By Baila Sebrow

 

Question

I’ve always liked dating guys who are older than me. At times, I would agree to go out with a guy my age if he was mature. But that was rare. I always said no to younger guys because they are so immature. I think that women are more mature in general; young guys are just into teasing and laughing at everything. Also, I was always more mature than my friends to begin with.

But then I met a guy who is much younger than me, and because I was bored, I went against my better judgment and started dating him. He is a lot of fun to be around, but he is really immature.

After the first date, I told the shadchan who redd him to me that I find him to be immature, but she told me that he is really different from any other young guy and to give him a chance.

I try to engage him in interesting topics on our dates. I’m very smart and I read everything that I get my hands on. I love talking, debating, and even fighting about political issues. I’m an opinionated person, but all he does is listen to what I say when I get all heated up about something on the news. He sometimes acts amused! When I ask for his opinion, he doesn’t have anything to say. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if we would get married.

Meanwhile, everyone tells me how lucky I am to be dating a guy so much younger than I am, because girls my age get redd to guys who are divorced with a bunch of kids. People say that with time he will be more mature. Is it true that when a man gets older and has responsibilities, everything else about him matures, too? But what if he doesn’t get more mature? And even if he does mature, how do I know that I will like him for the person he will become? There are people who get divorced because they grow apart or go in different directions, right?

This has been going on for a long time, and I know he wants to propose to me. If I break up with him, there are tons of girls waiting to date him. So what should I do? There aren’t too many decent guys out there. Could I be happy and respect him if I marry him anyway?

Response

The issue  you are dealing with is common in both genders when the person one dates is substantially younger. Just so you know, these same concerns that you have with him can also exist when the two people are close in age.

Other than your main concern about his immaturity, you are also wondering whether you can be happy with him. I have a feeling that you would be asking the same question about happiness if he were the same age as you or older. But happiness is not about what one owns or who a person is married to. There are people who have very little in life and are happy with their lot. Then there are those who appear to have it all, but they complain and are miserable souls. Happiness, in simple terms, is merely a state of being. You can choose to be a happy person or not, regardless of what you have or to whom you are married. So, whether you marry this guy or someone else, assuming it’s a healthy relationship, you, and only you, will hold the cards where the issue of your happiness is concerned.

Now that we covered that, let’s talk about the guy you are dating. From the way you describe him, I get the impression that he might be a happy-go-lucky sort of person. I could be wrong, but it is likely that he is not as immature as you assume. Rather, he simply might not take life too seriously. The fact that he doesn’t argue with you or debate about politics might be an indication of his easygoing personality. Another reason he doesn’t debate you on issues or have much to say is because he either agrees with you or is concerned that since you take an issue so seriously, you will actually become offended if he disagrees. However, it sounds like he is a good listener. Most women wish to be married to such a person!

I believe that you might be of opposite personalities but you made the choice to carry on a relationship with him to the point that he may propose to you in the near future.

So here is my take on all this. It is not uncommon for people to be attracted to someone very different from themselves. Opposites attract, as one type finds the other fascinating. Such relationships can work as long as the couple finds a balance. In your case, it appears that you have an opinionated and serious nature while he does not. So it is possible that if you would marry some other guy with the same personality who is older, your issue would be the same.

Despite your complaints, reservations, and questions, you give the impression that you enjoy your dates with him. What do feel you share in common with this guy to have been dating him long enough that you expect to hear a marriage proposal from him? There must be something else positive going on there.

I will tell you what worries me, though. The respect that he may never receive from you as his wife. People do grow as life goes on. In the best of circumstances, they grow together. But even if they grow differently, they do not have to be apart from one another. And when they do, age is not always the reason.

You have an elevated view of yourself. In general, that may not be a problem, except if you feel that you are in a higher intellectual league than your spouse. If you are worried about how the future with him will turn out, I can assure you that if he feels disrespected in the marriage, there will be problems down the line.

When people contemplate marriage, they need to understand and accept that they cannot assume that the person will change. Sure, it occasionally happens, but it’s a long shot. However, even if he matures as he gets older, that does not mean that his personality will necessarily change—in the same way that your opinionated, introspective nature will likely remain the same. What bothers you about him now will probably bother you even more if you marry him. Not only that, but it has the probability to cause mutual dissatisfaction to the point where it can impact on your shalom bayis. One thing is evident here. You don’t respect him, and that is a No. 1 home wrecker.

Worrying that there are tons of girls waiting in line for him and that he will be grabbed up for marriage by the first available female is not a good enough reason for marrying him. All I see here is that you are afraid of losing him.

There is nothing you can do to change any aspect within his personality. And you shouldn’t. You also deserve to be in a marriage of compatibility. If you don’t connect with him on an emotional level, whether it’s of an intellectual nature or something else, you are missing something vital in your relationship. If he is not able to connect with someone in a fun-loving way, as that might be his personality, that will cause him to feel that something major is lacking. He will end up feeling emotionally stifled.

There are no guarantees in life, but people get married with the optimism that, for better or worse, it will last a lifetime. But if you don’t see eye to eye before you walk to the chuppah, you are not on the winning side of the team. When you marry someone, what you see is what you get.

I don’t get the feeling that you are ready to marry this guy. There are aspects about his personality that bother you too much. To give yourself the chance to see if it could work, or perhaps use it as closure, I recommend that you speak to him about what troubles you. Perhaps if you bring it out in the open, both of you might feel compelled to work on whatever concerns can be corrected or compromised on.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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