My Response To A Comment On My ‘Dating Younger Men’ Video

I’m really enjoying the discussions we’re having in the comments under posts. While I’m not able to get back to every single one, I want to start doing more things like this – going into intelligent responses in depth, and shooting more videos like this Sunday’s where I answer your questions quick-fire.

Keep commenting!

This is a response from Anna to the video Is It A Bad Idea To Date Younger Guys?

“Love the quick-fire format, Matt – I agree with another poster, making it a monthly feature would be great.

Gotta slightly disagree with you on the age-gap advice, though. As a woman who was with a younger guy for 12 years, it’s erroneous to assume that ‘because he’s younger, is he still going to want to be with me in 10 years’ time?’

The error is assuming that *anyone* you’re with now will still want to be with you in 10 years’ time. Starting off at the same age is not a guarantee that either one of you won’t change or evolve, or won’t have a mid-life/health crisis which fundamentally shifts your world view, values or priorities.

As the first responder here notes, guys appear to want younger and younger partners as they get past 40. Kids, responsibilities and just sheer *life* can have a detrimental affect on relationship longevity, wherever you’re starting from.

To the 42-year-old lady who’s hesitating about dating the 33-year-old-guy; do you share the same values and background? Are his friends settled/settling down so he’s not bucking his social group’s trends? Is he generally attracted to older women? Do his actions match his words? Does he want kids soon/ever?

Have some low-key dates, refrain from sleeping with him, gather enough data to make an informed decision. If he’s not able to make you happy, move on. But it’s often better to check out the reality of something than to run scared of an assumption and regret what ‘could have been’.”

My Response: (broken down as follows)

“To the 42-year-old lady who’s hesitating about dating the 33-year-old-guy; do you share the same values and background? Are his friends settled/settling down so he’s not bucking his social group’s trends? Is he generally attracted to older women? Do his actions match his words? Does he want kids soon/ever?”

These are really intelligent questions, and I agree with them.

I also believe that the danger for someone like you Anna is in believing that your situation could be the rule and not the exception. Given that dating younger has worked for you in the past (though I notice you framed it in past tense, so perhaps not) it’s natural to fight the case for it. I happen to agree with you on the idea of being open to what might come, but it doesn’t change the tough decision a woman in that position faces when wondering if she should spend the next 5-10 years of her life with a guy who may leave once the age gap becomes more noticeable. If he does in fact leave later on she has to be ok with that decision to have stayed, rather than resent the fact that she could have been spending that time with a more suitable long term prospect that would have had a higher chance of still being there. 

“The error is assuming that *anyone* you’re with now will still want to be with you in 10 years’ time.”

This is potent statement, and true on one level. The problem with this pragmatically, is that there are things we like to plan with the people we begin building a life with: house buying, kids, moving cities (or countries) to be closer to them, gearing our life around them in the way that we only do with people we are committed to for the long term. So the adoption of the ‘if it’s right go for it’ approach with a younger guy has to be tempered with the sobriety – as opposed to cynicism – that comes with age. I think it’s actually one of the more admirable qualities of older generations that is too often mislabeled as pessimism, that they can tell the difference between a passionate relationship and an enduring relationship better than someone a little more wide-eyed. Knowing the difference is key to avoiding delusion, decoding the romantic jargon of a current lover, and making astute decisions as to who to seriously invest in.

The last part of your answer:

“Have some low-key dates, refrain from sleeping with him, gather enough data to make an informed decision. If he’s not able to make you happy, move on. But it’s often better to check out the reality of something than to run scared of an assumption and regret what ‘could have been’.”

I agree with everything you’ve said here, except for the span of time it suggests. The idea of some ‘low key dates’ telling you enough to make an informed decision is quixotic at best. “We have such an amazing time together and it feels so right…” becomes a justification in this case for throwing ourselves into something which could hurt us deeply down the line. These feelings are only a reflection of how much fun it would be to spend more time with this person right now. They are an untrustworthy guide as to whether it could be a great relationship (for a few years let’s say), and a highly deceptive guide as to whether it could be a life long relationship. Anyone who has been shown all the right signs by a partner in the beginning only to find that they weren’t able to deliver in the long term will know this to be true.

Is it hypocritical for me to talk about all of the emotional dangers present when a woman dates a significantly younger man and not the other way around? The same dangers are true of men who date far younger women to be sure; but as true? I’ll let your faculties of observation decide. To discuss the influence of a woman’s biological clock in this issue, or a man’s cliché‎d search for youthfulness in a partner (be it physical or mental) as he himself ages would require a whole new post, but you get the point. It’s complex.

Life is confusing, and the difficult risk we take in love is one of the great gambles we hope will go in our favor. I certainly don’t claim to be able to make that decision for women at the moment they ask. We can’t predict the future, and as you rightly point out, running away from something because we are scared of what MIGHT happen if it went wrong would have us staying inside and abstaining from action on just about anything in life. But one would be a fool not to note the obvious patterns we witness everyday, especially when gambling with our own precious years. 

*Photo Credit: Éole Wind

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13 Responses to My Response To A Comment On My ‘Dating Younger Men’ Video

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  1. Maria says:

    Can you give advice on a younger woman dating an older man?? Does this apply if you’re dating up too?

  2. Fany says:

    Great to see these messages, thanks Matt and everyone for your insights to this matter :)

    I am 29,recently started dating a very mature and good hearted 23 year old. (Did i mention hawt?!)

    He invests in me, we have good chemistry and he makes me feel very cozy in his presence. I realise a 6-year gap is not huge, i am around people who are married with this long age difference. But i cannot seem to fully enjoy my time with this fantastic person because although he pursues an exclusive relationship, fear is always in the back of my head through:

    – what if he leaves me for someone younger, despite on how high value i am? People’s needs change along the way and at that age in an even bigger frequency

    – what if i invest my time only to end up hurt because i discover chasms that we cannot work through? After all the fact that i have more experiences may create Me and not Him to lose interest and end it – nevertheless, time flew…

    – after deciding that the risk is big and that im not willing to sacrifice time for a what if it’s great? How do I detach and let go of something beautiful, that’s brought serious levels of joy into my life?

    Funny thing is, if this person wad 28 or 30 i wouldnt be having ANY second thoughts and would consider myself lucky to have met him. I already feel that it’d be painful to let it go, but i chose security over excitement plus uncertainty – does it not sound a bit miserable?

    Thanks for the lovely conversations :)
    X

  3. Bystram Hayleybystram says:

    It’s evident that both men and women experience this silence, but from asking around internet daters and reading through the experiences of others, it seems to be more of a frequent issue.

  4. Anna says:

    Hey Matt,

    Well hot *damn*, if I’d known you’d responded to my earlier comment in such depth, I’d have come over and said hi at your recent Get the Guy in London… ;)

    I respect and appreciate your thoughtful and intelligent response to my response. On the whole, I agree.

    The conflict in our opinions centres around the original dilemma’s 9-year age gap. To some (from your response, yourself included?), that’s significant; to others, it’s less so. Personally I feel it’s borderline, and therefore more dependent on the parties involved. Given that the younger party (the man) is 33, I considered it from the position that his relationship ‘blueprint’/peer-group/career are in a place where an LTR could be authentically sought and desired.

    You’re right; because I spent 12 years with someone 7 years younger than me in the past (which I still count as a success, despite it being past-tense – unless you only count relationships that *never* end as successful?), and because I smile wryly at page 150 of your book (what IS it with guys your age??), I may experience cognitive bias.

    This bias means I notice the great LTR my friends have (groom 30, bride 39 at the time of their nuptials, their four-year-old daughter’s gorgeous), choreographer Gillian Lynne in Fabulous Fashionistas, how Hugh Jackman seems pretty happy, and that every younger guy I’ve dated in the last year has revelled in our intelligent, honest and challenging conversations (this very exchange perhaps even an example of that.)

    Should a woman wonder (or rather, fear) spending “the next 5-10 years of her life with a guy who may leave once the age gap becomes more noticeable.”? If she can’t be ok with the consequences, then heck, she shouldn’t do it. No arguments here. Nuh-uh.

    Does such thinking (and sentiments such as “gambling with our own precious years “) also identify scarcity thinking (‘if I stay for the next 5-10 years, will I find someone, ANYONE, else afterwards?’)? Yep. Not exactly ‘the mind-set of a chooser’. Who said, ‘when focusing on The One, you’ll miss the ones who’ll get you there’? :)

    (By the by; you’ve stated before that it’s not youth but *youthfulness* that’s attractive. Is the clarification, ‘I’m more able to attract/retain someone who’s my age if I’m as youthful in spirit as the 21-31 year olds he’s actually messaging/staring at’, perhaps?)

    As a wise 26 year old said recently, age doesn’t bring wisdom, it brings experience. It can be transmuted into wisdom through awareness but, as you identify, age itself is not the guarantee (sobriety IS great; from reading profiles of men my age and older, however, bitterness, fragility and anger seem more common-place).

    Talking of sobriety .. you’re right; *some* dates are too many. I knew from two dates with a much younger guy that he wasn’t in the right place for me; however I treasure the time we shared and inspired him to paint and re-engage with his professional sports career again. Just because something’s short doesn’t mean it can’t still be meaningful (yeah, I’m a fan of Andrew G Marshall).

    Ultimately, the stats tell us more than sheer anecdotes. From Dr Luisa Dillner, Love By Numbers, The Guardian Feb 24th 2007;

    “There’s a lot of mythology around age differences in relationships .. marriage statistics show a wide range of age differences. Three-quarters of marriages are of couples where the woman is between four years older and eight years younger than her man, which leaves a quarter who have an age gap that’s bigger. In many countries, as diverse as America and Korea, more women are marrying younger men. The proportion of couples in the UK where the husband was younger than his wife increased from 15% in 1963 to 26% in 2003. This was most common when the woman had been married before. The National Statistics office is clear that the age distribution actually reflects indifference (their word) about the age of our partners.”

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/population/families/marriages–cohabitations–civil-partnerships-and-divorces/index.html

    I suspect we both embody idealism and pragmatism; perhaps you believe love doesn’t conquer everything but can last, perhaps I’m more that love can conquer everything but doesn’t have to last to be meaningful (and that while pain is inevitable, suffering may be optional). So we’re both right. And wrong. Heh.

    (Next time, seriously; let’s argue this over a pint, ‘kay?)

    TL:DR Does not use your work to hoist you by your own petard, but in vague danger of giving you a slight wedgie.

  5. Connie says:

    First off, I love, love love you and your advise Matt!
    I am 49 years young. Here is what I find in the dating world. Many men in my age group either want much younger women, or they look and act like they are 65+ years old. Not very appealing to me. Next, yes, I do attract men in the age group of 23-33 quite often. Yes, the majority of them just want a playmate. But, two men, one that is 23, and the other who is 28 have taught me that there are really wonderful men out there who are looking for a long term, solid relationship with a good woman. The 28 year old continues to contact me, as he is struggling with the idea of finding a good woman and keeping her, but not having kids, and waiting to find someone younger whom he can have children with. There are young men out there who are mature for their age and find younger women immature. There definitely are things to consider when viewing a younger man for long term. That being said, I am still looking for the man for me, and have to say that by not discounting anyone whom I am attracted to, I have learned so much about myself and this process we call dating. Thank you Matt for all of your wonderful advice. I have your book and I signed up for one of your courses in L.A. in I think April, and am really looking forward to it! Keep the great topics and videos coming!

  6. A. says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’d been thinking about the previous video as your response was way more pragmatic than I’d seen from you. I remember something you said in your book about attracting men: age doesn’t matter.

    Apparently it doesn’t matter when attracting them, but it does matter immensely when deciding whether to pursue a LTR with them.

    So if ‘not a few dates’ how long do you give it with a younger man? One date? Two? I’m curious not and it’s not idle curiosity.

    Thanks for the in-depth responses lately. You (and Jameson) have been missed. :-)

    –A

  7. Alex says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I could really use your advice about contacting a guy after you meet. I posted this before under another entry but am posting it again to try and up my chances of getting a response.

    I was at a party over my Christmas break from grad school with my mom and her fiancé. It was at the house of my mom’s fiancé’s coworker. They all work in the military. There was an incredibly good looking guy there about my age. The host of the party comes up to my mother and I and tells us how this young cute guy is a “real stud” and how he is special forces and super elite and going to Afghanistan soon. A little while later the host waves me over to meet a man who turns out to be the father of the young guy. The first thing the father does is ask me if I have a boyfriend. Then after some more obvious interviewing he calls over to his son standing behind him and introduces us.

    He was very smart, funny, cool. He kept asking me questions. Telling me about his training to be a soldier. What other careers he is interested in. How much he loved school, etc. There was a table between us. He moved around the table to get closer. He made direct eye contact the whole time which felt overwhelming. Everything was going great, and then all of the sudden he looked real anxious and said “I have to go to the bathroom, be right back.”

    I stayed in the general area and started talking to other people. He came back, but we didn’t make eye contact, and he circled around a few times not talking to anyone. Then he went to talk to his mom and dad.
    5 minutes later, my mom and her bf say we are leaving. The cute guy’s dad instantly comes up to me and tells me how excellent he thinks I am and good luck. His son comes over and just looks me in the eye intensely again but says nothing while his dad is saying this. I say nothing cause I’m an idiot and a little overwhelmed with the dad.

    And that’s it. I found him on Facebook but did not friend him. He seems like one of the more impressive people I have ever met. I don’t know if I should do anything at all.

    Can you help me?

    Thanks so much,
    Alex

  8. Susanne says:

    Dear Matthew :)

    1) I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove you :)
    2) Everything you say and write continues to touches my heart :)
    3) I believe you are one of the best life coaches on this planet :)
    4) Thank you for saving lives dear life coach :)Thank you for everything wonderful :)

    Maybe you enjoy quotes by Albert Einstein too :) I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove Albert Einstein too :)

    “In every difficulty lies possibility.”(By Albert Einstein)
    :):):):):):):):):):)

    “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but get that reality.” (By Albert Einstein)
    :):):):):):):):):)

    I wish you & your fantastic team a beautiful wonderful lovely day :)

    Again A big thank you for loving our life :)

    Susanne

  9. Nic says:

    Matthew, thanks so much for all of the thought you put into your advice – your passion for this really shows!

    I realize this is a bit off-topic with the current article, but I was wondering if you have any words to offer regarding disappointment. I find this emotion is so much more difficult to overcome than any other, and I’m not sure why.

    I know you’ve put out many wise words about managing expectations (which, I think, ultimately plays a huge role in disappointment) and embracing the learning process that comes with making what we so easily label “mistakes”; maybe I just need more practice here :)

    Do you have a way you can put a spin on your advice such that it resonates more with handling disappointment? How do I manage my enthusiasm and eager anticipation without sucking the fun and excitement out of dating and other aspects of life? It’s a balance I’m working on, but finding I’m still having some struggles with.

    Many thanks!

  10. angela says:

    Matthew, I love your approach, rationally..logically…and only then , the rest.
    That passion and chemistry don’t come first.

    But it doesn’t mean it is less….the opposite, it may have the chance to be more, more than an illusion and heartbreak.

    no garanty….just a better chance.

  11. Paula says:

    Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give us what we want and to actually interact with your followers/fans! We appreciate it.

    I like what you said at the end of the article about it being foolish to not note the obvious patterns. This is how I approach my love life. I am almost 29 and I still go out to bars and clubs, but I constantly meet younger men in their early 20’s. That’s not even a huge age gap, but to me, it is. I also look younger so I tend to attract the 23 year olds.

    The outcome is always the same. These guys are still playing the field. We have a great conversation, and then they leave with the girl they actually came with. Or, they get my number, they text, then they never set a date. None of them are mature enough for a committed relationship and it’s obvious. Every time I give a younger man the benefit of the doubt, they prove me right. I’m not thinking about later in life, I’m thinking about how they’re not even ready right now.

    So, I don’t bother with them at all. One of the first questions I ask is how old are you? If they’re under 25, I keep it moving. I don’t think about being the exception. Smart or no? I think it is, but I don’t know because I’m still single. Lol.

  12. Rumors says:

    Wow, I wish you can answer like this to most of the comments. I know is not possible, but it´s nice when you explain every point of your view.

  13. Beth says:

    I loved your response to this response I agree I wouldn’t rule out dating a younger guy but, I don’t know going too young would be a smart move as I don’t believe it would last long term eventually I believe he would be in a different mind set then I. Especially if he does not have kids and is looking to start a family which I could not give him would much rather date a guy who has kids already at least that part of his life has been fulfilled I am not ruling out the guy with no kids as not all guys want kids but that would be something that I would learn as I date him.

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