a sophistication and level of maturity in how I carry myself, particularly in social situations, that can lead people to believe I’m actually older than I appear. It makes it harder for me to be the victim of “you need to date someone your own age” discrimination, for the most part, which I appreciate.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating is slightly older than me, something I largely forget, unless we’re talking how the fond memories of his childhood and pop-culture related stuff mostly happened before I was born. Outside of that, it doesn’t even occur to me that there’s an age difference, and it’s not an age difference I find significant (more than a decade, but way less than two. :P )

It’s not an anomaly for me. When I was 20, I wasn’t interested in 20-year-old frat boys, I was dating grad students and professors with mid-life crisis issues. When I was in my 20′s and spent time actively looking to date, meet people, hook up, live the single live, etc., I’d routinely end up with someone at least a decade older than I was. The last four meaningful relationships in my life have involved an age difference measured in over a decade.

I have, of course, dated people relatively my own age…and when I refer to people “my own age”, I’m giving a 4-year leeway. “My age” means we were in high school or college around the same time, we watched the same TV shows as kids, and remember secretly drinking with our friends while listening to the same kind of music. I do not know why, but those relationships, which you think would have greater commonality, have had the highest level of drama and insecurity and unwise choices. Probably because there was no mature “voice of reason” in the relationship to keep stupid shit from happening. Dating someone my age means that, yes, we’re going through the same life struggles at the same time, and we can relate to one another…and that’s a positive. It also means it’s a negative, because neither of us has any of the answers or solutions necessary to get through that part of life together, cooperatively and sanely. Someone a decade older than me can say, “Yeah, I remember when I was your age….”, and has a certain amount of perspective on the drama that seems complicated, confusing, and the end of the world. The fact that they survived whatever you’re going through means you probably will, too.

I’ve never dated anyone younger than myself. It’s like I have internal radar that keeps this from happening. There have been times I’ve considered it, but for the most part, even someone who is technically “my age” and three or four years younger than me seems rather young and inexperienced for me to look to in a romantic context. I realise this is a negative self-imposed limitation, and there have been a few times I’ve almost been tempted to overlook the fact that someone was a few years younger, because we mostly seemed at the same place in life. I think this is just what happens after a lifetime of thinking someone being a decade older than you isn’t unusual. Or, it’s simply because I don’t like feeling old.

For some people, however, the age thing is a huge deal. The mother of The Guy I Am Currently Dating has a list of reasons why she hates me and wishes I would disappear from the planet, or at least her life, but the most repeated complaint is that she finds the age difference “disgusting”. (judgmental much?). Other people are visibly surprised when they learn about our age difference; like us, they’ve gotten so used to seeing us together, it isn’t the first thing that anyone notices. Others look at it the way I do, and think it’s no big deal what the age gap is, as long as you’re emotionally in sync.

A good friend of mine had to laugh recently when a group of us were out at dinner, and I remarked in a joking fashion that he and I could never date, because he was too young for me. He was visibly confused, because our birthdays are less than a month apart. We probably graduated in the same year. *laughs* And while I was just being my usual sarcastic self, it reminded me of how rarely I’m ever attracted to anyone “my own age”, and if I am, how rarely that materialises into a relationship of any sorts. I don’t know why that is; I don’t discriminate against people my age, or younger. Many times, I don’t even know until I like someone how old that person really is. It’s just a thing that *happens*. I think it may be as simple as many older men typically come across as more dominant and self-assured, and not as interested in playing games, and that’s what I respond to, in meeting people of any age. It isn’t that people my age don’t have those qualities…it’s just that fewer people my age have those qualities (and, yes, I’m including myself in this evaluation. I can be downright insecure and prone to causing drama. In my case, however, I think it’s more personality than age influenced.)

Why tell this story, you ask? Well, it’s because I read this article, which has to make you think: what isyour acceptable age range for dating? And, how does that differ from what society believes your acceptable age range should be? (and let’s face it, all of us care enough about what society thinks to pay attention to the talk, but not enough to let it influence life choices. At least, I hope.)

A friend of mine tells me she can’t wait to see what happens when I’m 45, because I’ll either be seducing unsuspecting 22-year-olds, or hanging out with Hugh Hefner wanna-bes. I told her she’s disregarding the obvious: that perhaps I’ll be settled down, happily monogamous, living in the suburbs, and driving a mini-van.

Her reply? “Mini-vans don’t come equipped with cup holders for martinis. You’d hate that.”

Words to live by. *laughs*

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