A funny thing happens when you are a single woman in the age range of 35-45, you get a lot of guys in their 50’s that will express an interest in you. And while at first the age difference may not seem that vast (especially if they have taken good care of themselves) you have to keep in mind that these men were brought up during a time where a man’s primary job was to be a good provider. They did not graduate from medical or law school with 50% of their peers as women, and they certainly weren’t expected to pitch in much with cooking, cleaning, and child-raising responsibilities.
Here are 3 areas where you might have a conflict of interest, and although none of these are insurmountable, they do require some recognition the age differences coming into play:
1. Emotional Awareness– Sadly, few if any of the baby boomer men were taught to be emotionally available to their partners– instead, men were bred to be rocks. Now don’t get me wrong– having a rock is awesome, but if you require a deep emotional connection with your partner, you may need to exercise some patience while breaking down some bad habits (like bottling things up or trying to bury feelings) and instead learning to create a safe place to talk about concerns and feelings without passing judgments. Learning how to fight well is never easy, but it is extra hard when you have to try and shift the paradigm by which someone’s viewed the world for several decades.
2. Power Battles– Try to keep in mind that men from the baby boomer generation often were raised by stay-at-home mothers, with few divorces and blended family situations back then. Unlike today where women hold leadership roles in various fields, back then men held ALL the power. Knowing that boys generally want to emulate their dads, you can easily see then how a baby boomer male may have a really hard time dealing with a fiery, opinionated, and uber independant GenXer that doesn’t back down. It’s not so much about intentionally seeking to be dominant, but for an old school guy it may be a shift to truly respect and see a woman as an equal.
3.Stages of Life– You may notice significant differences in energy levels and/or sex drive. Also, a baby boomer is more than likely to now be an empty nester, who is focused on retirement, whereas those under 50 are likely to have children still at home, and retirement seems like something in the far, far off future. As a result, you may have very different financial goals and concerns, and it is important not to dismiss each other’s viewpoint. You need to be sensitive to this whenever financial discussions and make major life decisions arise.
In the end, there is a lot you can learn from someone who sees things differently, and who brings a different skill set to the table, but the generation gap can definitely add a whole new set of challenges to a relationship. As many of my girlfriends know, I continue to recommend that some GenXers look to older guys as companions, for they are a bit more mellowed out and usually less obsessed with the rat race, but if you do date someone a decade or so older and you want it to last, you need to be cognizant of the 3 key points mentioned above and mind the generation gap.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.