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Parallax - Advice            May 1, 2000

   Older woman seeks younger man

Dear Conversely, Ask us a Question!

OK, I admit it - I'm 40-ish, and look and act (whatever that means) considerably younger (30-ish), prefer younger men, and usually date them rather than the older ones who seem to be knocking on my proverbial door these days. I have considered dating 'older men' (i.e., men my own bio age and even older) but they seem 'too old for me.' So, am I having a midlife crisis?! Or, are there men out there who still prefer 'older' women - and why do they?

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Her view:

Dear 40-going-on-30,

Who cares why some men prefer older women? The important thing is they do, and you should stick with your 30-somethings - or 20-somethings?

So what if he's ten years younger? Age is just a fact, not a condition. If you look and act 30-ish, then you probably have less in common with the 40-somethings anyway. I don't think age gaps are all that important, and certainly no good reason to go adjusting your dating habits - date whomever you find attractive and has a reciprocal interest. If you were a man in his 40's dating a woman in her 30's, I don't even think this question would come up - we live under such shameless double standards.

Rest easy, I see no mid-life crisis here, or cause for concern. On the contrary - more people should feel and behave younger than they are - life is too short to act old.

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His view:

Dear 40-going-on-30,

I doubt you are suffering through any variety of 'midlife crisis.' I believe mental and physical age tend to dissociate more dramatically as one gets older - preferably in the direction that you seem to enjoy.

Choosing the target age of your next date is usually based on stereotypes and expectations: An assumption of what you think that age group is concerned with, combined with your own goals for the anticipated relationship. A few years back I avoided women my age or older because (rightly or not) I assumed they all wanted to get married - and I didn't.

I think younger men will always be interested in older women. Sometimes, perhaps, because of the allure of money. But much more often, I expect, they are drawn by the enticement of a different, more 'mature' experience: be it sexual, intellectual, and/or emotional. I think it's less likely they are looking for a long-term relationship - one never knows, but I wouldn't wager on it. Though this doesn't imply simply a superficial interest. Searching for a new experience is a genuine motivation - even if it's just about sex. In any case, saying that a relationship based solely on sex is shallow is as meaningless and cliché as ascribing unusual age preferences to catchall midlife crises...

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