Men, Women, and Age

As I am nearing the eve of my 23rd birthday, I can’t help but think about how old I’m getting. In all honesty though, it’s not that old. However, that raises my curiosity. When will I finally consider myself to be old? And in terms of my appearance to others, I still want people to mistake me for 23, 24, or even 25. There is bound to be a point, however, that I would much rather have people mistake me for 20, 21, 22. I’m not sure if any of us know exactly when that point in time where we want to appear younger is actually reached, because we don’t notice it until someone mentions, “Can I see your ID?” or “You look underage,” or some other typical comment, and we think to ourselves, “Wow, that feels great for someone to think I look that good to be that young” (or something similar).

Another observation is that the “anchor age” as I’ll call it, is  very different for women than it is men. With the ongoing debate of maturity levels in men and women, women can feel older than they really are as well, looking forward to that “You look too young” compliment before their men friends. At what age do you honestly consider yourself old? What is that point in time where you feel that you’d rather someone think you’re younger than older?

While we are on the topic of age, I think about the friends that I have, and how many of them are actually my peers. While most of them are, some of them are indeed older and some younger than myself. Of those that are older than me, it is interesting to note that about 75% of them are women. This is more than my approximate 50% women friends who are peers. When I look at coworkers that I would consider friends that are older, almost 90% of them are women. This is not necessarily because I am reaching out to befriend them, but also vice versa. Why do I have so many 30-something women friends, but not as many guy friends? Is it the ‘cougar effect’ that women want to have a 20-something guy hanging around them, knowing that they are attractive and still in? Or is it more the idea of feeling younger merely by surrounding themselves with more energetic and up-and-coming guys (I know, I’m humble) ? There are so many questions I have when it comes to recognizing differences in age, maturity level, and sex, that I’ve become more and more intrigued with it the more diverse my group of friends becomes in the realm of age, where not everyone I work with is necessarily someone in “class” with me, etc.

I’d be interested to learn more about what others’ feelings on this topic are. What do you observe in your own lives in terms of both your aging and your friendships? Can there be a friendship between a man and a woman without either of the parties falling for the other at any single point in time?

Lastly, I’d like to wish everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas and a warm holiday season to all of those out there reading this! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and being a part of mine. Please invite others to partake in the conversation in this blog, and if you have any interesting items you’d like to teach me, please share them so I can publicize it in this blog. I am so thankful for all of you in my life and I hope that you are as equally blessed as I am. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

~ by trentgillaspie on December 25, 2008.

2 Responses to “Men, Women, and Age”

  1. Wow, I find this topic to be very interesting, and I believe there are a few theories that contribute to the outcome of your social experience. Number one is that people like to have friends that are in their same social class. This is not a surprise to anyone, and is probably common knowledge, but it has to do with more than people being snooty. It has to do with the fact that people in the same social class understand one-another’s social codes, and are more effective at communicating with one-another. Another social theory states that one is more likely to have friends that do not intimidate his or her perception of the self. The way this plays out is that we may have friends that are better than us at certain things, but not friends that are better than us at what we pride ourselves in being good at. If someone’s perception of self-worth comes from his ability to be very good at math, he may have many friends that are better than him in biology, theater, and sports, but not a whole bunch of friends that are better at math. He may have some, but most likely they are friends that are better at math and suck at something else he is good at, or are friends that fall into the category of upward comparison, friends that are better than him at something in level that is feasible to obtain. For example, many of us admire elders and befriend them, because we want to be like them someday. They inspire us. Bu if they are soooooo good at it, we can’t ever see ourselves reaching that level, we are less likely to befriend them.

    So what does this have to do with your situation? First, I find it interesting that your coworker friends are mostly older women. There are two things I could see going on here, not knowing anything about where you work and your position and the kinds of people that you work with. Number one, is that it is possible that you work in a male-dominated setting. Given that we can assume that as one increases in age, his or her position and status increases, just having graduated from college, you could be at the bottom rung of the ladder (in terms of tall other workers who hold a college degree.) Being the beginner in the corporate scene, you could very well carry the same status as many of the older women working there, and therefore they feel comfortable befriending you. This could also go the other way.

    Another possibility is that the women that you are friends with carry a higher status than you, and are in general very high-status women. Studies have found that a large portion of the male population is sexist and doesn’t like to surround themselves with women who outrank them in any way. You could be a rare guy who doesn’t mind being around women who outrank him, and the highly ranked women in your life find this to be very appealing. It’s awesome when you are a strong woman and a guy doesn’t shy away from you.

    Personally, as a female who just turned 23, I hang out with way fewer young men than before. I find that I have girlfriends that are younger than me, but absolutely no guy friends younger than me. I think that this may be because younger guys are intimidated by me. At social gatherings, I will find myself talking to a young man who freaks out when he realizes that I am 23, and not 18. Perhaps that is what elicited my theory above, about how it may be unusual and attractive for women older than you to encounter a younger man who is not scared away by their age and status. As far as older men go, I find that they are much less gentle with me as I get older. If they have frank sexual interest, they don’t worry about freaking me out as they did when I was younger, probably due to the fact that they assume I am more sexually experienced in my older age. I find the more respectful approach to be more charming, so younger, less obtrusive men could be charming.

    Another note: older men may have a lot more baggage than you, so the women might really enjoy hanging out with someone who isn’t a basket case!

    So when do I consider myself old? I will probably start wanting people to think I’m younger in my thirties. I still am flattered if people think I’m older nowadays. When I’m thirty three, if someone says I look twenty eight, I will be charmed. I don’t know if this is different for men. But it was really funny, because on my birthday, my dad said “You’re turning twenty one, right?” Which made me laugh. I said “Seriously, Dad. Is it already that time for me to start lying about my age?” But I don’t wish I was twenty-one. Maybe he is just trying to make himself feel better, pushing sixty and all. 😉

    To answer the question about whether or not men and women can be friends without one falling for the other at a single point in time: Yes, I believe so. One of my good friends dated and cheated one of my best friends, resulting in a perception of him that could never end in me having feelings for him. I also dated his older brother, which results in him never being able to develop feelings for me. Beyond circumstances, I think people can just be incompatible, and sometimes only one person sees it and the other doesn’t at all, but other times both see it from the start and never get confused. I have quite a few guy friends like that. I’m way too emotional for them, and they are way too insensitive for me, but we are still great friends who can talk for ten hours at a time about anything and everything. Yet we never even think about each other in any way other than almost a brotherly-sisterly relationship. What do you think?

    So, those are some of my thoughts on the subject. I hope that was what you were looking for.

  2. Age. The never ending questions that surround it. I won’t begin to feel older until my thirties as I’ve been told I have a baby face and I’m still carded. Yes, I enjoy being carded, even though it happens almost everytime I venture out. The day someone says “No ma’am, we don’t need your i.d.”, then I will feel old at that moment in time. In terms of relationships with others – age should matter to a point as typical life changing events happen at certain ages and it is nice to be around those who have shared in those with you or will experience them soon. But plus or minus 5 years is typically a good range for friends, lovers, and daters in my opinion. Maturity level is what should be monitored, not age as a number. One can be older in terms of numbers, but much younger in terms of relationship experience or life experiences and then this would throw the whole relationship off. Visa versa with this example.
    I don’t believe, without other external factors involved, that a man and woman can strictly ever just be friends without one or both having had feelings for the other at some point in time. But as they say – timing is everything so just because some feelings were involved, they were there at different points in time which allowed it to mismatch and never workout. Therefore due to the chemistry between both a friendship is better to settle for than not having the person in your life at all. Let’s just hope that opposite sex friends also get along with the boyfriend or girlfriend of the other friend, and we’ll call it a day. A good one at that. Interesting points to ponder – I’ll keep analyzing in my sleep down here in the South. Goodnight.

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