dat­ing older men

PRIS­TINE DE LEON prefers dat­ing older men. Boys, here’s why Il­lus­tra­tion by CAMILLE TOLENTINO

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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.”

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