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October 19, 2006


Stephen Frug

Great story, but your post title kind of gave away the punch line. Maybe something neutral would have worked better.


Whoops, I'll change that, Stephen.


Do men in their 30s/40s think twice before asking out women who are 10 to 20 years younger? Or is age a non-issue?

There are the Demi Moores of the world, but generally, I get the feeling many, if not most, women in their 30s/40s initially would hesitate to ask out a man 10 to 20 years her junior, or she would dismiss the idea altogether.

Did your friend notice this woman is young enough to be his biological daughter? If so, how did he feel about it? Did it make him uneasy, or perhaps did it add to his excitement?

I'd like to understand how men think about these things.


Sydney, I'll post about that next week, particulary from the "male mindset" on the issue.

Mr. Bad

I hope he calls her mother. I know you all are into social constructs vs. biology, but it's a fact that kids tend to look a lot like their parents. Plus, if the girl was raised properly she likely resembles her mother re. temperament. Sounds like he might get lucky, and no, I don't mean it like that. Or do I?... ;)

Amanda Marcotte

The inverse happened to my mother---a man in his early 20s works at a shop she likes a lot and he had a really obvious crush on her. One day a few years ago, he worked up the courage to ask her out and she replied, "Oh thank you but I'm getting married soon. But I have two lovely daughters if you're interested!" I wasn't there, but my sister was, and she was so mortified she fled the shop and bust a gut laughing in the parking lot. My mother's stunning good looks are of the sort that we grew up a bit mortified at the interest of guys our own age.

Stephen Frug

Much better. :)


Citrus? Are you in Azusa?


I'm in Pasadena. My buddy lives in Duarte and works out near Azusa.


Without giving too much detail, is your friend a professional? If so (and I make this assumption because generally, birds of a feather flock together) what's more interesting to me than the rejection is why he was interested in her to begin with. If he is indeed a professional middle aged man, why and how could he develop a crush on a barista (who either has no education or is in the process of getting one)? They are thus on vastly different levels of life and experience. Why wouldn't he pursue someone who is more on his level (money-wise, education-wise...age-wise). The "dating down" deal has always fascinated me..

Jeremy Henty

Heh, nice one. Here's mine.

I have a most un-macho fondness for bright, cheerful colours. A good few years back I impulse-bought a bunch of multi-coloured plastic coat hangers at a local home store. At the checkout the teenage girl looked at them and asked "Are they for your little girl?". I goggled at her and she hastily added "Your little boy?". "They're for me", I said. "Oh, you like bright colours?". "Yes", I said and lifted my trouser leg to show my socks.

And that, children, is when I realised I was so old that a young woman would see me as a Dad-thing rather than a Man-thing. (I'll pass over her assuming that I was buying coloured things for a girl rather than a boy.)

Jody  Tresidder

Lovely cautionary tale!

I still don't know whether it's a curse or a charm that we are (often) stuck with a much younger version of ourselves than our faces unambiguously reveal.

My husband once mistakenly heartily teased his mother for telling an anecdote about the "old man" who lived in her home village.

I was groaning inside as he doggedly pointed out the irony of her referring to anyone else as "old" - for some reason he remained immune to her increasingly irritated expression.

Lya Kahlo

Poor guy. That must have been jarring. At least he's a grown up and considering calling the mother - instead of running out to buy a sportscare or something. ;)


Pardon my schadenfreude, but I've had the opposite problem - stragers assuming Mrs. X is my daughter - too many times to count, and I'm less than two years her senior.

Space Chick

Heh. When I was in college, my father came by the dorms once to pick me up for dinner while he was in town for business. One of the other students helped track me down, and asked later if that had been my boyfriend. Dad was so flattered to think he looked young enough to date a college student...And no, I wasn't in the habit of dating older men!


Jas: I can't speak for Hugo's buddy, of course, but I can speak for myself, and that might provide you with some data. I'm a middle-class professional, college graduate, in my early 30s. I'm married to someone who is five years my junior.

I also find that I experience attraction to cute early twentysomething guys working in coffee shops. I would never *act* on that attraction, because (a) i'm married and (b) it's inappropriate for the reasons you've outlined.

But the attraction remains.

I think part of it is that my self-conception hasn't moved on; I still think of myself as being fundamentally the same person I was in my early twenties, so people in their early twenties strike me as being conceptually my peers, even though they really aren't. But some of it, I am ashamed to admit, is shallow; men in their early twenties *look better* than do men who are older, and I react to that.


Huh. Since we're in the anecdote mode. I'm reading Hugo's blog in a coffee shop in Ann Arbor -- 24 thousand undergrads -- just had a youngish woman address me as sir -- and it throws me everytime . . . . I need a motorcycle.



Jas: If he is indeed a professional middle aged man, why and how could he develop a crush on a barista (who either has no education or is in the process of getting one)?

I'm not yet middle-aged, but I've never been able to choose how my crushes develop, and proximity and random chance, rather than suitability in any of its forms, seem to be more important factors by far.


It seems there's something a little more troubling than "older guy digs younger gal" here. I'm only a few years behind Hugo and "Sean" (if that *is* his real name! :-) and I noticed some time ago that my tastes hadn't aged along with my body. I had a similar sort of wake-up call when I realized "hey, I'm too old to be dating 20-year olds"! Or even, now, mid-20's -- and 30 is pushing it! On the surface of it, this seems like a feminist awakening -- the whole power issue, the tradition of men "dating down" as someone called it (which, however, isn't all that flattering to young women who are smart, ambitious, driven, and generally capable of making choices, even bad ones, for themselves, right?), etc. But I think Hugo's touched on something else, equally feminist but rather more subtle, and that's the sense in which we (as men? as a society?) feel much younger than we are. In our consumption-oriented and youth-driven culture, it's easy to be, like me, mid-30s and still feel "of a mind" with 20 year olds -- I often share new music and discuss recent films with my students, for instance, and not (I hope) in that creepy trying-to-be-hip way. Which isn't to say I really am hip or anything, I'm just another person fully embedded in the popular culture of our society.

Certainly a part of this, though, is that our society gives me a license to be immature and irresponsible, because I'm a man. But I think this is a feeling shared with women my age, too -- a lot of us simply never felt any decisive break with our youth. And so we continue to indulge ourselves with "Nick at Night" and action figures and Ring Pops, partially because it's nostalgia but partially because that's our taste, the aesthetic we continue to connect with.

This isn't as simple, I don't think, as saying "we never grew up" but rather that being a part of the society we are in seems to be flattening the experience of "grown-up-ness" so that, when it comes to cultural issues at least, there doesn't seem like much difference between 20 and 40 -- until, of course, we come face-to-face with the economic, political, and yes, biological realities of our social positions and physical age.


Stephen: as a polite lad, I always address people working in coffee shops, etc, as sir and ma'am, and occasionally I get *very* startled responses.


at least he was under 40, plenty of 40-70 year olds think the same way and would pass up someone their own age to crush on someone 20, 30, 40 years younger.


You know, I'd be a little creeped out by a guy who asked me out only because my kid wouldn't sleep with him.

That aside, my spouse refers to this as the turning point where the cute chicks stop saying "Hey, that guy is checking us out" and start saying "That creepy old guy is staring at us."


No motorcycle for you, Steve... what you and I need is breakfast. Call me.


Mythago, your last comment had me cracking up.

BTW, why is it considered not so cool to be called sir? What else are you supposed to call a stranger who is a man?


Jas: If he is indeed a professional middle aged man, why and how could he develop a crush on a barista (who either has no education or is in the process of getting one)?

This is off topic, but Jas, why do you assume that a barista has no education or is only in the process of getting one? I have two friends, one holds a Ph.D in Literature, and one earned an MA degree in Chemistry, and both have worked as a barista during their post-grad school lives. One merely had a hard time finding a job and the other was laid off. You should give people working in the both the food service and retail industries the benefit of the doubt when it comes to how much education they have.

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