The other night in bed, half-way through composing a text to my current partner, I put down my phone, sat in silence for a moment, and felt the air condensate into a mist of heavy self-realization:
I am thinking our of fear and acting like a judgmental asshole. I am in the wrong.
Heard over mimosas at brunch tables and buried in the depths of our text history, when it comes to relationship conversation, the underlying theme often reads like a horror movie title: Them. “They’re never there for me emotionally.” “I can’t deal with her drama.” “He’s at a different place in his life.” Such arguments may be valid concerns, but unfortunately humans are inherently imperfect, and in relationships, there are two sides to every story. To make a relationship work you have to examine both sides, consider the other person, and come to terms with the fact that while it’s healthy to be aware of warning signs and your partner’s areas that need growth (and I don’t mean penis), it is not just them, sometimes it is…us that are the big fat judgmental assholes.
I am also dating someone younger than me. After getting past initial hesitations based out of premature judgements, it does not feel wrong.
Somewhat recently I was drawn to this human with a beautiful furry face, the “you’re my fucking book deal, baby” whom I met offline and refer to in my article on quitting OkCupid. Let’s call him James Howlett, and if you understand that reference I’ll leave him for you. I first saw Howlett at a friend’s birthday party, and was intrigued and attracted in a warm-cozy damn you so fine I wanna smell your armpits sort of way. Despite this initial firework factory explosion in my heart and girlie parts, and the fun thereafter when we both worked up the courage to approach one another, I initially disregarded the encounter. I wrote it off as something casual when I learned he was younger than me (slightly, he’s not a teenager, despite my temptation to title this piece after the Aaliyah song “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.”) I’m no R. Kelly. Nor do I want pee involved in sex. Actually, I think getting peed on could be hot. Just kidding, that is totally gross. No, I am an open-minded person. Nevermind: I’m not a rapist, but no comment on pee, next paragraph please.
We all have our baggage, and perhaps I give myself more street cred for being damaged than I actually am, but I have seen and been through some shit. It is a fact, that I need an emotionally mature, strong and fellow freak to be my partner in crime. In my mind, I associated age with maturity (perhaps due to how some male friends my own age have acted) and usually date people older than me, over 30. Yet when I turned the mirror on myself, I realized: How is that rule any less unfair and slightly gross than a 30-something male who as a rule only dates women under 30? Which would I prefer, a guy interested in and mature enough to date a woman slightly older than him, or someone in their mid-30’s who goes on date with very young girls who still live with their parents he picks up online? I would like to take this moment, to thank all the previous romantic interests (shout out to the 39-year-old lawyer who likes taking shots and tried to pressure me into giving him a blowjob in a bar bathroom) for reminding me that maturity is not a guarantee with age, and that I was unfairly applying past experiences onto this potential new partner before taking the time to consider and get to know him on his own merits.
I told Howlett that I really liked him, but I don’t usually date people younger than me, and I am dealing with some sobriety shit. He basically told me to shush and took me out to a perfect sushi dinner where we ate sea urchin and drank green tea. Now I get to sleep in his arm pit and do naked yoga in front of him in the morning and he continues to make me feel great joy and foolish for initially holing his age against him. In case the green tea, naked yoga, and fondness for body odor didn’t give it away, I have a hippie streak. On top of my bed frame, I used to have a vase that was filled with sage, Palo Santo (a wood said to have similar cleansing properties as sage) and various healing crystals. One of the first times I properly boned Wolverine (I gave it away, James Howlett is Wolverine’s birth name, I like comics and hairy men) my healing hippie vase fell off my bed and landed on my head so hard that I was knocked out for a second and my head bled. I’m likely still suffering from brain trauma. I chose to see this not as a sign that vigorous sex with my young strong wolf was wrong, but rather that simply I live in an old Brooklyn apartment with a slanted floor. Our life is the story we write it to be.
If things fall apart between us or Howlett dies from climbing a tree I may feel embarrassed for writing this and expressing my affections, but my argument shall remain that age should not be an automatic deal breaker, for anyone (so long as you are legal) any more than country of origin, and that it is worth getting to know someone before making a snap judgment. Well that, and also men are sort of always doofuses, so why not date the young ones if you like one another!
When entering significant age differences, natural cultural and lifestyle divides are likely to cause riffs. Yet as my therapist said, “I’m curious why in the past, vast differences in views on monogamy, long distance, or an extreme serial killer obsession wasn’t a red flag for you, but a less than a three year age gap with someone who sounds like a very compatible partner is?” Point taken, and Wolverine wins.