dating older men
PRISTINE DE LEON prefers dating older men. Boys, here’s why Illustration by CAMILLE TOLENTINO
I HAVE NEVER DATED A TEENAGER. Except once in high school, when naïveté counted as a valid excuse for poor decisions. Yet even at that time, I recall almost dating this 20-year old college graduate, had not my overly paranoid father naturally cautioned me against it. “Older men know things,” he warned, eyes aghast across the dining table one Sunday night. He was poised to re his lecture, li ely culled from that morning s sermon on the tree of nowledge and the loss of Eden.
ust last year, a friend had reposted on my aceboo wall a confession from one of those online Secret iles. It went li e this “I don t want to date you. I really want to date your dad. I li e my men li e I li e my wine aged, robust, and in large doses.” et me clarify I didn t write that overly suggestive remar . y mom forbids any mention of romance that verges on taboo. I admit, however, that whoever the sender was, in college, I had obviously shared her sentiment.
here is an unspo en rule they say I follow when it comes to choosing men the older, decidedly, the better. t 2 , I m in a relationship with a guy who s older by 2 years, and yes, I ve dated someone older than that. Psychologists and all those crazy breeds of intellectuals determined to ma e sense of our basest selves have explained why older men might be ideal. irls brains mature years ahead of boys growing up, and the masculine set catch up only in their early 20s. Thus the segregation of boys and girls in exclusive schools. Thus the reason why some age gap might ma e for a good match.
The internet, of course, has taught us its own formula for dating the girl s age must be half the guy s, plus seven. If we believe these completely rational assertions, then yes, men, li e wine, taste exceedingly better when they age.
Yet notwithstanding the almost-science behind these claims, no matter how convincing the theory, the real picture loo s as s etchy. Ta e for instance the ex who could pass off as my dad, given ve more years or so one friend even said he noticed the resemblance. night with ust the two of us in a bar has all the ma ings of a creepy lm scene the aged guy preys over a frail -year-old, buys her a drin , touches the sweating glass before letting it slide gently across the table. This isn t 0 Shades of rey. aybe ust some real-life, current-day version of Lolita.
eedless to say, it isn t a pretty picture. Imagine me ta ing him out to meet my friends and it d loo li e a group of young girls needed an adult chaperone for the night. If you re wondering about the other way around, no, I hadn t been out drin ing with his adult circle. I ve heard of his friends and just met a few on occasional visits. I ve even watched some of their ve-year-olds running around their of ce.
To an extent, we just ept the entire thing a secret until reality too over. e bro e up, decided we had to move on with our otherwise normal lives, and met other people. Ironically, I was about to go out with this guy who s about the same age as he, had not my 30-something friend launched a convincing argument on why, nally, date someone my age. “ t this point,” my friend lectured, “you re not supposed to be learning things from someone who could be your dad. You re supposed to be learning life with a id who s guring things out li e you are.” lmost compelling, I admit. lthough a year later, that same 30-something friend became my present boyfriend. I m a hopeless case. I ve lost count of those who ve as ed if my type were simply pedos or if I had some sort of Electra complex. Enter him and me, holding hands. Zoom in on the shoc ed faces and cue in the expected lines “Is he married ” “ oes he have a id ” “Is this a 0
Shades ind of thing ” There s always been, after all, some crazy, intellectualized explanation of why we want what we can t have. Taboos become fetishes, and my dating history could give evidence to reud s dated far ung theories. t the very least, it prompts people to as the most aw ward line to date “ o you call him daddy ”
It frea s me out. One friend put it bluntly “You just want him to ta e away your control.” lot may thin everything s li e a scene from that itschy Lana del ey video the fragile woman surrendering all virtue to the old gent driving the fancy car, in a rhythm that s powerful yet so sic eningly over-passive. Petite and at 0”, I m aware I loo li e the perfect prey. dd to that the implications of my name.
No one ever lectured me at length about my choice of guys. They made me feel li e borderline, unlabelled ueerness was a crime. No handcuffs involved, but I feel li e I m always carrying a sort of scarlet letter. for nastasia Steel, setting bac the feminist agenda by a hundred years.
On the other hand, it s just as counter-progressive to blindly prefer younger guys just because the world declares it s more age-appropriate. I get that a young girl holding hands with a guy 2 years older isn t exactly pleasing to see on one s feed. It may not be a pretty picture, yet when it comes to dealing with the overly personal, I can t just decide on mere aesthetics. I m not going to reject anyone just because he didn t pass the lter. e tend to play around so much with images. Even with all the liberties and the LGBTQ openness that this generation claims to have, we re still uneasy about a host of things for instance, the overly offbeat who can t t the spectacle of a well-curated feed.
Sure, there are Hollywood couples who ve won the world over regardless or because of the age disparity. The real ones, however, are left to toe the line between romantic and disturbing—and when the scale is tipping to the latter, we blame the media for brainwashing us with the glamorized perverse. But, really, it s the same set of images telling us to crush on young, hot males with the solid pac s. e are, all of us, in icted with our respective fantasies.
Past our gender politics and our psychoanalytics, my real reason is frustratingly so simple I just want a guy who isn t so attached with the image and the virtual space, someone who could set aside the iPad when we spend the evening out. The boyfriend doesn t really care much for social media, and one ex til now doesn t even have a aceboo pro le. These days, intimacy can simply mean that the world isn t tuned in to your everyday shenanigans.
Let me tell you what goes on behind the
curtains and let me assure you it isn t - . e go for dinners or drin s without caring much which angle will ma e for a perfect post. I tal to him about everyday things and just get lost in the stretch of thought. Sans canned retorts and repeating memes, the world loo s less predictable than it is. e rarely ta e pictures, and I feel I m dating a real person and not courting the worldwide-web s approval.
I remember telling my boss a few months bac how I can t wait to be 30. ating loo ed li e the easy tic et out of the millenial age whose xations frea me out. Yes, we re all drawn to the taboo, the uncanny, the forbidden—whatever you want to call it—but if you re feeling brie y romantic about the case, you d say I m enamored with the old world that I was never able to have, while he s attracted to the youth that he can never bring bac .
Beyond that, things aren t so cheesy. There s something endearingly real about a guy who s gone through all those past ve-year-long relationships, because somehow the cheesiness never carries over to his next one. Scrap the tal about “forevers,” and what you have is an honest-to-goodness “let s just try our hardest as long as we can.” Call me a commitmentphobe but maybe I got the trauma from the boys who were tal ing about marriage at .
So if you really must now, I don t call him daddy— although, o ay, one ex before as ed jo ingly if I wanted to. friend remar ed that maybe I just wanted his protection, but they thin it s the guys I date that they should protect me from. I thought we ve outlived the middle ages when girls were pitiable damsels in distress.
So while everyone is scrambling to the next big gig this Friday, he introduces me to some melodramatic Carpenters song that s apparently popular bac in his day. I ll get drun in a club with other young friends some other night, but for now, I m satis ed with my wine. He coo s me dinner and the song hits refrain, “Every sha-la-la-la, every wo-o-o-o still shines. ll the oldies but goodies.”