In October, there was a weekend that thousands of motorcycles descended upon tiny little Key West for the annual Poker Run — a popular annual charity event in South Florida. And lucky me, I got the chance to ride down on the back of a Harley. If you've never ridden on a Harley, the best way I can describe it is as a sublime mixture of exhilaration and relaxation especially while the blue waters of the Atlantic roll by in your peripheral vision. Harley Davidson has hit a new heyday apparently and there were lots of young men riding in packs. But the old timers were there too and let me tell you that this generation of Baby Boomer, Harley Riding "old timers" is, well, different than your past generation old timers.
The difference? They're not letting go of their youth so easily. In fact there are lots of professional men in the crowd and they strike more as grey haired rockers who still love Clapton, the Stones, and Zepplin, more than grey haired men in rockers mellowing out to Johnny Mathis. Clad in Levi's, T shirts and motorcycle boots with bandanas tied around their heads, they swaggered around with the confidence of men who have been places, fought real battles, and perhaps even lost their shirts only to earn them back. And they looked good. Apparently better healthcare, better diets, better exercise regimes, and maybe just the knowledge that there's always Viagra, has helped them hang on to their vitality. Here was proof positive that the theory I put forth in my new book is alive and kicking current generations of older men are, in plain Paris-Hiltonian English, "hot" and according to US Census Data, more and more younger women are enjoying relationships with them.
Dating The Older Man: Consider Your Differences And Decide If He’s Right For You (Adam’s Media September, 2008 — available online and in bookstores now) is the ultimate go-to guide chock full of practical advice for women involved with older men. My co-author, Dr Belisa Vranich and I cover it all from reading his past on the basis of current behaviors, to coping with his children, to dealing with family and friends who are less than supportive, to avoiding Daddy's Girl Syndrome. In short, while we are not advocating this kind of union, we are saying that it's been walking into our private practices in one form (single women) or another (blended families) for awhile now. It's real! Internet dating, Viagra, and staying healthier longer have apparently all conspired to draw women to men as much as 25 years their senior! In fact, approximately 50% of the women we polled for this book told us that they would go out with a man at least 10 years older than them without batting an eyelash.
But “why?” Ask the radio interviewers — "what happened to young men?" Well, hard economic times have happened to young men. Careerbuilder.com recently surveyed over 7,000 Americans and found that they live paycheck to paycheck. We're not paying our credit down and the younger generations have gotten used to living in debt as a way of life. That combined with the Generation X malaise which has their mommies still doing their laundry and suddenly rock hard abs are not so sexy!
But is it all laugh lines and roses? I think not. In fact I'm sure it's not. In addition to the typical nay sayers (think "nobody's good enough for our little Katie,)" eyebrows are now popping at the age difference to boot — and how about when his little Katie is older than you!!! There is advice in the book — general and specific — for all the awkward, difficult situations you can think of. Ultimately, however, I say, "so what!" Some say "a Y chromosome is a Y chromosome" so older, shmolder who cares? I say "love is love" and since peer relationships make up the bulk of marriages in this fine country — how do you explain that old 50% divorce rate? Apparently being within 2 years of each other is no guarantee for lasting love. Just as being more than a decade apart is no guarantee of failure. If you have the chemistry and compatibility that keeps you enjoying each other in and out of bed and you both want the relationship enough, you bridge the gap and support each other.
I know, I know, "what about the gold diggers who suck the life and the cash out of the older men desperate for an ego boost?" Well, "Dating The Older Man" is not for them. (I'm not sure they really read books anyway I think they're out stalking at the country club.) No, this book is for women who are genuinely into their older men and want healthy lasting relationships with them. And yes I know, what about down the road when you're nursing them in their old age? Only you can decide if it's worth it. But if you could find true, lasting love for a more limited time period, would you trade that in for years of mediocrity, or worse, quiet misery with a man your age who, for all you know, could get sick himself? Again, I don't advocate either position, but I do want women to have good solid guidance when it comes to making their decisions.
And finally, the big question that's on everyone's mind, "what kind of sex life do they have?," is very answerable. Again, the women polled for this book made it crystal clear that attention, sensitivity and foreplay all out ranked a long lasting erection by a mile (no pun intended here). Good sexual experiences don't have to be typical ones — as long as there is compassion, connection and the kind of responsiveness to each others' bodies that keeps the excitement alive.
So there you have it, the motorcycle ride was thrilling — made even more comfortable by the earplugs I wore to preserve my hearing; the cushy walking shoes, and that extra lumbar support in the sissy bar for my 44 year old lower back.
Laura Grashow Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who has been working with children, adolescents and families for over 15 years. She specializes in relationship issues, parenting, divorce, and child development. For more information, see Dr. Laura's website.
Plus, check out Laura's new book "Dating the Older Man." It is the ultimate comprehensive guide to coping with large age differences in love relationships. In today's world, factors such as high divorce rates, plastic surgery, increased life span, internet dating, and even Viagra are making older men more available and more attractive choices for younger women. Get great practical answers to real problems and dilemmas- including issues relating to blended families and how to be a step-parent. The book is a veritable "how to" for relationships packed with great strategies and is an invaluable resource for women in the modern dating world.