Sunday, March 17, 2013

Age Differences and Dating

I had a laugh after reading one of the latest articles on Jezebel. The Jezebel author, Tracy Moore, was lampooning a study that indicated the ideal age gap between a couple is 52 months with the man being the older one. Yeah, I agree, the study is laughable at best. Studies about averages mean little to me when it comes to relationships. It's not about some perceived set of rules that must be followed to make me happy. In fact, unusual sometimes gets my blood flowing more than a milk-toast commonality does. What does that mean? I like things different. I don't care if the person I'm dating wears zebra-stripe makeup over their entire body so long as we truly hit it off together.

The way I see it, the Jezebel article itself proved to be one of the more interesting pieces I've found on the site as it wasn't trying to polarize people into feminists or enemy of feminists camps. Groovy. All is good yes? Well, it was until I ventured into the comment section.

Comment sections are a bit of the wild west. They're filled with nearly every idea you can possibly conceive. Some responses are rational, others are a cross between the sludge on a slaughter house floor and the foul smelling substance on a cave floor beneath a bevy of bats. Within this jungle of weeds, one will find the polarization I was talking about. A men vs women rhetoric arises rapidly and does no one good. I only had to read a handful of comments associated with Tracy's article before I encountered one of the slaughter house floor residuals. The comment writer had the following to say about age differences:
"I recently got into a crazy email-fight with an old college friend of mine... I basically lost my shit on him when he told me he was dating a 19 year old girl (he is 27), and that younger women are his sexual preference. Then he started talking about evolutionary psychology and I raged.Maybe 4 years isn't that bad of an age gap... it's really not that much time. But really, there is something a little predatory about an older man (adult) who goes after girls (not adults) for sex. It's not illegal, but it does seem gross and wrong.
It just makes it difficult for me to respect someone like that."
Okay, so we're raging about other people's choices are we? How dare that man date someone the poster didn't approve of! Can you imagine the nerve of a 27 year old man, er predator, dating a 19 year old? So, being the arrogant fella I am, I felt compelled to respond by saying:

"I fail to see how a 27 year old dating a 19 year old is predatory unless the state has an age of consent which is above 19. Furthermore, what business is it of yours to tell someone what their sexual preferences are? Do you want someone telling you who you can or can't date? (with the written law being the exception because we should play by the rules)
And what is gross or wrong about it? Being age 50, I don't want to told by someone else I can't date a 21 year old or a 75 year old. It's nobodies business but mine and whoever I'm dating so long as no law is broken."

While my reply is not exactly elegant or insightful,  it does get the point across. One person's beliefs or morals do not apply to everyone. And their usage of harsh words to belittle adds no value other than to tell me that if I ever met them, I would turn and walk the other way because they aren't someone I would want to associate with.

Sadly and as is common, I've yet to receive any form of a reply over on Jezebel. I'm not sure if my comments are simply viewed as pointless or if there's some super-sneetchy double secret handshake only card carrying members  know about that triggers replies. It mostly feels like my comments are simply me talking to myself in public like a deranged lunatic who is off his medication. Wash your windshield for a  dollar mam? I'll stop washing it for five dollars.

I will say that many other comment writers replied to the original rager's remark saying they didn't see how it was any of her (his?) business who this other fella dated. One person aptly pointed out the leading nature of the rager's comment with its damning usage of the word "predator". It's a dangerous word and implies considerable negative connotation. It should not be used lightly.

I have no idea why I keep going back to read the articles at Jezebel. When I see so many articles and comments that carry an us vs them attitude, it feels like it's sort of pointless to interact. But still, I think there is value in being well read, especially for thing that have a greater potential for triggering my "them's fightin' words" response. It keeps me from being completely one sided in my readings. Sometimes the things that fire us up for fighting have something valuable to say if we take the time to listen.

But back on topic, the matter of dating age differences is interesting. Yes, there are numerous problems with dating someone who technically comes from a different potential generation. By that I mean someone who has a different mindset due to environmental settings. Someone who is more than a few years separated in age may very well have been exposed to substantially different types of thinking as will their circle of friends. Interacting with the individual will be challenging enough. Trying to learn how to interact with their circle of friends will add to the difficulty. Not that I'm saying it's impossible. It's just hard, that's all. We already have a rough time making things work between two people simply because of gender differences (speaking from a heterosexual perspective). Add in age, culture or anything else that alter points of view and the soup gets spicy quite quickly. It's a matter of whether you like spices or not. Can you deal with differences? If so, go for it! If not, leave it alone but let other people give it a try.

Heck, I've considered some pretty unusual scenarios. I've even eyeballed (considered dating) a few young women in their early 20's. Although it doesn't quite feel fair in the long term because when they are still moving about with agility, I'd be a doddering old fool who is a burden to them. Not exactly a responsibility I want to heap onto a partner. But the fact of the matter is that I'm willing to consider it with an open mind. If a 24 year old or a 75 year old approaches me or seems interesting enough to approach, I'm willing to evaluate the situation. Last summer, I went out on a date with a 57 year old woman. Not a huge difference, but it does show I'm willing to give people the opportunity to see if we hit it off. 

Regardless of the situation, it's the judgment and desire to control others that bugs me. Finding a relationship is hard enough. Don't make it worse by calling someone a predator because of an attempt to find a partner. So long as the person openly states their objectives, it doesn't matter if they want a long term relationship or a quick roll in the hay. When it comes down to it, it's the choice between the two people who are doing the mystery dance, the dance of romance.