By Tom Blake
I met Jackie at one of our senior Meet and Greet gatherings in Dana Point this year. She asked a question to which many single women, age 55-plus, would like an answer: “Does age matter in dating when it comes to women being older than men?”
What prompted Jackie to ask that question?
At her 50th high school reunion, she met a classmate. After a year of dating, they married. Two months later, he was diagnosed with cancer. Five months after that, he passed away.
“I don’t think I could willingly do it again,” Jackie said. “At my ‘young age’ of 72, I’d want someone younger.”
Older people dating younger people has always been a hot-potato topic among readers. When I’ve written on this subject, I’ve been dragged over the coals by young women, older men, older women, bitter men, bitter women and religious zealots.
Often, age-gap comments discriminate against women. Older men dating younger women seems to be acceptable. Whereas, women dating younger men raises eyebrows and can bring forth disparaging remarks.
A Canadian dating website is credited with coining the term “cougar,” which describes a woman who dates younger men. I don’t like the term; I think it’s demeaning.
Jackie is not the only widow who feels she doesn’t want to experience widowhood again.
Three years ago, I fixed up (remember, I’m not
a matchmaker) a widow, age 60, with a friend that I guessed to be about 70.
They had similar interests.
I saw them enjoying a beverage together shortly thereafter at Wind & Sea Restaurant in Dana Point. At that time, I thought to myself, “Bingo!”—a good introduction.
Nope, she told me a couple of days later that she found out he was 75—not 70—and she didn’t want to take the chance of becoming a widow again. So, Jackie is not the only widow to avoid dating men her age and older.
A woman named Ann said, “If I were to date my age, 72-82, I’d be taking my life into my own hands every time they drive. Some of them can’t drive at night.”
Lisa wrote, “Age is less important than someone’s level of maturity, outlook on life, and health and activity level. I have dated men older and younger. I will be 72 in February and am dating a man 60.
“When I’m on dating websites, men who are older than I seem so ‘old.’ ”
A woman I know, Greta, commented, “Age has nothing to do with it. Compatibility is what’s important.”
Margaret said, “I’ve dated men 15 years older and 20 years younger. Some younger men have acted more maturely than older men who have behaved childishly. If you enjoy each other’s company and have fun together, age doesn’t matter.”
At what age difference do critics of older women dating younger men start rolling their eyes and making snide comments? Five years, 10, 15, 20, 25-plus? Who’s to say?
For people separated by 10 years or more, I feel each partner would be wise to understand his or her own motivation for being in the relationship, and the partner’s motivation as well.
I see nothing wrong with women dating younger men (and vice versa). They should be aware, however, that there will be challenges. If there are children on either side, that may muddy the water.
And there could be negative stigmas from the general public. Imagine a friend seeing you in a restaurant with your younger man. She might say, “Hi, Ellen, I didn’t know you had a grandson!”
Everybody’s different. There’s no right or wrong. Enjoy your life while you can. It’s nobody else’s business what the respective ages are, except the two people involved. So, go for it, Jackie, check out those younger men.
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and San Clemente resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.