Should You Date A Younger Guy?
Here, we spell out the pluses and minuses of going out with a fella who’s got fewer candles on his birthday cake.
ariah and Nick. Madonna and Brahim. J.Lo and... well, whoever the lucky guy is this week. Have you noticed? Some of the hottest female celebs are exclusivly into younger guys. And it’s not just a Hollywood trend. Take my circle of friends, not as famous but just as fabulous, I like to think. I’m six and a half years older than my husband (you’ll notice I don’t round up). My friend Cindy’s husband is five years younger than she is. So is Kacey’s. And my single girlfriend Anna? We all want to be Anna! Lately she’s been biking and hiking and bar-hopping with a 26-year-old dude who looks more than a little like Smith—Samantha’s boy toy from Sex in the City.
Why are so many women choosing to date down (in years, that is)? "We women are hitting our stride in our 30s and don’t care whether a guy can support us,” says Dennie Hughes, author of Dateworthy. “We’re more interested in: Will he make me want to stay in bed all day? Does he stimulate my mind? Is he up for trying new things? And it’s younger guys who often meet these qualifications.”
But just like any relationship, a reverse May-December situation has its good points and “arrgh!” moments. So before you take the young stud plunge, read on for expert advice. Plus we share true tales from women who’ve dated younger—and lived to rave or rant about it:
ON THE PLUS SIDE:
|The best thing about younger guys is they're comfortable with independent women.|
1. They’re more fun, period.
They’ll take you to see bands that don’t go on until midnight and whisk you off on spur-of-the-moment road trips. (And since most of their buddies are still single, they also tend to know the latest entries onto the bar scene). “When I met my husband, who is 4 years younger, I was in my early 30s and guys my age were so set in their ways,” says Susan Stern, 41, of Scarsdale, NY. “What I loved about him was he was up for doing anything, on a moment’s notice—concerts, baseball games, theater.”
This seize-the-day mentality isn’t just about having fun, says Cara Halstead, 34, a single mom in Suffern, NY, whose fiancé, Christian, is 28. "Christian gets along great with my 7-year-old son because he is not just a father figure but a playmate. Silliness and playfulness beat seriousness any day," she says. "It gets us through tough times as well."
2. They love strong women.
You—fabulous woman that you are—probably have a groovy apartment, a fab wardrobe, a huge social network, and a kick-ass career. Your younger half may live in a shoebox, sleep on a mattress on the floor, and still be in unpaid-intern mode. But he’s totally fine with that—and that can be a huge relief. "The best thing about younger guys is they're comfortable with independent women," says Susan Lyon, of San Francisco, CA, who has dated several younger men and married a guy eight years her junior. "The men my age and older seem to be trying to wrap their head around how a women should be. The younger guys totally get the reality of women today—i.e., financially independent, having their own agenda, etc.”
3. They're good in bed.
So, do boy toys live up to their rep in the sack? Most definitely, says Mary Jo Fay, 49, whose boyfriend José—a waiter she met in Mexico—is a decade younger than she is. “He has so much energy and passion,” she says. “Guys my age have often let themselves go physically, and that’s a turn-off.” Lisa Daily, author of Stop Getting Dumped!, agrees that this is a big part of the appeal of the boyish boyfriend. "Many women today crave a relationship with fewer complications and more sex,” she says. “Younger guys can provide exactly that."
4. Let’s face it: They’re just as likely to be mature as any other guy.
"Age is no guarantee of maturity," says Barbara Wright Abernathy, wife of a younger man and author of Venus on Top. Some 40-year-old boys —y ou know who you are — are still doing Jell-O shots and
mooning people. Meanwhile, there are 21-year-old men who are working nights to support their whole extended family. Women who’ve been there say you can’t judge a guy by his age; his actions are the true tip-off.
|"I realized that when I was doing dance routines to the Grease soundtrack, he was just being potty-trained."
When I first started dating Dan (now my husband) he was only 25, and some helpful friends suggested that a guy that young would never want to settle down. My feeling? He was more conscientious and reliable than a lot of the 35-year-olds I had dated. And I think history has proven me right.
NOW FOR THE MINUSES:
1. You may feel like you’re in a time warp.
You grew up with different cartoons, different video games (Atari, anybody?!), different cheesy prom ballads. And it’s a shocker when it first hits you, as Cara Halstead found out. “One day I realized that when I was doing dance routines to the Grease soundtrack, he was just being potty-trained!” But instead of dwelling on your pop-culture chasm, use this as an opportunity to get closer—introduce him to classic movies like Valley Girl and open your mind to the musical poetry of Poison.
2. His friends are 20-something guys.
Even if your young man happens to be sophisticated, chances are at least a few of his buddies aren’t as fully evolved. So don’t be surprised when your man drags you a kegger or takes off for a paint-ball weekend. Tip: Roll with it. Accepting each other’s pals — no matter how weird or annoying — is part of the older-woman/younger-man pact.
3. Finally, they may not be on your spawn schedule.
Baby lust has busted up more than one of these romances. Just ask Lisa Cohn, 47, of Portland, OR. “For four years, I dated a guy who was five years younger than me. I was drawn to his good looks and great sense of humor,” she recalls. “But my biological clock was ticking wildly, and that freaked him out. Eventually, we broke up.” Other young dudes want children—but not with someone who has been there, done that. “I was recently dating a younger man who obviously knew that I had been married and had a child,” says Kris Lyndon, 40, of Phoenix. “After a while, he told me he wanted to get serious—but he’d rather experience marriage and pregnancy with a woman who was also experiencing it for the first time.”
So if you hope to have kids with a younger guy, should you bring up the b-word? Yes, but not right away, says Hughes. “Definitely not in the first few months,” she says. “This is a time for getting to know each other and not for bringing up potential problems and pressure.” After that, do broach the subject if it’s important to you—you may discover that he wants six kids, and there’s no way you have the time (or pain tolerance!) for that. Or maybe he’s always thought it would be cool to be a youngish dad. You won’t find out till you summon your courage and ask... and remember, doing so is a sign of your much-admired maturity.
Lisa Lombardi is a New York-based writer and editor.