dating

'I'm 35. My boyfriend is a decade younger. It's the healthiest relationship I've been in.'

I met Tom while trying to date Paul Mescal from Normal People. 

Yep, really - Paul was spotted hitting up pubs and bars in my neighbourhood, while in town to film Carmen, and was behaving very un-celeb-like by just, you know, walking around Sydney’s Inner West. 

There was even a rumour he’d joined a local netball team that played in my comp. It seemed like destiny.

Watch: The horoscopes, dating. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

When someone said they’d heard from a friend-of-a-cousin’s-friend’s-best-friend that Paul was on popular dating app Hinge, I saw my chance. 

I quickly Googled "Paul Mescal age" to figure out what my age bracket would need to be. 

24!? I did NOT think Paul Mescal was 24. At the time, I had my age limit between 29 and 45 - a good dating pool for a woman about to turn 35, right?

So, down that age limit went, and in flooded all these hot profiles of 24, 25, and 26-year-olds. 

I was actually shocked at how many babes I was being presented with on my personal quest for Paul Mescal. 

Hello, you.

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It felt like the Sizzler buffet but for dating - and while I was still very much committed to My Paul, I started swiping right on a few of these younger hotties. Whatever, I was single! I was going to have a Hot 30s Summer.

One of these younger babes was Tom, 25. He lived down the road from me which was mildly alarming should our fledgling romance end up doomed, but he was funny - I ended up replying to one of his convo starting statements "geese and swans are the same, prove me wrong", telling him about how violent geese are, and had he ever been mauled by one at Centennial Park, because I had. 

If you know, you know.

This convo turned into a first date at a bar smack-bang between our houses. 

He walked in wearing a white tee (!!) tucked into blue jeans (!!!!) with a belt (!!!). If anyone else harbours a Bruce Springsteen circa 1985 fetish, you’ll understand. 

It was a fun date, but I wasn’t really treating it as a potential romance.

I saw Tom and thought, "25, good for a fling but definitely not ready for anything serious". Nothing about Tom actually indicated this - he was lovely, mature, smart and made me laugh. But you know, he was 25.

We went on a second date a few weeks later, then a third date to the dinosaur museum - my favourite, fully back this as a date if you ever need ideas. 

I remember messaging a friend who is 26, telling her I "had the perfect next boyfriend for her" because "there’s no way this is going anywhere, he’s way too young". 

Don’t get me wrong - I was having the best time! But I’d totally shut off the part of my heart that usually does cartwheels when a guy even looks at me in a romantic way. I’d pre-decided this was a short-term thing, and then I’d gift Tom to my friend. Because that’s totally how it works, lol.

Image: Supplied.

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But slowly, Tom did a Beyonce’s 'Halo' on me. You know, walls tumbling down, they didn’t even put up a fight, etc. I was just having such a good time. I didn’t notice the age gap at all, except for the time I started talking about how cool it was when the Olympics were in Sydney and you got to go for school, to which he replied "I was four".

We just WORKED, and we’ve kept on working for eight months now - he supports me when I’m sad, happy, winning or losing in life, and I support him in turn. 

We lie around re-watching Game Of Thrones, and we go for picnics with each other’s friends. It’s like literally any other relationship I’ve ever had - except better, because in a total plot twist, it turns out the 25-year-old guy is the most emotionally mature man I’ve ever dated.

Tom sticks around to work on our sh*t. He can handle me being total demon-spawn, just as much as he can handle me being a chaos machine. Oh, and the bits in between where I’m lovely and normal. I’d waited SO LONG for that kind of commitment - hands up if you’ve been single in the last 10 years and waded through commitment-phobe after commitment-phobe.

There was, of course, one major elephant in the room when we first got serious. Babies. 

As a 35-year-old woman I’m aware my eggs are not the sh*t-hot baby makers they were in my 20s, and I am fairly sure I want kids - which means I’ll likely have to start trying within the next couple of years. 

It was actually the baby factor that saw me putting Tom in the "not serious" box in the first place - there was no way he’d be okay with being a dad before 30, right?

Wrong. I finally brought it up when he asked if we could be official. "Look," I remember saying, ready for rejection, "this isn’t going to work as a serious thing. I’m going to have to start trying for a baby in, what, like two years MAX. I’m sure you don’t want kids that soon."

"Why are you assuming you know what I want?" he retorted. 

I was taken aback - not because he was implying he might want kids that soon, but because I had been making a lot of assumptions here. 

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I’d assumed a 25-year-old guy wouldn’t want to get serious, even though I’m aware of plenty of guys who were in long-term relationships in their mid-20s. I’d assumed Tom fit a cliche mould that honestly, probably doesn’t exist - this guy who is just living it up 24/7, hooking up with people every weekend, has the emotional maturity of a toddler. And yeah, I’d assumed no guy in their mid-20s would want kids, even though history totally says otherwise.

Image: Supplied.

Maybe you’re doing that, too - it made me think of all the weird, hard limits we put on prospective dating partners. 

How many amazing people are we missing because we’ve randomly decided two years is the maximum age gap we’ll accept? 

Or the opposites-attract loves we may have binned because the first date didn’t live up to our rom-com standards?

In the end, Tom told me it wasn’t exactly in his life plan to be a dad before 30, but if we were together and it got to that point, he’d be open to it. 

It’s a lot more than I’ve gotten from plenty of ex’s - all older than Tom. In fact, my oldest ex (five years my senior) was still umming and aahing about whether he even wanted kids. 

So here we are today - we just moved in together, and we’re planning our first big holiday post-lockdown. It’s not permanent bliss - no relationship is! But we love each other, we support each other and it’s just bloody GOOD.

Sorry, Paul Mescal. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

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