In a world where nobody is officially “together”, hanging out means hooking up, and friends with  benefits means, “I really like him but I know he’ll reject me so I’ll settle for this”, the topic of age differences in dating seems more trivial than ever. Also, I’m not quite sure why a brooding, black and white photo of Mick Jagger was my go-to for this topic, but let’s just roll with it.

I have seen myself and too many of my friends struggle with the perils of online dating, useless right-swipes, and fruitless first dates that would make any woman question their own sanity. My best girls will call me in tears, asking why their beaus haven’t texted back or where along the lines they screwed things up. Sadly, I can never truly provide them with the logical explanation and solace they seek. We live in a precarious era for dating, one that throws away the antiquated notions of courtship in favor of lustful impulses and a strong hesitance to commit. Maybe everyone is just anticipating the climate-change induced apocalypse, but I digress.

I have always been the woman who is perhaps too mature for her age, too comfortable with the prospect of commitment and stability that it ended up robbing me of the carefree mental state of adolescence, which I now crave more than anything. I have always been romantically drawn to older men, simply because I can’t have another conversation with a guy my age about how awesome their “freelance consulting” career is going (how is everyone suddenly a consultant?!), or how long overdue the new season of Rick and Morty is. Maybe I crave a sense of self-assuredness and emotional depth that most people my age have not yet developed, which is TOTALLY fine, but it would certainly explain my inclination to date older. I have had many friends ask if I had some childhood trauma or bad breakup that would incur this romantic pattern, but the truth is quite the opposite. Simply put, I seek the same emotional and romantic connection as any other woman my age; the sparks just happen to fly with men that are typically older.

Now don’t get me wrong; there is a distinct difference between dating an older man because there is more emotional and intellectual compatibility and dating a man who wants nothing more than a hot young thing to escort to dinner to make his stuffy, older compadres jealous. This type of situation leaves me with a strong impulse to pull up my shirt and talk about my resume and academic accomplishments, which isn’t fun for either party.  I have experienced (to some degree) both sides of the coin, and I can say with certainty that no fancy dinner or weekend getaway is worth the degradation that accompanies this type of arrangement. Know your worth, and know your boundaries.

That said, I have no intention of allowing an age difference to impact my approach to dating in the future. Some of my best and most fulfilling partners have been substantially older, which I have no qualms about. I may just be an old soul, the one who holds her friends’ hair and tucks them in after they overdo it at the bar, but I have lived every bit as vibrantly as they have. I could never let the judgment of a stranger or a cultural taboo come between me and the prospect of love and happiness, which are virtues that many never achieve during their time on Earth. Personally, I will continue to date based on the connection I feel with someone, whom may very well be much older than I am. When it comes down to it, I think all women just crave a best friend and lover who sees them more clearly than they see themselves. Someone to help them navigate this turbulent era we find ourselves living it, and make them feel alive. You can’t put an age on that.