Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mmm, mmm, Jailbait!

I found a Tumblr thread today re: why it's freaky as shit when guys date high school girls. The mixed responses were overwhelming. My favorites were the still barely-legal girls defending their choices to older, 20-something boyfriends.

As a definitely-no-longer-barely-legal girl who was engaged in a long-term 8 year age gap (I was 16; he was 24,) relationship in high school, here's my two cents:

It's wrong. Just plain wrong. On so many different levels. And I can see that now.

It was possibly my most dysfunctional, most fucked up relationship ever, and believe you me, that is saying something. A 16, 17, even 18 year old girl does not have the emotional nor mental capacity to make the sort of judgement or relationship or logic calls that you need to be able to achieve to date someone who can legally drink in a bar, or rent a car. I can see that now, clear as the warning signs I somehow conveniently missed back then. I thought I was sooooo mature. He probably thought he had it soooooo easy, going for a girl who had just gotten her license and was as of yet unburdened by emotional baggage or the relationship carcasses of other men. My life consisted of my new license and car and driving wild and free, my high school friends, convincing my older friends to buy me beer, and making out on the weekends, followed shortly thereafter by having sex and staying over on the weekends. His life consisted of college, paying college loans and the utilities on time, trying to find a "grown up" job to pay said bills, buying a car, and going to the bar with his boys. Can we see where we got lost in the other's translation yet?

Being at roughly the same age demographic now as he was then, I could no more date or condone dating a high school or equally age-spanalicious kid more than I could conceive flying to the moon by flapping my arms and wishing really, really hard on a star. I am far too worried about my thesis and grad school portfolios to worry about someone's sub-par SAT scores, though I DO remember when they were the most important thing in the world. It's odd enough dating someone my same age who isn't going through the same end-of-college crunch that I am; to walk across campus on the way to work and think that he's not doing the same. I have too much to think about figuring out how to spread my paycheck over bills and credit cards and debts to be oh-so-taken with someone's infatuation with drinking (tee-hee-hee!) and smoking doobies 'cause man, I am sooooo mature and alternative and deep when I'm stoned. It is not because you're so mature, little girl, and he is so very interested in how progressive and intelligent you are; it's because you're young, and fresh, and naive and unspoiled and he sees something in you that he kind of wishes he still had-- namely, that point in his life where he didn't have to worry about bills or graduation and the Real World, and he's confused about what he wants.

My relationship then was based on playing pretend, that I was so much older and could handle dating someone with whom I'd cook dinner and spend the night and entertain his friends and family with and babysit his dog when he was out of town. Now, my relationships are all about not actually playing at cooking dinner and spending nights together and entertaining and helping out, but actually cooking dinner and spending nights and entertaining his friends and helping out because THAT'S WHERE I REALLY AM IN MY LIFE, AND THAT'S WHERE THE PEOPLE I DATE REALLY ARE. A late teenaged girl doesn't get that cooking dinner and then going to sleep in the same bed and waking up together and digging each other's cars out of the snowdrifts is reality, and not some pretty pictorial spread of The Way Things Should Be When Grown-Ups Act Like Grown-Ups-- in fact, at nearly 22, sometimes I still don't believe it's my reality-- and that it's not all pretty and fun and games: It's work and communicating and stressful and exhausting and emotional and sweaty and stinky and privacy doesn't really exist anymore and you'll never get that sense of childhood back when you thought that this was all so exciting, so baby girl, don't wish it away, and you not-quite-men-yet-not-boys, don't try to enter into her fairytale world while it's in her twilight. She'll realize soon enough, like I have, that it's about finding someone who appreciates my sense of humor and has life goals for themselves more than who wants to sleep with me really badly or can get me beer and bring me drugs, because, like me, that stuff is old, and that ship has sailed. And that is such a bittersweet, really maturing time, that she needs to find, on her own, to really be the sort of girl a 20-something guy would really want to date.

So, for the record-- most 20-somethings dating high school chicks, or even college seniors dating college freshmen? You're both losers. Yes, that means I was a loser, too. Now for god's sake, both of you, grow up, and date someone within a (better be legal) two-year span. I'm not even 22. I shouldn't have to worry about the suitable men my age going for younger women already. Thanks.

XOXO

P.S-- This is not to say it doesn't always work; though my relationship was a facsimile of a sham, and all of those of my friends' with similar age ranges were as well, my parents married when my mom was 17 and my dad was 23, and they're still together and managed to procreate this wonderful little bundle of joy that is me, and still be relatively sane and still in love, so that's, what? A 1 in 33 chance you crazy kids could make it work? Or, excuse me, you crazy kid and misguidedly-in-love dude? As Matthew McConaughey once famously said in "Dazed and Confused": "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age." Chew on that fact-- she'll always be younger, and those younger girl quirks will always still be there; she won't outgrow the things that she does now that annoy you in her immaturity. I should know. I still have mine when I date older men, and it drives them insane.

4 comments:

  1. Very well written and very much enjoyed.

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  2. a young girl dating an older guyMarch 9, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    How do you feel about a 20 y.o girl dating a guy who is 27? We have the same concerns in life, same goals - school (college for me and grad school for him currently and for me after), work experience and eventually building a family. We don't drink or do drugs, we're not into the typical party scene. Will age make a difference here?

    I dated other guys previously, still older than me but much younger than 27 (22 and 23 while I was 19). And they were far too shallow and immature for me to deal with for more than a couple of months. They were not emotionally unstable, but they had no clue about functional relationships, what's expected of them and how to treat a girl, and they were the ones pushing the drinking and partying and wild living as opposed to me.

    Older guys know better what's expected of them in a relationship and have more to offer if they're looking to settle in. Not every 20 y.o guy, but the majority of them disgust me when I compare their personalities to my 27 y.o boyfriend's.

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  3. The number one problem I ran into dating a much older guy was the whole expectations thing-- he wanted a family. He proposed. He was done with high education, and was looking to move on the the next step in his life. Needless to say, I was not. I hadn't gone through a lot of the maturing processes and life rites that he had, so, we weren't on the same page about a lot of little things (and big thing,) and it ended up being a lot of straws that broke the camel's-- and relationship's-- back. He also was about as mature emotionally as the typical younger guys you speak of, but then again, the guy I'm currently seeing is 7 months younger than I am and is the most mature and thoughtful person I've ever been with, and I've dated across the board from 2 years younger to 8 years older. Just goes to show-- it really is the individual. Don't write all younger guys off-- if their momma raised them right and they've gone through some of life's shit with a good head on their shoulders, they can better better than gold.

    A final word of caution-- I knew I wanted out when I looked around his living room one night at his group of friends, as they talked about their jobs, their engagements, their rents, whatever, and realized that they were in the "settle down and build something permanent" part of their life, while I was still going through the "trial and error teaches you what you want and need" part. They were closer to being 30 and married. I was close-ish to being 20 and graduating high school. A lot of the things that your boyfriend and those close to him may be going through may be foreign to you, and if you feel uncomfortable with it, that's when you know it's time to stop playing along and tap out. That being said, if things are going well with him, you love him, and you're both on the same page, I see absolutely no reason why your relationship is an issue as long as it's working for BOTH of you.

    XOXO

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