Last month I kicked off my AGE Experiment. As someone with a tendency to date younger guys, I thought it might be interesting to compare a full range of date ages, and see if age really is just a number where dating is concerned.
My Experiment (if I’m successful) will hopefully see me dating men of every age, from 21 right up to 40.
Now, superficial as I appreciate this Challenge is, I probably ought to underline that I’m not simply arranging dates at the moment with the age challenge in mind. I’m dating as normal, and if the men happen to fill any of the ‘vacant’ age gaps, then it happens to be a bonus.
My first experimental date – AGE 21 – was bittersweet. A gorgeous man, an amazing date, an inevitably disappointing ending.
Would my date with AGE 32 fair any better?
A man of 32 will have been two school years above me. The age group of guys I tended to fancy while I was at school. Probably too old to even look at me back in those days, but definitely the target age of school girl crushes.
When I was 14, 2 years was a big deal. At 30 it really means nothing, though 32 is an interesting age, as to be honest most guys I know of that age are either in longterm relationships or married already. I guess a running theme with the older range of my dates will be working out why someone of that age is single. There are likely to be some common reasons – just come out of a relationship, too heavily involved in his work, has spent a lot of his adult life travelling …
My date the other week – Private Equity – fell prey to both of the first two suggested reasons. He wasn’t long out of a relationship, and was clearly very involved in his work – in fact, because I also work in banking, the first hour of our date involved more discussion about work than any date I’ve ever been on.
I met Private Equity on Tinder, and one of the limited things the app does tell you about someone is whether you have any mutual friends with him on Facebook. I only had one mutual friend with him, and to be honest, the guy (who I had studied at university with) was someone I definitely had a crush on when I was in first year!
The interesting thing about Tinder is that whilst it tells you next to nothing about someone (on the face of it simply age, name, common friends and hobbies, and four photos), there is actually a lot of information available for you to process.
Mutual friends can give you an idea of what someone might be like (or even a source of a reference if you’re keen to learn more before meeting up). Four photos may seem like a limited view of a person’s life, but they will still give you subconscious messages – hair cut, clothing choice, activities in the photos, and general choice of which photos to use are all things which you may still jump to conclusions from.
So I definitely had preconceptions of Private Equity before I met him. Most of them were good – hence the reason I’d agreed to meet him. He was an attractive-looking guy. I respected our mutual friend a great deal and trusted his judgment of other people, and the pictures he’d chosen to put on Tinder were ones I would have chosen for any guy friends asking for my help. They made him appear clean-cut and yet also adventurous, which is kind of how I would describe my ideal guy.
I did however have one worry about Private Equity, and that was his height. From his photos I had a suspicion he may not be particularly tall.
Now this, I’m afraid, has always been a bit of a deal breaker for me. At 5’8” I’m not the smallest of girls, and whilst I’m not fat, I’m not a willowy supermodel.
While I can be a bit of an alpha-female at times, when it comes to relationships, I like to be made to feel like a delicate rose! I like to date guys who tower above me, and who weigh a considerable amount more than me! In the same way that I like dating confident men with their own opinions (so I don’t dominate a relationship), I also like to physically feel like the girl in the relationship. So being taller or even the same height as a boyfriend has always been a big no no for me.
If I had to list my three major deal-breakers for an ideal match (something I know has been the cause of much debate on earlier blog posts), physical size would be one of those deal breakers. So much so that in my ‘Tag line’ on Tinder, I’ve used the limited characters to highlight that I’m 5’8”.
So I had assumed Private Equity would have read this before swiping ‘Yes’ to meeting me (and therefore be taller than 5’8”). But it turns out not everyone thinks the same way about height and dating – something some of the comments on the night on Twitter highlighted (I had live tweeted some aspects of this date @30Dates).
And so I don’t know whether Private Equity noticed my height and agreed anyway, or whether he simply picked me on my photos! But when I turned up to meet him at Reading station, he was a good two inches shorter than me, and probably two stone lighter! (and I really don’t weigh THAT much …!)
We’d originally scheduled a lunchtime date on the Saturday afternoon, but when he didn’t confirm until 1am on Saturday morning, I rather stubbornly pretended I had other plans! I don’t like being taken for granted that easily! My evening plans had changed, so I suggested dinner instead, and rather surprisingly, at a few hours notice Private Equity agreed.
We headed to the bar Cerise (where I’d eaten dinner with The Pupil on Date Seventeen). Having established I wasn’t attracted to him, and that it was for a reason which was unlikely to change any time soon (I’m really not into looking down on a guy during a date) I decided to make the most of the evening and see if Private and I would get on as friends. He was relatively new to Reading, having moved here for work, and just because I wasn’t attracted to him physically, we still might have had a great deal in common.
We moved from drinks to dinner at The Forbury – a restaurant I’d never tried before, close to Reading Station. Whilst I wasn’t overly impressed with the food, our conversation was interesting enough (having got over the hour-long banking chat!).
Here I made a mistake. I’d assumed that when we first met, while my mind processed the fact he was shorter and lighter than me, he had been simultaneously realising I was considerably taller and heavier than him (and wearing flat shoes). And that he had discounted anything romantic at the same time I had. So when I suggested we skip dessert and try out a new cocktail restaurant than had recently opened, my only motive had been that it was a Saturday night and the cocktail menu looked amazing.
An Oreo, creme de menthe, Baileys and icecream-based cocktail later and I was ready to head home. My date escorted me to the taxi rank, and we said our polite goodbyes, only for Private Equity to step between me and the taxi door.
‘I’ve had a really good night.’
‘Yeah me too, it was nice to get to know you.’
‘No, I’ve had a really good night.’
‘Yeah me too …’
‘I’m not really good at the whole text message thing, so I just wanted to say I’ve had a really good night.’
‘Yeah, dinner was nice. It was nice to meet you. Sorry I really should be getting back …’
He literally wouldn’t let me get into the taxi without kissing him first. Rather ironically, he was standing on a raised section of the pavement, and it was the closest he’d been all night to being taller than me!
I didn’t kiss him. I limboed rather awkwardly past him and into the taxi.
And unsurprisingly, I didn’t hear from him again.
This instalment didn’t teach me much about age – perhaps because 32 is pretty similar to 30.
But it did teach me a couple of lessons.
Firstly – everyone has different views and expectations of height. And just because I wouldn’t date someone shorter than me, doesn’t mean it’s an automatic turn-off for a guy.
And secondly, if you’re not into someone on a first date, sometimes you can’t just enjoy the date for what it is – because sometimes that can give completely the wrong impression. Rather than making the most of the evening and trying to make a new friend, I should have taken an approach I know a lot of my male friends do on an unsuccessful first date, and cut it short after the drinks.
It’s a shame, because the approach I’ve had since starting this challenge is take each date as it comes, aim to have fun on the date, and if you fancy the guy it’s a bonus. But not everyone goes on a date with that frame of mind …
And maybe in hindsight that aspect is actually due to age? Maybe this 32 year-old guy, who openly admitted to being the only single one left in his friendship group, was so ready for a relationship that he couldn’t just take a first date for what it was – an interesting meal and a chance to try out a new cocktail bar. It had to end with a kiss, no matter how unsuited I was for him.
Maybe I’m the one not acting my age by trying to make a date anything else. But do you know what … for now at least my approach to dating works for me … and I guess that’s all that really matters!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx