I dated a man who was 10 years younger: 'You can't change your age, so why would I hold it against you?'

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I dated a 28-year-old man when I was 38 years old.

We met at work. Our relationship was strictly platonic at first. We weren't even friends; we were just coworkers who crossed paths at work meetings, in the break room, or in the cafeteria.

He was mature for his age; I was immature for my age. He was financially stable; I was broke. He was an old soul; I have Peter Pan syndrome.

Of the two of us, you'd think he was the older one. He was definitely more responsible.

As we got to know each other better, we got along like a house on fire, but I wasn't interested in dating him because I was already in a relationship, and I told him as much.

He didn't listen.

When it comes to relationships, we all want what we can't have. We want the person who is unavailable, or the person who is out of our league. We want what we can't have, because it makes us feel special, and it makes us feel wanted.

This younger man pursued me relentlessly, and yes, he wore me down.

I ended a twelve-year relationship for him. Well, really, I ended a twelve-year relationship for myself. He may have been the inspiration, but I made the decision. He issued the invitation, but I accepted it.

My boyfriend never had an issue with our ten-year age difference. Whenever I asked him about it, he always had the same response:

You can't change your age, so why would I hold it against you?

He wasn't a perfect boyfriend; he wasn't even a decent boyfriend. However, his response every time I brought up the decade that separated our ages was the most endearing thing about him. It's the one thing I still appreciate him today, years after our relationship ended.

Age isn't just a number; it's an experience. It's a mindset. And it's something that can't be changed, no matter how much we may want to.

That was the most important lesson my younger man taught me: accept yourself for who you are, no matter your age. You can't change it, so why fight it? Embrace it!

In the end, age did matter to both of us. Our relationship ended because it wasn't meant to be; it wasn't based on love or compatibility or anything real. It was based solely on our ages, and when those ten years stopped being a novelty, our relationship crumbled.

That doesn't make the lesson he taught me any less valid.

I'll always look back on our time together fondly. Because, despite everything, he showed me it's okay to be myself—no matter how old I am.

I can't change my age, so why would anyone hold it against me?

Whenever I feel like I can't do something because I'm not in my twenties anymore, I remember his words. I remember I can't change my age, but I can change my attitude.

After all, age is only a number.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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