Today’s Black female 20-something is a new woman. The heiress of the sexual revolution, women’s and civil rights movements. Her worldview is sick and her style is out of this world. She’s often educated twice over. And yes, she digs older men.

It’s kind of difficult to avoid. Older men flock to her, or more modestly–she attracts them. He’s say, 10-15 years her senior. Younger women dating older men is no new relationship trend, but why is it still shocking? Presently, there are a new set of opposing questions: Is she longing for daddy? What would the family think and 40 and 50-something women audaciously ask “why are you swimming in my wading pool?”

Longing for Daddy

One of the most popular arguments on younger women dating older men is that she’s longing for daddy– that in some twisted way, the absence of her father makes her emotionally vulnerable to older men– or the ‘father seat-filler.’ The psychological effects of missing fathers on women is a real issue. But should this notion be generously applied to all women? The more general theory that younger women lacking a male presence are likely to have unhealthy relationships with men is a fair yet unbalanced assessment. Why do we presume all daughters missing fathers are mindless, emotionally-hollow women incapable of sustaining positive interactions with men as adult women? Lest we forget some fathers are physically present and emotionally absent yielding similar results. The myth on why ‘Brenda got a baby’ is a dated notion in need of reconsideration.

40 is the new 20, or really?

The next rebuttal is that the couple would have nothing in common. What would they talk about? How would their friends interact? Cultural sensibilities contemporarily link the old and the young in new and unique ways unimaginable fifteen years ago. The information age blurs the lines of age and experience one tech invention at a time.

A younger woman could certainly dig Coltrane and an older man could bop his head to the new Jezzy. Take Jay Z and Beyonce. Shawn Carter was born in 1969 and Beyonce in 1981. The rapper came of age in an America largely distinct from 1980’s America. Yet the couple enjoy what appears to be a happy marriage. When Jay-Z said ’40 is the new 20,’ it wasn’t merely a cry to remain forever young, the emcee spoke on the modern world. Jay Z is arguing aging is relative. The larger and physiologically unstoppable reality of getting old will never be the same again.

Older Women: Threatened or Rightfully Pissed?

What many of us haven’t considered in the widely popular ‘Single Black Woman’ commentary is how ageist it is. The conversation is dominated by older women and older men talking at older women with the occasional 30-something commentator. Older Black women sat on panels discussing how successful and lonely they were. How happy would these women be to see the men they seek with younger Black women? I’m guessing not so much. In the ‘Sex and the City’ episode “Splat,” Carrie is confronted by her older Vogue editor Enid Flick played by Candice Bergen when she discovers Carrie is dating the older man Enid desires. Enid boldly asks Carrie, “Why are you swimming in my wading pool?” The validity of Enid’s argument is questionable.

Do older Black women have a right to be pissed? Some suggest older men seek younger women because they present no threat. Younger girls are often less educated and earn lower salaries. Older men face the opposite when swimming in their own pool. The numbers of Black women earning degrees and higher salaries than Black men are on a steady climb. Could older men in fear of dating or marrying a woman more successful than he intentionally seek out younger women?

“Sure Vivica Fox is my age, but what’s the likelihood of me dating her?”

William, an older gentleman reveals his reasons for dating a woman 14 years younger. “I’m 41, but I don’t act or look like it. I hit the gym daily and play ball with the fellas twice a week. I want a woman who takes care of herself, who looks good and wants to have fun. Sure Vivica Fox is my age, but what’s the likelihood of me dating her? A lot of sistas my age are workaholics who don’t enjoy life. Even the ones without kids. This is why I tend to end up with younger ladies.”

The Downfalls & Perks

Younger Black women imagine older men to be more mature and more prone to settle. She bets her chances on the ‘been there, done that’ guy in efforts of avoiding immature younger men. But is this a safe bet? A number of older men are divorced and often have no desire to be married again or have more children. These men are not interested in serious relationships. On the other hand, unmarried 40 plus men with no children are questionable to some younger women. Her curiosity asks, “Why isn’t he married? What are my chances with him?” These circumstances leave younger women with once high hopes chronically disappointed.

Some older men also have the ‘mentor’ complex. They presume the younger women they date are in need of constant schooling from music to her professional life. These experiences drags younger women back into the avoided daddy issues with men who wind up becoming her lover and teacher. But can schooling be also fun and exciting? Cultured renaissance men could introduce younger women to anything from new cuisines, new literary works and maybe even a new culture abroad. And don’t sleep–today’s 20-something could certainly teach older men a thing or two as well.

The politics of dating older men is an extensive topic we’ll be debating for another century. Ultimately, we should move beyond the cliche “age ain’t nothing but a number” and more sensibly remember, men are men.

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