I’ve been dating my boyfriend, Mike, for roughly seven months now. He was entirely unexpected, which is what anyone says to anyone seeking relationship advice, “It comes when you least expect it,” they say. Brilliant. Really.
Mike is 636 months old, which is 53 years for all you dull crayons. I’m 29, making our age gap 24 years.
We met around Thanksgiving, and I was not so sure about him. There were a few other men lurking around at the time, and my guard was high. But actions speak loudly, and words are not always true. Mike’s actions showed me, over time, that he was honorable and trustworthy. Not only that, but we had a good time together. We can get lost in conversation for hours. We communicate openly, and I rarely feel like I want to be left alone.
So when we did breach the subject of our age difference, it didn’t seem to matter much. “You’re probably thinking, ‘this guy is so old,’” he said to me one day. And while that was something I had thought, it wasn’t something I continued to think about, and I told him so. “I don’t really care,” I told him. “I like you.”
The only time I really notice that Mike is a couple of decades older than me is when some pertinent timeline comes up. He was already out of college by the time I was born, say. Or sometimes, he’ll reference an old movie or song that I don’t know. But generally, we’re both a bit removed from the world of pop culture, so none of that really matters.
He brings things to a relationship that other men I dated couldn’t, but that has less to do with his age and more to do with who he is. Mike is a great listener, he’s patient, and he’s secure. I don’t need to be in my masculine energy around him, and he’s not an added stressor in my somewhat chaotic life. And because he has decades of work behind him, he has more free time than I do, and that’s one of many reasons our dynamic works.
Mike once said that people have looked at us sideways when we’re out in public. Maybe they have, but I haven’t noticed. I like the way our time together is effortless. I like that, compared to a lot of couples here in Southern California, our age gap is minor, and our relationship not transactional.
Here are the most common responses to our age gap:
“That is pretty big. Are you happy though?”
“How old is your dad/are your parents?”
“Do you want to have kids?”
“Does he have kids and/or an ex-wife (or two)?”
“What do you like about him?”
“Aren’t you worried he’ll die way before you?’
“Are you happy?”
The only question worth answering is the last one (listen to the audio version to hear the answers to the rest). I am happy, and none of the other questions are particularly interesting or important. What is interesting though, is that whenever I’ve dated someone closer to my age, the questions are far more pedestrian. What does he do for work? How did you meet? And other similar yawners. People are more interested in other peoples’ lives than they probably should be, and more interested in some perceived taboo than in a more “normal” arrangement. With a nationwide divorce rate of nearly 50%, I don’t see the point in judging any relationship, especially a happy one.
The other night, I went for a run from Mike’s apartment in Laguna Beach. The night was cool and the trails were empty. I love nights like this; when I’m running off the cares of the day. My body felt strong and my brain felt blissfully empty. When I returned, Mike was making dinner, with a glass of electrolytes waiting for me. We listened to music and chatted about our days. Some days, I would forget to eat if Mike didn’t cook for me, which is only one of the many things I love about him. We went to bed and I fell asleep easily.
Placing parameters around love is a strange and sideways thing. I’m only writing this in an attempt to express the mystery that is loving another person. Often, we don’t know how or why we do. It just is. And I believe it’s better to love whomever you can, as much as you can, in the limited time you have than to wonder what you might have missed.