dating

'I'm dating a man twice my age. And this isn't a regular love story.'

I first met my partner, a man 26 years my senior, on a casual Wednesday night. My roommate and I arrived at a restaurant with mutual friends, where my future partner and I were introduced to each other.

A simple hello and a smile were exchanged between us and because he and I were both single, his best friend and my roommate motioned for the two of us to sit together at dinner. He declined, and so did I. As it turned out, he was as stubborn as I was under the spotlight. We sat at opposite ends of the table and we carried on with our night.

Dating: Translated. Post continues after video. 

It’s interesting to us now that we were both clearly uncomfortable being the centre of attention, considering we’d end up being in a relationship that would land us in an unwanted spotlight every time we went out together.

That casual Wednesday night progressed, and he and I found ourselves engaged in a conversation not forced by our friends.

I realised how much I laughed with him, and he won me over that night with his charm. It wasn’t love at first sight, but there was something captivating about the way we spoke to one other. And since that night, any moment we could spend together, we did.

But it hasn’t been easy.

In case it slipped your mind, this isn’t a regular love story. I am in love with someone who is twice as old as I am. For him, he is in love with someone half his age. It’s a relationship that finds a way into the spotlight when we go out; one we both preferred wasn’t ours to stand in.

It’s been two years since the night we met, and the age difference between us is something we don’t pay much attention to when we’re at home.

It’s amazing to us, really, considering he and I are more different, socially, culturally, and politically, than you can imagine. But to us, age is nothing but a minor detail in our relationship.

However, it is clear not everyone agrees with our relationship.

When we go out to do something simple, like grocery shopping or a date to the movies, he and I are both brought back into reality and the prejudices against a couple with a large age difference are thrown into our faces.

We deal with a lot of stares, whispers, and dirty looks.

It’s hard to miss when other people look at us as they come up with their own theories about why we’re together. The glares of strangers show us not everyone is okay with our relationship.

LISTEN: Does Leonardo DiCaprio need to start dating women his own age? Post continues after video.

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A few months ago, at our two-year anniversary dinner, we experienced the worst customer service we’d had in a long time. Our server almost seemed annoyed we were seated in his section. He didn’t smile at us once, he didn’t ask us how our food tasted, and he forgot about us on more than one occasion. My partner had to actually stand up and find the server just to get our water refilled.

We sat side by side at our booth, trying not to let the terrible service ruin our date. And it didn’t. We had a great time. But we seriously asked one another, “Is it because we’re minorities or because I’m half your age?” We could do nothing but humour ourselves and get through dinner, remembering how people who know nothing about us will treat us for as long as we are together.

We make each other laugh a lot, and I think humour has helped us along the way.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously, because we are well aware people assume things about our relationship from taking one look at us. But we deal with it because we want to make this partnership work. The thing about love is, you don’t get to decide what the person who makes your heart skip looks like or how old they are. Love is love.

We have similar wants for the future.

I do not want any children, and he wants no more. He wants to travel around the world, and I’d like to take my writing around in an Airstream and travel as well. The most admirable thing about him is that he’s lived through some of the darkest days, and he understands life is too short not to love who you love while you still have the chance. Our future looks the same, regardless of our age difference.

Age is not a deal-breaker for two mature, similar minded, consenting adults who want the same things out of life.

Our culture is very curious about age gaps in relationships.

There are countless articles online about what an “acceptable age gap” in a relationship is. People want to know if the person they’re dating is too old for them. Fans want to read the new gossip about celebrities who are significantly older or younger than their partners.

There is this fascination with trying to unravel a non-traditional couple you don’t know and figure out why they would be together.

We assume the older person is somehow taking advantage of the younger, or the younger person has ulterior motives, like a financial gain. This mentality is unfortunate because these two real humans are more than likely together for one reason; love.

Perhaps the next time you read about a couple with a large age difference, or you see one on a date, you’ll think of me.

For anyone who doesn’t understand why I would be with someone so much older than I am, to them I say, the reason is love. The reason should always be love. We don’t choose who we fall in love with. Regardless of looks, age (between consenting adults), or social class, love is love.

Jessica Mendez is a full-time writer living in Las Vegas. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Science degree in family and human development from Arizona State University. In 2018, she left her career in the mental health field to pursue her lifelong passion of writing. She is currently working on a collection of bilingual poetry. Follow her on Twitter and Medium

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