It’s summer! Which means a few great things: no classes, the chance to meet new people outside of your college, and more free time on nights and weekends (how great is not having homework?). Stepping away from your college bubble also means you are re-entering the “real world,” at least for three months. Whether you’re living in a city away from home for a job or internship, traveling, or just living at home, you’re much more likely to face “real world” situations – such as dating older men.
The chance to date older guys who are no longer in college can be very exciting, especially if you’ve been feeling tired of the on-campus dating scene. Yes, post-college guys wear suits! And have money to take you out to dinner! And are mature enough to talk about things other than chugging Bud Light in their frat houses (well, hopefully)! But should you be wary if a guy in his mid-to-late twenties or thirties approaches you at a bar? Her Campus lays out the dos and don’ts of dating an older man – read on to find out what he’s really thinking when he asks for your number!
Why older guys like us
The “older guy dating younger girl” phenomenon is nothing new (hello, Hugh Hefner). But you may be wondering, why do these guys seem so interested in us? And why don’t they just date someone their own age? Well, as it turns out, college girls are pretty appealing to older guys. Here are some of the reasons they like going for younger girls:
1. We know how to have fun
Yes, it’s true. To older guys, college girls mean one thing: FUN! (Complete with capital letters). Kevin, 23, spells it out: “College girls are often more fun and more exciting than older women, some of who become dull, boring homebodies [after college]. A lot of the girls I know don't go out as much as they did in college, and even when they do, it's not quite the same as partying with current college people.”
Older guys may also think that college girls are wilder than older women, even if it’s not true. Patrick Wanis, a human behavior and relationship expert, explains, “From the guy’s perspective, the college girl might be very free-spirited, she’s very experimental, she tends to be wild – she’ll do things that an older woman wouldn’t necessarily do.” When it comes to anything, from hooking up to trying a new restaurant, guys think we may be more willing to try new things than an older, more experienced woman.
2. We remind him of his college days
Dan Lier, relationship expert from ASK Dan & Mike and co-author of the book Dan & Mike’s Guide to MEN, explains how older guys associate college girls with their fondest college memories: “Generally speaking, when they see a college girl, all guys start remembering the good old days of college. He’s thinking about the parties, the football games … and he’s thinking about sex.” It’s important to realize that many guys who are out of college may still feel nostalgic about their college experiences. By dating a college-aged girl, the guy may be attempting to relive the college experience and recreate the feeling of sexual liberty he experienced as an undergrad.
3. We’re easier to impress
Even if those aren’t his intentions, most older guys would agree: college girls are easier to impress! “A woman in college is not used to going out to Morton’s for dinner, going to a play, and spending money, [so it’s easier to impress her],” Lier says. “Knowing that makes a guy feel really good.” Older women, who most likely have been on many more dates, may not be as impressed by a simple gesture like a dinner out as a college-aged woman would.
Guys also may want to date a younger girl because it might be easier to impress her sexually. “He always feels great when he can impress her sexually,” Lier continues. “The fewer sexual partners she has had, the more chance that she will be impressed by him in bed.” Yes, it’s true: guys may like it if you’re not as experienced as the women his age. It takes the pressure off of him!
4. We make him feel good about himself
Sometimes we all need a little ego boost. An older guy may start dating a younger girl because doing so makes him feel a little bit better about himself. Anonymous older guy, 24, says, “Older guys are attracted to college girls because they're generally a ton of fun, bubbly, and they make us feel wise and confident.” If a younger girl is impressed by his more advanced life experience, it will make the guy feel mature and give him the boost he may need if he’s not completely satisfied with all the aspects of his post-grad life.
5. We don’t want a ring – or babies!
Lier explains that sometimes guys date younger women so they can escape from the pressure of settling down: “When women get older, they may apply more pressure on the man to get married. Younger girls are still figuring out the world and not pushing him to have kids and get married.” If the guy is not yet ready for the “tie-the-knot-and-have-kids” stage in life, he may seek out a younger girl that isn’t placing that kind of pressure on him.
“For a guy it can be, ‘I know this is not going to last, so I just want to have a fun time. She’s not going to want children from me; she’s not going to want a long-term commitment,’” Wanis says.
6. We’re going back to campus soon
The timing is also a factor for older guys. If we meet him over the summer, the dating experience is like any other summer fling – it has a set end date. “In the college summer situation, both people know exactly when one of them is leaving for good, thus making a serious, committed relationship impractical in most cases,” Kevin says. “It's possible that this might make college girls even more attractive to guys, since the guy knows he likely won't be tied down for a long time.”
You should still give older guys a chance . . . Okay, so older guys may be afraid of commitment and looking for an ego boost. Should you rule them out because they’re older? No! Collegiette™ Rachel advises, “Don't ever turn a guy down because he's older. Judge the guy on his maturity and your connection – that's what matters!” And she’s right: you shouldn’t clump all older guys in the “stay away” category. Instead, assess each guy individually. You may end up finding a great, sincere older man.
“A girl should be wary of a guy who asks for her number because they don’t know what type of guy he is, not because he is older,” Stetson, 27, says. “I do not doubt there are guys who go out specifically looking for younger girls, but I do not think they make up the majority of older guys dating younger girls.”
And there are success stories out there: collegiette™ Nicole has been dating her boyfriend, Brad, since she graduated high school – and he is ten years older than she is! “[When we met,] I was 18 and he was 28,” Nicole says. “Sounds absolutely shocking, and it was to everyone, even me. But for us, age was just a number. When we were together, there were no barriers and no awkwardness. In a world where everyone is obsessed with finding romance, if two people can get along together and feel for each other, why not let it happen and enjoy it?”
… But beware of some of the issues
When you do decide to experiment with an older guy, make sure you’re aware of some of the dangers and the potential difficulties that may arise. Even Nicole’s boyfriend Brad, 31, admits that a lot of guys his age are not sincere in their motives when it comes to college girls.
“When [we] first started dating, I wasn't expecting too much due to the age difference and the distance we'd have between us,” Brad says. “Initially I was thinking she would be fun to ‘hook up’ with, nothing serious.”
Though their relationship did turn into something serious, it’s important to realize that some older guys may not have totally sincere motives – at least at first.
Anonymous older guy, 24, explains, “Being brutally honest, a lot of guys in their 20s know college girls working in a big city means there's really little commitment – summer will end, and they’ll go back to campus. That's not to say all guys are jerks and are on the hunt for college chicks over the summer as though it's rabbit season, but there are a ton of that kind out there.”
If you start to date an older guy, take things slowly to find out if he is able to prove his sincerity before you let your guard down. Carole Lieberman, M.D., suggests establishing a friendship with the guy first. “It's best to start casually, such as going out in a group of friends or meeting for coffee in the middle of the day,” she says. “You don't want to start off with romantic dates or visiting either of your homes ... circumstances that could more quickly propel you into bed.” Get to know the guy in non-romantic settings first so you can start to judge your connection with him (and his motives!).
Collegiette™ Alex, 21, has been dating her 27-year-old boyfriend for two years. “We did not start out looking for a romantic relationship, but it grew into one as we got to know each other better,” she says. “We had already talked about our lives and had come to value each other's advice. He proved to me that he was sincere by caring about my day-to-day life, and he spent the time to get to know my friends.” By getting to know her guy, Alex could be sure that he had the right intentions before taking things further with him.
How to make it work with an older guy
Despite the obstacles that may arise if you start to date an older guy, there is definitely a way to make it work if you’re committed to doing so. As with all relationships, communication is essential.
Collegiette™ Krista explains how she made it work with her older guy: “I met him at a bar. He was more mature and seemed more on my level. I found it to be super exciting but frustrating at other times because he didn't always want to go out and party. He was over the college years, while I was right in the middle of mine. Luckily, we compromised, which really helped!”
If you find yourself in a similar situation, frustrated by the age difference, talk to your guy about how you can find a compromise. For example, if he’s not as interested in partying, strike a balance: agree to go out together some nights but stay in on others. Then, neither one of you will have to give up a part of your life completely.
“Communication really is KEY when dating older men,” Krista advises. If you’re honest with him from day one, there’s a much better chance that neither one of you will get hurt. Make sure you have the same expectations, and take things slowly!
And never give up hope: that older guy may turn out to be the love of your life. “What makes it work, as in any relationship, is meeting a genuinely wonderful person who truly complements you,” Stetson says. “Being able to make jokes about the age difference, as well as taking them, also helps!”
Patrick Wanis, Human Behavior and Relationship Expert
Dan Lier, Relationship Expert from AskDanAndMike.com [askdanandmike.com] and co-author of the book Dan and Mike’s Guide to Men
Carole Lieberman, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets.