Sunday, 14 February 2010

SPECIAL EDITION - In Praise Of The Younger Man!

Happy Valentines' Day Everyone! 
Tigress, Panther, Leopard and Cougar ... there is no denying that youth has its distinct blessings 
SIMPLYFAB presents a reader's delightful essay: 

It's among one of those questions that pop up when your friends know you're seeing someone special - How did you meet? What does he do? Where is he from? and then ... How old is he? Now, I am not shy about my age so I am ready with the answer. Besides, with Chinese New Year upon us, it's easy to figure out the age difference when you mention the Chinese zodiacs we were born under. And invariably, when I say my guy is much younger than I am, eyes widen and the women go, wow! Nice! Great! The men are less enthusiastic, responding with Hmm..., Oh really?, How long have you been together?, and Ah, I see... Both genders are as likely to say, It's OK, age doesn't matter as long as he loves you.

I can't tell you why the genders respond differently. However, I can say I didn't start out wanting a younger man (or for that matter, an older one). One just sees what life throws at you, right? Well, Life threw me a younger man. I don't go about comparing younger men with older men, but I get asked a lot how does it feel to be dating a younger man. And truth is, I have discovered there are differences! If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would easily say, Younger men have fewer insecurities. And boy, is that refreshing and a revelation!

* He doesn't cramp my style. 

Most of my dating life, I have dated men my age. And I realize now that people of the same (of either gender) are more likely to have the same cultural exposures, and that includes pop culture. Which is to say we have an opinion on just about everything we share, be that in music, celebrities, food, fashion, style or books. Friends of different ages have fewer similarities, which makes for very interesting encounters. Besides dating a younger man, I also tend to have older friends, ranging from 10-30 years older. And we have stimulating conversations as we're more accommodating, where each side is listening to the other party more -- there are fewer shared experiences so there are fewer interruptions, more questions, more enlightened moments. 

This is also true of my relationship. Compared to my previous (and obviously failed) relationships, we are listening to each other more. It also helps that we are from different backgrounds, Chinese and European, and often learning about each other's upbringing and cultural backdrops. So back to the point about fewer insecurities -- when I have a different opinion, he doesn't feel snubbed or peeved in the way I noticed boyfriends who were my age did. He finds my penchant for bags quite amusing rather than annoying. He doesn't ask how much or how little they cost or why I spend on so many bags. As far as he is concerned, it makes me happy and that's all that matters. Men our age seem to have an opinion on the bag, the brand, the look, the style, the trend, what it says about me and how it reflects on him.... I mean, enough already! I'm the one paying for and carrying the bag, right?  It's a bag, not your baggage! It's not pop psychology. Chill a little, you know. 

* He's not insecure about my financial independence.

My guy has no problem with me earning more, bearing more financial responsibilities at home. After all, I have had a longer successful career. I can't tell you how liberating that is! Boyfriend 1 was briefly unemployed and I supported both of us and his self-esteem plunged. He left me. Boyfriend 2 decided I was more successful in my career and he wasn't my equal and wanted to go overseas to prove himself and be someone successful. No matter that I told him I was dating him and not his career. Boyfriend 3 decided I was more successful in my career and should bear more responsibility and live off me. Needless to say, that didn't end well.

My guy decided I earn more, save more, manage it better and he will let me run the house and our finances. Light bulb moment. The man has no issues. It is said that most relationships fail when there's conflict over finances, so I know I got the Out-of-Jail card on this one. (This is a Monopoly reference, for those not in the know.) This is not to say we don't discuss finances together, of course, simply that we don't get into arguments about money. I get the final say, which is refreshing as a woman, knowing that women all over, in many generations, have had to relegate that responsibility to the other gender even if they were smart, for no reason other than gender. Financial security doesn't just mean earning enough and planning ahead. It also means we have control over how we want to spend our own money, without someone else watching over us or feeling guilty about how we spend our money. His lack of insecurity over my financial independence is a winner.

* He's not insecure about our career paths.

I am the kind of woman who gives everything when I decide, whether it is a job, a hobby or a man. So it is that I have offered to move countries, quit my job and follow my  man. With three ex-boyfriends, this was a problem somehow. It was a degree of commitment which scared them, as if they were now responsible to make things work, as if they couldn't break up with me after such a noble sacrifice should the relationship fail. It somehow fell on deaf ears that one, as a writer I could work anywhere; two, it was my decision to follow my passion and not their responsibility to make sure I succeeded; three, a life without risks is a life without rewards. So the relationships stalled with all the reservations and nay-saying. We couldn't take it to the next level.  

My guy doesn't have such issues. He knows I am closer to the end of my career than he is in his. He knows I am planning for a second career, as those closer to retirement are wont to do. He knows there are risks but that I have a financial buffer after such a long career. So he encourages my dreams, and is willing to change his career so we can be together. We're still planning but I can say it's liberating when your partner has total confidence in you, and supports your dreams. 

* He's not insecure about past boyfriends.

If anything, he is grateful I had them, good and bad, as it brought me where I am and ready for a relationship with him. He figures as I am older, I must have had more boyfriends than he has had girlfriends and it doesn't bother him. He has no insecurities about them as he figured if it had worked, we would still be together.

When I was with Boyfriend 4, he would have a fit if a male friend called or stayed over, as he was not a believer in platonic friendships. My work trips would wreck him with anxiety. In the end, I couldn't cope with his emotional insecurities. When Boyfriend 4 asked for my help, my guy had no issues with him and said the decision was mine. When Boyfriend 4 wanted to meet me, he had no problems with it and was more concerned about how I would feel as I was dumped. What a sweetheart! I couldn't wait to come home and hug him, tell him how happy I was to be with him. He asked about the meeting, and I had so little to say, simply because it didn't matter -- one was the past, and he was my future. 

Emotional maturity is a winner, at any age. 

* He is not into machismo.

My guy is so secure about himself he doesn't need to prove he is the man, or my man. He loves to cook, as do I, and has no problem taking charge of the kitchen. When I was sick earlier this year, he came home at lunch to cook for me. That night, he came home early and cooked me Spanish tapas so I wouldn't need to cook or even heat up leftovers and could eat the portions straight from the refrigerator the next day. We bring food to potluck parties and at the end of the evening, he is as likely to be the one sharing the recipes with the women around the table as likely as he would be on the balcony sharing a beer with the men. He is totally secure in his own skin, what's there not to love and lust about him?

* He is sensitive to the needs of my age.

There is only one aspect where he is sensitive about my age and that pertains to motherhood, in the most positive way. He asked one month into the relationship, if I was ready to be a mother and didn't want to wait, he was ready too. He understood the problems of fertility for a woman in her 40s and asked to meet my gynae. He is the only one I have dated who is open to adoption (many men are adverse to adopting) if we cannot conceive. Although media and trendy magazines talk of the older woman as a cougar having a boy toy, the truth is we only have loving sex rather than sexual gymnastics to see how many positions we can achieve and how long he can last. Forget the cliches, ladies! Nothing beats just simple loving sex. We're so happy to have found each other, we have nothing to prove. 

And lets not forget the statistics. Men die younger. We joke that we'd probably  die not too many years apart. And if we have kids, he will have the energy to chase after the little ones more than if he was my age. 

We're so comfortable with each other, we already forget there's an age gap between us. Sometimes, I even forget how much older I am. Age is just a number. I am blessed that I have always been proud of my age, at 17 or 40, and embraced life and ignored all the cliches. That attitude alone has kept me young! I can't say if I found the right man because he is younger, but I can certainly say dating a younger man has made me realize men my age and older have a lot more insecurities. I am blessed that at my age, I don't have to deal with an insecure man.  
So ladies, if you have any reservations, hesitate no more! Forget the cliches, shrug off the stigma. Time and tide wait for no man, and certainly no woman, either. Go live a little, and love a lot. Happy Valentines Day, for those who celebrate it. As for us, we will be making chocolate cupcakes at home. 

S. Pearl is 43 and a full-time writer, amateur photographer, travel-bug and foodie -- usually combining all four loves. She writes under a pen name.  Her dream is to be a full-time travel writer to meet more people and understand their history and culture, and to share hers.


Clement Mesenas on 16 February 2010 at 12:16 said...

Great piece. Very enlightening. Bravo.

The Simply Fab Team on 16 February 2010 at 18:29 said...

Thanks Clement - we totally agree! S. Pearl is our guest writer for this special edition piece!

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