April 14th, 2003

planet

age discrimination

I got another Ask Spacefem question about ages. 40 year old guy likes a 20 year old girl and wants to know if it'd be totally insane to act on his feelings. Well, basically, yes.

But I'm not totally sure why... I've been told that I'm hung up on ages more than most people, but you shouldn't form opinions based on a majority vote. So I'm going to spit out some thoughts.

Oh but first the disclaimer: What I'm about to say has nothing to do with anything that has happened, is happening, or will happen in my life. That's why it's a public entry.

Why I Think You Should Hang Out With People Your Own Age
It seems illogical sometimes, to limit our inner circles according to birth year. There are obvious reasons why we'd like to be closer to members of different generations. We like older people because they treat humans better (generally speaking), aren't so self-centered, have more general knowledge about the world that we find interesting. They're more established, materialy speaking... obviously a person without a steady income and a house is going to be very interested in someone who does have these things.

We like younger people because they have fresher perspectives and can be more optimistic. They're less likely to have a complicated dirty past to wade through. They're youthful and energetic, and can give off the vibe of really needing our help to learn some of life's trickier lessons. We all like feeling needed.

But while it's alright to consider yourself a casual friend to members of different age groups, close friends and lovers are a different matter.

I think that in a healthy relationship, development has to happen. That's what brings you closer together, that struggle, figuring one another out. If there's an imbalance there, it can't work. If one person needs the other more, knows a lot more, has been a lot more places, it's less likely to work.

Also, we as humans need to relate to others who are in our same station in life to develop properly. Spend all your time relating to people half your age, and something will hold you back eventually. We think differently at different ages, that's all there is to it. A properly developing mind just won't be able to relate as well to one much younger.

We try to fill little voids in our lives, experiment, whatever, but in the end it's not what nature intended. So I'm sticking by my rule: you shouldn't date someone if there's a greater than 20% age difference. Also, add three years to that difference is there's a life-station divider in there, like college/high school, any school/real world... for example, the difference between a 15 and 20 year old should really be treated like eight years. We might find reasons to be attracted to other people, but in the end it's just not healthy or right.

I didn't really have the heart to tell the 40 year old who wrote in for advice to just stick it. Instead, I told him to think hard on it then go ahead and be honest with the girl about his feelings, but don't be surprised if she freaks out about it, and give her lots of room, and pay close attention to signs that there's tension happening. People can't turn off their feelings like light bulbs, we have to deal with the curves life throws us. It's taken me a while to admit that, but I'm starting to understand.

Which really reminds me how much I don't understand. Again, just thoughts.