How Much Difference Does a 20-year Age Difference Really Make?

17:50 Lissa Reed 0 Comments

If you have been following my blog for some time now, you would probably now that the chances of me dating a man of the same age as mine, are next to zero; you will also probably know that the man I’m currently dating and I have an almost 20 year age difference. I talked about Dating An Older Man in a previous post, but seeing as I am probably getting a lot more attached to this topic than I initially thought I would have, I wanted to write this post and share it with you. 

 I recently wrote a post about how it felt falling for Serge, but up until that point I hadn’t admitted it to him. That was until about two weeks ago. There comes a point when you realize that you are in love with someone... there are also those moments that you wonder whether you should tell them or not. And then there are the moments that you never expect to tell them... but somehow it just comes. Naturally, for me it had to be the latter. About two weeks ago, I invited Serge over for a home-cooked meal and a movie, and just when I thought the whole evening had  gone by perfectly and he was getting ready to leave, I started getting an unsettling feeling. I knew I wanted to tell him for a while, but I never thought that would be the night that I would actually do it. I could feel my hands sweating once again and my breathing getting faster. I thought that if I could just calm myself down I wouldn’t have to tell him anything, and I could put it off for another day. But because in those moments the words usually escape my mouth long before my brain has the time to process the thought, I stood in front of him, and blurted: “I want to tell you... I’m in love with you”. I seem to faintly recall him asking whether I was feeling ok before I said anything; undoubtedly he could see me having a panic attack, as much as I tried to hide it. His response was probably the precise reason why so many of us are scared of uttering those words out loud: He said “that’s lovely”, gave me a tight hug and a kiss. I’m not sure how much I recall from my haze, but I think I was so shocked I actually muttered ‘lovely?’ under my breath. I also must have not been very good at hiding my edginess and astonishment, because he remarked that I looked a bit panicky. I tried to collect myself as much as possible for the next minute, said thank you for coming over and kissed him goodnight. When I closed the door I paced around the house for the next 30 minutes replaying what I could remember from the whole scene to myself and scolding myself for saying it. To make a long story short, after discussing it with a few friends and thinking it through rationally, I realized why what I did was a big mistake and how naive I was. Unfortunately, these are things that I should have thought about before and not after saying it!!

 Saying you are in love to someone in their 20s, it is only natural because you are happy exactly where you are in your relationship and are feeling happy. You don’t expect anything to change and you have to ulterior motive by saying this; you are just expressing the way you feel at this point in this relationship. So unsurprisingly, for me saying that, I simply meant that where we are now is perfect and I don’t want, let alone expect, anything to change. But when you say it to someone in their 40s, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it could mean more to them. Dating after early to mid-30s is usually not just for the sake of it, but most people -both men and women- are usually looking for something more; to settle down with a partner, get married, have children, etc. So it is only rational, that saying ‘I’m in love’ under those dating circumstances places a vast number of expectations on the other person: should we get more serious? Should we start meeting the parents?, etc. Now I do realize that Serge knows that there is no way I said it because I expect any of those things; but: why did I ever expect him to say it back! Why would, in his right mind, fall for a 20-something-year-old who has absolutely nothing to offer to him? The more I thought about it the more I realised that I knew this all along – even when I told him! So if I knew that he would never say it back, why did I feel an overwhelming need to tell him almost every time I saw him? Did I just want to get it off my chest or am I a hopeless romantic who actually thought that against all reason he would say it back? Whatever the answers to those questions might be, I decided that I needed to clarify my position, and make sure that he knew exactly where I was standing; so when he called the next evening, I gathered up as much of my dignity I had left and explained that me saying I’m in love with him does not mean that I had any expectation or I wanted anything to change. When he said he hadn’t freaked out, I somewhat calmed down....

 As much as I’m glad that he didn’t dump me on the spot as soon as I said it, I can’t help but wonder what will happen next. Coming to think about it, unless something goes extremely wrong in this relationship, I’m probably not going to break up with him anytime soon, simply because I am not looking for anything more. So naturally, the only way this will end is by him waking up one day and realizing that it’s about time to look for what most men want at this age: a woman to settle down with and start a family. As much as I am not that woman, and I would never want to be for at least the next 10 years of my life, I can’t deny the fact that this thought scares the hell out of me. And as much as I wish that this was all in my head, I know it’s not; even he admitted it earlier on in our relationship: I’m just a distraction from the reality that he should be looking for someone to settle down. By now I have accepted the fact that one day he will want to look for something more with someone that can actually give him what he is looking for – but how soon is that day going to be? And I could probably talk to him about everything, but the one question that I need to ask, is precisely that one that I could never bring myself to say: Will you stay with me long enough to make up for the fact that I’m going to get my heart broken once you have had enough of the ‘distraction’? But even if I had the chance to get an answer to this, I am not sure that it’s not too late. Maybe I already got too emotionally invested, no matter what the answer might have been.  

 So maybe at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter when this will end, but maybe I shouldn’t have revealed all my cards. If I had thought this through, I wouldn’t have said ‘I’m in love with you’ and I would save me some of my dignity and this overwhelming feeling of vulnerability. But I guess, this way I’ll know better next time. And as for when this ends, I guess it doesn’t really matter now. If I keep worrying about this, I’ll forget to enjoy this relationship for what it is, even if it has an expiration date... and even if it’s not in a long time from now.

 What’s your opinion on this? Did you ever say ‘I’m in love with you’ before thinking it through? And where did it get you? Comment and let me know!

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