It’s funny—the older I get, the more age doesn’t mean shit. Seeing as I got my “older man” phase done early with in my life, I’ve since noticed a change recently in myself—now, I’m liking the younger fellas. (A “Puma” is a “Cougar” in training, don’tcha know?) As with any man, though, regardless of his age, there are some lessons to be learned. Fortunately, I can pass on what I’ve gathered so far in my (love…or just sex) travels.
There is nothing wrong with dating an older man. They tend to be a little more mature, a little more sophisticated, a little more worldly, and a little more financially stable. They usually tend to have gone through their “wild one-night-stands” phase, and are looking for something a little more serious, which is great if you’re thinking of settling down a little bit. Bonuses include the fact that they’ve probably gone through college or lived alone by the point at which you meet and start dating them, which means they’re a little more self-sufficient than your average college dude, or at least have some idea of how to cook or balance a budget. Expect them to be mature. Expect them to know how to treat you well. Expect them to not still live in their parent’s basement.
Now for the word of warning. This all may sound great, but let me talk with you a minute about age differences and what they mean when you’re with someone significantly older. When you’re 25, dating someone 35 is fine. You’re living in the real world; they’re living in the real world. When you’re 19 or 20, dating someone 28 or 30—not so fine. And take it from my hard experience: when you’re 16, dating someone 24—so many different shades of wrong you could paint a house. This is what the problem is: when you are young, and someone significantly older starts putting the moves on you, ask yourself this—why are they still single? Why, by the time they are 28, or 30, or 35, have they not met someone their own age and settled down yet?
Please—don’t say it’s because they haven’t met “The One” yet. Yes, it may be true, but you know what? I, Miss “I Redefine The Word” Commitmaphobe, cannot even imagine myself being 35 and not in a fully committed, long-term, monogamous relationship. I can’t even see myself not even mildly committed by the time I’m 28. Sure, it may not be the same one man that I’m with from 28 to 35, but I guarantee you, even I will be slowing down on the dating and mating thing. (Well, the mating with other men. I highly doubt my sex-drive will ever grow out of the 19 year-old boy that it is.) Usually, these men are still single because there is something—some quirk, some tick, some habit, some mentality—wrong with them. The women their own age, and the ages more immediately around them, have already sussed this out and moved onto greener pastures. (The Number One problem in older men? Immaturity. Believe it. Some people never grow up, and when you’re eight years younger than your Significantly Older Other and the more mature one? RED FLAGS. ABORT MISSON.)
Conversely, immaturity is also a problem with dating younger men, but there, you know to expect it. Younger men are actually great to date, maturity or lack of it and all, if this doesn’t bother you. They’re more fun, more adventurous, more spontaneous, and more care-free. They like having a good time, and they like you having a good time. And if you’re an older woman dating a younger man, they’re actually thrilled to let you subtly take the relationship by the reins. Younger guys tend to be not so much about the details, and more just about the doing (it). Older women who know what they like, know what they need, and can express and teach this to them, which turns them on. They like a woman with a little more confidence than the average girl their age. (That’s where you come in.) They’re game for most anything, which is different from older men who have lived long enough to have found their preferences, and gotten very attached to them.
Actually, with younger men, the problem is the fact that they still haven’t gone through their life-growth experience. They haven’t necessarily had a chance to sow their wild oats. They haven’t completed college, haven’t rented a first apartment, haven’t had to live on their own; maybe, they haven’t even moved out of their parent’s house yet. They tend to be a little self-centered. They have a lot of expectations about what they want to get out of life, but not so many plans as to how to go about them, or details as how to go about maintaining an even keel. A lot of things, including you, can get lost in their excitement-without-the-details craze. Or, they just might find out that what they expected a month ago doesn’t really fit in with their plans a month from now. Life changes fast for these guys, so you either have to adapt quickly to change with them, or know when to hop off the ride.
On a more candid note, this is something that I learned from Perfect. He is, as previously stated, over half a year younger than I am. He also deferred a year from college to stay close to home (actually, AT home), and to travel a bit. Though, yes, this means he still lives with his parents and younger sister, it wasn’t the Kiss of Death. He works a full-time job that he’s been at for two years, and also works two other part-time jobs when needed. (I recently told him his work ethic was as big as his appetite.) He helps out around the house, doing chores in exchange for the privilege to still live there rent-free. He paid for his car, it’s insurance, gas, and anything else it needs himself. He’s travelled through South America, and lived in Costa Rica for two months this past spring. One of the first comments that came out of his mouth when we first met was the fact that since he deferred a year from school, he no longer has health insurance, which, he said with furrowed eyebrows, he was “really worrying about and looking into different policies.” Obviously, the boy is a pretty serious younger man.
But still. This also makes him an incoming freshmen, while I am a rising junior. I’ve got two years of college under my belt. I know the drill—I’ve had my fun, and now I’ve settled down into my routine. Life has gotten pretty placid for me. Perfect, on the other hand, while not so academically thrilled to start college (going in as “Undeclared Sciences”), is excited to get out of Dodge/I-Live-In-The-Boondocks and expand his social life and start competitively throwing discus again on his college’s track team. I am under no false expectations. He loves women, and women love him. Actually, just plain PEOPLE love him. He’s already a Big Fish in a Little Vermont Pond, and I have no doubts that even though he may be in a larger pond at school in Massachusetts, he’s still going to be a Big Man On Campus, if for no other reason than his stature. (The boy stands out in a crowd.)
He and I had a few discussions about his life in college; Cait and I had a few discussions about his life in college; and Alli and I had a few discussions about his life in college. The general consensus is that college probably won’t be a “Perfect” thing and he’ll probably end up relocating somewhere closer to home. Deep-down, he is that Good Ol’ Vermont Boy, with family and duty ties like the roots of a particularly tenacious maple sapling. Both he and Cait mentioned more than once each that he’s going to get homesick and want to come home as much as possible, at least for one weekend a month. He and I had a pretty serious conversation pre-Cease and Desist Conversation about the fact that he’s bringing the 4Runner to school with him.
“It’s a three-and-a-half hour drive from my college to Burlington,” he told me as we lolled around on my bed one afternoon. “I’ll probably be up here a lot. What about you?”
“Well,” I said slowly as I watched him watching me, gauging my response. “I’ll still have the Civic, obviously. And I like taking road-trips.”
“Good,” he said. (“Good” was how Perfect responded to most of our serious “relationshippy” conversations. When I told him how much it meant that he would be here for my birthday, he told me that was “Good.” When I told him I thought he was a pretty cool guy to be with, he responded with an empathetic “Good!” At least then in Perfect’s world, everything moving forward along smoothly was a “good” thing. I wonder when and why it changed.)
Later that night, at dinner at Asian Bistro with Cait, he brought it up again. “It’s three-and-a-half hours away. I’ll visit you guys if you come visit me?”
“Carissa has a car,” Cait said.
“I’d drive,” I reaffirmed.
My dear and oldest friend Caiti (the “i” is enough to hold all the difference between Caiti and Cait,) gave me some excellent advice about how to deal with the whole “new-to-college” thing, and she should know, because she’s been through it twice with two long-distance boyfriends. “If you’re going to try to stay close, you’re going to have to stay in his life,” she told me. “Stay in touch with him—still text a few times a week or call. Visit him. But have a pact that if he has other girls who he’s flirting with or hooking up with or whatever, or if you have other guys you’re doing the same with, you don’t talk about them with each other. If you can figure it out together, it can work. And if you can’t, you can’t.”
Will, my straight male relationship guru, backed her up on this whole-heartedly. “It’s realistic,” he agreed. “He’s going to want to do the regular freshmen stuff, and it’s good that you want him to do that, too. Just be ready and able to say “this isn’t working” if it’s not.”
You may feel as if I’m being remarkably blasé about this whole “other women/other men” thing. But really, I’m being honest. I don’t expect him to be a priest, and I doubt he expects me to be a nun. While we’ve already talked about the fact that both of us don’t just have sex with anyone, and we can’t have sex with other people if we have feelings for someone else, I have no misconceptions about the fact he is a Hook-Up Whore. As of tomorrow, it will have been two months since we had sex, and I haven’t had sex with anyone else since then. (Again, misleading blog title, I’m sorry.) And as far as me and my intelligence knows, he hasn’t, either. Before we slept together for the first time, I asked him the same question I had asked Cait earlier to see if the right answers matched. “Do you ever do anything like this? Have sex with someone you’ve only met twice?”
“No; never,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
Bing, bing, bing! This, which rings true with what Cait said about him and his inability to have sex with anyone he doesn’t really care deeply about, and a few other facts are what make me ok with an arrangement like this. For one, Perfect was raised in a household not quite as free and open about sex as say, mine was. His parents both still think, or cling to the disillusion, that their baby boy is a virgin, which hasn’t been true for the past, oh, almost five years. Because of growing up in this sort of “let’s-not-talk-about-sex” environment, Perfect can be endearingly shy when it comes to certain things about sex. For example, it made him hesitant to get it on if my roommates were home, because he was afraid to have them hear us. (I, as it may have already been stated, am unapologetically loud.) He’s already also admitted he’s nervous about having a roommate of his own come fall, so between the fact he doesn’t like to have other people around when he does the dirty and the fact that most college girls are not fans of bringing guys back to their rooms, I say that’s a pretty good deterrent. Perfect also is not much of a drinker. He’ll have a beer or two in social settings, but he’s not really one to get drunk. I can’t see him joining Greek life or being a huge party animal. When there are parties and drinking involved, he’s most likely to be seen in photos taken of the event sitting on a couch with one beer and relaxing while everyone else is staggering around. Costa Rica and the night we slept together were apparently the drunkest he’s ever gotten. (I, on the other hand, always seem to be drinking when he’s around. He knows I’m a straightened-out drinker, but the first time we met he witnessed me pour margarita mix into a blender without a spout attached and have to clean that mess up while laughing hysterically; the night we slept together I was blissfully, adorably, memory-blanking toasted; on my birthday, I drank Smirnoff Ice on the beach, sand and all.)
Every time I think about this proposition, I can’t help but make up lovely daydreams in my mind about it. If it all works out, when I go to visit him, I’d wear V-neck cable-knit sweaters and ballet flats and pearls and look so collegiate—the older junior year girlfriend!—and sleep in his wifebeaters and go to the gym with him in the morning and run on the treadmill as he lifted and we’d grin at each other, and other people would watch as I slammed my car door shut in the parking lot and ran to where he would be waiting in front of the dorm and jump into his arms, pearls and all, and they would think, “so that’s the girlfriend.” And then they would get the reason why I wasn’t worried about other women and let him do his thing—because it may as well just be us.
Seriously. I really wish you could have some sort of idea of how The Way Things Were so you know I’m not just saying it. Those of you who were around to witness the two of us together, you get it. We could (and still) talk for hours, our silence was companionable, our humor similar, body language and chemistry so attuned he would lean or start to speak at the same time. That was the magic of the almost audible, definitely felt “click.”
What I do have no misconceptions over, however, is the cold, hard, cruel fact that I am a jealous person. And regardless of how practical and chill this little plan of mine is, I do know that regardless, I would get suspicious and jealous. How I feel and how I hide it or discuss it are three totally different things, though. So I guess we’ll see how this pans out, and if there even is a need to worry about a sort-of “man-share.” As it stands right now, I’m not really seeing much of Perfect, and he’s not seeing much of me. I don’t particularly like it, whatsoever. Because what I texted to Emily the other night rang so true, and still does, I’ll repeat it here: I don’t really have anything to say to him other than “I really miss you, and when will I see you again?” I don’t know if that’s really acceptable on his end, but it’s the truth, and I see no reason to ever tell him anything but the truth. I may not miss him every second of every day, but I miss him at least a little every day, for different reasons and with varying intensities. I have no illusions that this is True Love or The End or anything, but I can tell you that when it’s been over a month since we decided to try Perfect and Carissa Apart and if someone who you’ve only known for two months sticks in your memory and daily day-to-day thoughts of survival, it means something. Sometimes it’s selfish, like when my windows in my bedroom are stuck and for lack of WD40 or another six inches of height, I can’t get push them back up, and realize in a moment of frustration and self-pity that if Perfect were here, he could tackle those tricky windows for me in a moment. And with a smile. Sometimes it’s for more logical reasons—I’ll see a cute couple or find a shirt that I think would look really good on him—and in these practical moments, I miss the idea of him. And sometimes, at the oddest times, when I’m in the shower or late at night, sometimes even in my dreams, I get hit like a ton of bricks missing HIM—everything about him, from the way he smelled to the piggyback rides he gave me to his massive hands to the sound of his voice to the over-abundant exclamation marks and various emoticons in his texts that used to drive me crazy.
It’s so simple, these three words—“I miss you,” yet so hard to say. If I don’t see him on Thursday when he’s coming to town with another friend, I’ve decided that those are three words that have to be said to get the ball rolling. It’s a start, and who knows where we will finish? And that’s why I keep thinking, entertaining the possibility of, a future with Perfect, somewhere yet to be determined, in it.