During my late teens and early twenties, I tended to gravitate towards men who were ten or more years older than me in my dating preferences. While it felt commonplace then, as I've grown older and gained more experience, I've come to realize that pursuing significant age disparities in my relationships is not something I will do again.
1. They were all immature for their age
Initially, I preferred dating older men because I felt guys my age were too immature. However, in reality, the older guys were just as bad, if not worse. Despite being up to a decade younger, I was financially self-sufficient and better at communicating compared to the people I dated. These men relied on their parents to pay rent and often used childish manipulation tactics during arguments.
2. They were looking for someone they could easily manipulate
As a young adult, I believed I was mature for my age, and the older men I dated validated this belief. However, in reality, I was naïve, and that's precisely what they were searching for - control. Due to my lack of experience in relationships and the world, I was an easy target for their lies and false promises. They even suggested I move in with them immediately and quit my job, but I'm relieved I didn't accept. If I had, it would have been much easier for them to control my life, and it would have been harder for me to leave.
3. They wanted me because women their age wouldn't put up with their crap
The men I dated were inadequate partners and unimpressive individuals who recognized that they wouldn't fare well in the dating world with women their own age. They sought someone who would tolerate their manipulation, immaturity, and clinginess, and they found that in me as a younger partner. My lack of dating experience meant I hadn't set healthy standards for myself and my partners, and they knew it. They got away with nearly everything they wanted because I didn't know any better than to accept it.
4. They rarely had pure intentions
I only felt one of the older men I dated genuinely appreciated me for who I was; the others just wanted a pretty young girl to hook up with regularly. My easygoing personality and ability to boost their self-esteem were merely added bonuses. These relationships were entirely self-centered, and they would end once the men grew bored with me or once I became aware of their nonsense.
5. I knew they'd leave me when I got "too old" for them
Despite these men promising a future with me (which they all did), even my younger, inexperienced self had a gut feeling that they were lying. They all confessed to having a preference for younger women, so while I was attractive to them at 20, I knew I would become less appealing to them in just a few years. These men had a specific age range in mind for a reason, and it was only a matter of time before I outgrew it.
6. We were at completely different stages of life
During my college years, I found it attractive that financially stable and successful men were interested in me. However, as I've aged, I now find it unappealing and even creepy. How could a 33-year-old business executive have anything in common with a 21-year-old whose life experience barely extends beyond a college campus? I now understand that a successful relationship is more likely when both parties have similar life experiences, which is unlikely with a significant age gap.
7. I was almost always used as a rebound for an older ex
It was no coincidence that most of these men had recently gone through a divorce or breakup with a woman closer to their age. I tried to convince myself that it was just a coincidence that the next woman they fell for was barely out of her teens, but the truth was that I was either a tool for revenge or a self-esteem booster for them. They wanted to prove to their exes and themselves that they still "had it" and could attract much younger women.
8. I constantly felt like a "trophy girlfriend"
Initially, I enjoyed the feeling of validation when my older partners would introduce me to their social circle. It gave me the impression that they cherished my company and saw potential in our relationship. However, as it became a frequent occurrence, I started feeling uncomfortable about it. It seemed like they were flaunting me like an expensive item, such as a luxurious car or a fancy watch. Looking back, I hope their friends found it as unsettling as I do now, as I had become a status symbol for them.
9. The age gap wouldn't be so appealing a few decades later
Although I still find many 40 and 45-year-old men attractive, my perspective has shifted now that I'm considering a long-term partner. I am more realistic about the challenges that come with being with someone significantly older than me. Do I want my children to be young adults when their father could easily be a grandparent? Do I want to be in my sexual prime while my partner's sex drive is declining? While the age gap may be appealing now, I realize that it's not a matter of "if," but "when" the age difference becomes an issue.
10. I can find decent guys that are closer to my own age
I comprehend why my younger self was drawn to much older men as it's challenging to find 20-year-old guys who are responsible and make suitable partners. However, now that I'm in my mid-twenties, it's easier to date men who are self-sufficient, mature, and share similar goals. I have outgrown my inclination towards relationships with significant age gaps, and it has brought me greater happiness.