Dating an younger girl

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When I met my boyfriend Jesse, I was 28 and he was 24 — not too much of a dating age difference in the grand scheme of things, but to hear some of my friends at the time tell it, you'd think we were Harold and Maude — or at the very least, Ashton and Demi.

You're supposedly an immature doofus who can't attract partners your own age, or maybe a delusional narcissist who can't cope with aging (I've heard both! Again, all these ideas are based on stereotypes — primarily, that youth is one of the only valuable traits a woman possesses when dating, and that to take a pass on using it as a bargaining chip to find a more desirable mate is insane. (But, of course, if calling yourself a "cougar" gets your rocks off, then more power to you, my friend.)There's another myth out there that dating young people means that you'll never get serious — that dating a younger guy or girl means that you're signing on for a relationship purgatory full of half-assed plans, a lack of emotional commitment, and being introduced as "this girl I'm kinda hanging out with" at parties.

In an interview in Shape, psychotherapist Robi Ludwig claimed that, “In some cases, a younger guy is developmentally in a different place...he’s not ready for all of the pressures and responsibilities that go along with a committed relationship because his emotional maturity is not fully developed yet.”Again, this is generalizing that conflates age with a specific set of romantic values — plenty of people of all ages aren't interested in serious relationships, and plenty of people of all ages are interested in serious relationships, too.

In my own anecdotal experience, I've found no correlation between age and interest in a serious relationship.One of my closest friends recently married a guy five years her junior, after years of dating commitmentphobic dudes her own age and older; and Jesse was more open and interested in pursuing something serious with me than anyone I'd ever dated, despite being an age when he was supposed to be more interested in "playing the field." Some people are never interested in playing the field, and some people never tire of playing the field — and you can't tell who is who just by looking at their driver's licenses.Jesse wasn't my first dip into the younger dude pool — we connected after I'd had a handful of casual things with guys four or five years younger than me.Our personalities remain more consistent through the years, but the window dressing of maturity tends to change pretty darn quick — which is how, despite having the same age gap, my once "scandalously young" partner is now seen as pretty age appropriate for me.Sure, if you date someone younger than you, you may get to help them figure out some basic life admin stuff for a while — but it won't be a pure "teacher-student"-type relationship, not just because younger people still have plenty to teach us, but also because people figure that stuff out relatively quickly.

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