Don’t Date Your Daddy

Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse out for the evening . . . does she have a curfew (popsugar.com)?

Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse out for the evening . . . does she have a curfew (popsugar.com)?

Dear 20-something Single Ladies,

I used to be one of you, so I totally sympathize with your dating frustrations. As a Washingtonian, I know about dating older men. It’s so common that our city has an unofficial 10-Year Rule before funny looks ensue.

I’m also aware that smart and accomplished women often gravitate toward older men. However, before you make Mary-Kate Olsen your role model and date significantly older men as Chelsea Samelson suggests, this happily married 30-something has seven reasons you should give Millennial men a chance:

Age Gaps Matter. Having been sized up as a “girl you marry” rather than a “girl you date” by DC’s men, 22-year-old me regularly attracted 30-something men ready to wed. I wasn’t. So, I was freaked out by first date questions about how kosher a kitchen I’d keep, and whether I’d relocate to my date’s far-flung hometown. I couldn’t relate to these men’s cultural references, which I found hopelessly dated. And when one man suggested we move in together three weeks after our first date, I was ready to run.

Don’t Count on Change. After countless bad dates, an older colleague wisely advised me to change course. He noted that the older a man is, the more likely he is to be stuck in his ways, making compromise—the bedrock of a healthy marriage—significantly harder.

Deal With Daddy Issues. When I see 22-year-old model Suki Waterhouse with 39-year-old actor Bradley Cooper, I don’t sense a relationship of equals. I assume he thinks she’s hot and easier to impress than his peers. I also wonder how immature he might be, and whether Cooper is a father-figure stand-in for Waterhouse. It’s a cliché because it’s so often true.

Know Power is Uneven. Samelson is right that older men tend to be more world-wise—though not more intelligent—than a woman’s own age cohort. However, there is a downside to dating an older, more established man while a woman is still finding herself: the relationship is inherently unequal. Consider Mad Men’s Don and Megan Draper, or Roger and Jane Sterling. Those men love having hot, young wives, but they don’t respect their minds or careers. Witness Don’s reluctance to move cross-country to support Megan’s acting; that power imbalance didn’t die with the ‘60s.

Understand he’s a Dicier Bet. The older the man, the more likely it is that he’s divorced (and distrusts women), is widowed (and you’ll never equal his sainted wife), or has emotional baggage that complicates commitment.

Anticipate Riskier Pregnancies, Tougher Parenting. Women may worry about their eggs aging, but sperm have a shelf-life too. Researchers have “found children conceived when fathers were 45 and older were on average three and a half times more likely to have autistic problems compared with the offspring of men in their early 20s. The risk was even higher at 24-fold for bipolar disorder and 13-fold higher for ADHD, says a report in JAMA Psychiatry journal.” Older fathers generally have less energy to chase, and care for, their offspring too.

Expect Less Time Together. Women typically outlive men, and the older your husband, the more likely it is that you’ll be his caretaker. Yes, caring for each other is part of any marriage, but do you want to be the still vigorous 60-year-old wheeling around the 80-year-old in declining health? It’s unlikely to be spiritually or emotionally easy.

Ladies, just remember that you’re looking for only one Mr. Right. It’s normal to kiss—or share coffee with—many frogs. Single life isn’t forever, and if you know who you are and what you want, it’s easier to attract desirable suitors. In the meantime, if some Millennial works up the courage to ask you out, consider saying yes. You never know where it might lead.

This article appeared in Acculturated.

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Comments
One Response to “Don’t Date Your Daddy”
  1. “Understand he’s a Dicier Bet. The older the man, the more likely it is that he’s divorced (and distrusts women), is widowed (and you’ll never equal his sainted wife), or has emotional baggage that complicates commitment.”

    This. I accidentally went on a date with a guy in his 40s (his Plenty of Fish profile and his face lied about his real age), and I realized how old he was mostly bc all of the things wrong with him lead me to Google him.

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