What I Learned From Dating a Younger Man
Growing up, I’ve always heard the following sentence “relationships are hard.”
As a child, I could not relate to this idea at all — it opposed entirely to the lessons we see in romantic movies. But as I got older, I experienced first-hand the challenges of love.
My most controversial relationship was with Jon. We met at a house party through a friend in common. I felt immediately attracted to him, and we talked all night. Before going home, we exchanged numbers — needless to say; I went to bed with a smile on my face.
However, the smile didn’t last much longer. The following morning, I woke up with a text from my friend: “OMG, you’re interested in Jon?? Isn’t he too young for you?”
I got butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t believe I got so close to meeting a nice guy just to have that taken away from me. After a cold shower and some meditation, I got to the bottom of the story.
It turns out Jon was nine years younger than me.
It took me one day to digest the news. After some consideration, I decided it wouldn’t harm to give him a chance. And I’m glad I did: in a matter of weeks, we started a serious relationship.
This story is not only rainbows and unicorns. While the relationship was great, it faced countless adversities. Here’s what I learned from dating a younger man:
How to overcome my prejudices
Even though I was older than Jon, I had clear expectations about life.
In my dream life, I’d have a job that makes me feel appreciated, my hobbies would help me develop new skills, my house should have a modern design, and my boyfriend would push me towards my goals.
Those preconceived ideas made it difficult for me to feel complete. It was as if life was a long checklist that I needed to complete to achieve happiness.
Jon broke every single expectation I had.
Before meeting him, I daresay I wouldn’t consider dating someone so much younger — although there was no rational reason for this decision. Even without experiencing it, I had a bad image in my mind. In other words, it was prejudice.
With every date, Jon helped me to overcome my prejudices. It was a long process, and it was helpful to know that I wasn’t alone. It takes time and effort, but doing so will open countless possibilities.
In hindsight, questioning my beliefs often leads to growth — and there are no shortcuts in personal development. So be patient and find the right people to help you.
How to be spontaneous
Being spontaneous is a skill I had always admired in others.
There’s something exciting about those backpackers who start a journey without a clear destiny. They look free, careless, and happy.
The first time Jon asked me on a date, we planned to have dinner. Since I wanted to dress accordingly, I asked where we’d go. As an answer, I got a simple, “I don’t know.”
Considering I was a bit of a control-freak, the thought of going to an unknown place was enough to make my hands sweat. For a minute, my mind ran through all the things that could go wrong — and my fingers started typing, “sorry, let’s reschedule.”
Then, I took a deep breath. I decided to embrace Jon’s adventurous lifestyle — maybe I could become a backpacker without a destination. Once I felt calmer, I learned the trick to get out of my comfort zone: taking one step at a time.
For me, increasing the limits of my comfort zone had countless benefits. I became spontaneous on little things in my routine — my clothes, dinner, and shopping. In return, my life is way more relaxing.
My being spontaneous, Jon taught me how to get out of my comfort zone. However, these changes never happen overnight. The best way to start is by taking the first step. Once you feel comfortable enough, take the next step — and next thing you know, you’ve run a long way.
How to keep my energy high
Jon’s youth can be overwhelming.
He loves sports — especially mountain-related, such as skiing and climbing. Besides, he’s incredibly active in his social life, always ready to go out for a drink and party.
This lifestyle requires a tremendous amount of energy —which I didn’t have.
Not that I changed entirely because of Jon. On the contrary, I’m still introverted and career-oriented. But learning new skills doesn’t harm anyone. After all, being in a relationship includes entering someone else’s world.
Jon taught me how to become sporty. It took coffee, RedBull, and lots of exercising. But this energy has a way to recharge itself — for me, the more exercises I make, the more energetic I feel afterward to work.
If you are in a relationship, chances are you and your partner have different interests. It is highly unlikely that you’ll find someone with the same hobbies as you — not to mention it’d be extremely annoying. So being in a relationship means you’ll need to live with those differences.
At first, it may be challenging. But instead of stopping your loved one from practicing their hobbies, a better approach is to join them. You don’t need to become an expert — just like I’m far from being a professional skier. What matters is that you appreciate your partner for who they are and embrace their inner world.
How to be confident
The age difference between Jon and me proved to be quite scandalous for some people.
It defies society’s expectations of relationships. And everything unexpected will face resistance. That means that I had to deal with my prejudice at first and from other people.
I’ve heard multiple times phrases such as: “You shouldn’t care about what others think.”
But it turns out it is way easier said than done. It’s harsh to know that friends and family disapprove of your choices — even when you know it’s right. Deep down, we want to be accepted by others.
To keep my mental health and my relationship, I made difficult choices. I had to step away from old friendships and set my boundaries. In those situations, you learn who real friends are — and surrounding yourself with the right people makes everything easier.
If you’re facing prejudice from your peers — for whatever reason — it may be time to reevaluate your social circle. Take a few weeks off from that judgmental friend and see the effects. Besides, find a group that goes through the same issues as you — chances are you are not alone in this situation, and exchanging experiences may help.
My relationship with Jon broke most of my expectations. However, it has taught me a new perspective on life: more relaxed, confident, energetic, and happy. Every relationship has its challenges, and overcoming them together is a sign of growth. In the end, love comes in the most unexpected ways.