One Reason to Never Date a Man Your Age

I longed for my happily-ever-after end­ing. At the age of 18, that was the only thing that I was missing—at least that’s what my 18-year-old self thought. I had been accepted at a good enough col­lege and my best friend was going with me.

It was all falling into place for me; I was just miss­ing him, that Mr. Per­fect, that Mr. Right, the one rela­tion­ship to com­plete my per­fect after-high school end­ing. I was young, naïve, and had read too many romance sto­ries than should be allowed.

Before I knew it, the first semes­ter of col­lege was over and done—I was still sin­gle. I was proud of get­ting through my first semes­ter, but I didn’t feel like I had really accom­plished much. Classes were easy and I had already had my major fig­ured out, but I still felt like some­thing was missing.

The real­ity that I was on my own hadn’t set in. I had taken that leap from ado­les­cence to adult­hood and I didn’t feel that “Aha!” moment. Even liv­ing on my own for a cou­ple of months did noth­ing to boost my sense of inde­pen­dence and adult­hood. I was at a loss, so I decided to take a leave of absence from school, much to my friend’s disappointment.

Through the first few months after win­ter break, I was back at home with no job, no school, noth­ing. I became depressed and felt like that 50-year-old still at her par­ents’ with noth­ing to show for her­self. That was when I met him.

Through one of her friends, my mom made an acquain­tance with whom she devel­oped a friend­ship with. This friend­ship led us on a road trip to the snowy tops of Ore­gon. They had busi­ness plans they wanted to set into motion, and so me and my sib­lings were all dragged on a 14-hour drive in a car that belonged in the local junk­yard. Much to my sur­prise, we made it safe and sound, but none of us were look­ing for­ward to stay­ing in a com­plete stranger’s house. “Great, and how long are we going to be here?” I thought to myself.

It turned out that we were there for a whole month. I couldn’t exactly com­plain, because that was where I met Jared. Oh, he was def­i­nitely it, the one I had waited for my whole entirely short 18 years of life. I wasn’t a com­plete, inno­cent never-been-kissed vir­gin. I had my first kiss, but it just wasn’t with the man I expected to have love sto­ries writ­ten about.

Jared was a lit­tle older than me. He didn’t grad­u­ate from high school and had no prospect of going to col­lege. But I fig­ured that, in time, I could reha­bil­i­tate him, make him want to do more for him­self and prove that I wasn’t invest­ing unnec­es­sary time in some­one that was com­pletely wrong for me.

It was five mag­i­cal months for me. I com­part­men­tal­ized all the bad mem­o­ries and cen­tral­ized on the good ones. Those good mem­o­ries con­sisted of my “first time,” the ulti­mate thing that I would only ever give to “the one.”

Trust me, I look back at this time and shake my head in embar­rass­ment. I had read one too many his­tor­i­cal romances and I never even real­ized how over-the-top and far from real­ity my ideas of love were.

Nonethe­less, I was will­ing to give Jared a chance to live up to my expec­ta­tions. Although the rela­tion­ship hardly played out like I thought it would, it did set me up for what really did end up becom­ing the romance of a life­time, only the man was much, much older.