Dating a younger man

Famous attraction: Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher had a 15-year age difference.

Famous attraction: Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher had a 15-year age difference. Photo: AP

If you've never had a photo of a penis sent to you on a phone, trust me, it's an arresting experience. The first unprompted missive of this kind is met with confusion, slow recognition, bemusement and ultimately a big fit of giggles. And then it becomes something highly amusing to show your girlfriends in the pub.

I know this because such matters are typical of the weird and wonderful moments in dating a man 12 years younger.

It started with an unexpected Christmas gift. A drunken encounter at a pub on Christmas Eve in 2010 left me waking the next day with a stinking hangover and an unfamiliar arm draped over me. It wasn't Santa, however. This unlikely candidate for my affections was a 23-year-old from Bathurst who hadn't long left uni.

The upshot is that Toyboy, as he came to be known by my friends, has been in my life since then. Reactions have varied from fist pumps and high-fives – "Back of the net, Thomas!" was one comment – to outrage about me wasting my time. "I'm glad you're happy," said one friend. "But what about your withering ovaries?" Another friend casually mentioned she assumed I paid for everything, like a sugar momma (of average means). For the record, I'm not sure I want kids or marriage.

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Bills were split equally, and if I have to explain once more that the definition of a cougar is 45-plus, I will actually attack like a wildcat. After that Christmas, Toyboy began visiting regularly. I won't lie about this early period: it was mainly horizontal. It wasn't until about May I noticed how much taller than me he was. His twentysomething gym-honed body and my seen-better-days physique might seem a confronting set-up, but I never felt more uninhibited and fulfilled. A ravenous young bloke in the throes of passion is too busy with far more exciting things to notice a wobbly tummy.

While the photos, which were frequent at this point, were amusing, I was troubled by the etiquette. I am well aware it is something his generation is very adept at, but how does one respond? A polite "thank you", a compliment, admiration of the composition? I never reciprocated, I didn't even try. I'm familiar with my nether regions and I am completely OK with the fact they probably won't photograph well.

As time went on, my friends started to be more bemused about Toyboy. "What do you talk about?" was a common question. There were many generational gaps: it was incomprehensible to him that the world of my teens and early 20s had no internet, whereas it was infuriating to me that anything from music to TV shows had roughly 90 seconds to win his attention or lose it forever.

But, sooner or later, we reached the point where we didn't stop talking. We both had fractured upbringings and many things in common in this respect. He stopped being a plaything and became someone I was very much in love with. A life of hardship and harrowing experiences had not left him damaged or resentful, just smart, funny and good-hearted with a very grounded sense of the realities of life.

He moved to Sydney early last year and began staying at my place most nights. Life beyond the weekend kicked in. Our relationship became less sex and partying, and more about going to the supermarket, eating dinner and the freedom to fart openly while watching rugby league on the TV (mainly him, that one). We became a normal couple.

I knew it was on borrowed time, however. There was always a sense of right people, wrong time and the shadow of an end looming. It finally came to a head at Christmas and now he's off overseas to work, travel and have adventures, much like when I left Britain for Australia nearly a decade ago.

Regardless, there has been something so freeing about a relationship with no future – it's not pointless, it's intensely liberating. No need to worry about marriage, dishwashers, mortgages, kids, money – it's all about the now, enjoying the moment and just being. We leave on good terms, with love and a priceless value on the bounty of this time.

Incidentally, the photos stopped a long time ago and if I mention them now, he blushes. Who isn't embarrassed by the things we did when we were young?

39 comments

  • My boyfriend is six years younger than me. It doesn't seem to cause many problems except that what we liked as kids don't lap over.

    I still don't understand a thing about Pokemon.

    Commenter
    Jim Moriarty
    Date and time
    April 16, 2013, 8:11AM
    • Hi Jim, you would have to be north of, what, 27 or so to even remember Pokemon nowadays, wouldn't you? (At least when it was at its height.) I suspect some of the young grads I work with from time-to-time would recognise Pikachu only from the latest interation of Smash Bros.

      I actually have no real experience of this issue. I have never dated significantly younger or older men. But 6 years seems infinitely more manageable than 12. The latter is basically a generation gap.

      Commenter
      AdamC
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 11:15AM
    • Hey Adam, yeah, I'm in my thirties, he's in his twenties.

      We did spend the lovely long weekend playing Bioshock Infinite together, so I know it's not the games. I just preorder the new Pokemon titles and hand them over.

      Commenter
      Jim Moriarty
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 12:31PM
  • Toyboys eventually grow up, look at the old woman next to them and go running for a woman closer to their own age group. Sad but true.

    Commenter
    rrr
    Date and time
    April 16, 2013, 8:38AM
    • I love the supreme certainty of this truth! All things can be done, rrr.

      Commenter
      Bds
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 9:18AM
    • Really? Well someone forgot to tell my Mum and her partner. He was 19, she was 44. They're still together 23 years later.

      Commenter
      Vaughan
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 10:29AM
    • While the older woman is fun for a while when a man is 20-25, and someone about your own age might seem more suitable for marriage at 28-32, eventually one is too tempted by the firm body of a younger woman. A woman 8 -10 years younger seems about right at 40 for a life partner.

      Then again, I could run my life again at 28-30 (when I was free) I would have simultaneously dated 40-ish and 21-ish women. That said, the sexiest thing about any woman is not her age, and not even her her body, but her intellect.

      Commenter
      Viv R
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 10:35AM
    • Sad but true for some that like to stereotype.

      Commenter
      BB
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 1:50PM
  • Done this all my life - not by choice, simply that younger men are the only ones who seem attracted to me. It does always end, however, so it's good to go into it knowing however wonderful and infinite it is, the biological imperative will see them leave. If you have the fortitude, it can end by your hand which at least gives the feeling of some control.

    Commenter
    reality bites
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 16, 2013, 8:43AM
    • Cant help but feel if the sexes in this piece were reversed, with a bloke calling his younger partner 'Toygirl,' there'd be shock and outrage.... much like Matty Silver's Feb 2013 SMH piece on female sex tourism [http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/ladies-your-holiday-romance-awaits-20130206-2dymx.html] was framed in a not at all perverted way, with the woman essentially seen as the 'victim' - what ludicrous hypocrisy! Nothing wrong with age gaps in relationships, just a bit of a double standard when it comes to how society tends to perceive it when the man is not the elder - the male equivalent of a 'cougar' would be a 'pervert' or 'sugar daddy' which is much more maligned... yes more men fall into the predatory pervert category, no doubt, but it's still a double standard...

      Commenter
      drew
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      April 16, 2013, 8:54AM

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