By Annabeth Leong
I think I’ve written here before about the disconcerting feeling I’ve been having recently, as my fantasies and desires change.
One of the main things I’ve noticed lately has to do with something that’s always been a personal taboo for me: age differences.
When I was younger, I had a number of very bad experiences with predatory older men. I also saw a lot of my friends have similar bad experiences. Even when the older men in question weren’t entirely predatory, the dynamics of large age differences really bothered me. (I once dated a man about twice my age, and will never forget the intense humiliation I felt when going with him to a picnic and discovering that his daughters were only a few years younger than me.)
I know many people are into this sort of dynamic (see the large variety of “Seducing my Best Friend’s Daddy” fiction on Amazon), but it’s always been a major squick and turn-off for me.
Age differences between same-gender partners bother me less, but it can still be a bit weird for me.
So, I don’t know what it is about my current age, but I’m finding myself much more likely to be attracted to people who are much younger than me or much older than me. Each of these presents its unique challenges and feelings.
The times I’ve been attracted to a much older person, I’ve worried that it’s a precursor to feeling the same sense of humiliation that I did in the past. On the other hand, there is a thrill to being the young, hot one in a relationship, and it’s nice to get that without also feeling like the easily manipulated one. There is really something about being desired for one’s youth and beauty, and I guess now that I’m undoubtedly a full grown adult, it feels kind of nice.
Being attracted to much younger people has only happened very recently. I feel very weird about that one, still. I think one of the things that’s happened is that I’m old enough now that people who are undoubtedly full grown adults can still be much younger than me.
It makes me uncomfortable because I worry that I’m being the predator or am trying to take advantage of someone. It also makes me feel vulnerable--like I’m old and foolish and uncool. I find myself having to resist making weird jokes around these people. It’s super weird to be talking about music or something and realize that I’m talking about things that happened before this person was born, or when they were a very small child. The dynamic makes me feel like I ought to be wise and all-knowing, but I’m obviously not, so then I worry that I’m just immature or that other people my own age will think I look stupid.
That said, there’s something very beautiful about these younger people. They’re sort of shimmery with possibility. I can see that they often have this unbroken idealism. In some ways, I feel able to be myself more easily around them, to share thoughts and ideas that might sound foolish, or to do things even when I don’t know what the effect will be.
One random thing I noticed, which I think is interesting, is that I’m more bisexual when younger people are involved. I’m not remotely interested in older men, and only very minimally interested in men my own age, but have recently been thinking that men about a decade younger than me are very attractive. Women and nonbinary people, on the other hand, are very attractive to me at all ages. So I’m not sure what it is about a man’s youthfulness that gets to me, but there’s something.
Anyway, that said, these attractions with age differences still feel very taboo to me. I’m not sure what it would take for me to get over them, and I think part of that is that I don’t really believe it would be okay to get over them.
That said, I’ve recently been dating a significantly younger woman (it came about partly because neither of us realized the other’s age for quite some time). It’s going well so far, I think? But if I’m being entirely honest, I’m still really worried about the age difference.
(Note: I read all your posts for this topic, but I didn’t have time to comment. I’ll be back to the usual practice soon, I hope!)