CAMPUS MAGAZINE: When the Apple is Ripe it will Fall!

Date posted: August 1, 2007


"I met someone" she said in a voice that lacked the buzz of a new relationship.
"But?" I asked knowing that there had to be a "but".
"He is eight years younger!"

I understand why a woman my age, or older, could be attracted to someone who is younger, or much younger; yet, I failed to grasp the logic – if such a word exists – behind young men who willingly consensually freely choose to dive into a relationship with someone who is ten years older than he is. By a relationship I do not mean an affair, I am referring to a full fledged relationship that incorporates all the rules of Victorian courtship – the wining and dining, the meet my friends and meet your friends, the call me and call you, and the love you and miss you routines.

Almost 33, I am secretly growing more insecure in the presence of younger girls, but obviously I have competitive advantages that I am not aware of. I am no exception to this new perplexing rule; A, N, M, and H are four of my friends whose ages range from 37 to 47, and they are attracting guys who are at best 8 years younger. My last four attempts at dating were with guys whose ages ranged from 23 to 28. My Facebook account is bombarded with friend requests from a breed that is a decade younger than I am. My blog is piling up comments from angry bloggers who recently developed facial hair. Something is wrong!! How do we, older women, attract them – younger guys?

I am bad at guessing! I had to ask them! I needed to hack their little green brains and find out the answer. My classroom – there is no better place to start. Instead of a pop quiz in marketing, I handed them a piece of paper with one question and I gave them an hour to give me the answer that has been confusing the heck out of me. The question was: If you had a choice, would you rather date someone your age or, would you date me, or someone else, knowing that there is more or less ten years of difference in age? Why yes? Why no? The look on their faces was priceless! The silence that filled the room was louder than anything they would have said. They were looking at me for clarification and I gave them none. I told them that the clock was ticking and that I was serious.

In an hour the answer sheets were on my desk and I impatiently began checking their responses. There were some flattering comments about my eyes and smile and there were some semi-insulting comments about my temper and insanity. As I went deeper into their explanation my eyes grew wider in shock as I found out the major points of differentiation that make those guys favor ripe apples – as one student put it down. A combined list would say that we are more mature, independent, experienced, understanding, and appreciative of the little things young girls take of granted. We have careers and are busy with important and meaningful stuff. We are good listeners and we give good advice. The list goes on to highlight our graces; secure, intellectual, connected, and confident.

One student said that we do not ask silly questions and we do not get upset over stupid things like "Do you love me? Do I look good? Why didn't you call? Where were you? Who's that girl? Or I have a curfew, I cannot be seen with you, and let's cruise." Some guys said that being with an older woman will make younger women interested; "if I were to date you, young girls will be jealous and they will want to know what is so special about me that would make an icon like you go out with me. – I must be really mature and experienced to satisfy you." Another student was very honest when he said "you will pick up the check all the time; this is the price you will pay for going out with a hot dude like myself – I mean you know I am young and I cannot afford your outings." Several opinions shed light on expectations; "girls my age want to get married – not to me in particular, they just want to get married. You will not rush me into meeting your family and will not bother me with questions about the future. Older women are down to earth and they just want to live the moment."

On the more aggressive side, a guy replied saying that "I like to think of it as a charitable act of goodwill. If being around someone who is going downhill would make her feel better, then so be it. I also enjoy how her younger female friends look at me. Some of them even flirt." Another guy said that "behind their confident experienced fa?ade, older women need to be held and touched. They need a sharp pencil – if you know what I mean (wink)." Outside the classroom, a blogger told me, face to face, that older women are just a phase "I am learning and gaining experience so I will be ready for a girl my age. Being with her makes me feel so grown up but there will be a time when I go back in the time machine to my real age. It is never serious. There is an implicit deal between me and my girlfriend, if you want to call her so, that there is no happily ever after end to our relationship."

I was visiting 37 year old divorced N a few months ago at her place and we were having the usual girl talks until she told me that her boyfriend is coming. I wanted to leave but she insisted that I met him. I asked her what he did for a living and she told me that he was an account executive in an agency. I then asked her how they met and she said that they had met online. I asked her if he was married, she laughed, and told me that he was 28. I knew that she was lonely and that her dating options were next to disgusting, and I could understand her reasons for dating a younger guy but I was super curious about his reasons especially when I saw him. He was well groomed, well spoken, well dressed, and well bred. I was too shy to ask him about his interest in my friend, so I waited till he was gone and I asked her to give me her best guesses for his motives.

She told me that he was fascinated by her day to day stories – the same stories that bored men her age. When it came to his personal or professional life, he found her advice indispensable. Plus of course the fact that she had her own place, lived alone, and was in touch with her feminine side. She told me that she offered him the comfort, space, and freedom that young girls could not provide. N would never ask him any question that started with why, when, who, where, how, what, how long, or how often. She is independent – mentally and emotionally – and with his monthly 3000 Egyptian Pounds, it is not likely that he could be entertaining any ideas of getting married soon. N was very comfortable analyzing his motives and was under no illusion that this could be love or that it could end up with something old, something new, or something borrowed and something blue.

A 28 year old guy was wooing me, and after I declared my age, he said with a huge smile on his face that women are like apples; the older they grow the riper they become. Sarcastic as usual, I said that ripe apples are bruised from the inside and have visible brown patches. I was a bit self conscious when I added that this was a sign that they were approaching their expiry date. My smart cookie said that those brown patches are sweeter, softer, more tender, and much tastier than the rest of the apple. I could not keep up with the witty conversation. I did like the puppy look in his eyes. I was falling, and ironically speaking, I resorted to the Irish proverb that says: When the apple is ripe it will fall!

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