Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pros and Cons of Dating an Older Man

When Cole and I met, I figured he was in his mid-30’s. Until, on our first date, he said that he and his friends started their company right out of college…18 years ago. Doing the math in my head that meant he had to be at least 40. It turns out he’s 15 years older than me. Most of the time it doesn’t really feel like there’s an age difference, including when we’re with my friends. But sometimes the age difference seems a bit more defined, in good and bad ways. Here is a list the top 5 pros and cons of dating an older man—applicable to most everyone who is older—that I’d never considered:

The Bad:
5. It can evoke strong reactions. Reactions to the age difference from friends, colleagues, family, etc. have ranged from being unfazed to naming other couples they know with big age differences (I guess to reassure themselves?) to “Gross. My mom is only two years older than him” and “He could biologically be your father” (thanks for that imagery…). I agree it would be weird to date someone who is close to my parents’ age or who has kids close to my age, but neither Cole nor my parents were candidates for 16 & Pregnant. It can be difficult to not become defensive at the stage when I’m excited about a new relationship.

4. They assume you do/n’t understand references. Here and there Cole says something like “Have you heard of the movie When Harry Met Sally?” (yes—of course) or “Doesn’t this song sound like an 80’s song?” (I can’t really say). This just wouldn’t be an issue with someone who wasn’t enrolling in college as I was entering pre-school.

3. Life expectancy. Every so often you’ll hear about someone passing away in their 40’s or early 50’s. While I always thought it was a tragically early passing, it now terrifies me. Cole eats healthier than me and is in great shape (good influence on me!), and there’s a chance of untimely death no matter the age, but statistically speaking, it’s more likely he’ll go first. Pretty morbid.

2. Theyre on accelerated timelines. My last relationship lasted two years. Kids were definitely brought up, but in the hypothetical, years-from-now sense. If the relationship had lasted into marriage, we probably would have waited a few years before starting a family. While it hasn’t been brought up specific to our situation, Cole has mentioned wanting to start a family and I’m fairly certain he would not be okay with a two-year relationship + one-year engagement + a few years before having kids.

1. Theyre set in their ways. It’s easier to mold plans with someone who hasn’t had as many experiences and is therefore more open to new ones. On the other hand, it's nice that they know what they like.

The Good:
5. They’re experienced. I’m already inexperienced in the physical arena for someone my age. Cole has 15 years on me. Enough said. (Thank you, Cole’s ex-girlfriends.)

4. They plan dates. When Cole asked me on our first date, he suggested a day (Saturday), a time (noon), and three restaurants from which to choose. After going on dates with a barrage of indecisive and ambivalent guys (and being in a relationship with one for two years), this was incredibly refreshing (see #9: If you're the one asking, then you should be the one planning the date).

3. They’re established. Cole has a career, a car, a house, plans for the future—I’m not enamored by the material possessions; rather, I respect his ability to commit to things. He’s not in the “finding himself” stage, living with mom and unable to decide on a career path. He’s past being the “aspiring” musician who is still waiting tables and hasn’t done a paid gig in two years. A lot of 20-somethings (and 30-somethings) don’t want to settle into a long-term relationship because they always have a gnawing feeling that there’s someone better around the corner. It’s not that he didn’t go through these stages—it was just 10 to 15 years ago.

2. They have life experience. Naturally, they can have a really different perspective on things because of the sheer number of years they’ve been alive. It can be really helpful when Cole shares this perspective with me. Like when everyone was telling me I should move, he passed on advice he had been given in his twenties that I really appreciated: “if you’re unsure, don’t speed up” (spoiler alert: I’m not moving).

1. They’re mature. They can actually communicate their feelings and carry on a conversation. Their interests aren’t limited to watching sports and playing video games. Their weekends don’t consist of getting wasted and showing off how much he can lift at the gym. It’s also the little things, like knowing what a coaster is and paying attention to the weather forecast. I have guy friends my age who are like this, too, but they’re my mature guy friends.

Anyone swear by a certain age difference? Anyone who has dated someone older have pros or cons to add? Comment below!


  1. Totally agree! He'll be 42 a month after I turn 29 this year, so 13 years for us. While it's very similar to what you've said already, my first 'aha, yay!' moment was the way he always took the initiative to make plans, planned a week or so in advance, and consistently followed through with no last minute changes or alterations. Now, if the reason for this pattern w/the 25 year old I had previously dated was due to lack of respect, an overall immaturity, poor planning on his part, or just a general 'just not that into you' situation, it wouldn't have bothered me so much. That solution is simple - "sorry, this isn't working for me, we should see other people," ... but it wasn't any of those - it was a lack of establishment and everything you outlined in #3. My guy knows who he is, what he wants, what his path is, and most importantly, has had an extra decade+ to cultivate and maintain a lifestyle that can support all the things needed for follow through (on time, every time!).
    All of that is basically to say that he really speaks to my 'say what you mean, and mean what you say,' attitude. On top of that, I think older guys put more value in what they desire. They know when they've found something good, and the difference is they know how to keep it. I almost feel like I'm being unfair to men my age or younger - it's not a put down, just a fact that a man 10+ years older than me has also had 10+ years of experience learning that we often underestimate how easy it is to have something amazing slip through our fingers. We underestimate the 'slack' we have to make tiny mistakes.
    Oh, and I'm DEFINITELY with you on the Good #5, which for me, ties into #2 as well, and emotional intelligence.
    One last thing - my dad was 13 years older than my mom, and my grandpa was 13 years older than my grandma. I'd have to say I'm swearing by the number 13 now :).

  2. My guy is 7yrs older, Pros is Stability Cons is he so set in his ways he does have an interest in doing much. It has become the same routine for us. That's the challenging part, I m bored out of my mine and he's content as a lark. It makes you question your relationship and if it's worth the journey. After all happiness is what we all want.

  3. My man is 9 years older than me. I am in my late 50s now and we have been together for 20 years. The trouble is, in many ways the gap seems much wider than 9 years. He is asleep on the sofa as I write this, he wants a quiet life (as long as it includes lots of sex lol) but he has prostate problems and arthritis and has shrunk 2 inches in height since we got married. I am in good physical shape and working and studying, he is retired. I feel as if our lives operate in different spheres, as all of the things I like - work challenges, intellectual debate, camping, hiking, skiing - are things which he doesn't want to do any more. So I have the choice of cutting myself off from things because he can't do them with me or leading more separate lives. I feel as if I am moving into a carer role for him, which is OK if that is how it has to be, but I find it impossible to feel sexual desire for someone whose urinary incontinence I have to deal with. That is an issue for our relationship. So ladies don't just think of now, think of the future. I do love him and care for him but was not expecting to be at this point in my 50s. I would be interested in other comments from older couples with age gaps.