1985 was a fantastic year. I was a sophomore TV Communications Major at Capital University, and was already the Executive Producer of a popular weekly cable show. I was on Executive Board of my fraternity, and between being sorority sweetheart for the Deltas and my groovy Zeta pals, I never lacked for a “date” to a fraternity party (and yes, we’d go dancing at the Garage, a popular Columbus gay bar, afterwards). 1985 didn’t bring me a real boyfriend, but it did provide me with the perfect American college experience, complete with friendships I’m blessed to enjoy to this day.
1985 was a big year for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, too. They had a boy! I wonder if it ever crossed their minds while changing his diapers that there was a 20-year-old college boy out there that their baby would one day ask out on a date.
I’ve mentioned before that I have very little interest in dating men that are younger, and by younger I mean 40 and below. I’ve spoken to some friends- gay and straight- about the fact that even though my online dating profiles clearly state that I’m interested in men between 45 and death, the random twenty-somethings will still approach me. My friends’ reactions are very similar…“Do it!” “That’s hot!” and “Score!” are the top three responses. But my favorite, which came from a middle aged straight guy…“Is he a flight attendant or a nurse?”
There seems to be a consensus that dating (and I use that term very loosely) a twenty-something is something, if given an opportunity, is one not to be missed by any forty-something. Maybe it’s all about exposure to the boundless energy that comes with youth? Maybe, like my friend Coco Brown said, it’s because they don’t come with the baggage of lifetime disappointments in the love department. Or maybe it’s just an ego thing, delivering some sort of validation that a twenty-something is attracted to you.
I decided that perhaps it was time I found out. Justin was an accomplished 29 year old that I met at G, a Chelsea mainstay. He was very aggressive in wanting a date, and had a rebuttal for every excuse I gave. He was as persuasive as he was charming. It turns out that Justin is a member of a gym in Manhattan where I teach spin (Justin admitted to checking me out at the gym, which kind of scared me because I always look my personal worst in any fitness situation). I relented, and suggested that he take one of my classes and we could grab coffee afterwards. He loved the idea, and that was the plan for two days later.
The funniest thing happened during my “spin date” with Justin. As I was teaching a killer class, I looked at Justin, who incidentally knew every word to Katy Perry’s Roar and was fearless in singing along as he effortlessly rode. But the real action was in the row behind Justin, where a man in his mid-fifties was working as hard as he could, sweating to keep up with determination to do so. He was adorable. Two men before me- one was the athletic Justin, who sailed through class, and the other guy with the silver flex in his hair that was working it. I thought to myself, who’s more attractive… to me? The answer was simple, because at the end of the day nobody is going to know my favorite flavor better than me.
After class, I thanked Justin for coming, and told him that I hoped he continued to come to class. As for coffee, I politely declined, but was sure he would have absolutely no problem in finding a date. Like most twenty-somethings, Justin was beyond resilient and totally understood. He was fine with being friends.
A week later I had a conversation with the determined fifty-something man with the silver flexed hair. We’re having coffee next week.
I’ve given a lot of thought as to why men my age sometimes are in dating relationships with twenty-somethings. I mentioned earlier that maybe it’s an ego thing, or a control thing or perhaps as a last ditch effort of reclaiming youth.
Maybe I was wrong.
Sure, those scenarios may be the case for some May/December romances, but meeting Justin and spending some time with him made me realize that I wasn’t totally correct with my summation of reasons. Justin has a lot of great qualities, and I realize that to judge him solely on his age is doing him a disservice. He will make someone a fantastic boyfriend. The reason he won’t make a great boyfriend for me is because I didn’t feel the attraction or connection I typically feel with men my age.
For me, and maybe for you as well, it’s really as simple as ordering from a menu at Peter Luger. If your palate is asking for aged prime rib, then why order the veal?
Spending some time with my new friend Justin reminded this old dog of a not so new trick- don’t be so judgmental of those with dating tastes that differ from mine. Not all May/December couples are built on a foundation that is sketchy. Couples are built on several types of foundations, and my hope is that each includes attraction, respect and love.
Those are three necessary relationship building blocks that are required at any age.