“Age ain’t nothing but a number…” – Aaliyah 1990
In 1990, when I was 9 and probably had a crush on a 19 year old movie star, I though this song was the anthem to my life.
I had no idea what a considerable age difference 10 years is. At 20, I was totally open to dating an almost 30 year old. I thought since girls mature faster than boys, and I’m so wise for my age, it’s the perfect match. Sure.
What I wasn’t thinking, as a 20 year old with a slightly inflated sense of self, was that a 30 year old was leading a completely different life. We weren’t in the same place. I was still blowing my entire paycheck on hanging out and designer accessories. I was still eating breakfast cereal with cartoon characters on the box, and I couldn’t pull myself out of bed before 7A, for any reason. And, my biggest aspirations in life were to make a thousand dollars on one pay check and to turn 21.
My 30 year old self is different. I’m a mother. I have real responsibilities and obligations. I’m wide awake no later than 6A every morning including weekends and not typically by choice. And although I hit that paycheck milestone a while back, my priorities have changed. I’m penciling bill payments onto my daily planner while checking my retirement plan online.
My 20 year old self and 30 year old self wouldn’t even be friends. They wouldn’t even tolerate each other.
That’s how I see the big age gaps. How much do we have in common? Do we have the same set of priorities? Even if we make it through this decade of difference, how will we fair in the next one? Will our lives, needs, and desires continue to line up? Valid questions.
Really stuck on this one. So, I asked around. I started by messaging a few close friends, then I took it to FB, and finally I wrapped it up by discussing it with my mom. Lots of opinions, and all of them incredibly interesting.
-One of my good friends agreed that 10 years is a bit much. He has a 6 year cap going both ways. That’s genius.
-Another was down for the adventure. She said take the plunge.
-Many of my friends felt like you should judge a person on who they are and their life experiences only, and let age go. “Be open-minded.”
-One person even used the phrase, “age ain’t nothing but a number.”
-Some refused to touch my question with a 10 foot pole.
-One friend brought up people’s inability to date in this day and age. I agreed times a thousand. That’s a whole other post though. I noticed that he only mentioned dating down and not up. I wonder if he could get the tradition he’s looking for from an older woman. Someone who has more experience dating before texting and Netflix ruined us all.
-Really liked the comment that urged me to, “evaluate the people around you and be honest with yourself,” based on my needs. I think that’s multifaceted. What are the needs of the people around me, my son, and what type of people am I associating with? Use that to determine the age range that I’m open to dating.
-Lots of May/December success stories. That was promising. It absolutely can work.
– Quite a few parental scares, too. Can someone considerably older be your mate without parenting you? Can they allow you to make some life decisions without wanting to guide you? Are they your partner or your guardian? Will you need to get a permission slip signed to live your life?
So the moral of this story is that I don’t have an opinion. Gasp, I know. I really don’t, though. I think this is for whoever is living it. Because it’s complicated, and it’s based on where you are in your life. (Quickly my younger friends pointed out that 10 down is both inappropriate and illegal.) And, it’s based on who you are dealing with.
Personally, I’m doing a 5 year window. (I rather 5 than 6, but my friend can still take credit for the idea.) I’m not closed to stretching it. You can be born before or after January 24, 1976 or 1986 and still approach me. I’ll play this as a case by case but, you’ve also been warned.
Disclaimer: This post was prompted by real life. Yep. There’s this guy…