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I also had a lot of friends who couldn't believe how dumb I was — didn't I remember how difficult it was to get a guy to commit at age 24? Of course, I didn't "go through that again," and five years into our relationship, no one really gives a sh*t about how old either of us are.

But the experience has made me think about how women are discouraged from dating younger men — especially women in their twenties.

But this kind of thinking conflates practical responsibility with emotional maturity — which isn't really accurate.

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Older men, it seems to me, are like gold dust on the dating scene right now.

Although the idea of a "cougar" who dates much younger men has a certain cultural cachet, being a woman in your twenties who simply chooses a partner who's a bit younger is often viewed as weird, desperate, or deluded — basically, anything besides what it is, which is totally normal.

People have a much easier time, it seems, getting on board with the idea of a woman taking a younger partner for purely sexual reasons than they do with the idea of a woman in a serious relationship with a younger partner.

To act like youth is an eternal state — that a person who is currently 23 and not totally sure about how to pick a good bottle of wine or operate their dishwasher, will exist in that state forever — is actively denying the facts of our own lives.

As noted relationship therapist Stevie Nicks put it, "Times makes you bolder/ Even children get older/ And I'm getting older, too".

For this reason, being a woman with a younger partner is often viewed in a negative light. We can fight this totally gross line of thinking by agreeing to view younger people that we have chemistry as real possible partners — and by not constantly "joking" about any woman we know who happens to have a younger partner.

You're supposedly an immature doofus who can't attract partners your own age, or maybe a delusional narcissist who can't cope with aging (I've heard both! Again, all these ideas are based on stereotypes — primarily, that youth is one of the only valuable traits a woman possesses when dating, and that to take a pass on using it as a bargaining chip to find a more desirable mate is insane. (But, of course, if calling yourself a "cougar" gets your rocks off, then more power to you, my friend.)There's another myth out there that dating young people means that you'll never get serious — that dating a younger guy or girl means that you're signing on for a relationship purgatory full of half-assed plans, a lack of emotional commitment, and being introduced as "this girl I'm kinda hanging out with" at parties.

So if you're thinking about getting together with someone younger, don't listen to anyone who uses words like "cougar," "cradle robber," or "Samantha Jones;" instead, consider the five points below.

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