I have recently (I dare you to contradict me) entered into the murky realm of the thirty-somethings. Around the same time I found myself back in the dating scene. I quickly realized I had been out of the loop on current dating practices for way too long, and I found the whole process mind-boggling for a while.
Luckily, someone came along who changed my perspective, but the fact he is seven years my junior has posed some interesting hiccups in our relationship. I feel the whole concept of a “cougar” has skewed the viewpoint on what it’s like to date a woman several years older and what we’re looking for in a relationship period, much less one with a younger man.
Cougars aside, here is my perspective.
We don’t want to play mommy. I have four children ranging in age from seven to twelve, and I promise they keep me busy enough . The last thing I want from my relationship is someone else who needs me to raise them. If you’re a ‘big boy’ and can handle dating an older, established woman, you need to be mature and at least somewhat established yourself. Dating a man-child is babysitting, not relationship.
Be prepared to listen to and respect her opinions. Face it, she’s been around longer. As a person in my thirties dating a man in his twenties, I have been through a few more life stages than he has. We use this for balance, not a power play; he provides a new, fresh perspective to things we face while I can contribute experience. Honestly, he ‘s usually the logical one here anyway, but I digress .
You are not there to help us recapture our lost youth. While most women still lament the idea of a new decade, thirty in particular, I was ready to hop onto the tables and celebrate. Something about how my life was changing around that time made thirty a milestone and not a millstone for me. I heard a quote once, “I’m thirty, but I feel like I’m twenty, until I hang out with twenty year olds. Then I’m like, nope, I’m thirty.” I don’t take this as a reminder that I’m getting old (I still dare you), but as a reminder that there are a lot of mentalities and inexperience of the twenties I’ve left behind me. I learned much about life and myself then, but I have no desire to go back. Twenty-somethings, take heart; I have nothing against you. Live it up and have fun while you are there. I’m just personally glad I am through that period of my life and do not want to live vicariously through my partner.
Don’t be intimidated by her independence. If you make the decision to date a woman who is older than you, you have to be prepared for the idea that she may not ‘need’ you. If she’s divorced, is a single mom, or has just been on her own for any amount of time, she’s used to the idea of taking care of herself and probably likes it. I’m not a feminist. On the contrary, I am quite old-fashioned when it comes to relationships, but at thirty I was living on my own, holding down a job and paying my bills with out help from anyone. I got used to the idea that I was okay alone, and I really loved the satisfaction of being independent. It was by choice and not a sense of need that I reintroduce d another person into my world who likes the idea of caring for me, and we’ve both had to make adjustments. He encourages my endeavors and is not afraid of the fact that I can take care of myself. I’ve adjusted to the idea that there is someone in my life who cares enough to say I don’t have to .
We are not looking for a ‘baby daddy’. Dating someone with children is very difficult. A good woman isn’t looking for someone to jump in and be co-parent to her children. Even if the father is not in the picture, that single mother has managed both roles, and will likely be reluctant to let someone into that position of authority. Step-parenting can be a wonderful thing, but it is one of the most difficult things to agree on when it comes to the process. There will have to be a lot of talking and reaching an agreement on this issue, but do not feel obligated to step up into the ready-made family mentality right off the bat .
Of course I can’t speak for every woman dating or wanting to date a younger man. There are still gold diggers, those who just want to see if they’ve still got it, and some who just want a mamma’s boy they can tend to, but most mature, responsible, and truly independent women are just wanting a normal relationship. She’s just been around the block a few more times.
Young(er) men, make sure you are aware of what you’re getting into and that you’re ready for that level of commitment and responsibility. A mature older woman will be fiercely loyal, totally committed to you, and much less likely to play games. You’ll know she’s with you because she wants to be. If you feel you’re prepared, enjoy it. You’ll find it will be a very loving and fun relationship to have.