OK so I’m jumping the gun a bit on this one in a ‘we’re yet to go on a date but I’m already contemplating the viability of a relationship with an older guy’ kind of way. But I ask you, how many women have a handle on their imaginations when it comes to romantic entanglements?
We met at a ball last summer. The other people in our party were mid to late twenties so I assumed he was too. I thought him charming and witty, as I presume did his then girlfriend. In the course of the next few months our paths crossed occasionally. Pleasantries were exchanged, dances were shared: life went on.
Thursday was different. He came alone. We chatted and flirted the whole way down the dance. For the first time, I didn’t ask after the girlfriend.
In romance, as in every other sphere of life, things do not happen purely by chance; you have to help them along, however subtly. Had I not hastened my departure from the venue, he might not have seen me leaving, turned back, asked if I was going to the pub, and, when I said that I was not, offered to drive me home. At my door we said an affectionate goodnight, he insisted I email him the following day with information about an upcoming ball, and I went in to bed.
That’s clearly a lie. I went in and looked him up on Facebook, and then looked up the girlfriend. All evidence, once prolific, of their involvement had vanished.
I was about to jump for joy when his graduation date caught my eye. I did a double take. Maybe it was an error, or perhaps it referred to matriculation? No, because then his school-leaving date (also given) wouldn’t make sense. Time to face facts: my new crush is 38. To my 23. Uh oh.
A female in her early twenties has a wonderful capacity to rationalise away red flags. Some might say that a 15-year age gap is more of a red sail. My flatmate, who is 32 and would never go near a 23-year-old, certainly thinks so: ‘You’re in different places. He’ll probably be looking to get married.’ Oh my God, a guy who wants commitment! Run for the hills! I see his point of course. By 38 you are probably over slumming it in the Australian outback, or wading through mud at a music festival. Scrabble and a civilised supper constitute a happening Saturday night. Let’s suppose then that the 23-year-old in question quite likes comfortable hotels and word games. (Crazy, eh?) Is it still a terrible idea to get involved?
Marriage and babies: that’s potentially a bigger stumbling block. Let’s see if he calls first.