I Could Be Your Mama!: Dating Younger Men

When the man making the pass at me is 20 years younger, does he have a problem? Or do I have a dating opportunity?

By Audrey Edwards

I’m Old Enough to Be Your Mother

I can’t remember the last time an age appropriate man hit on me. This is not to say that I don’t still elicit, at age 59, some affirming male attention. It’s just that as I get older, most of it is from men who are, well, younger and younger. So much younger, sometimes, that my standard line whenever one of them makes a pass is "Sweetheart, I could be your mama."

The first time I made that observation I was 46, and a tall, lanky cutie of 23 who lived down the hall in my apartment building had asked me out. "Listen," I told him, feeling more horrified than flattered, "I’m not only old enough to be your mother, I’m older than your mother" (with whom he still lived, by the way). Undaunted, he laid out the evening he had planned: First we’d go to a party that he’d been hired to deejay, and I’d watch him spin records. Then we’d go get something to eat. Finally, we’d come back to my place for a little sumptin’ sumptin’. Uh, I don’t think so. Go home to your real mama.

Now, unlike many of my over-forty girlfriends who think being pursued by younger men means you’ve still got it, I’ve always been somewhat embarrassed by such advances. I think of cradle robbing less as the act of a vixen than a move by someone pathetic. (After a store clerk one day mistook my own stepson, now 23, for a boyfriend, I asked him to walk 10 paces behind me.) I grew up believing that the man in the relationship is supposed to be older than the woman: My father was 10 years older than my mother; the man I married, and divorced, is eight years older than me.

Plus, since males tend to develop their emotional IQ more slowly than females, I’ve always harbored the notion that mating with a younger man meant I’d be with a guy who might never quite grow up — or would, at the very least, forever lag behind me in the maturity stakes. A divorced friend of mine in her 40s just married a 30-year-old. And while he is cute and sweet, all I can think is how stressed she was making all the final plans the week before the wedding as he flew off to Miami for an extended bachelor party.

Now, truth be told, I’m not immune to the charms of younger guys. As a residential real estate broker in a vibrant city neighborhood, I meet plenty. And I’ve gotten a kick out of bantering with them, even if their seduction lines don’t slay me. I gave one 28-year-old the "I could be your mama" rap, and when I saw him a few months later, he ran up to me, grinning. "I had a birthday!" he said with glee. "So did I," I replied.

Another time, a wannabe thug-type hollered a ridiculous come-on from across the street. "I could be your mama!" I yelled back.

"What’d you say about my mama?" he suddenly growled.

"I said I’m old enough to be your mother, sweetheart."

"I’m 35!" he shouted, triumphant.

"Like I said — I could be your mama."

Why They’re Attracted to Me

On the rare close encounters I’ve had with younger men, I have, of course, noticed that they tend to be firmer of body (just like the younger women many older men love to pursue) and greater in sexual prowess. But if we are far apart in age, we are often equally far apart in perspective. I dated one man who was 13 years younger but still a grown-up (you’d think) at 37. He turned out to be just too young, or in a different emotional place. Like me, he’d been married; unlike me, he seemed to be a ready believer in marital bliss. On our first date he asked if I thought I’d ever remarry. "I don’t know," I said. "I haven’t given it much thought." On the second date he asked whether I thought I could ever see myself marrying him. "I don’t know," I told him. "I don’t know you." On the third date he noted that since both of our last names started with the letter E, we would have no problem with monogrammed towels. "You know, I have a number of girlfriends who would love to meet you," I said finally, noting that many women I knew would kill to hear a guy talk about monogrammed towels. I was not one of them.

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