Dating the younger man
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.Ludwig isn't necessarily describing a younger guy; instead, she's describing a guy who isn't interested in a serious relationship, a kind of dude who comes in all ages.For this reason, being a woman with a younger partner is often viewed in a negative light. We can fight this totally gross line of thinking by agreeing to view younger people that we have chemistry as real possible partners — and by not constantly "joking" about any woman we know who happens to have a younger partner.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.Although the idea of a "cougar" who dates much younger men has a certain cultural cachet, being a woman in your twenties who simply chooses a partner who's a bit younger is often viewed as weird, desperate, or deluded — basically, anything besides what it is, which is totally normal.
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.
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.
The window of time when I was helping Jesse learn about credit reports and negotiating a salary was brief, while he continues to teach me new things about love and commitment every day (I know, barf).
But this kind of thinking conflates practical responsibility with emotional maturity — which isn't really accurate.
We might think that certain concrete markers of adulthood — a prestigious job; a working knowledge of personal finance; properly assembled Ikea furniture —signify a related degree of emotional maturity.