The Lower Brain: Is Age Just A Number?

Photo: Peter Dazeley [Getty Images]

Objectively speaking, as long as the person you’re dating is of legal age, is anyone too young or old for somebody else? I’m 31 and I’d have sex with anybody 18 and up but I’d only date somebody over 25. My friend is my same age and he wouldn’t sleep with anybody who wasn’t at least 21. My dad’s first wife–my mom–was eight years older than him; his second wife is three years older. I just think people should do whatever the hell they want. What do you think?

 Thanks,

Age Is Just A Number

Photo: RonTech2000 [Getty Images]

 

Dear AIJAN:

A lot of silly studies get tons of media play when they seem to strike a nerve for great headlines. Years ago, there was some (incorrect) factoid that a woman in New York over the age of 27 or 30 or something was more likely to be killed in a terrorist attack than to get married. It was repeated so often in the news media and in popular culture that some people began to regard it as truth. It was absurd. Similarly ridiculous is that recent study that says women peak in attractiveness at age 18 while men peak at 50. C’mon.

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You can use different methods to bend statistics any way you like. To know if a study has any merit, you’ve got to know the conditions under which it was done; the sample size; the demographics of the population surveyed or studied; the experience and ethics of the researchers; the source of the funding for the study; and so much more. But individuals don’t have time to fact-check and do the background research on every single study, so we swallow these lies. I remember a study from about ten years ago that claimed women reached the height of beauty at age 31. They based this on showing a bunch of photos of gorgeous actresses at different ages to study participants and asking them when each babe looked the finest. It’s all just fodder for the manufactured bullshit gender norm industrial complex.

What’s true is that folks want to shtup who they want to shtup and they want to marry who they want to marry. For the individual, these two groups are not always identical no matter what metric you use. You’re an example – you’d fuck somebody hot if they were 18 and over but you’d only commit to them if they were 25 and over. You accord a higher status and more respect to women 25 and over. You probably have various reasons for making this distinction.

We all make choices based not just on our sexual interests but on our cultural background and context, the society in which we move, the societal subgroups with which we associate, and various other factors. My answer is that personally, I agree with you that as long as folks are of legal age and capable of consent, an age difference doesn’t matter.

However, I also recognize that youth is currency in our society. Wealthy men who wish to posit themselves as powerful overlords will attempt to manufacture an aura of big dick energy by essentially buying younger women who’ve put themselves on the trophy bride sales block. I’m not talking about paying sex workers for services rendered. I’m talking about a man making the effort to find young women who embody his concept of a prize, and then finding the women among that particular group who very much want to marry a rich guy. It’s all transactional, and it’s all consensual, and it’s a time-honored practice.

Similarly, in our modern world where women are actually allowed to earn money and own property and stuff, some women regard having a younger man as a status symbol. Hey, whatever blows your hair back, sweetheart. Get those perky balls! Enjoy explaining that there was a first President Bush before the one with whom they’re familiar!

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I’ve dated people born in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s so my ass is basically a generic adult contemporary radio station that sometimes switches to an oldies format. What I can say is that things worked well when the person and I shared values in common, including a devotion to staying creative and working hard. I’m not saying it isn’t a little odd to have to do some generational translation now and again, but that’s minor stuff when you really love somebody.

I’m 37, and I can conceive of dating someone between the ages of 27 and 60. They’d have to click with me in various ways and be good humans who I happened to find extremely intelligent, witty, kind, thoughtful, sexy and fun, but I don’t really care too much about their age. I have girl friends who’d be horrified at the thought of dating anybody under 30 or over 50, or over 25, or under 55…everybody is different. Focus on finding somebody whose goals align with yours. Oh, and make sure they treat you well and that you show kindness in return, okay? Now go have fun.

 

 

If you have a question and need some advice, email Sara at [email protected]