Comment: I just sent a message to a woman I found through an online dating site (OKCupid). This girl, let’s call her Megan, seems fantastic– she’s a nurse (I’m a first year medical student), she enjoys a lot of the same things I do (camping, cooking, giant dogs, passionate sex haha, etc…), and not to be weird but the ‘explanations’ she wrote for all of her personality survey questions really made me laugh. The point is, she seems special, and I’d like to see where things go with her. Here’s the rub though: She’s 28 and I’m barely 23. I’ve never dated an older girl before, and to be honest it’s never been much of a concern for me. Now, though, I’m a bit worried that she, like most women I suspect, would prefer an older guy, and won’t be interested in getting to know someone 4 years younger than she is. (Not to mention, I’m still in school and will be for at least the next four years.) Maybe it’s not a good idea in the first place– I can think of about a dozen reasons why not to pursue this– but honestly, I don’t come across a lot of people I could envision having a serious relationship with. I don’t want to miss out on my chance to get to know this girl. Anyway, any advice you have on my situation would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
City: Iowa City
You’re right in your assumption that many women, especially when dating online, dismiss the emails from the younger guys. That’s swell that the thought of dating an older woman has never been a concern for you. But you’re not the only one involved in this scenario. She probably gets a ton of messages from guys just like you who think she’s special.
I think her bigger concern would be that you and she are in two different places in your respective lives. You’re just starting medical school. I’m sure, as a nurse, she has an idea of what you’re about to experience. She’s familiar with the busy schedule, the unavailability, the time constraints, etc. That is a valid concern for her.
Yes, maturity levels might come into play as well. From my experience, dating someone under 35 when you’re a few years or even several years older can be trying. There’s this lack of accountability and disorganization involved that makes dating someone younger absolutely maddening. Younger men and women are still figuring it all out. There’s still a level of self-absorption that is present with many people in their twenties to early thirties. Which isn’t necessarily an insult. At that point in someone’s life they’re trying to establish themselves. It’s hard not to be wrapped up in your job or school or your social circle. We all go through that transition period where it’s all about us for the time being. That, and not the lack of common interests, is what concerns me when presented with an opportunity to go out with someone under 35.
She also might dismiss you as yet another younger guy looking to bag an “older” woman for the story. For that you can thank all your bros who don’t know how to get it right and behave properly. They don’t see women as people, they see them as objects. So, if you do want to catch this woman’s attention, talk to her like a peer. You’ve got medical school and training involved. Maybe use that as a spring board for conversation. Talk to her as an equal and ignore the age difference completely. There’s nothing more awkward than when someone emails you and starts off by admitting that they “know” you probably won’t respond or might dismiss them.
I’ve often said that I think we know when we’re encountering someone out of our league. I think it’s good to occasionally step out of that comfort zone, if only to make yourself more available and resilient. My advice is to choose those moments wisely. If, like in your situation, you feel you and that person have a lot in common or appear to be clicking, then why not take the shot? Take those risks sparingly, but take them.
It’s when people have no idea of what they can reasonably pull that they wind up frustrated and angry that nobody is returning their interest. The men and women you always hear complaining about their asshole dates or who frequently find themselves dealing with that person who texts but never wants to meet or people who fade in the middle of email exchanges? Those people are probably shooting out of their league the majority of the time. I can not stress enough the importance of knowing your audience. You will avoid so much aggravation if you correctly identify the people who like you and then try to like them back. If you don’t want to do that, then you must recalibrate your expectations and understand that getting that one amazing person you met will be atypically difficult. If you think they’re unique and special, I can assure you someone else does, too. You will likely be vying for their attention and interest. Learn it. Live it. Love it.
The only way you’re going to know what she thinks is if you contact her. She’ll either respond and be interested or she won’t. I would rather try and fail than always wonder what might have been. Just be honest with yourself of what you can offer in terms of time and interest.