Should I feel embarrassed to be smitten by a man 11 years younger than me? Why is there still, in this century, a stigma attached to a woman dating someone younger than them, but a man dating a younger woman is still seen as some kind of bragging right?
My father’s third wife is younger than me (and I have an older sister). When I share that with men, many of them give a verbal thumbs-up, back-slapping, or other “goodonyamate” type response. Women have more of an “eww” response.
I had an “eww” response.
But my father is happy and that’s what matters.
I am very happy with my man. At 36, he displays more sensitivity, more sensuality, and more emotional intelligence than most men my age, or a little older, that I’ve dated. He compliments me, tells me I’m beautiful and clever, and makes me feel sexy and desirable. We have so much in common, so much to talk about, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Oh and yes, we have sensational sex.
It’s not the first time I’ve dated someone younger. Most of my relationships have been with men two to six years younger. No-one had ever noticed any age difference, but there was often a raised eye-brow if it was revealed and I would be ribbed for being a cradle-snatcher.
Now it’s that detestable American term, 'cougar', that has crept into the Australian vernacular. I find it derogatory because it implies a predatory behaviour of an older woman seeking a younger man. I have never consciously pursued younger men.
On the contrary. I’ve been approached by younger men more often than by men my own age. Mostly they’ve not been aware of an age difference. If they have (and their age is noticeable to me too), I’ve knocked them back. Especially if they use the term MILF (yes, that really has happened – twice). I took great joy in explaining I didn’t qualify for their fantasy due to my child-free status. Or that if I wanted to hang out with a child all the time I’d squeeze one out of my vagina, not let one in.
I even had a male friend I’d known for a few years say to me, “Wow I wish you were ten years younger, you’d be perfect for me”. I chewed my tongue to resist spitting out “And even if I was, I still wouldn’t be interested in you".
Being over 40 and childless can make meeting someone new extremely challenging. If they’re my age, they’re likely to be divorced and often have kids. I find they shy away from me because I don’t. I love kids, and I’ve had my heart broken when a relationship with a parent didn’t work out. I missed the child more than his father.
Being childless wasn’t a conscious choice, it’s just how things turned out for me. So I try to make the most of the freedom I have. That’s not to say I won’t get involved with another man who has kids again. I’m open to possibilities.
I met my new man in the most unexpected way – no dating sites, no Tinder or other singles apps, not at a bar, and not even old-school match-making through friends. He was an AirBnB guest in my two-bedroom apartment. Hold the “free upgrade” jokes, I’ve heard them already. But that’s how we met, and I’m extremely happy we did.
I have used AirBnB frequently as both a traveller and a host and find it wonderful. I’ve met some lovely people. I’ve had a few odd guests too, but nothing dodgy. His AirBnB profile seemed fine, he had all the security verifications in place and he had plenty of good referees, so accepting his booking request was a no-brainer.
When I opened the door to let him in it was not instant physical attraction by any means. I showed him his room and made him a cuppa and we chatted. And we chatted. And we chatted. And he ended up joining my group of friends out and about that evening. That’s how it started.
We’ve been seeing each other for a few months now. I know, it’s only early days.
I don’t tell him but I have many insecurities: that he doesn’t want to introduce me to his friends, that it won’t last, that he’ll meet someone younger soon. Maybe he will. Maybe he’ll break my heart. But I’ll risk it, because I love every minute of whatever time we manage to spend together during our hectic independent lives.
I confess, I’m smitten. But it’s got nothing to do with his age. It’s purely about the connection we have. And sometimes that can take half a lifetime to find.
Lizzy Black is a freelance writer and traveller. Her real name has been withheld to protect the not-so-innocent.
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