A man I had come to know, some twenty-odd years south of my age, made some moves on me a wee while ago. I guess it’s not that much of an unusual occurrence for this happen to an older woman. Technically, I have no idea what was going on in this man’s head, apart from the fact it became clear he was chancing his luck for sex. Upon reflection, that was probably all that was going on in both his heads. What I’m surmising was that there may have been a brief flash of thinking that went something along the lines of: single, older, not too hideous, probably grateful. Then the thinking stopped. That was enough boxes ticked to give it a go.
And why shouldn’t I go for it with a younger man, I thought. It’s perfectly acceptable for a man to be twenty-odd years older than his partner, or paramour. Except for the niggly part of me that couldn’t help clocking that he didn’t actually ask if I wanted to go for a coffee with him, or a movie, or a drive, or anything. I know he wasn’t wanting to date me – for the record, I didn’t want to date him, either – but I did kinda want to be treated as human being of a bit more value than just someone to empty his bags into. When I made it clear, in way that I thought protected his dignity, that I only wanted to be friends, he disappeared.
As I mentioned, I didn’t actually want to date this man, but I thought hanging out together might be okay. I thought we got along quite well, and enjoyed each other’s company, so having a coffee or catching a movie together didn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Maybe we could have a woman/man friendship that was on a different level to the usual friendships we have with our peers? We would talk about different things in a different way, and maybe I could bestow upon him the benefit of my years, and mentor him into being an awesome man, and perhaps even get a real girlfriend – if that’s what he wanted. Yeah, I know – what a tosser(ess). In my head, though, it sounded like a pretty good plan, and the age gap would keep any sex issues from getting in the way. Sounded good in my head.
When the realisation dawned on me that he wasn’t coming back, I wasn’t heart-broken, but I was disappointed in his clichéd behaviour. I thought he was better than that, but just goes to show how we can still miss the mark after all our years in the world. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to have personal boundaries in place. Sometimes, it hurts in the moment to have those boundaries, and I wonder what they might be making me miss out on, but hindsight has invariably shown that it hasn’t been much. The boundaries might waver under a charm onslaught, perhaps, and I might think that maybe I’m reading things wrong, but ultimately they now stand through the self-doubt. I remind myself that I haven’t got this far in life without knowing what I know, even when it looks like I might not know what I know.
What’s cool about being older, is that I don’t really care that much about how this situation turned out. What I feel is along the lines of an eyeroll, more than feeling dehumanised. I would have felt much more gutted at being devalued like this when I was younger and more anxious to be thought well of. There’s no denying that his behaviour wan’t good, but I am so much more invested in me now, that it was only a minor bump in the road of minor bumps.
Apart from noting his behaviour – possibly an unfortunate aspect of the conditioning associated with patriarchal ideology, and, to give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps unconscious to a certain degree – I mostly feel that being sixty, and fundamentally giving zero f**ks, feels so damn good.