Relationships: my experience dating someone older

Age is really just a number


I get asked a lot of questions about my relationship. It started in a pretty typical way — I met him on a night out in town when I was on my way to a club with my best friend. Considering I was drunk at the time, I remember it clear as day — the first thing he did was put his arm around me and then he said “Tell me about your life”. Cue me, being a drunk idiot and probably making a hell of a first impression by spilling out every depressing detail of my life. “My mum’s dead! I have serious depression and anxiety! I can’t get a job!” You know, the typical sort of things every person wants to hear when someone first catches their attention.

Amazingly, that didn’t put him off. Once we’d reached the club and we were inside, my best friend went off with my boyfriend’s brother who was there with him, and I went and sat with who would become my future boyfriend. He proceeded to start pouring his heart out to me, so my first thought was that he was definitely drunk too (he wasn’t, I’d later learn he’s never drank). I don’t remember all of what he said, but I remember him talking about how he’d been in a relationship with his friend, who was a guy, and how he hates people putting labels on sexuality. At the time, I was a seriously sexually frustrated drunk 18 year old virgin who was just looking to make out with someone so, being the asshole I am, I mentally kicked myself — not sure if making out with someone I thought was clearly gay was such a good idea. To cut a long story short, I found out he’s bi with a preference for girls, and so we ended up kissing and exchanging phone numbers. I asked how old he was — I thought he had said 24. I would soon go on to tell everyone he was 24 until we went on our first date. 24 didn’t seem so bad, it felt like a number where we wouldn’t be judged for swapping numbers and having a kiss.

When we eventually went on our first date (the third time meeting him, except this time I was sober), I then found out he had actually said he was 28. I panicked a little then — 28?! He’s 10 years older than me! What would people say? I remember telling my dad, who was miraculously fine with his age (he would’ve been the biggest hypocrite ever if he wasn’t, seeing as my mum was 9 years older than him) and my best friend, who thought it was super sexy (she herself was having a thing with my boyfriend’s brother who happened to be 26 and married but that’s a whole other story). Her and I would sit there and giggle, saying things like ‘can you believe that we pulled 2 guys that are so much older than us!’ Now I know what you might be thinking — 10 years difference isn’t that much. But when you’re 19 and you tell people your boyfriend is 29 then… trust me, I’ve had more than a few dodgy looks. I’ve heard it all “It’s not you I’m judging, it’s him!”, or “Oh, I thought you were a normal couple!”, things like that. The thing is, we are a normal couple. In every sense of the word. My boyfriend never specifically went after me because we met when I was 18. Our ages isn’t something we talk about — not because we’re embarrassed but because we don’t feel the need to, it’s not a big deal to us.

I suppose the point about writing this though, is that I, like many other people I follow around the web who post pictures of older celebs with daddy captions, think that being with an older guy is the sexiest thing and that a guy my age could never compare. I used to fantasise about losing my virginity to someone probably older than my boyfriend, and how attractive it would be to be with someone so experienced. The reality is, it’s not really like that, at least not in my particular relationship.

Past relationships

A lot of people have past dating and sex relationships, but I can guarantee an older person might have a lot more stories to tell than you. My boyfriend was not a virgin when we first had sex, and so losing my virginity was a pleasant, happy experience and went exactly how I had always wanted it — with someone experienced. Sex in general is pretty amazing because he’s had a lot of experience. But this is where it can feel uncomfortable for me — he also carries a lot of emotional baggage from past relationships, and I realised after hearing so many stories from him how unprepared I was to hear it all. I have a horrible jealous streak that I am only just beginning to work through, so hearing all these stories about him being with other people would break my heart. But that’s to be expected when you date someone with 10 years more life experience than yourself. And, especially my boyfriend, who is very much the type to try anything once (yes, he made a porno once. Yes, he did tell me about it). What I’m saying here is that if you’re looking to get into a relationship, any relationship but especially with an older person, you have to be much more prepared than I was to accept that they really did have a whole other life before you — a life where they were dating and having sex with other people while hey, you were probably running around in the playground — and that’s going to stick with them. You’ll end up finding out about things like an ex they spent 4 years with, other people they thought they loved. My own previous love life before meeting my boyfriend was pretty rubbish, I had only ever kissed people before meeting him, and there he was talking about having threesomes, and past pregnancy scares with ex girlfriends. I really wasn’t ready for it, but maybe that’s just me. When I sat at home dreaming about Ben Affleck in bed, I never thought about arguing with him because an ex had been calling him up and it hurt every bone in my body because he lied to me and I caught him out. But that did end up being my reality. It’s sometimes hard for me to think that while he is my first love, my first serious boyfriend, the person who took my virginity — I’m not any of that to him.

Age doesn’t define maturity

I know a few people who have dated someone older and they’ve always said, “Why don’t they act their age?”. Being older doesn’t automatically mean someone isn’t going to fuck you about, or upset you, or sit in their pants playing video games. It doesn’t mean they don’t have the capacity to cheat or that they think about things rationally. That depends on the person you’re seeing. My boyfriend can be talking about how ill his dad is one minute and then arguing with me about how he has to sneak out of his parents house like a teenager on Saturday nights to come and see me, because otherwise they’d be upset, the next. My boyfriend thinks vaping is the funniest and coolest thing. He plays fighting games on his mobile phone. He rides a mini motorbike. He laughs at memes that use the impact font. He cries because he thinks his dad has Alzheimers disease. He goes to the bank to sort out his mortgage. He sorted out his will. His age is no defining part of his maturity, and people shouldn’t be told what they can and can’t do because of a number — so I wouldn’t go into a relationship with an older person expecting maturity. Maturity is defined by someone’s personality, not their age.

Compromise

The other day I was on the phone to my boyfriend, and he began talking about buying us a flat and bills and all sorts of other grown up sounding stuff. He said that now that he’s heading into his 30–40’s, he needs to get his life properly on track; and the dreaded topic of settling down came up. I sat there, in my Batman VS Superman pj's, and I paused. I’m not even 21 yet! While I want to settle down with my boyfriend, sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a hell of a lot more years ahead of me to go out and mess around and not think about the serious things in life for a little while — whereas my boyfriend does not. When I drag him out to a club on the weekends, I often find myself thinking — my boyfriend hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in his life, he’s never taken drugs, and here I am dragging him to a club full of people my age — and I realise that he looks uncomfortable. Now every relationship requires compromise, but sometimes when you’re dating someone older, you have to take certain things into account. Maybe you don’t go out every weekend and get absolutely plastered. Maybe you sit and talk to them about boring grown up stuff, settling down. Maybe they let you drag them to a club every so often — it’s about finding a balance that suits you both. Being in a relationship with someone older doesn’t mean you suddenly have to give up your life and that you’re never allowed out, because that shouldn’t be the case — it just might mean you spend a few more weekends in watching a film together or getting an early night.

The most recent conversation I had with my boyfriend about compromise, was when the lovely topic of babies came up. He knows that the only thing I want in this world is to become a mum. He also thinks that I’m too young and he would absolutely refuse if I asked at this point to start trying for kids. So I said to him “Look. I don’t want you to be reaching your 40’s when we have our first child. I might have to be ‘too young’ in your eyes when we start trying to have a baby, because that’s the only way it’s going to work.” My dad was very young when he had me, but because my mum was 9 years older and already had a child, her biological clock was ticking and she couldn’t hang around. I know mine and my boyfriend’s situation is slightly different, but I don’t want us to end up like my boyfriend’s parents and be in our 60’s-70's when our kids are his age.

Sex

As I mentioned before, sex with my boyfriend is really good for me. He lets me try new things and explore myself sexually without judgement. He knows all the right things to do. He doesn’t just get himself off and then fall asleep (not all the time, anyway). But sex is one of the things I’m asked about a lot when I mention our ages, so I’ll answer some questions I’ve been asked before. No, he isn’t attracted to me just because of my age and no, it is not a kink he gets off too. No, we don’t role play that I’m a sexy schoolgirl. No, he doesn’t talk to me like I’m a baby. Our age never comes up between us. Our sex life is that of any sex life of a happy healthy relationship, and should be the sort of sex that every couple has, regardless of age difference.

I’m glad to have written some of these things down, because it’s helped me go through a lot of things in my head. I had a panic the other day, the first time since he told me his age and I actually heard him — that when I turn 20, he’ll be 30. Somehow him turning 30 makes things seem a little scarier. I suppose only time will tell, but our relationship is strong and amazing, and I’m sure we would never break up because of something like our ages. I suppose what makes our relationship pretty unique is that we’re both at pretty different times in our life — while I’m only just entering young adulthood and leaving behind being a teenager, he’s moving onto full blown adulthood, and leaving behind his early 20's.

The allure of being with an older guy really kind of wore off for me once we got serious, which I’m sure it does for a lot of people— he isn’t the 29 year old stranger that whisked me away any more. He’s just John. And I’d choose him every time, whether he was 19 or 99.

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