Why I Should Have Listened to Everyone About Not Dating a Much Older Man

If you’re dat­ing a man who’s older than you, espe­cially if he’s more than 20 years older, you can pretty much plan on peo­ple talk­ing behind your back. He can look like Brad Pitt, but they still know he’s a gen­er­a­tion older, and they’ll still won­der what you are doing with your life. The worst part is that you will prob­a­bly not have any idea what is being said behind the scenes, until a well-intentioned friend or acquain­tance fills you in.

I learned what one of my friends was thinking—through another friend—and her com­ments were, “Why is she wast­ing her youth? She’s so pretty; she could find some­one her own age and get mar­ried.” My much older man, Sam, didn’t want to get mar­ried. He had already been mar­ried for 25 years, had four chil­dren, and didn’t want to do it all over again. Exactly what was I think­ing with regards to what I wanted for my own life?

At 24 years old, still with so much life ahead of me, I just fig­ured that I knew what I was doing, and that our age dif­fer­ence would not be an issue. I had con­vinced myself I wasn’t inter­ested in hav­ing chil­dren, which coin­cided quite well with the fact that Sam had had a vasec­tomy after his fourth child was born.

When Sam and I finally broke up, 10 years after our rela­tion­ship first started, I was 34 years old. I had to come to grips with why I had let so much time go by with a man whom I knew would never marry me. After we broke up, I was also begin­ning to change my tune about being child­less for the rest of my life. But my chances of meet­ing some­one, get­ting mar­ried, and hav­ing kids while I was still young enough were now con­sid­er­ably narrowed.

When my rela­tion­ship with Sam ended, all of those well-meaning friends came out of the wood­work. While they all gen­uinely did like Sam—as all of them told me—they also felt like I was giv­ing him too much of my pre­cious youth, and that the part­ner­ship was not an equal one in this respect. Sam knew he was done with mar­riage and chil­dren, while I had barely begun, despite get­ting mar­ried too young at 19 and divorc­ing five years later.

I had been asked out more than once by co-workers, even though they knew I was with Sam. They’d just say they couldn’t believe I was truly “seri­ous about that old guy,” and that I should date them instead. While these guys weren’t my friends, they were still indi­rectly giv­ing me their out­look on my life too.

In ret­ro­spect, I wish some of my friends had con­veyed their views when I prob­a­bly needed it the most. Hap­pily, I did end up get­ting mar­ried again, but even though we tried, I was never able to con­ceive. Whether I would have ever been able to, of course, is some­thing I’ll never know.

What I do know is that things would have turned out much dif­fer­ently had I not devoted 10 prime years to some­one 22 years older, and who had “been there and done that” before I had. I wish I had been kinder to myself, and thought more of my own needs.