True Story: I Dated A Younger Guy

[I’d just like to first state that I totally realize that not every younger guy is like this, or every girl dating a younger guy will have this experience. It’s just something that I personally experienced, and have also seen many, many friends experience. Kudos to the couples like Demi and Ashton who make it work — that’s amazing!] 
A few days before my 23rd birthday, I met an amazing guy (let’s call him Matt). He was cute, had a great job, really liked me and overall just seemed like he had a good head on his shoulders. He was perfect for me, in every way but one — he was 20 years old, making him a good three years younger than me.
However, I’ve never been one to consider age an issue. One of my best friends is four years younger than me, I spent eight months of my senior year hooking up with a guy two years my junior, and I had dated, and been infatuated with a man ten years older than me. Matt’s age wasn’t an issue.
My friends weren’t so convinced. Although they were thrilled to hear that I had met a great guy, they could only roll their eyes when they heard his age. They all warned me: he’s not as mature as you, he doesn’t want the same things in a relationship, think about how you were at 20. All generalizations, I thought. Three years didn’t seem like such a big deal, and so I forged ahead with the relationship.
In the beginning, through my rose-colored glasses, Matt was wonderful. He took me out to dinner, sent me sweet texts throughout the day, and told me I was beautiful constantly. He was so mature, I thought. I thought he was amazing, and no one could convince me otherwise.
I conveniently forgot about my 20-year-old brother and his friends, who stumbled through relationships, terrified of any type of commitment. I ignored Matt’s obsession with smoking weed, his need to fight anyone who disagreed with him, his stubborn belief that he was always right. I shrugged off his inability to express his feelings and most importantly, the fact that he swore we were exclusive, but refused to call me his girlfriend.
I realized that no matter what I had thought in the beginning, Matt wasn’t very mature. Once we made things official, he panicked. He felt trapped. Marriage for him wasn’t even in the picture, wasn’t even a tiny blip on his radar. Not that it was for me, either, but I realized that in two or three years I’d like to maybe start thinking about it. And in two or three years, Matt would be barely my age, still not thinking about it. It sounds stupid, but it really made me think.
As he panicked over our commitment even more, we almost never stopped fighting. My brother was sympathetic, but also understanding. “He’s still figuring out who he is, Jess,” he would tell me simply. “It’s hard to do that with a girlfriend.”
Things only got worse. He laughed uncontrollably at the word penis. I rolled my eyes at him and his friends blowing things up. I wanted him to come to family functions with me, he wanted to go on his jet-ski. He fought with me through texting, refusing to answer the phone. One time he broke up with me through a Facebook message, had no idea why that was so bad, then cried for me back. He had no idea what he wanted, and I knew exactly what I wanted.
20 and 23 don’t seem so far apart. Trust me, I know. But they are, and it’s something that people scoff at and don’t understand until they actually are 23. It might sound snobby and stereotypical, and I’m not saying it’s true for everyone, but it is true for a lot of people.
The truth is, when you’re dating a guy who’s a few years younger than you, you probably will not always be on the same wavelength. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from (unfortunately) getting older, it’s that you don’t realize how much you mature (well… some people) and grow as a person each year until it’s done. Maybe sometimes (and ignore the corny line), age is a little more than just a number.

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