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  • Jan Flynn

Not That They’re Asking Me, But If They Were

Six Reasons I Won’t Date Younger Men

Me, a cougar? No way. Photo by Leah Huyghe on Unsplash

To be clear, I don’t want to date anyone, period.

I’m happily married to a man my age. Actually, he’s eight months older. That means that for half of every year, he gets to be married to a younger woman. And for six months of each year, I never tire of pointing this out to him.

He and I have known each other since we were 19 (I’ll refrain from pointing out that for half that time I was only 18). We were flirty friends in college, but that was it.

Then the locomotives of our destinies chugged off down divergent tracks. I got married, he didn’t. We had mutual friends and kept sporadically in touch.

After 23 years, my first husband died suddenly.

A year later (don’t judge me), Husband II and I tied the knot. That was 20 years ago this summer, and sometimes we still feel like newlyweds. Newlyweds with hearing aids, creaking joints, and advance care directives, but still.

All this is to say that I have therefore not been on what you’d call an actual date — defined by spending an evening or whatever with a relative stranger to see if the two of you are any kind of match for whatever purpose either of you has in mind — for about 45 years.

The thought of dating is frankly horrifying, but let’s go there anyway

As I’ve often said, when it comes to catastrophic thinking, I could give how-to seminars. And while I’m terrible at chess, when it comes to imagining worst-case scenarios, I can be four steps ahead before you finish asking, “What if?”

So please try to keep up. We’ve taken the express lane past all the emotional turmoil and life upheaval and arrived at a place where Hypothetical Future Me, hereinafter referred to as HFM, is back on her feet, once again single, more or less in one piece physically and mentally, and ready to contemplate socializing again.

Even, possibly, dating.

What that even looks like, after over half a century of being out of the game, I can only surmise from what single-and-dating friends around my age have shared with me.

And what I’ve learned is that as fun as it may be to daydream about spinning a web in which to catch some juicy, young prey, the reality is that no matter how hypothetical HFM is, she really wouldn’t want to.

Be warned: I am about to speak in outrageously broad generalizations. Stereotypes, even. Among other blanket assumptions, the following discussion includes many that are deplorably gendered, overtly binary, and could be construed as ageist.

Readers who are inclined to take things seriously should jettison their attention now or proceed at their own risk.

Younger men might appeal in theory

I mean, they’ve got the aesthetics and the abs. They can get up and down off the floor without help. They can get in and out of a chair without sounding like an innertube that’s suffered a puncture. They can hear you the first time, if you can get them to look up from their phones.

Other than that, though, when it comes to the preferences and proclivities of HFM, it’s true what all those trucker hats and t-shirts say: Old Guys Rule.

Here’s why.

  1. Old guys chuckle.

Young guys laugh, often and loudly, amongst their bros and buddies. Their laughter is raucous, and while it can be high-spirited and even infectious, it often carries a certain harsh note of ridicule.

This is because young guys, for all their camaraderie, pretty much exist in competition with their buddies and bros. They hang out together in loosely organized groups, much like young male elephants in bachelor herds. When they erupt in laughter, guffawing and pointing, it’s often at someone’s expense.

Old guys rarely guffaw. Instead, they chuckle, with well-considered and deeply-rooted amusement. The old-guy chuckle is a pleasant sound that takes years to develop. It’s not barking or harsh, and while it is often a reaction to absurdity, it’s rarely meant to deride.

The most appealing aspect of the old-guy chuckle is that it’s often aimed at the old guy himself. Old guys are ready to laugh at themselves. Young guys aren’t there yet.

2. Old guys fix things

Better yet, they know how to. Their first cars didn’t have computer-calibrated engines and convoluted electronics, so many old guys come with the experience of having spent long hours under the hood.

This experience has taught old guys to have persistence and patience. Old guys don’t insist on quick results. Also, old guys have accumulated an array of tools and have acquired the skills to use them.

Not only that, but they enjoy fixing things and will seek out opportunities to do so.

If you think you just caught HFM winking at you and wiggling an eyebrow at the double-entendre, you’re not wrong.

3. Speaking of cars, old guys drive fun ones

Even though HFM is not especially into cars herself except as hopefully reliable and comfortable transportation, she does appreciate the fondness old guys display for their lovingly restored roadsters and coupes.

HFM thinks it’s fun, occasionally, to go tooling around with the top down on a nice day, cruising in a vehicle that rolled off the assembly line before she entered high school. Old guys can provide that experience.

Roaring around corners at high speed in a young guy’s flashy new ride that cost more than HFM’s first house and is built so low to the ground it makes her knees creak to get in and out of the seats? Not so much.

Old guys will not risk either themselves or their cherished old vehicles by driving like maniacs. Also, maintaining their vintage cars keeps old guys happily occupied for hours when HFM has other things to do.

4. Old guys have nothing to prove

Young guys are innately hierarchical, are exquisitely aware of which rung of the ladder they currently occupy, and are always looking to move up. They have everything to prove.

In order to establish themselves in the rankings, they are at pains to impress other young guys, their bosses, and the world in general. And yes, they also seek to prove themselves to women.

But that’s often in service to securing their status.

Old guys have either long since proven themselves in whatever realms matter to them, or they’ve wisely abandoned the struggle. They are comfortable with themselves as they are.

Assuming they’re not arrested at some developmental stage involving trophy-seeking — admittedly and sadly, some are — old guys regard women as companions rather than acquisitions.

Since HFM is certainly not looking to be acquired by anyone, this is a solid point in favor of old guys.

5. Old guys do not have to be right

Old guys certainly have their opinions — and unlike young guys, they can often back those opinions up without emotion or bloviating. They don’t insist that their points of view are the only ones that make any sense.

If HFM doesn’t agree with a young guy on some point of policy, philosophy, or sports, he will assume that’s because she has failed to understand him. He just needs to be louder, perhaps, or talk more.

Old guys also like to have their say. But they don’t have to have their way. If HFM has a different way of looking at whatever it is they’re talking about, an old guy is willing to at least pause and listen to her.

And unlike a young guy, an old guy does not consider it his mission to change her mind.

6. Old guys are not exhausting

Old guys, like girls and HFM, just wanna have fun. But their fun is more likely to involve jazz festivals than heavy metal concerts. Old guys do swing dancing or the tango. They do not rave in clubs.

Since HFM has also reached a stage in life where she no longer wishes to rock ‘n roll all night and party ev-er-y day, this means old guys are more compatible on both energetic and scheduling levels.

Besides, at the end of the evening, whatever it has entailed, an old guy is usually happy to retire to his own familiar bed. Alone, or with his dog. This is perfectly fine with HFM, whose cat will be waiting at home for her.

So there you have it

I truly hope it never comes to it — I’d like to think that Husband and I get to go the distance together so far that we just sort of sputter out together at some point, barely even without noticing.

But should that happy ending be derailed by the train of Fate (and we’re too slow to jump in front of it), then at least I’ve got one decision in place for dealing with an alternate future in which I become HFM.

No prowling like a cougar in post-menopausal heat for me (do cougars even have menopause?). After all, I have sons approaching middle age. What would they think?

Nope, for HFM it’s old guys or nothing. Unless, of course, I decide to switch teams.

Now there’s a thought.

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