Here’s why.In a trendy, upscale Brooklyn Japanese restaurant recently, a friend and I sat next to three couples in their seventies or more. As I looked at them I was struck by two simultaneous and disturbing thoughts — first, that they seemed to be the same age my parents were when they died, and second, that if I were to start dating again, the male halves of these couples were representative of the men I might be dating.
The only conclusion I could come to was that dating any one of these men or their peers would be just like dating my father. And that I would not, could not do.
For someone who has resisted growing up, who has successfully bypassed all the markers of maturity such as parenting, homeownership, and empty-nesting, this was a shocking revelation. I had cleverly managed to avoid putting myself in the kind of social milieu which these men inhabited, so I had never grown up with them as my peers. Instead I haunted the halls of academe, perpetuating a delusion of youthfulness in myself and my students.
My colleagues, even those of about my age, had never achieved the settled maturity that comes with growing up and settling down. There was no daily ordered routine for us. Three times a year we were confronted by about sixty new faces to convince and cajole along the way to their own maturity. under the guise of sharing our wisdom and offering what we call ‘education.’
And then, just like every teenager, we had the summer off, to play, to bask in the sun either nearby or at some exotic locale. We continued to learn and to grow along with our students. And here I was confronting these three — dare I say it — old men who had grown into the wrinkles on their skin. Who had had houses, children, and wives— perhaps more than one— along the way.
I couldn't bear the thought of dating one of these men, let alone jumping — okay that’s a bit optimistic — stumbling into bed with any one of them.
I had enough issues when I was a child dealing with a difficult father — you know, the one who left you standing in the middle of the road while trying to teach you how to drive — I didn’t want to confuse or perpetuate that parent child paradigm with romance.I can’t say for sure why men don’t date older women and prefer younger women instead. On the surface it seems obvious — young firm bodies, child-bearing and -rearing capabilities, the way she decorates his arm — but perhaps they too see in women a reflection of that woman, the one who nurtured them, and fearing Oedipal involvement, they look elsewhere for satisfaction. I only know that for me, that revelation meant that I have to explore a whole new dating pool, and hope that somewhere out there is a guy who wants a woman who comes with her own set of luggage.