What are your thoughts about dating someone younger? I am a 55-year-old widow. I would like to start dating again yet encountering men much younger than me on dating sites that want to date me. At first I was a bit surprised (and flattered). But now I’m beginning to question these men’s intentions. I don’t want to sound like an ageist and want to be open to anyone of good character, no matter the age. But I have concerns. Why would a younger man want to date an older woman? Is dating an older woman some kind of fetish amongst young men? Or are they interested in me because of me? Does it make me a “Cougar” if I date younger? I’ve never dated anyone younger than me. Not looking to settle down right away. But I also don’t want to have a meaningless tryst. Help!
Not a Cougar
Dear Not a Cougar,
Thank you for writing in and sharing so candidly your concerns about dating—specifically about dating a younger man. We are sure that opinions vary widely about this matter and one could probably see an even wider variation of opinions when you switch the genders around (younger men/older women, younger women/older men, age variance in same sex relationships etc.). Based on the info you provided, it seems that you haven’t started dating yet, correct? And you are looking to start dating not particularly get in to a long-term relationship--right now. I think the key word here is ‘dating.’
No matter what age range (or other characteristic), dating allows both parties involved to test congruence. One may find little to nothing in common with someone of their exact age and great similarities with someone 5, 10, 20 years younger. A younger man may want to date an older woman for many reasons. Some interested in only the age gap and many because of different logical healthy reasons. If you should decide that you are interested in some of these suitors, ask them directly why they are interested in you. If you find the answer compelling, then go out on a date. See how you feel!
There is a common rule of thumb (at least on the internet anyway) that one should not date anyone younger than half their age plus 7. So, someone, let’s say, 56 should not (according to this just-for-fun-not based-on-any-credible-info-common-rule) date anyone younger than 30. On a serious note, we suggest asking these questions to yourself! What are your interests and values? Does the person you are dating share these interests? Does the person you are dating have similar long term goals when it comes to partnership? Then go from there! Happy dating to you! We’d love to know how things turn out!
I am a 35 year old male working in a fairly large company in Atlanta. I have never dated anyone at work and typically would not, but I am very interested in a co-worker and would like to ask her out. We met at the company Christmas party and I can’t get her out of my mind. With the allegations coming out about men in power and harassment allegations coming out in the news, I am hyperaware of the sensitivity to compliments and asking someone out on a date. We do not work in the same department and there is no rule against dating someone that is a peer at my company. So, I’m ok in that area. If I’m being honest, I’m just really nervous, I really like her, and I don’t want to make any mistakes! I just want to be respectful of her and don’t want to come across as a creep! How do I go about this? Or do I?
Dear Cautious Dater,
We appreciate your thoughtfulness around this matter and wanting to be respectful of this woman’s feelings. It seems like you have also put thought into how this could impact you and your workplace. We imagine that you approach many matters with this same thoughtfulness. And if this is the case, you probably would take the same great care when asking her out. You really like her, huh? Seems like you have been thinking of her for a while! Are you more nervous about this because you are so interested in her? Do you see this woman at work? Can you ask her out to lunch or coffee one day? That seems benign enough. Starting with a lunch or coffee can be a great segue to a potential date. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” Go for it! Be respectful! Be brave! Wishing you all the best!
Pegge Riley, LPC and Angela Wacht, LPC are Counselors and Directors of Sage Center: Counseling, Consulting, and Creative Community Wellness. They are here to provide suggestions and guidance about everyday life. To submit a question or concern to Sage Advice go to www.SageCenterAtlanta.com and click on the Sage Advice tab. The advice in this column is general and is not intended as actual counseling for specific issues or concerns. If you need to address more specific issues requiring more intensive focus, please contact Sage Center at 404-419-6221 or visit our website at www.SageCenterAtlanta.com