I’ve dated men up to eight years older than me and men up to five years younger than me, and it always amazes me what a world of difference there is between them. While I sure as hell can’t speak for all mixed age couples out there—your forty-something boyfriend might have enough stamina to put a college dude to shame—here are some observations I’ve made from my experiences dating up and down the age ladder. One thing’s for certain, though: Whether he’s ten years older or ten years younger than you, one of you is bound to exclaim, “You’ve never heard of [insert name of pop culture artifact from one’s youth]?!?!”)
Younger guy: He tends to be more eager to please and try new things in bed since he knows that you’ve racked up more years of sexual activity. Plus, he wants you ALL. THE. FREAKIN’. TIME. He’s always game for another round, even when all you want to do is go to sleep already.
Older guy: While he’s a more confident lover, he may not be as sexually adventurous and may resort to tried-and-tested tricks that have worked for him through the years. If it’s dozing you want to do right after the deed, this is the guy for you. (With all that stress at work? Of course he wants to sleep.)
How much he adores you
Younger guy: Get ready to feel like a queen with this guy. He’s impressed by you—natch, you’re more successful, independent, and mature than any girl he has dated—and he won’t hesitate to show it.
Older guy: YOU’RE the one acting like a giddy schoolgirl around him because he has a great career, his own place, his own car, and oh, he just knows so much about things. *swoon*
His lust for life
Younger guy: He’s more spontaneous and has a greater appetite for fun and adventure, and you’ll find yourself getting dragged to drinking sessions that last until the cops come knocking but which you will not regret one bit. (Until the next day, when you have to drag yourself to work with a killer hangover.)
Older guy: He’s more tito in his ways; pizza and a movie at his place are his idea of a Friday night well spent. He’s also more responsible when it comes to having fun; he’ll be the first to “ninja moves” his way out of a party before he gets too drunk to function the next day.
Younger guy: He has all these dreams and aspirations he has his sights on (Millionaire! Rock star! Astronaut!), and it’s adorable, even infectious, how the world hasn’t made a cynic out of him yet. Aww.
Older guy: He’s been in this world long enough to know that not all dreams come true, so he’s more grounded and practical in his views. He has a few goals he wants to achieve because he knows he can, not just because he wants to.
His financial capacity
Younger guy: You really have to offer to foot the bill. Give the guy a break; he just got into his first job, after all, while you’re five years into your current one.
Older guy: He has no qualms about picking up the check when you’re out, and can afford to take you on vacations and buy you shiny, pretty things for no reason. #Blessed
How much traditional gender roles come into play
Younger guy: He considers your input and lets you take the lead more, even in something as simple as choosing where to have dinner. In general, younger guys these days aren’t as trapped in gender roles than their fathers were. Hooray for feminism!
Older guy: He tends to be more dominant in the relationship, and in areas where he knows more, quickly falls into the role of teacher to your protégée. Although he still loves hearing what you think, he’s more independent in making his own opinions and decisions.
His romantic history
Younger guy: You have less ex drama to deal with here, because he’s likely had less partners than you have. In fact, he might even tell you about his past relationships just to prove to you that he has, indeed, dated women in the past.
Older guy: He’s had more experience with the opposite sex, but he’ll prefer to keep mum about them. He’s dated enough women to know that blabbing away about other women to your current squeeze is NEVER a good idea.
His emotional maturity
Younger guy: He’s more likely to have moods that you’ll have to navigate through, and he could even engage you in arguments instead of letting things slide. As the older person in the relationship, you’ll feel obliged to be the bigger person when he’s being emotionally immature.
Older guy: Because he’s had enough relationship experience, he knows better what approaches work and what don’t. He’s more willing to let you win in a fight and won’t threaten to up and go just because you’ve had a shouting match.
How solid a long-term bet he is
Younger guy: He’s less likely to be in it for the long haul because he’s still exploring the dating scene, not to mention figuring out his own place in the world. But he’s a lot of fun, and he’ll make you feel young, and damn, that’s exciting.
Older guy: If he’s in his 30s or older, he’s more likely to have a better handle on what he wants in life and be on the lookout for not just a weekend hook-up, but a girl he can share his journey with. If you’re looking to lock it down, he’s your guy.