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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

The Decade Dating Gap

The most interest my Mom has ever showed in my dating life revolves around a man, we’ll dub “Maurice,” who I met at the gym. Maurice is 73. My Mom thinks it’s hilarious that he asked me out for coffee and we now have frequent chats around the elliptical machine. She assured me that love knows no age. Thanks, Mom.

It brought me back to another family comment when, as a woman in her mid-twenties, I was about to go on a date with a man in his mid-thirties. My sister, shocked, said to me, “But he’s a…he’s a grown up!” I just laughed it off because the age difference didn’t bother me. In fact, I was relieved to go out with a man a little bit older whose idea of a fun night wasn’t doing body shots. And though we’ve all seen the much younger woman-older man relationship, this slightly smaller age gap was different. But her response had me wondering—what difference does a decade make?


Being in my 20’s and having dated men in their 30’s, it got me thinking about the different characteristics between people at these varying ages, and what differences lie past that decade mark. Men and women clearly operate differently as it is, and if that old myth that women mature faster than men is true, wouldn’t that put younger women on a similar wavelength as older men?

My ultimate conclusion is that dating up a decade works. If you are a younger woman, and are beyond the whole partying stage, dating an older man can render itself very successful because generally, men too are beyond that point. A night out at the bar is fine, but they are less likely to be standing you up because they found a killer rave to go to with their buddies. I mean, a totally awesome rave with tons of hot chicks. Too bad you’re not here, honey.

A man in his thirties who has not felt pressured to “settle down” is very likely to be laidback and fun and not stressed about having everything planned out but still have his life on track, just like many young women. This makes the two a compatible pair. In addition, with more experience with women and dating, he's already made most of his mistakes, and therefore will not make them on you. He has learned from his slipups and is putting those skills to good use. Now there’s a reason right there to give him a chance.

Also, in the short decade that has passed in the dating world between a thirty-five year old man and a twenty-five year old woman, many things have changed. Younger men are not as attentive or courteous when it comes to relationships and if a woman is looking for something a little more serious, young men are likely to head back to the bar. Whereas a man in his thirties has a bit more practice and understanding of the dating world, he’s not as quick to jump in and out of things, and by things, I mean beds. He might be more willing to give a relationship a chance than simply change the channel for a more appealing game.

However, there are of course things to watch out for. There are guides online for men who want to pick up younger women, pinpointing specifics traits to look for and which women are more likely to go for older men. There are also books available, including one written specifically to help men over 35 get a younger woman.

Then there are the pesky onlookers who will love to hit you with the decade comment. Most importantly is how to deal with the people who automatically point out the age difference—whether it’s with a confident comment, snarky sarcasm, or a silent stare is up to you, but do it in a way that proves your point. Because as you know, when it comes to new relationships, outsiders have no problems speaking their minds. A difference in age leaves the doors wide open for them to insert their (not so) clever comments. Aunt Sal will get a kick out of the fact that when he graduated college, you were just becoming a woman, so prepare yourself for those things. The less attention you pay to the minimal and insignificant age difference, the easier it will be for them to not notice it, and instead Aunt Sal will swoon over all his amazing qualities. Like those pretty blue eyes. Hands off, Aunt Sal, he’s mine. Though I do know a nice guy named Maurice…

When it comes down to it, women are looking for a man who they enjoy spending time with, not someone who fits into the “appropriate” age range. You know that whole “how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” thing? Apply that to dating. Then when his birthday rolls around, you’ll simply have more reasons, give or take ten, to celebrate.

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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