The Allure of an Older Person

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July 3, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Back in high school, there was one question that stumped me more than any other, as I never could seem to find an appropriate answer.  It was like trying to do a word search in a foreign language—The answer is starring you right in the face, but you can’t make any sense of it.  The question that stupefied me for all four years of college was: “Why do girls always go for older guys?”.

As an awkward 14 year old, there’s absolutely no way you can compete with an 18-year-old who drives and doesn’t give a shit about anything as trivial as high school anymore; you just can’t.  In any grade, it always seemed like the prettiest girls were always going out with older guys.  This also raises the inevitable question of “Why do guys always go for younger girls?”.  As a freshman, I could never understand why the juniors would go out with the girls in my grade, when their own peers were even hotter; it just didn’t make any sense to me.[1]

You always hear the same stories about these relationships: he cheats on her all the time, she puts up with all of his bullshit, he doesn’t really care about her, she always takes him back, after he took her virginity, he left her, etc…  And it’s all true; all of these stereotypes have happened to at least three people that you know, regardless of whether they were the older guy or the younger girl.  However, as I do with all stray observations, I internalized this question in an attempt at self-disclosure, and realized a pattern of my own.  My three most recent dalliances have been with women who were 1-4 years older than me.  I’ve always been more attracted to women who were older than me, but I noticed that it’s also a common trait to be attracted to people who are older than you.  I just can’t believe that it took seeing Bull Durham for the first time to figure it all out.

In high school, it seemed like all the pretty girls had college boyfriends[2], but all the guys had schoolboy crushes on one of the teachers.  In our early teens, we were all obsessed with the concept of a MILF, and the few freshmen guys who were going out with an older girl were seen as men amongst boys.  But, what exactly is IT?  I give way more slack to a woman who’s older than me, because she has to do less to impress or enamor me.  And I know for a fact that it works the same for some women as well.  On my most recent birthday, my friends and I were out at a Brooklyn bar, when a women in her mid-30s came up to me.  We started talking, flirting, and she was starting to get a little physical.  But, the minute I mentioned my age, she immediately withdrew any affection, like a nun who just withstood a moment’s passing temptation, and declared “Wow!  I am way too old for you”, and walked away.

Bull Durham gets to the heart of the matter and (at least partially) explains what makes those who are older more attractive.  The simple answer is knowledge.  Call it maturity, wisdom, or experience, the fact remains that we’re more attracted to people who impress us, and knowledge is very impressive.  Besides the fact that it’s Susan Sarandon, what draws main character Nuke (Tim Robbins) to Annie (Sarandon) is that she is a philosophy spewing, cosmologically inclined, poetic database of information.  Not only does she have sex with him, but she educates him as well.  She teaches him about life, baseball, and introspection.  Annie arguably shapes Nuke more than anyone else throughout the movie.  She preps him for his eventual move to the major leagues and helps him mature during his stay in Triple-A.  Beyond wanting to love and be loved, I think the one thing we want from a lover, is to learn from them.  More specifically, we want to be with someone who we can teach us about ourselves; we want that person to either disclose some new and crucial piece of information regarding ourselves, or we want them to reaffirm that which we already know about ourselves.[3]

One of the reasons why Annie was willing to part with Nuke once he gets called up is because she had nothing left to teach him.  Class had been dismissed and since she was no longer his teacher, she could no longer be his lover.  That’s the key, whether we realize it or not, anytime we date, marry, or casually sleep with anyone who’s older than us, we instinctually want them to be equal parts lover and teacher.  No one ever really feels like they’re an adult, or that they have this thing called life figured out, but with age comes maturity, clarity, and a perceived confidence to the younger eye.  What adds to the intrigue is that we assume that they have their shit figured out, that they are on this unattainable level and that by winning their affections, we too will be elevated to a more knowledgeable and wiser platform.  The impressions is that it’ll make us more mature by proxy.

Although, I really can’t overlook the Oedipal/Electra complex that lingers on the periphery.  In Bull Durham, not only was Annie a sexy older librarian type, but she was also very caring and encouraging to Nuke in a maternal way.  Just like seeing a guy hold a baby in his arms would make some girls melt, for some guys, there’s something kinda sexy about a woman with a strong maternal and nurturing instinct.

We’ve all heard the old adage about men marrying women who remind them of their mothers, and women marrying men who remind them of their fathers, and I think the reason is twofold: 1) comfortability—it’s what you’ve known and your prototypical example of a man/woman and, 2) maturity—someone who reminds us of our parents is someone who would most likely tenderly care for you yet also ingrain life lessons onto you, this being lover, teacher, and parent.  On two separate occasions, shortly after making the beast with two backs, two different girls have said to me “You remind me of my dad”.  Granted, they were both my age or older, the point still stands.  Or maybe my experiences have colored my opinions.  The point is, never underestimate the Oedipus/Electra complex, it plays some part in falling for someone older.

Now, whenever a guy gets with an older woman, there are high fives all around because of the perception that women, regardless of age, go for older men.  It implies that he must have done something extraordinary to have bucked this trend.  It’s hard enough to get a woman’s attention, let alone an older woman giving a younger guy the time of day.  Again though, it’s all about perception and stereotypes.  The reason why this is, is because we are automatically suspicious of people who are younger than us.  Are they as smart as us?  As mature as us?  As self-aware of us?  When we fall for someone who’s older than us, we already answer those questions ourselves with a resounding “Of course!”.  Guys do it too.  There’s the stereotype that guys just chase after any girl that comes their way, but most guys my age would put up with more from a 30 year old than a 20 year old because of the perception that someone who’s older than us knows what they’re doing.  Immaturity is always the culprit behind anything that we don’t like about someone who’s younger than us; that same excuse can’t be used for someone who’s older though.  With that excuse gone, we automatically tolerate more because there’s the assumption that there’s a self-awareness that wouldn’t be there if they were younger.  This is why Annie ultimately ends up with Crash (Kevin Costner), Nuke’s mentor instead.

Last year I was sparsely seeing someone who was about four years older than me.  Not only was she the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen, she was also the first person that I was able to have a conversation with about Paradise Lost and the works of Salvador Dali.  Not only did this leave me even more enraptured, but it served as justification.  It justified her that she was this mature intellect, who offered something that no one my own age could, and it also (egoistically) justified myself, that I was on her level.[4]  There’s a certain confidence that we convince ourselves that older people have, a very “been-there-done-that” attitude that betrays a world weariness which further conveys to us a sense of maturity and confidence that we don’t notice in either our peers or people younger than us.  As a result maturity and knowledge become a rare commodity.  And as with basic supply and demand, the scarcer something is the more we desire it.

I’ve been the younger fool, blindly smitten by an older woman many a times, but I’ve also played the role of the older guy, and I never want to do it again.  The entire time, I felt like there were these expectations of me; that she expected me to be entirely different from all the guys that she had dated before just because I was a little bit older than her.  I felt like I was put in an unfair position where I was being molded to fit her pre-disposed notions of “The older guy”.  I couldn’t just “be”, I “had to be”.

For whatever reason, I’ve always been more attracted to older women; with the exception of two girls, all of the ones that I’ve fallen hardest for were all at least one year older than me.  Some were more genuine than others, while others I know for a fact I fell into some of the stereotypes that I’ve already illustrated.  I got excited about being with someone who I could learn from, someone who could not only be a lover, but a teacher as well.  Whatever it may be, maturity is just attractive for some people, and while some people want to be teachers, others simply want to learn.  Who better to impart wisdom than not only someone who loves us, but also someone who’s been around longer than we have?  Or I could just be overthinking everything.


[1] As I got older, I started to realize that the reason why was because the guys in the older grades were pretty much the undateables in their own grades, so their only recourse was to go after the underclassmen.

[2] Which in hindsight is pretty sketchy, when you consider a 14 or 15 year old going out with a 19 or 20 year old.

[3] This is a concept that I will definitely be exploring in much greater detail in a later article.

[4] I was absolutely not.  In all honesty, I was probably the equivalent Gary Cherone in the Van Halen of her love life.

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