Saturday 14 March 2015

Real Relationships vs Fantasy Claims

Fantasy Me in my Eighties except for the sex stuff (and murder).
The other day I had coffee with the pretty young bride of a handsome older man, and we touched upon the subject of older women who resent it when younger women date men the older women's own age.

This is a huge theme in Single women's worries, especially once the Single women are in their thirties. Ironically, another big theme in Single women's worries, especially when they are in their twenties, is the undesirability of the vast majority of older men who hit on them.

So let's talk about both themes.

1. When Men Your Age Date Younger Women

Naturally none of you ever watched Sex & the City, so you won't be familiar with the embarrassing showdown (Season 6, Part 2, "Splat!") between Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Enid (Candice Bergen), her editor at Vogue, over Carrie's then-new boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov). Enid, looking particularly stringy, can't take her eyes off craggy Aleksandr, and eventually goes into a meltdown, telling Carrie that there are not so many great men her age available, and younger Carrie shouldn't be dating them.

I very much enjoyed that episode, for it showcases how the deep unhappiness of worldly women can influence other women into making bad decisions. Between lonely, 50-something Enid's manic hissing and jaded Lexi Featherston falling out the window, it's no wonder that Carrie decides to uproot her whole New York life and settle for Paris with Petrovsky.

Meanwhile, Enid puts into words the resentment of older women for the younger women older men are attracted to and shows how crazy-making it can be.

The truth is no woman in the world has a claim on any group of men just because she thinks she, because of her age or nationality or religion, is "right for them."  Every Single man is free to follow the inclinations of his heart towards any Single woman over 18, as long as she is totally free to reject his courtship. And, indeed, any Single woman over 18 should be free to accept or reject a Single man's courtship. Once you're an adult, you're an adult in a world of adults, and quite a number of those adults are over 30.

Some men over 30 do indeed court women under 30, but doing so is not any kind of proof that the man is shallow. Indeed, some women over 30 accept the courtship of men under 30, and it is not any kind of proof that the woman is exploitative. Every person is a concrete reality, and every relationship between a man and a woman is also a concrete reality. A man over 30 may first be attracted to a 20-something because she is very pretty, but after they begin to communicate, they have a relationship.

This could be a we-must-have-coffee-someday acquaintanceship, or a mostly platonic friendship,or a  light flirtation, or the beginning of a grand romance that will end with death. Whatever it is, it is real and it is theirs.

Their relationship--whatever it is--is real, whereas the idea of an onlooker that the man somehow belongs to other women, e.g. women her age, is a fantasy.

It occurred to me that it is all very easy for me to be objective about 40-something men courting 20-somethings when I am married. However, I have found life to be much less painful when I accepted certain facts of life, like men are going to fall in love with the women they fall in love with, and not with whomever I think they should fall in love with, e.g. my wonderful self. 

2. When Older Men Hit On  Younger You.

If you are over 18, welcome to adult life! Personally, I do not actually consider anyone an adult unless she has finished trade school or an undergrad degree and has got a job or place in a graduate department. However, an older man can't tell just by looking who is the adult-at-18 hairdresser and who is the extended adolescent who-doesn't-know-what-to-do-with-her-life-yet. However, if he talks to her and has the ability to notice that she is looking at him like a deer caught in the headlights, then he should know that she is not emotionally an adult yet and he should BACK OFF.

Sadly, not all men are that good at noticing, which is why all adolescents in the adult world should be trained to say, "No, thanks. You realize I'm only a teenager/college student, right?"

"Oh, but you seem so mature for your years" is a line.

"You're so different from other girls your age. You're deeper, more thoughtful" is another one.

"You're so [fill in the blank] compared to other girls," is the template. I know we all want to feel special compared to all the other women in the world, but so does every two-bit seducer out there.

So yes, there are older men who are real jerks and go around trying to seduce naive young things but fortunately, a lot of them are wrinkled and crusty-looking and the young girls they admire think "Ew."  But instead of feeling like you have been personally insulted, you should brush them off like flies.

However, not all older men are this way, thank heavens.  Most Single men over 30 I have met have been decent, interesting, and like most human beings, vulnerable. If you scratch them, they bleed. They have their good points--they have had time to accomplish something--and they have their bad--boyish skin turning into orange peel. However, although the orange peel always seems to matter when you aren't attracted to a man, it never does when you fall in love with him.

My opinion is that 20-something girls should not turn the inclination of Single men in their 40s and 50s to hit on them into a Big Drama, unless the man is someone in a position of trust, e.g. their professor. They don't know that they're totally unattractive to you; they're not mind-readers and, in fact, one girl's poison is another girl's vintage wine. If I were Single, I wouldn't say no to coffee with sixty-something Mikhail Baryshnikov, not because I think sixty-something men are super-attractive, but because M.B. has accomplished so much and would be so interesting to listen to.

Ultimate Observation

My dear friend Lily was much amused, and I think comforted, by my observation that I became reconciled to men-in-general thinking 20-something women are better looking than women my age when I realized how much better looking 20-something men are than men-in-general my age.

Not all women think this way, of course, and I have a friend who would never as much as look at a bloke under 40. She thinks 20-somethings are babies, and although she is too nice to say so, she obviously thinks I am a little weird. 

However, never having been one of the beauties of the age, I--a niche interest--learned early to stop caring about how I look to men-in-general and to think more about how men look to me. Heh heh heh. Take it away, Frank:

UPDATE: As you can see from the combox, I got some flak about my combox opinion that most men, even Catholic men, do not deliberately set out to have big families, and they have big families because they 1) do not use artificial birth control 2) do not use NFP correctly 3) NFP doesn't always work. I did not say NO men.

I stand by that. I think a quick gander at the deplorable birth rate for Catholics (and other Christians and post-Christians) in the Western world backs up my opinion. And I think many Catholics who have big families (and who had big families in the past) have those big families because they are faithful to Catholic doctrine. So this is not a slam on big families, let alone Catholics. I myself am the Catholic eldest of Catholic five, and I wrote a week's worth of posts in support of big families after the Holy Father himself made his unfortunate "like rabbits" remark.

The point of this post and my subsequent reply to a reader asking about the Passed Over As Too Old To Have a Big Family was to give hope to Single women, not to slam happy fathers of big families. Although I am delighted that there are happy fathers of big families--like my own father, for example--the primary purpose of my blogging is not to make the paterfamilias feel affirmed but to give comfort to single women.