I was always against dating in my age bracket. Maybe it was the old "girls mature faster than boys" trope or maybe it was the fact that most boys I know are elite athletes and, thus, operate like overgrown children, dedicating their days to video games, messy apartments, and naptime. Guys my age have just never been appealing.
Now, I don't claim to have an extraordinary track record when it comes to dating, so what I'm about to say will probably feel less inspirational and more "basic bitch"; you probably have a few friends who have gone down the relationship roads I have, too.
For the first time in my adult life, I'm beginning to look at my peer group and see something I'm interested in exploring. Dating a guy my age would be a unique experience for me -- and it's one I'm excited to pursue, thanks in large part to the lessons I've learned from a one-year marriage stint and a handful of May-December romances.
3 Things I Learned From Marriage:
1. It's not about you.
You might be rolling your eyes, but this is one lesson that took time for me to really feel in my heart. When you make a commitment to another person, you forfeit the ability to be completely selfish -- at some level, you have to consider another person's Maslow Hierarchy and conduct yourself accordingly.
2. We're not all loved in the same way.
What I need from you will likely not be the same thing you need from me. Not only is it my job to tell you what I want, it's also my job to fulfill your needs wholeheartedly.
3. Apathy is the #1 relationship-killer.
I'm afraid of lifelong monogamous relationships because I'm not interested in "settling". I don't want to wake up one day to us both wearing frumpy sweatsuits, having uninspired sex, and quibbling over banal household topics. But the true killer of love and romance? Not caring anymore. When you give up, it's over -- and a lack of communication, affection, kindness, or open-mindedness spurs on apathy long before spending a lifetime together ever will.
3 Things I Learned From an Older Man:
1. Older men know what they want and they have the means to get it.
It's that simple. That confidence that comes from experience and the accompanying lifestyle makes an older man a wonderful companion.
2. I need security.
And don't we all? Isn't there something wonderful about knowing that the sun will always rise and set, that you have someone on the other end of the phone whenever you need them, and that the person who says they love you is true to their word? There's an extra level of confidence that an older man won't let you down -- or, conversely, there's less confidence that a guy my age knows what he wants (point 1), so he won't be able to keep up his end of the relationship bargain. I have long held this idea that guys my age just sleep around and are disrespectful to the institution of the committed relationship. An older man always felt safer.
3. Older men have already made their mistakes.
They have a stronger understanding of how to treat a partner; they aren't afraid of being vulnerable and they aren't trying to fit in. They are grateful for love and they are excited to celebrate you in a way younger men haven't grasped yet.
But for all the lessons learned... neither of those situations worked for me. There are inevitable truths about older men (ex-wives, children, being set in their ways) that I can't wrap my arms around.
And maybe guys my age are finally striking that perfect balance -- grown out of their frat boy priorities and lifestyles and ready to care for someone in a meaningful way. Maybe the late 20s are the ultimate age for men to start taking relationships seriously and maybe guys my age are finally starting to catch up.
Or maybe (more likely), I'm ready to throw my expectations and timelines out the window and try to date with no big picture in mind and no pressure included. Maybe the idea of growing with someone is exciting. Maybe being able to connect over the same terrible '90s boy bands and Abercrombie & Fitch fashion is awesome. Maybe I'm more patient and am willing to put up with the fumbles and fuck ups that come with any relationship. Maybe I'm ready -- and maybe it will be the perfect fit.
This post originally appeared on Medium.