Your Heart

4 Reasons Dating An Older Man In My 20’s Was The Smartest Decision I Ever Made

By December 23, 2015 2

I’ll begin with the end… It didn’t work out.

When I was 22 years old I began dating someone who was 11 years my senior. For the few of you who are thinking “that’s not that big of a deal”—think again. This is a considerably huge deal for a young woman, and there are a million and twelve rushed judgments that friends, family, and angry ex-younger-boyfriends will enter, before you even have the time to update your relationship status on Facebook.

Adding more fuel to the fire was our drastically different life circumstances. He had a trust fund (read: never going broke) and I had well, a nannying job  (read: 100,000 plus dollars in student loan debt).

He was Jewish, and I was hands down the most devout Christian woman ever (if and only if I had to swipe my debit card, anywhere. #MotherMaryHearMyPrayers).

It’s true–if we had to sit down and make a vendiagram, we had nothing in common which retrospectively, could have only fueled the “wtf are these two doing together” talk. But for us it was simple, we genuinely fell for each other. He was kind, respectful, and one of the funniest people I had ever met and I would like to share the 4 things that happened to me, which could happen to you, should you choose to date an older person.

You will instantly elevate your standards: I actually wince when I think about where my standards were before I dated someone older. Prior to, I was dating someone a year younger than me and the content of both our conversations and arguments are unspeakable. I’m actually confused as to how I ever got into a fight about what shirt I was wearing on Facebook, or ever seriously allowed any man (read:person) to call me a bitch,  or whore, and somehow managed to reconfigure that as an expression of love. Today, I am so far removed from that girl, I couldn’t point her out in a line-up. Now 26, it takes an effort to hold a conversation with men at this age even. I am often described as aloof, and disinterested. My peers say that I “think [I] am better than them” and though I would never admit it to them personally, the truth is that I do. I actually know, I’m better than a 2am text message, or a date that is coordinated via text. I actually know my mental capacity requires a little more than a perpetual dialogue about your boy who puked and it was hilarious. It is hilarious, just no longer beyond a first date for this lady. I don’t need someone to sweep me off my feet, but I do need them to sweep me away into a world of intellect and culture, desires and apprehensions. Of magic and wanderlust.

Your understanding of “love” and “forever” actualizes: I should mention now that he and I lived together and the experience completely warped (for the better) my understanding of relationships. While my Facebook minified was fast becoming littered with news of engagements, and babies, and puppies– his was becoming a land mine of quietly acknowledged divorces and separations. It was a bit like being privy to the future. It suddenly dawned on me that people can get married before they even truly know their partners, or worse yet, themselves. They get engaged so that they feel they are advancing in their lives, for their Instagram and Facebook likes, for virtual proof of happiness and wholeness, but none of it is real. Forever is forever, folks. Love requires consistent compromise. Of all of my boyfriend’s friends that had married in their 20’s, just one of them was still happily married in his thirties. Just one. That fact awoke something up inside of me.

You deeply come into an understanding of who you are and what you want: What logically followed was my realization that I wanted to first feel happy and complete within myself. What did Candace want to accomplish in her career? What did Candace want to eat for breakfast? That sense of “self” and selfishness automatically dissipates when you decide to bring in another partner, and disintegrates much further still when you have a child. It is so important to live out your dreams while you still can then; to be completely selfish in a quest to understand exactly who you are and exactly who you are not. People constantly tell you to practice selflessness all the time but I would encourage otherwise. I believe it is incredibly necessary to be selfish for awhile so that when the time comes for you to be selfless, you don’t feel as though you’ve sacrificed opportunities.

You can never really go back: This one might be the gift and the curse for people who are tinder-swipin’ left, “netflix and chillin”,  and just generally looking for the next person to keep their bed warm. You will never be able to go back to your former self. Drama, name-calling, disrespect, it is so rearview mirror for me that I struggle to connect with my girlfriends who are going through what I consider to be level-one relationship issues. Simply put, you will age mentally. Friendships will fall a part, not because of anything other than an honest gap in maturity. You will crave to be around, not so much the people that you have similarities to, but the people that make you better. I always say it is an honor to be the dumbest person in the room. Seek to have relationships with, and surround yourself with people that advance you.

In the end, the reasons he and I didn’t last are both paradoxical and ironic when set against the initial reasons we started dating. We had come together because every girl his age had marriage and babies on the brain, which was not something he craved at the time. I dated him because I just wanted to feel settled and safe, during a period when my identity and life seemed to mirror chaos. But so is life, and after two years we both switched gears. He was ready to settle down and I was ready to run wildly with my newfound realization that I was a star; I was ready to enter the world with confidence and courage, with an unstoppable energy to light up the galaxy. It was a burning energy that would have been impossible to stifle; impossible to contain within the confines of the traditional relationship that he then desired.

Four years later and he is happily settled with someone else, and I can finally say that I too am settled happily–with the women I now know that I am. We are good friends and though our timing may have been wrong,  I will forever look back on that relationship as the most important relationship of my life. It taught me that I am fabulous and deserve to be valued and respected in the way that he respected and valued me, by every single human being that I ever come across in my entire life. It shaped me as an individual and taught me that there are no limits or timelines, only those that we place upon ourselves.  It taught me that wherever you set your standards, your life will sure as hell raise to meet them, so aim into the galaxy.

Aim to meet and fill every layer of soul, with utter disregard for what anybody thinks, ever.