IN general, when experts talk about fine-tuning a relationship, they suggest ways both partners can compromise and adjust. Not so with the older man/younger girl pairing.
“In testing the waters of male-female love, the girl has to splash—and pay attention to her own strokes,” says Janice, a seasoned relationship expert. “She needs to be childish at times, to fret, to go beyond the bounds of conventional behavior to act on impulse and sometimes to enslave herself to the loved one. It is therefore up to the man to measure whether he is the right person to chase and hold her.
“The older man should first of all have lots of time. She expects, demands that the relationship takes first priority every day, every week. He may be flying to the end of the world next morning, but if she needs to talk about their love all the night before, listen he must! He should also have a physique that’s in good shape, and be secure in his sex appeal. Today’s teen is lean and mean! Chances are she jogs, and does aerobics. So if he’s not athletic, he should add a new dimension to his life—buy jogging shoes and a new tennis racket! Otherwise, hell finds himself sitting on the sideline.
The older man must also be at a stable point in his life. Changing careers or going through a divorce are terrible times to form this type of relationship. The man who is rooted in a good career and makes a good salary will be able to handle the young girl and offer her more of what she expects from him. Since a teenager requires lots of attention, and will eventually rock the boat, the rest of her lover’s life should have its own momentum; after all, part of the appeal is that—he has arrived and he’s in control!
A chivalrous man who likes to protect a woman will find much to protect in his teeny-bopper! Shortly after his wife left him for her new office boss, Eddy, 42, met Sussie, a beautiful, wild singer at a night club. “In spite of the fact that I found her electrifying,” said Eddy, “she was also neurotic. She’d had a few crisis with the management of the club she sings at, but I was always there to support her because I realized her maturity was still evolving.
Soon she will be matured to handle these problems on her own. Meanwhile, her every mood fascinates me. The commitment between us is beyond what I ever would have had with an age equal. It’s best that a man be sensitive to what real feelings lie beneath her words, and not overreact to negativism on her part, Sussie doesn’t know yet how to weigh her words.
“She strikes out critically at me, something I wouldn’t forget or forgive with a woman nearer my age. I indulge in her. ‘I hate you’ may mean she feels neglected—or she’s been watching a lot of home movies and identified so strongly with their characters that she carried the melodrama right over to life!” The generation of today’s teenagers is more casual about sex, and it’s a double edge sword.
Her older lover is unavailable but her fellow youth copper is, and she sleeps with him, cosily and unromantically. Better if her older lover is not the jealous type, otherwise he has to be constantly available to meet her desire. “Most good relationships are between equals,” explained the relationship expert. “When he’s a lot older than she, the danger is that they are not providing inputs at the same level. This creates an underlying tension. When conflict arises, they perceive it as enormously hostile. I know a college professor, 49, who waited until the woman he loved, now 28, finished her B.A. before marrying her. He wanted a real wife and marriage. It started out as a honeymoon, but now he says he’s stuck with a teeny-popper. She feels she’s trapped with a has been.