It sounds good in theory. After years of toiling in the shallow end of the dating pool, the idea of going out with an older (and presumably more mature) person seems enticing. The media doesn’t help this notion. Movies and television shows have gone to great lengths to portray May-December relationships as the holy grail. Whether it’s films like The Graduate or Wedding Crashers, or even songs on the radio (yes, Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on), the idea of dating somebody older has constantly been portrayed as a mystical, passionate opportunity you’d be a fool to miss out on. In reality, these relationships are more complicated than you might assume. These are the expectations and realities of dating somebody older than you.
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Expectation: Older Means Wiser and More Mature
Reality: Older Means Same Maturity and Fewer Excuses
Expectations say that when somebody is dating a person who is older than them, usually the older person will be the more mature of the two. In reality, this is hardly the case. Most of the time, older people will date younger people because of their own immaturity. Have you ever heard the idea that girls mature faster than boys? It’s true and these relationships are proof of that.
Expectation: Spending All Day in Bed in the Throes of Passion
Reality: Spending All Day in Bed….Period
It’s an old joke. Dating somebody who is older (aka a "cougar") results in lots of great sex, right? That’s what all the movies and television shows say. Unfortunately for our hormonally-charged friends, this is rarely the case. Yes, older people like sex just as much as younger people do, but it’s not their lifeblood. There’s no magic trick one develops as they grow older that makes sex better. They might become less selfish, for sure. But that’s the only "trick" there is.
If you find yourself spending an exorbitant amount of time in bed, it’s probably because you’re both too tired to do anything but binge Netflix shows or Lifetime movies.
Expectation: A Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous
Reality: Nobody Can Even Retire Anymore
Our economy kind of sucks right now. The idea of “marrying for money” isn’t totally obsolete (yet), but it’s not as easy as the movies make it out to be. Very few people are actually super rich. The assumption that younger people marry older people for the money is not necessarily the case. Many of the older people in a relationship can’t even afford to properly retire these days, so those who date older people likely do so out of love.
Expectation: Trophy Dates and Gala Events
Reality: Local Bars and Passing Judgment
We’ve all seen this scene, or something like it: Anna Nicole Smith pushing her wheelchair-bound husband down a red carpet, or Ashton Kutcher sharing a kiss with Demi Moore at a movie premiere. Younger people at the arm of somebody older makes for an unusual but extremely photogenic moment.
Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s not red carpets or fashion shows that serve as our evening’s entertainment. Most of the time, it’s a local bar and the lights are dim and nobody actually even really cares.
And that’s the biggest reality check we can take from these relationships: nobody actually cares. So feel free to love who you want.