He nodded in surprise and didn’t offer his age until I asked for it. Then he excused himself to the go to the bathroom while I sat wondering what this number meant: Would he want to move faster in a relationship? Would he be appalled by my tiny studio apartment, which I could barely afford?
“You’ll never guess,” he said, which is when I tried to examine his face for wrinkles and his hair for salt-and-pepper grays—but there weren’t any.“I’m 38,” he said. “So I know what you’re thinking,” he said, upon returning. ” He launched into an explanation about not finding the right woman yet and managed to quell all of my concerns—at least for the time being.
As psychotherapist and agony aunt Trish Murphy says, “While any parent would be justified in expressing concern about a 20-year age gap, having a good relationship at any stage of your life is worthwhile, and it would be good to cherish and value that relationship for as long as it makes sense.” Age gaps can work really well.
So that’s what this column, Undressed, is about: gender, social norms, dating rules — and what happens when we break them.
When I was a junior in college, a woman called “The Princeton Mom” wrote into our school newspaper telling undergraduate women to “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”“Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out,” she said.
We had more important things to worry about, like the alarming decay rate of our attractiveness.
If we graduated without a future husband in tow, the men in our class would forgo us for younger, dumber women.
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There just weren’t any of them, anywhere (or if there were, they were in hiding).
As the only straight woman within reach, I soon became the de facto dating consultant for my male friends, despite my waning expertise.
I continued to find myself smitten, gushing to my mom about him, telling her that 13 years wasn’t that big of an age difference because we got along so well and it just didn’t matter.