After a full year of dealing with guys whose idea of a great date is video games and pizza, a summer in the city surrounded by young professionals is just what the doctor ordered. But even if you’ve mastered the dating scene on your college campus, a night out with an eligible bachelor in his 20s is a whole other ballgame. We talked with two professional dating and relationship experts to give us the 411 on making the adjustment to dating older men.
1. Be prepared for real dates. On a typical college campus, the idea of dating is almost non-existent. Most meetings will happen if you see each other out at a party or if you happen to run into each other on campus. The dating scene with older guys is “more traditional in that there actually are dates,” says Shannon Fox, a relationship expert who has been featured on Millionaire Matchmaker and The Tyra Banks Show. “He’ll pick you up instead of just meeting somewhere, and it’s not bad to expect that he’ll get the check.”
2. Expect that there will be nicer outings than what you’re used to. Most college kids are living off their parents or a low-paying part time gig, so they really don’t have a disposable income. Older men, on the other hand, typically have a real job and a steady income, so dinner at a nice restaurant rather than your campus pizza place is a possibility. “With a man in his 20s, you’ll be more likely to go on nicer and more grown-up dates, like to wine tastings or networking events,” says Laurie Davis, an eFlirt expert who has been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
3. It’s not necessary to throw yourself at him to reel him in. Between the frat parties and the constantly flowing beer, getting a girl to bed in college is usually not a problem. The ratio of women to men on a college campus is great, Fox points out, and instead of waiting for a real date, girls will sometimes throw themselves at guys and hit the sack. “College guys won’t pursue a woman or woo and seduce her, they’ll just ask, ‘Are you drunk enough?’” Fox says. “After college, men realize that it’s not that easy and they have to make an effort, so he’ll pursue you.” Wait for a few real dates before anything gets serious.
4. Your conversations will be more interesting. Instead of focusing on drinking games and college football, older men usually have other things going on in their lives. “Their interests have expanded,” Fox says. There are so many different hobbies and interests that a man can take up once his world has expanded beyond campus, and he’ll introduce you to them when you go out.
5. The college lifestyle probably isn’t going to fly. While a typical morning after a weeknight hookup may consist of you and your guy sleeping through class followed by an afternoon walk of shame, things like this probably won’t happen with an older guy. “You won’t be sleeping in until 11 on a Tuesday because the guy is going to have to go to work early,” Davis days. If you want to make the relationship work, you may have to readjust your schedule and limit your weeknight partying.
6. Expect that he’ll be more serious about the relationship. College students have no business thinking about marriage, but a man in his 20s is that much older and that much closer to standing at the altar. While it is okay for him to want the relationship to be a little more serious, make sure you both are on the same page about a long term commitment, Fox says.
7. Save the drama for fall semester. Since your older man will probably take the relationship much more seriously more quickly than you’re used to, expect that he won’t want to deal with drama. “The guy will act more mature because he has a real life and a real job now,” Davis says. “He’s not going to want to play games as much.” If your typical routine is to play hard-to-get with the man you’re lusting after, try to be a little bit more direct about what you want or he may lose interest. After you snag your love interest, try not to beat around the bush and have him guessing if there is a problem. “Even if they have only been out of college for a few years, they’re more likely to discuss issues when they arise,” Davis says.
8. Make sure you don’t miss out on your college experience. “Dating an older man pulls you out of your college experience,” Fox says. “College is an amazing place to learn about yourself, and you don’t want to miss out.” An older man may not be as amused about your friend who funneled three beers within ten minutes, so beware of cutting your party time for a more sophisticated relationship.
9. Stand your ground. “A man in his 20s or 30s doesn’t have access to all the women that are on a college campus, so they learn to do and say the right things to woo a woman,” Fox says. Don’t fall for every word he says, because he may not be completely telling the truth. Be aware that you could be taken advantage of, and don’t necessarily just give him the upper hand because he has some years on you.
10. Have fun. As a college student enjoying her summer of bliss, make sure that you’re making the most of your break and having a great time. If you want to settle down and try a real relationship with that cute stockbroker you met last week, go for it. There’s no shame in playing the field for the summer, especially now that you know the rules to the game.
Shannon Fox, relationship expert
Laurie Davis, eFlirt Expert