If you talk to a lot of men in their forties and fifties, still trying to sort out their love lives you'll find that many, predictably, prefer finding a much younger women. Not surprising. But if you look a little longer, dig a little deeper, you'll discover those same men have quite a dilemma.
On the one hand middle-aged men want companionship, love, someone who has their back, and a true partner. On the other hand, they are attracted to, and want a much younger women. That's because younger women are dewy, beautiful, youthfully-sexy in that "rose just bloomed" way. They turn them on. And that's a good thing. Men need to be turned on by the women they date and marry.
However, the desire to have a life companion too often doesn't get fulfilled with women who are fifteen or more years younger. Just hang out in a bar in Prague for 30 minutes and you'll surely bump into an expat who has been eaten up and spit out by some beautiful Czech woman. Prague is littered with visiting-tourists-turned-citizens who fell madly in love and married a young, beautiful Czech girl who thought he'd hit pay dirt. Love. Marriage. Kids. Divorce. Boom! Then these new Czech-citizen men are stuck there to take care of the one to three kids. She moved on to a younger man, more her age, just when the ink dried on their citizenship papers.
What guys often don't understand is that a younger women doesn't know when she meets him that it will hit her one day that they are not at the same place in their lives. That he is looking at some sort of retirement and she hasn't figured out her career. yet That she is flattered and happy to experiment with an older man but after reality hits about what "older" means she has to re-consider, or get out. The age difference seeps into her, little by little, over time. Unexpectedly.
How do I know this? I was a young, beautiful woman and I knew that I could turn heads, dance with men, even twist their heads off sometimes. I had power, but no words for it. And every time I got involved with some older man I didn't know that it would one day occur to me that I would not end up with the older man. Why not? I noticed what "older" meant. Not all at once but in little ways. Over time.
His parents seemed ancient. He was graying and sagging a bit. He had a few health issues that were foreign to me. He referenced books, TV, movies and music I had never heard of, or were of my parent's generation. His friends seemed old and a little disgusted that I was on his arm. He talked about pursuits that were uncomfortably like my parents' pursuits. His skin, muscles, body were not like men my age (wink). He didn't seem to understand or want to work out my "young angst" with me. What did I want to do with my life? Where was I going? Did I want kids? What about my career?
It made conversation hard and true intimacy harder. So we climbed in bed where we were concerns about our age difference could be ignored. But you can't do that forever. Over time I would decide that he was too old for me.
But here lies the problem. I and other women, would never, ever say that a man's age is the reason we end up leaving. So most men don't know what happened when they're left. And we'll never tell. Ever! EVER!
There is little conversation about the truth of age difference. There is little or no media coverage about it, no gossip about it, no common wisdom and no beat on the street. The word on the street is older men with much younger women work. The media shines its light on many shiny, seemingly happy examples like George Clooney and whatever beautiful blonde he's got at the moment, or Michael Douglas and Katherine Zeta-Jones, or Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart. We accept, as common knowledge, that older men and much younger women work out. That age difference doesn't really matter. And sometimes it doesn't. But too often it does.
But in the real world there is an all too common outcome; break-up or worse divorce. Too many men have tried to put together a family with a much younger woman only to find she can't sustain it. Because she hasn't sorted out who she is or where she is going. Perfectly normal for a woman in her twenties or thirties. And too many younger women have gotten swept up in what an older man offers her, maturity, self-assuredness, adoration, and appreciation. But she can't bridge the divide in the long run.
We are where we are in the arch of our lives. No one can change that. Love can sometimes bridge our different places on that arch. But when it can't, men and women are left, older and hurt. And if you talk to men they will report their sadness or carry on to raise the love child or children that came from their misguided relationship.
What to do? Put a light on this all-too-often outcome. Men would do well to be conscious of what they are doing when they date and pursue someone who is much, much younger. Is the dewy, sexy youth worth the hard truth of a big age difference? Because dollars to donuts the unchangeable differences will become glaringly apparent. And then men roll the dice on the real possibility of being left with the kids, a divorce or a broken heart. Anyone talking about this?