Are You Unavailable? Chances Are I Will Fall in Love with You

“Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love
In love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?”

-the Buzzcocks

A couple of years ago, I met a guy on OKCupid who was 20 years younger than me. Now, I’ve dated much younger before. Ever since I turned 40, it seems I’ve been prime cougar cub meat. I never sought them out, they just naturally gravitated to me like bears to honey. I’ve written before, though, about the perils of dating much younger men, and how I HATE being referred to as a “cougar”.

My last dating profile specifically blared “NO ONE UNDER 30” because I was a bit tired of 20-somethings (it’s more work than you might think, dating millenials when you’re a world-wizened 40-something). That didn’t stop the adorable, nerdy metal guitarist with the profile name referring to a popular video game from hitting me up.

I’m a sucker for a pretty face. I saw the thumbnail attached to his message and couldn’t resist opening it. What he sent me, like his profile, was clever, sincere, and funny. I found myself falling back into the old, “oh, what’s the harm in just hooking up with a younger guy..doing the boy-toy thing?” routine that gets me into trouble EVERY TIME. My vow to just “keep things casual” has never worked; it’s how I ended up in a 4-year off-and-on relationship with a 23-year-old who had a drinking problem, and a 6 month relationship where I fell very very hard for a 26-year-old who told me one week he was falling in love with me, then broke up with me the next. My heart was absolutely brutalized by these two guys.

Despite my prior experiences making me gun-shy when it came to younger guys, I was too drawn to OKCupid metal boy to resist. I did, however, make him wait a couple of dates to have sex. When we finally did the deed, it was amazing. See, women seem to hit a sexual peak in their 40s, as do men in their 20s…which makes us really sexually compatible despite the age difference. The problem with really good sex, though, is that you want to keep doing it. And the more you keep doing it, the likelier you are to get attached.

OKCupid boy and I had a lot more than just sex in common, which also made our liaison dangerous. What started out as “just a hookup” became an every-weekend event. Next thing you know, we’re going to movies together and hanging out outside the bedroom..doing things that COUPLES do, on a regular basis. We met each other’s friends. We posted photos of us, together, tagged on Facebook. Amusingly, when his mother saw one of these photos, she told him, “I’m so relieved you’re over that OLDER WOMAN thing.” I do look younger, and I found that whole thing hilarious. I think he got off on telling his mom, “Nope. She’s 20 years older than me”, which resulted in him having to deny any Oedipal inclinations.

After several months of us falling into the “couple” routine but without any official designation or “coming out” as being in a relationship, I started to feel resentful. I wanted him to make a commitment. Make me his girlfriend and all that silly shit women like. Instead, we had a talk about our longterm goals, and his included..HAVING KIDS. The desire to have children is the ONE insurmountable barrier to the older woman/younger man relationship. Every other barrier, such as societal or parental disapproval, can be overcome, for the most part. When the woman is too old to have children or doesn’t desire them, however, dating a much younger man can be downright foolish. Unless you’re okay with the possibility of getting hurt and know of some full-proof way to keep it casual.

We went our separate ways. I think it was a total of 3 months before we started chatting again on Facebook. Next thing you know, we’re falling back into the same routine as before. This lasted 6–7 months until I started to get jealous over some sexy ex of his, and realized I was getting way too attached. This time, he told me he was close to taking things to the next level with me, but..the “kid thing” still kept holding him back.

I think you see where this is going. We separated AGAIN.

In the meantime, my attempts to date guys closer to my own age weren’t going so well, either.

I met a very hot, sexy, brilliant guy 2 years younger than me who, after 3 wonderful dates, I found out was still attached to his much younger, abusive, mentally ill ex. I ended up spending 7 hours on 2 separate occasions, trying to coach him to get rid of her (yes, she was STILL in his life and STILL causing drama) before I ended it.

I dated a guy in his 40s, shlepping up to New York City every weekend to see him. It turns out, he strongly believes that if you don’t fall in love with someone on the first date, it isn’t going to happen. That didn’t stop him from stringing me along for a couple of months, meanwhile telling me about his prior incidences of…stringing women along. He dated some of his exes for YEARS, full well knowing he wasn’t in love with them. “They were all really really great women. Fabulous women,” he emphasized. This set off giant red flags for me.

When I called him on it, he freaked out saying, “I REALLY don’t want to hurt you”..then ended up doing just that and hurting me by ending things abruptly. I tried to dissuade him by explaining that you don’t fall in love on the first date — that’s called “infatuation”, and that real love takes time. At least, in my experience it does. Jumping into relationships too soon has always bitten me in the ass. He FINALLY shut me up by explaining that he realized he couldn’t fall in love with me because I remind him too much of his mother. OY.

I was at the point of giving up after these last 2 dating debacles. I busied myself with work and buying a house, which turned out to be a much longer process than I expected. I was grateful for the distraction, actually. I resigned myself to being single the rest of my life and giving up dating. I have great friends, I rationalized. I have a full life. I have casual sex partners for when I need that type of thing. And when I looked around, I didn’t see many people in my life who were even HAPPY in their relationships. Many of them are downright MISERABLE.

I’m a fetish model whose bread and butter is the custom videos I shoot. Back when I was dating the much younger guy, I paid him to help me shoot some silly clips for this one client. Into this new era of self-imposed singledom, that same custom client wrote me and asked for another clip. I figured what would be the harm in contacting my much younger ex and seeing if he was amenable to shooting another video? It would be an easy shoot and would pay well for both of us.

I should have known better. Of course, we ended up having a great time during the shoot. My will power stayed strong for a while, but I’m weak, and I know it. Just like Jack Twist, I can’t quit this guy. We started flirting, and next thing you know, I’m indicating my willingness to be “friends with benefits”, with conditions.

“I think our problem is that we started hanging out too much. It became a relationship, but without you being able to make it ‘official’ as such,” I told him.

So, we pragmatically agreed, “yes, yes, that was our problem, and we shall avoid it THIS TIME”, and I went to his house specifically for a hook up. And I don’t regret it, even though I know full well he’s essentially unavailable, and it could lead to heartbreak down the road. AGAIN.

This prompts me to think that maybe my propensity to get attached to unavailable people signifies that I’m emotionally unavailable MYSELF.

I think all those years of being lied to by exes..or getting excited about and attached to someone, only to have them nip things in the bud because they really shouldn’t be dating..or getting my hopes up about people who were only using me for sex..these experiences have made me REALLY JADED. Now I find myself spending most of my time with a younger guy who’ll probably just bail eventually, to find someone to have kids with, or unhappily married male friends who cry on my shoulder but can’t offer me intimacy because they’re too busy holding it out to spouses who aren’t interested in it and consistently reject it.

And it’s not like I don’t get tons of offers from people who seem, at least on the surface, to be way more available. When I even think about stepping back into the dating scene, however, I get cold chills. Hearing my other single friends recant their horrific experiences doesn’t help.

Maybe I just would rather not open myself up anymore. Being closed off feels just fine for now.