Better With Age

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During the winter of 2010 I found myself feeling despondent, jaded, and bored. I was working a tiring retail job and coasting through the end of the Spring semester of my senior year of college. I was craving some excitement. One night while I was checking out a line of customers at work, someone caught my eye. He was a tall man, strikingly handsome man. And when I say handsome, I mean gorgeous. This guy looked like he could be Ryan Gosling’s uncle. He was aimlessly cruising the men’s department with a befuddled look on his face. Sweaters and ties flew about as he picked them up and placed them against his obviously muscular body. It seemed as though all of the clothing choices before him were confusing and exasperating. My heart went out to the poor guy, he obviously needed help.

I finished with my line of customers and walked over to the man. Sporting my best sales associate smile, I asked him if he needed help shopping. The look of relief on his face was endearing, and as we began going through the racks, I could tell there was a connection between us. He was funny, soft spoken, and (it bears repeating), so good looking. We had clearly hit it off pretty well and by the time he was ready to buy the clothes I helped him pick out, I was smitten. That made accepting his offer for a dinner date all the easier.

Stephen (not his real name) was a great date. He constantly made me laugh, and had an almost encyclopedic mind. He knew tons of fun facts and figures about all things interesting. Above all, he was easy to be around. There was no pressure, no stress, just good times. I couldn’t shake a gut feeling I had that he wasn’t telling me something, though. Then, one night while cooking dinner together, Stephen dropped the bomb. He casually mentioned he that he was 39 years old. Nearly twice my age. I was shocked. I knew that he was older than me, but I assumed he was in his very late 20s. Honestly, ladies, he was that handsome.

I liked Stephen, though. There was no denying that we had great times together. So, I thought to myself, “So what?” Stephen and I had a ton in common and he was obviously into me, why would his age change that? I decided then and there that I wouldn’t let it affect anything. I wanted to continue to see Stephen. I had never let stigma stop me before, and I wouldn’t let it ruin what I had with him.

Of course, my friends were just as shocked as I was when I shared Stephen’s revelation with them. I immediately became the butt of every senior citizen joke that presented itself. But, that didn’t upset me because, who could blame them? A 21-year-old being courted by a 39-year-old is one bit worth committing to. Stephen’s friends, many of whom I met during dinner parties or double dates to the movies, seemed to be more skeptical of me. They assumed I was trying to take advantage of Stephen. I even overheard a phone conversation in which a female friend of his constantly referred to me as “Anna Nicole Smith.”

Amid all the jokes and judgment, Stephen and I had a great relationship. He never treated me like I was beneath him because of my age, and I never put him up on a pedestal. I was happy to be with a man as kind, intelligent, and fun as he was. Being younger than him had no bearing on why our relationship eventually fizzled out. I think that can be blamed on his desire to settle down and my desire to travel. Even still, I cherish the time I spent with one of the best (older) boyfriends I’ve ever had.

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