I dated an older man: strangers stopped us in the street to ask if he was my father

Tracey Folly

It wasn’t our age difference that prompted the question as much as his snow-white hair.

*based on a true story

In my early twenties, I became involved in a relationship with an older man. I didn’t mean for it to happen. He was a coworker, and we were both involved with other people at the time we met. However, we struck up a friendship that slowly but surely turned romantic, and we decided to see where we could take things despite all the obstacles we had in our way.

We each left our respective partners and embarked upon a romance that would last only a single month but would seem much longer in retrospect.

He told me stories about his marriage, his ex-wife, his children, and the financial responsibilities that threatened to bankrupt him. I didn’t date this older man for the money. He didn’t have any. 

Between his gambling affliction and the child support that was taken directly out of his meager paycheck ever week, he was broke. Since we both worked for the same company, I knew he wasn’t making much money to begin with. He didn’t have enough cash left over at the end of the week to put gas in his car; he certainly couldn’t lure women in with his money.

I am not a gold digger; I have never dated a man for his money, regardless of age. So that my older beau was broke meant little to me. Our dates might comprise standing on the dock watching the tide roll in or strolling down the street hand in hand — all free activities.

Of those free activities, walking hand in hand in public was my favorite because those were the times that strangers commented on our apparent age difference.

“Is that your father?” a group of schoolchildren called after us one day as we walked around the neighborhood. “Excuse me. Is that your dad?” 

The children didn’t even laugh. I think they were genuinely curious to see me, a young woman in my twenties with coal-black hair, and my beau, an older gent with snow-white hair as we held hands and gazed into each other’s eyes.

It wasn’t only children who confronted us about our age difference. Adults were less curious and meaner with their comments and questions, which were often shouted from the open windows of passing cars.

My older love interest was hale, hearty, and healthy. He looked toned and fit; he was, in fact, in the best shape of his life. The only characteristic that alerted anyone to his age was his head of white hair, which was only minimally thinning but which he wore cropped close to his scalp.

Even the thick carpet of hair on his forearms was silvery-white and impossible to miss. The hair on his arms was like silver wires that caught the light as much as the hair on his head.

He was handsome and charming. His age was never a barrier to our relationship. Eventually — well, after one month — we ended our relationship mutually and amicably.

When I think of him, I think of him fondly. Not because I miss his company but because I miss being the younger woman — who was sometimes mistaken for his daughter.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA

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