On March 19th, 1998, I had no opinion one way or another about heartthrob television-and-sometimes-film-actor George Clooney.
On March 20th, everything changed. During an interview with Howard Stern, he explained how he had once been crashing with a friend who had a kitten. When his friend was away, he would clean the kitten’s litter box and deny having done so when the friend returned. The friend was worried sick over the digestive health of the wee feline, thinking it had never taken a shit in its wee kitten life! One fateful day when the friend left again, likely worried sick over his kitten, George took an enormous shit in the kitten’s litter box to convince his friend that the kitten in question had just been holding out for something special.
That, my friends, is the story of how I discovered that twin souls were real. And that I had one. He was gallivanting around Los Angeles and possibly a villa in Italy. Presumably sending funny texts to Sandra Bullock from time to time.
Not only is George Clooney handsome, he used to have an enormous pet pig and is rumored to have bought his assistant an enormous house because he is wealthy and benevolent. So if given the opportunity date or bang or make eye contact with George Clooney, I would do so without hesitation, despite our 24 year age difference. But the thing is, there is only one George Clooney and he has never hit on me. Also, he is notoriously wifing approximately zero women so it would be a hit it and quit anyway.
So when I decline the advances of a gentleman considerably older than me and I hear the reply, “Well, George Clooney is in HIS 50s!” I am not like, “Oh right, same thing! Sorry, lady brain! Stick it in!”
I have heard the same line involving Brad Pitt and Daniel Day-Lewis (POINTS FOR GETTING ME!). I mean, honestly, I give all of them credit for appealing to my lifelong obsession with hot celebrities. But these men are not hot celebrities. They are just regular men 15-30 years older who are then confused and somewhat scornful that I do not date them because of their age. They are often kind, dateable, and successful. Catches! And while it’s not like, “Oh, everyone wants me! However can I fend off the advances of these suave motherfuckers?!?!? LIFE IS SO HARD,” it happens often enough that I felt compelled to give an Internet side-eye to those who are incredulous that I’m not interested.
I have no qualms with any two consenting adults of any ages getting together, having sex, falling in love, marrying, procreating, etc. Not necessarily in that order -- this is the 21st century after all! Y’all do you y’all. It just isn’t for me.
So right now, my cutoff is 40. I am sure the gap will expand as I get older, but right now, it is 40. I have witnessed a disturbing sense of entitlement from would-be suitors because of this rule. From, “It’s not like you’re some 22-year-old!” and other remarks that remind me just how on-the-cusp-of-30 my 28 years really are.
My answer should really be, “I don’t want to, you can’t make me. Kthanxbai.” But for some reason, I keep getting unsolicited advice from both dudes and acquaintances on biological clocks, the differences between the way men and women develop emotionally and physically, and beating the odds on infidelity. Below are my reasons for why I think these are TERRIBLE reasons to date outside of my preferred age range.
In regards to my biological clock, kindly fuck off. Particularly if you don’t know whether or not I want to have biological children or any children at all. Picking a partner based on your shared panic about potentially leaving the planet without your DNA still walking around on it seems ill-advised. But again, y’all do y’all. When I was dating men in their 40s and 50s, many of them asked me, on first dates, whether or not I wanted to have children, which signaled to me that they were more interested in the vacancy in my uterus than in my winning smile and breadth of knowledge about the last days of the Romanovs.
Regarding children, it is not just a blanket “I want children. I must have children. Therefore I must pursue partner options that will give me children at an age where it is optimal for me to have children.” It will be a combination of mutual interest in being parents, financial stability, time commitment, career sacrifices, and whether or not my cat gives his sincere blessing. Your creeping on my kid game is making me involuntarily clench my IUD deeper inside me.
The differences between the way men and women develop physically and mentally has been articulated to me in mostly infuriating terms. The idea is that women and men peak at different times in their lives and are therefore best suited to older man/younger woman partnerships. A fine hypothesis. But I think the underlying principle of this idea is that women peak at their alleged physical best which, in a culture pathologically obsessed with youth and thinness, means they peak when they’re mad hot. When they have only begun to accomplish things but not quite enough things to make them unwilling to surrender non-romantic dreams for an older and accomplished male. Men peak when they have a bunch of money and a distinguished touch of grey.
Also, this idea reinforces to a certain type of man that their long-term emotional immaturity is natural, acceptable, and should go unquestioned. When I was 23 and kind of a disaster, I dated a 45-year-old divorced man with a child, who lived 1500 miles away. He regularly talked about how he just related better to women in their 20s, how they just GOT him, how he was in his prime and ready for adventure, etc. While the intention was presumably to flatter me, much of the conversation veered toward insulting women his own age for having adult priorities, expectations, and appearances. One of the easiest ways to get on my bad side is by insulting other women. It’s just not the look.
And finally, there is the argument around fidelity. The myth goes that men cheat on their wives or partners because they morph into haggard harpies once they reach a certain age and that you can guard against that by not becoming a haggard harpie as quickly! Spoiler alert: People cheat for reasons besides the reality that their partners might not always be as physically attractive as they were when they first met. Using your sexual capital as a preventive measure against hypothetical infidelity possible years in the future just seems like a losing proposition to me when you consider how many other factors affect fidelity in relationships.
People are free to date who they want for whatever reason they want; I really don’t care. But I want to date people within a decade of my age and the suggestion that I simply must expand my pool of prospects to secure a man AT ANY COST is insulting. Sure, I could meet someone and change my mind tomorrow but I’m not going to be talked into it out of fear that I will die alone or be cheated on someday. Would help if he had a pet pig and a villa but even then, there are no guarantees.