Age: Just A Number?

As seen in Branded Magazine Issue 07: The Drive

“Is he immature when you fight?”
“Is he good in bed?”
“He was born in the 90s?”
“Early twenties is the way to go. You can mould them while they’re young.”

“Does he _____  you all the time?”

These are the questions and statements I was bombarded with when it became common knowledge that I was dating someone younger than me.

To address your concerns: No. Yes. Yes. Debatable. Yes.

But I admit I had my fair share of concerns when I realized that my ‘baby crush’ was starting to turn into a full on ‘Oh shit I think I like him’ crush. Would this age gap be a problem? Maybe not now – but what about in the foreseeable future. Would we want different things in the next few years?

I was taking “getting ahead of yourself” to a whole new level.

initial concerns

My greatest concern stemmed from having dated a multitude of men in the last four years who were closer to my age, or older, that seemed to hate the idea of committing to anyone or anything. It was always about sex.

So naturally I became afraid that in a few months, or years, he would think to himself, “Wait a second – I’m a dude in my mid-twenties, I should be sleeping with everyone and everything.”

I knew this wasn’t fair to him – I wasn’t giving him any credit. Just because he’s a handsome guy, doesn’t mean he’s going to turn into a monster. But still, I was afraid.

I blame Tinder and ‘The Dating Apocalypsere: the newest issue of Vanity Fair.

Even though he has eased my fears and has proven to me time and time again that he’s one of the greatest human beings on earth, there are some things one needs to consider before dating someone a lot younger, or older for that matter.

I have enough friends of different ages that I know it’s possible to have amazing relationships and connections with people that are both younger and older. Being young at heart, or an old soul, is a real thing. But romantic love is a little more complicated.

As a girl in her late twenties, the last thing I want is to feel maternal in a relationship. Ew. Which is why I always stayed clear of men (boys) a lot younger than me. I never wanted to have to take care of a guy who didn’t have his shit together, or couldn’t handle his alcohol. I on the other hand, am allowed to drink too much tequila and need carrying home. I am fully aware of how hypocritical this sounds, but after dating for over a decade, I knew what I wanted:

A strong intelligent man, who handles his alcohol, but lets me abuse half-priced wine night. He doesn’t judge me – he thinks I’m adorable.

So no ‘boys’ allowed.

when love takes over

That was until I fell for one that I found to be more emotionally mature and intelligent than anyone else I had dated, probably ever. He was everything I had ever wanted. He was a ‘fuck yes’, the kind that I could stay up until 3 a.m. talking to.

The only catch: He’s seven years younger than me.

But after a few months of seriously seeing each other, it stopped crossing my mind entirely until someone would ask, “How old is he? What does he do?” Maybe that’s when you know the age gap isn’t a big deal – when you never notice it. Our connection made me curious enough to keep seeing him, and eventually that connection far outweighed the seven-year gap. In fact, how great he is as a person outweighs the age difference even for my mother whose first reaction was naturally, “WTF are you doing?”

But there’s one timeline none of us can escape— the biological clock.

If you’re a girl approaching her thirties who wants babies, and your lover is in his early twenties, you might have a problem. Everyone wants different things, but how many guys do you know under 25 that are ready to be a father?

That’s what I thought.

Lucky for me, I’m not even sure I want kids. My boyfriend is the one who would happily give me a whole bunch of babies if that was what I wanted. Even in his early twenties, he knows he wants to be a dad someday. But let’s say I was dating someone in his early thirties who couldn’t wait to have offspring, and here I am approaching 29 still reveling in zero responsibility with a to-do list that includes everything but babies.

I’d most definitely be running the other way.

decisions, decisions

In case love was blinding me, I wanted to find out what other people were saying about the matter.

An expert at marriagesos.com says that seven to nine years’ difference in either direction is doable without any major issues. This put me at ease, though I still get quite the reaction when I tell people that my boyfriend plays football—universityfootball.

One afternoon during a particularly long procrastination spell, I came across Matthew Hussey on Instagram, dating columnist for Cosmopolitan and NY Times best selling author of ‘Get The Guy.’

I typed ‘age gap’ in the search bar. This is what Matthew had to say.

“One school of thought is love is love and you can’t help who you fall in love with. You have to just go with it. That’s certainly true in some cases and there is some romanticism to that, but we also have to apply pragmatism to every situation and say, is this an unnecessary risk I’m taking at this stage…You have to be smart as well because let me tell you something: The guy won’t be smart for you.”

He points out that the younger person of the two of you, girl or guy, won’t be the one to be pragmatic or realistic. Your younger counterpart is more likely to be reckless, positive, and carefree about the matter. “They don’t have the same references as you. You have to ask yourself: Am I willing to take the risk that 10 years from now they won’t be in the same place as me. So go in eyes wide open; if it’s really important and you think it can work, go for it, but be aware of the risk involved.”

I suppose if it’s not age, there may be some other gap or difference that might cause issues down the road. From tastes in music to crazy exes, relationships require you to jump over the odd hurdle, big and small. Far more dangerous than an age gap would be a difference in values, morals, or what you want in your life.

I would way rather take the risk of dating someone younger who doesn’t
yet have a career under his belt, than someone who makes bank but doesn’t have that little thing called integrity figured out.

I recently read a Cosmopolitan article by Monique El Faizy who is also dating someone younger than her. But in her case, it’s a whooping 20 years. She’s calling it a “Life ‘Do-Over’ with a younger man” because her first marriage, and the resulting life that she fell into, didn’t suit her. It’s like she’s reliving that part of her twenties, but this time, “I’m a better version of myself.” She’s well aware of the risks, and even mentions the ever present fear that he might leave her. But here’s the thing worth remembering, and then forgetting: Heartbreak could happen whether we’re identical in age, or 20 years a part.

Monique recounts a conversation at dinner with a friend she hadn’t seen in years. “She liked my husband, she explained, but he and my married life never quite fit with the person she’d known me to be. ‘This makes more sense,’ she said [of the new love].” Who would have thought that a relationship with a twenty year age gap would ‘make more sense’? But for this woman it does. As realistic and pragmatic as we try to be, love and logic don’t often live together. And what’s ‘logical’ for each of us is completely subjective.

She ends the article with this truth bomb: “I think the convention-busting girl I was in my premarital 20s may have had it right. Risk is relative and personal, and sometimes, the socially mandated choices are the most hazardous of all.”

So whether I regret it or not, I know I won’t be using the, “He’s too young” excuse to self sabotage this relationship. As he told me one night after I confessed my fears about him turning into a future fuck boy, “If we don’t work out, I can promise you it won’t be because of that. I’m not that guy, and I never will be.”

If you’re in love with someone born in a different decade, but the risk never seems to cross your mind because everything else is smooth sailing, then age is most definitely just a number.

To the realists in your life that might see it otherwise, remember that we’re all fools when it comes to love. Passing up a “fuck yes” who you have a healthy and happy relationship with because of something as trivial as a number would be far more foolish.

Cheesy as it may be, love is always worth the risk.

High School Reunion

Published in Branded Magazine

IT HAD COME TIME TO ATTEND MY 10 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.

How did I get here? I still remember what I wore on my first day of university. And didn’t I just move out?

I have to remind myself that I’ve had, like, six boyfriends, seven roommates, and it’s already been five years since I finished university. On a sunny afternoon in June of 2005, everyone warned me, “Don’t wish time away; it’s going to fly.” I was in my gown with too much eyeliner on and too platinum of hair, thinking only about after-grad and not much else.

Well, as expected, they were right.

I wish I had a hilarious reunion story about running into an old crush that had rejected my 15-year-old self only to wind up being one of those guys who ‘used to be hot.’ We all know those people who peaked in high school.

But I don’t have a story like that because I didn’t go. I don’t even know when it was, but I decided I would be busy that night.

Nevertheless, having been free from the doors of my high school for an entire decade, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I’ve done and haven’t done since. In reminiscing, I became aware of the lessons that I’m really happy I stumbled upon. Though some of them involved a lot of growing pains, they have been instrumental in shaping the pretend fully functioning adult I am today.

10 Things I Learned in the Last 10:

1. There are many unconventional ways to make money. For a long time I felt judged for not taking a traditional career path, knowing that trying to justify my choices was futile. Yet I spent the majority of this summer working from my cabin. Never had I thought that I could design a schedule and a life that allowed me so much flexibility. It doesn’t have to be 9-5.

2. I remember hearing these lyrics for the first time and knowing exactly who I would dedicate them to: Ive got some friends,some that I hardly know, but weve had some times I wouldnt trade for the world.” Swing Life Away Rise Against

They reminded me of those restless souls that I stumbled upon while backpacking SE Asia, the standard twenty-two year old thing to do.

HSTRAVEL2

Traveling is a better teacher, self-discovery method, and roaring good time than you can imagine. Short trips or big trips, it’s worth every penny.

3. You’re going to offend people— it doesn’t make you a bad person. You are a good friend whether you say yes or no to going out for drinks. And anyone who is up to anything in this world is going to piss some people off.

There’s bound to be someone that thinks of you when “Bad Blood” comes on. Speaking of Taylor Swift lyrics…

4. a) Dating is hard. 

4. b) The grass is never greener. All you want is a boyfriend/girlfriend until you’re fighting with them about their ex, or what Netflix series to start. When you’re finally single and free again, the hunt for your next mate commences and the cycle continues.

4. c) Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s. You never know what their relationship is really like – we only post the good stuff, and even the good stuff is filtered.

4. d) GIRLS: Ignore boys who text you after 10 p.m. BOYS: If she doesn’t text you when she’s drunk, she’s not that into you.

5. Write things down. I first started writing down my goals when I was 23. Five years later, I am living the exact life that I envisioned. It’s freaky. Now I write down ridiculous unlikely things just to test out my manifesting powers.

But in all seriousness, you really are a powerful creator. Just decide, write it down, and take a tiny step in the right direction.

6. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. I’ve learned this lesson about 7,345 times.

6 b) What classifies as binge drinking is really not that much, and you’re probably going to have to lie to your doctor.

7. McDonald’s will never fill you up.

8. You will finally understand why your mother always bitched at you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher—especially if you end up with a messy roommate.

9. At some point you will realize that you are either wearing, or have eaten, all of your money. You will then proceed to scribble down a ‘budget’ that you’ll follow for a day and a half. Nothing will change.

10. Dating will seem like the most complicated thing in the world, until you’ve met someone great. Then friendships will take the cake for the thing that drains energy out of you. That is, if you let them. Relationships are tricky, whether they are romantic or not. The best advice I’ve ever been given is to speak up when something is bothering you, and to say what you’re really trying to say—but say it now, not three days or three years down the road.

And this:

One day, whether you are 14, 28 or 65 you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.” –Beau Taplin, The Awful Truth.

That good old saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” is true. And it’s okay. We play different roles in each other’s lives. Sometimes we are cheerleaders from afar as we watch one another conquer goals via social media. Sometimes we are not much more than drinking buddies, an occasional therapist, or a shoulder to sob on at 2:30 a.m. outside of a bar. And sometimes we even play the villain.

Overall, the last decade seems to have been a trial in learning to chase after what we want, while simultaneously learning to let things go. As much effort as this life requires, it needs to be matched with an acceptance and willingness to roll with the punches.

To the next 10.

I have to admit that the closer I get to 30, the less scary it seems. I imagine it to be a time where I’ll laugh at my twenty-something self and her petty problems, finally have a career figured out that seamlessly weaves together my passions that pays triple what I make now, and of course, eat salads every day.

I know, dream on.

I can only hope that the approaching dirty thirties have some great times in store. Until then, I will bask in the knowledge that the last 10 years have brought, and of course, continue to lie to my doctor about how many ounces of alcohol I consume on a weekly basis. 

I’ve also been writing about coffee and jackets. Check out brandedyyc.com