To recap: I started dating a younger man (Mr. Energy) and had a blissful first 5 weeks while red flags were appearing. Three weeks later, we were DUNZO. Since then (3 weeks ago) I have tried to make sense of the rollercoaster ride in order to learn from it because really, the more I date, the less I know (thanks Adele, I shall page homage to you at karaoke one day).
Mr. Energy had me challenging beliefs I’ve held for years about life and love. This post is intended to fuel discussion and thought around what is critical for a relationship to really work in the long term, while trying not to reveal too many personal details. In fact I’m looking for you to teach me based on your experience. But I have a sneaky suspicion there are no sweeping rules. It most likely varies person to person, situation to situation. Here goes…
Is instant chemistry essential?
After my four year relationship I thought passion and chemistry were key and so I set out to find the instant click above all else. And chemistry I found! Since then I’ve had a couple passionate but very short lived relationships and unfortunately I only seem to feel instant chemistry for radically different from me, bad boy types.
Mr. Energy and I openly questioned whether we had more than just chemistry. I thought we had an intellectual connection and my feelings were real. But I wonder if I was trying to force us to be more, instead of just viewing him as a fun and temporary boy toy (I would have benefitted more in that case, if you know what I mean…this will be its own post one day).
What is instant chemistry really? Wanting what you can’t have and the challenge factor? Someone who knows how to look at you and touch you? An intangible matching of your energy? Purely superficial as it relates to face, body, clothing and how someone carries them self? Or a real meeting of two souls at the right time in life?
And is instant chemistry different than chemistry that grows over time? More importantly, CAN CHEMISTRY GROW OVER TIME?
With respect to long term relationships, my mom always says “Don’t go after the passion because it is fleeting – go for someone who is your best friend and who will treat you right”. Cue eyeroll that is slowly shifting into a shrug of defeat.
I still believe I can find the elusive combination of “passion and best friends” but I’m starting to think that instant chemistry isn’t as important as I once thought it was. That lust is blinding and it doesn’t seem to be real. What do you think?
Is age just a number?
After dating a couple of 35 year old men, I swore I wouldn’t date over 30 again. I found them to be quite jaded about life and less hopeful for the future. There was a desperate quality that was really off putting.
Yet there are likely tons of happy and hopeful, well adjusted men in their mid thirties who just haven’t met the right person yet (while others don’t ever want to and that’s cool). There are tons of benefits to dating an older man, including a better sense of who they are and where they are going.
Likewise, I then started dating this 21 year old who was full of life, playful and not desperate at all. Yet I also found him to be rather selfish, unstable and not ready for the real deal. That doesn’t mean a 35 year old man couldn’t act the same way. It also doesn’t mean all 21 year olds are selfish and not ready for a relationship (in fact, many of them end up marrying their high school sweethearts).
While it is tempting to define rules to make dating more efficient and safeguard against making the same mistakes twice, I have come to the conclusion that where someone is in life, along with their essence, is just loosely related to birth date. And the older you get, the less age difference seems to matter.
- Do I think it is easier to date someone my own age? Yes. Sometimes.
- Can I blame this latest relationship failure on the age difference? Maybe. Only time will tell.
- Will I turn down younger and older men in the future based solely on their birth date? No, as long as I can approach it with an open mind, without expecting disappointing stereotypes I’ve experienced to re-manifest.
In your experience, does age matter?
Purpose driven vs. Pleasure driven: Do life philosophies have to be the same?
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I believe we were all put on this earth for a particular purpose and that the fun of life is following the clues to figure it out.
On the other hand, Mr. Energy believes we exist simply to experience all that life has to offer and to have fun (purpose is not required and irrelevant). Work is just a necessity to survive, created by society and government. Freedom and instant gratification are highly valued.
Neither view is right or wrong. I can see his point and even think I could benefit from pairing up with someone like that, to balance me out. However, the motivating forces that drove our actions were coming from completely different places and we didn’t see eye to eye on many things. In the end, it seemed to be a really important difference.
The Party Boy vs. the Good Girl: Does sharing a similar lifestyle matter?
Related to the above, the lifestyle I lead is very straight – drugs have always scared me, partly due to my sometimes lack of self control (fear of addiction) and need to be in control. So I’ve avoided them up until now. I must admit I have felt like a social pariah/alien due to this choice but am trying to embrace it.
HE made me question my beliefs as he passionately advocated on behalf of his choices. Do I believe drugs are not for me because I’ve been taught to think that way? What are my real arguments? I couldn’t come up with many concrete reasons. I’ve just always been this way.
I know plenty of women and men who don’t smoke and marry a smoker, who don’t do drugs and marry someone who does and their relationships work. It doesn’t feel like a lifestyle difference should make or break a couple, although it does come down to what your personal deal breakers are and whether this difference is balanced out by everything else that is “right” in the relationship.
While lifestyle choices seemed to catalyze the demise of Mr. Energy and I, I’m not convinced it was the ultimate nail in the coffin. Regardless, it got me clearer on what I can and cannot accept relating to drug use, much of which is rooted behind the motivation of use and real character traits revealed.
Differences can be great, but which aspects of character, values and lifestyle need to be similar?
In your experience, have lifestyle differences or similarities had any impact?
The Bottom Line:
I tried to be open-minded and flexible with this relationship (tried being the operative word) as I don’t want to be judged for my age, life outlook or lifestyle choices. I felt really guilty feeling as if I couldn’t accept him for who he was. But I also felt like I saw his “underneath”, beyond the age and choices.
For now, I’m going to focus on myself and try to be a stronger happier person, operate more on gut feeling (rather than analytics) and trust that all my flaws and positives will someday be valued and enough.
Not just enough, but completely right. And that we will both JUST KNOW.
Never forget dear reader that you are worthy. We all have flaws but you deserve a genuine connection so hold out for it. Not all of us meet our ever-lasting love by age 25.
Stay tuned for a quick and dirty list of 11+ things I learned from this break up (yes there is more to say!) and please leave your thoughts on this topic in the comments!