Once, while I was out with one of my dear friends, I confessed that I had never gotten the appeal of dating someone younger than me. Of course, that’s probably because I’m not at the right age to understand that kind of appeal; and furthermore, at my age, if you do see someone considerably younger than you, that’s what we call “illegal” and “extremely unethical.”
But even so, I’ve never particularly liked people younger than me–only up until recently have I warmed up to people my age. Growing up, my close friends were always at least a grade or two above me, and I often favored the company of my teachers and adult family members over my classmates and cousins.
My friend smiled at my admittance, and subsequent analysis, then told me that once I do reach his age and date someone younger than me, it will fulfill me in an entirely different way than dating someone older than me does now.
I don’t think he’s wrong. I just wonder in what ways he’s right.
Which makes me think on my relationship forming habits then and now. I suppose, as someone who heavily identifies as a Ravenclaw, being close to someone older had a certain validation ascribed to it. Like, because I could hold a conversation with someone older than me, and have them actually be interested in that what I had to say, that had a lot of value for a socially awkward autistic child. But beyond that, older kids and adults in my life growing up were the only people I felt who saw me. My classmates thought I was weird and dorky and antisocial, and they weren’t wrong at all. But my teachers, especially ones in Fine Arts, English and French, they thought I was gifted. Talented. Someone worth paying attention to.
I wonder if he meant that once I do take a younger paramour, I get to take on that role of being a mentor, a caregiver. Someone who’s able to see a side of someone that person doesn’t let anyone else see, and help that someone cultivate that side in the unique way only I can.
And dear god…I hope that’s not the case.
Well, I should clarify that. If that is the case, I hope by then, I will have grown into the type of person who can do such a thing. Because I am not there yet. Yes, I do have friends for whom I am this certain type of person. But not specifically as an older, mentor figure.
It’s kind of like…my mom once told me she thought I’d be a great teacher. And I couldn’t disagree more. For one, I’m horrible at explaining things, and two, I have very little patience. You kind of need these qualities if you’re going to be a teacher. And as much as I would like to fulfill this role, I am simply not that type of person. Maybe I will become that person with more years, or perhaps I won’t.
I think this is part of the reason I have so much anxiety about aging. Because at some point, you’re supposed to have this kind of wisdom about you to pass on to younger people. You’re supposed to take on this role of responsibility and caregiving and…I just don’t think I’ll ever really be that kind of person. And furthermore, what kinds of things am I going to deem worthy to pass on that time and culture shifts will just make irrelevant? How will I know in 20 years what I need to pass on to someone else? How could I be so presumptuous to know what another person needs based off of my own limited experience, just because I’ve lived longer than them? More years doesn’t necessarily mean more know-how. This future paramour in question probably will live a completely different life from me.
And if it is the case that I haven’t grown into the mentor type by my mid-forties, then what is it this young person will be to me? A way to recapture my youth? A bragging point to my friends? I hope not. I would like to think of myself as someone who embraces each year as adding something to my person, rather than taking away (a philosophy I’ve applied to medically transitioning–HRT and surgery have taken some things–things I do miss quite a bit on occasion– but what they have given me in return have breathed new life into me and helped me become more myself). And…well, all my paramours are bragging points in some way, shape, or form to others, so I suppose having a paramour younger than myself would be something I’d brag about simply because that’s just what I do.
Or maybe I’m just overthinking this whole thing. Because after all, why am I with my middle aged paramours right now? And why are they with me? Because we love each other. Because we have great conversations. Because we enjoy each other’s company. Because we let each other see sides of ourselves we deem too vulnerable, too unsavory to most other people. Or because we just fuck really well. In other words, I’m with them for the same reasons I’m with my millennial paramours, and age really isn’t a deciding factor.
Sure, maybe there is still that middle school to teenage femme looking to her elders for validation and wisdom. But that’s not the reason I have relationships with people older than me. My boyfriend is a Bear, and I’m heavily attracted to Bears. It may be a big (heh) reason I’m attracted to him, but it’s not the reason I’m with him.
And maybe one day, years from now, this younger paramour of mine will be attracted to me for their own reasons, but they’ll choose to be with me because of the person I am.
Maybe that’s all there is to that fulfillment. The realization that the person I am, the person I will become has always been and continues to be worthy of love. From many different types of people. And maybe that’s all I need to show another person…
Heh. I guess that’s why you’re a rabbi, dear friend. Consider this femme taught.