Straight Up Sex

Because I never pass up a chance to compare men to food, I can’t help but reiterate that men belong in the same group as wine and cheese – things that get better with age.

Because I never pass up a chance to compare men to food, I can’t help but reiterate that men belong in the same group as wine and cheese – things that get better with age. This is especially true during the college years. Luckily for us ladies, we’re ripening right along side them, but at a somewhat different pace.
It is commonplace that a man dates someone younger than he is, often several years – which is not as drastic as it has been throughout history. And there are, of course, infamous discrepancies, for example Anna Nicole Smith smooching her Depends-ready hubby and Ashton Kutcher dating Demi, whose children are closer to being his siblings than his step-children. Celebrities seem to get away with these kinds of situations a little easier than the rest of us. Still, it begs the question – when does age stop being a number and start being a nitpickable obstacle?
A few weeks ago I went out … gulp … on a date. Things went well until I popped the age question and he had to loosen his tie. At first 34 didn’t seem daunting. Then I started dissecting. When he was my age, I was 10 years old. Ten years old. I barely knew what a date was at that point let alone what’s supposed to happen afterwards. When I was born, he was already in the seventh grade doing algebra equations before I could even say algebra. I still can’t do algebra, but we’ll leave that one alone for now.
So, I tried to ignore it and not rub it in his face that when I’m his age he’ll probably be a ripe candidate for Rogaine. Eventually, the difference became too much of a difference to deal with, but not because of numbers. I don’t put too much faith in numbers. It’s a wonder I could even figure out how much older he is than me. In the end, it was the places we are in life that didn’t add up. I’m in college scraping together pennies for my coffee. He’s got a full-time job and a car that doesn’t squeal when you stop for a red light. I want my spring break. He wants his 9 to 5. At his point in life, you’re no longer looking at things short-term. He’s been on blind dates. He’s tired of guessing games. Not that he’s picking out the china, but he’ll most likely be looking within a few years.
Over here, I’m eating my freedom fries and washing them down with a big glass of single soda. Mention the “M” word or even the “G” word, or pretty much anything that has to do with long-term commitment and I bolt faster than Delta Burke from a Jenny Craig meeting. It’s not that it’s out of the question; it’s just not my time yet. And that’s the key.
Age isn’t the determining factor. Timing is. You can be perfect for each other in every way, but if you’re building picket fences while he’s planning a three-month backpacking tour through Western Europe, you’re going to need to do some evaluation. It is difficult for a college student to date someone far removed from that atmosphere. Think of how the things that seem dire to your younger siblings or friends in high school seem trivial to you. You no longer have that mindset. You’ve grown out of it.
This is not an exclusive, end-all-be-all formula. I’m not saying don’t try it because it won’t work. I’m just offering a different way of looking at a decision that includes a broad range of factors and variables. Dating is rarely an area you can pigeonhole with numbers, statistics or requirements. It just doesn’t work that way. As for age being just a number, do I think there are situations where it isn’t? Yes. Do I think it looks normal for Hugh Heffner to be schmoozing and snuggling with women my age? No. Do I think my 2 cents matters to him when he’s got eight Jenny McCarthy look-alikes bringing him his eggs in the morning? Hah. But who am I to say that’s not love? That’s not my decision to make, and the bottom line is, it’s not anyone else’s decision to make for you, either.
If the shoe fits, wear it. If it feels right, despite the potential for awkward moments of explanation to your parents and eventual retirement issues, go for it. A Ben Folds Five song puts it best. The lyrics to the love song go, “What if I was born 50 years before you in a house on the street where you live. If I were outside when you passed on your bike, would I know?”
I feel like there are already too many things in the way of success in the realm of relationships. If you have found someone worth holding on to, you go right ahead and hold on. That solidarity will show through long past when people are talking about when he earned his diploma.
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