As a self proclaimed cougar, it might seem odd that I haven’t asked this question before, but perhaps it is because I’m no longer dating younger guys. Rather, I’m seeing a lot of older men falling for “girls” (which I will call them here) in their twenties. Call it the reverse-cougar.
The reasons seem obvious:
1) Their faces and bodies look younger (read: good).
2) Girls don’t yet have the emotional baggage older women tend to have.
3) Girls are not as threatening as women in their 30’s or 40’s who tend to be stronger and more successful.
4) Girls “have time,” which allows the relationship to develop casually without the pressure of time. A guy can follow the standard chronology of dating, living together, getting engaged, then married with kids – in that order.
5) With a girl, a guy can cling to the idea of having “more than one kid,” as opposed to with a woman in her mid to late 30s.
6) Girls don’t necessarily know who they are yet or what they want, so they’re not imposing it on (or challenging) their boyfriend.
7) Girls look up to an older man who can guide and teach them, and it makes a guy feel manly.
I get it!
But I never thought that there was another appeal: immaturity.
Immaturity is sexy to a guy, because it disguises itself as “mysterious” and hard to read, and the inconsistent behavior that comes along with immaturity plays games with the heart.
Those of you who read this blog know I’ve dated up to three guys ten years younger than me, where the breakups all came for generally the same reason: difference in life stage and experience. Yeah. Duh. And so ever since my latest cub breakup, you could say I have been avoiding expending energy on guys that are more than five years my junior, by staying open to men forty and older.
While that hasn’t yet proven effective (no new partner has appeared), I’m fine with it. And I’ve made many new friendships with cub-age guys, without any temptation to turn it into more. Besides, most of these guys have girlfriends whom are younger than them, in their mid twenties.
One of them happens to be an ex, who began dating a girl 14 years my junior, and seems to be very happy with her. I’m not jealous or disappointed. I predicted it, and part of me feels a touch of “I told you so.” It only reinforces the reason for our breakup.
A few other guy pals of mine in their 30’s are also in the midst of budding relationships with twenty-five-year olds, and I’ve noticed a kind of emotional obstacle course these girls put them through, ie. a few months into the relationship the girl breaks up with the guy, for reasons that range from jealousy, caprice, or fabricated irrational grievances.
Guess what happens next? Rather than calling her on it and putting his foot down, or even telling her he is finished, the guy does the opposite. He suddenly realizes he reeeally likes this girl, and must win her back. Suddenly, a guy who wasn’t even sure he was that into her, decides that she could be “the one.”
Why? Is that all it takes? A fight, followed by a breakup and some ego bruising, to poke at a guy’s heart and mobilize him into action?
Maybe these younger and less mature women are onto something. Looking back on my relationship with my ex-cub, I recall being open, communicative, and understanding (and I believe he would agree). He always knew where I stood, even after we broke up. I do however remember him saying one thing that stuck: “You were consistent, Cougel. Being with you was easy.”
Mistake? If I had been a pain in the ass, or dumped him without cause a few times, perhaps we’d still be in a relationship. The thought has crossed my mind.
That’s silly, I know.
Immaturity isn’t apparent to the immature. Whether you’re in a relationship with someone immature, or in an argument with an immature friend, trying to convince them that their behavior is immature, or how it affects you, is futile. Sometimes it can take years, until that person grows up and looks back to realize it.
After my divorce, when the dating scene was brand spanking new to me, I was oblivious to these signs too. I was immature in love, and tended to want the guys who were inconsistent, unevolved, and obtuse with their emotions. I couldn’t read them (or their cryptic texts), and I mistook that confusion for a fluttery feeling, a thrill, which I described as “love.”
Is it frustrating to see these guys getting in a twist over girls who are clearly putting them through the ringer? Yes. But I guess it’s their problem. Or their wish.
After all, I dated younger men for a while and couldn’t see it either. So I understand it. I’m just glad I woke up.
Or grew up.
But to all those girls (and women too) who still behave immaturely in relationships (and I am not saying I don’t go there occasionally too), I might venture to say: don’t fight it too hard. Don’t try to change too much. Because it seems to be working.
Is it possible that immaturity can deepen – even mature – a relationship?