This is Alyssa Royse:
She looks like fun, no? Let’s have some with her.
[Note: Alyssa is in italics]
The dialog about men our age [40 something] dating women half our age is a conversation that needs to be had.
Okie, dokie, Alyssa. Let’s give ‘er!
And it has been, in comments and Facebook threads and emails. This is a sloppy sampling, that I hope will spark a larger conversation that we can all work with.
Why are so many men our age being drawn to women half our age?
I have no idea, really. Though I can make some guesses.
No shit, you have no idea.
I suspect that they’re looking for sex and good times, in a way that they think will have no strings attached. There are a lot of flaws in this line of reasoning—a lot.
You got that right, cupcake!
Sex, like most things, gets better with practice. I know that I give a better blowjob at 41 than I did at 31, or 21.
The strings are attached, very attached. I’m sorry, but if a 25 year-old woman is interested in a 45 year-old guy, it’s very likely because she wants something. To be taken care of, to get married, to have a family. Even if she says she doesn’t. At that age, they’re still planning their future, and if they’re f*cking you, it’s because they, maybe unconsciously, think you can help them get it. (Especially if you have lots of money.) (Extra especially if you have lots of money, a pot-belly and a hairy back.)
Okay, first of all, a young woman who is looking to get married, have a family and rely on her husband for support while they have young children at home is SMART. That young lady is planning her future very well, and understanding that a key part of her future will include a clever, capable, confident MAN is a very sensible thing to do.
Secondly, nice man-shaming there. Pot-belly? Hairy back? Honey, have you looked in a mirror recently? I don’t think you should be calling out anyone on their looks, sweetpea.
Thirdly, the fact that these older men have money is corollary to the fact that men who have money also tend to have a few qualities women find exceptionally attractive: confidence, boldness, a willingness to take risks, assertiveness, courage, intelligence, leadership. Younger women in particular find these men attractive, and they have something to trade on that older women, for the most part, no longer have.
We’ll get to that in more detail.
In their 20s, most people don’t really know themselves enough to be centered. Their expectations will seep out in all sorts of ways: jealousy, manipulation, fighting, games. Those are all strings, whether they’re pulled intentionally or not.
Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. I knew myself perfectly well in my twenties and at no point in my adult life have I ever been the sort of shrew who played mental games or used emotional manipulation or behaved like a jealous, insecure child.
I think you’re describing yourself here, love, and you are very much in the minority.
From many conversations with both men and women in their early 40s, I think that many men have an unconscious desire to return to the glory days of their initial sexual awakening.
Not just sex, but that sex, young sex. When guys are first claiming their sexuality, in their late teens and early 20s, there’s no responsibility, the pussy is all young, it’s all a party and nothing is permanent. Sex is just sex. Moreover, they’re lauded for their conquests. Nothing but fun. They’re too young to realize that their partner may be having a different experience, so it seems perfect.
Nice caricature of men. Horny assholes who barely notice the women they’re fucking with no thought of anything but their own pleasure. This really is one of the most damaging stereotypes about men. It denies them an emotional life and portrays them as little more than animals.
The entire world of art and poetry and literature and music and theatre and architecture tells a different story: young men consumed with passion and love and the depth of their feelings and then translating those feelings into utter magnificence.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
Lord Byron was 26 years old.
Through the storm
we reach the shore
You give it all
but I want more
And I’m waiting for you
Bono was 27 years old.
Picasso was 21.
The idea that men are incapable of forming or even caring about deep, emotional connections with women denies them their very basic humanity. Jack didn’t want to (only) fuck Rose. He loved her. He wanted to show her the world from his perspective. Teach her to fly. He was prepared to die for her. He did die for her.
So Alyssa, fuck you with your ugly stereotypes about men. That’s my son you’re talking about. My husband. My brothers. My friends. You may have been treated like meat by all the men you slept with in your twenties, but that says far more about you than them.
Then life goes on, many get married, get jobs, start families. During that time, for whatever reason, sex often dissipates, and what sex there is becomes a form of emotional commerce. Their sex drives haven’t necessarily dissipated, but their sex lives have. And they’ve become fraught with responsibility, guilt, angst, manipulation, judgement..
Wow, you sound like you were a delightful wife. Sex as emotional commerce. How lovely. I really hope you mean sex as a way to stay deeply connected to your partner and a source of comfort and security, but I’m thinking perhaps not.
Married sex as responsibility, guilt, angst, manipulation and judgement.
Holy hell, Alyssa. You’re doing it wrong.
When they find themselves divorced in their early 40s, some naturally want to go back to how sex was, so they look to the last place they had it—the early 20s. I doubt, really, if most men give it any more thought than that. I certainly don’t think that most men are predatory in any way. But if they’re looking for hot sex with no strings attached, then women in the most dramatic age of their life who are looking for security are not the place to find it.
See, now this is where your whole argument falls apart. Nice to you to disavow that men are intentionally predatory when it comes to sex, but that rings a little hollow when in the next breath you claim they are just looking for hot sex with no strings attached.
If that’s not predatory, then what is?
Do you think it’s possible that maybe, just maybe, they are looking for sex that ISN’T loaded with responsibility, guilt, angst, manipulation and judgement? And that the women in their own age category are no longer capable of offering physical communion that is joyful and enthusiastic and mutually pleasurable and just plain old fun?
Women on the other hand, tend to have a very different experience when we first come into our sexuality in our late teens and early 20s.
It’s a time of tremendous insecurity, of being used just for our bodies, of being called uptight if we don’t have sex and sluts if we do. Much of the time, when we do have sex, it’s to get something, or because we think we have to—if we don’t f*ck him, he’ll find someone else who will, and we’ll lose him. (And we’re still young enough to believe that we need him.) We worry about our bodies, our reputation, our skills. It is not a great time for most women.
Much of the time, when we do have sex, it’s to get something? Sounds a little predatory to me. So basically, you’re saying that young women in their twenties are just whores trading sex for the stuff they can get? How lovely.
And you know, not every woman is crippled with anxiety and self-doubt or completely caught up in what other people think of us. Indeed, I think the opposite is true. Young women aren’t concerned about their bodies – have you heard of the obesity epidemic? Their reputations? Yeah, Girls Gone Wild speaks volumes about how much young women care about their reputations. And skills? What skills are we talking about here? Your ability to deep-throat?
You might want to stop for a moment and consider that all those great skills you were concerned about acquiring in your twenties sent the men you were dating a message: I’ve been around, boys.
There is a huge difference between exploring your sexuality in the context of a loving relationship with someone you care about deeply, and finding mutual pleasures together, and just blowing a whole bunch of guys until you get good at it.
Makes me want mouthwash just thinking about it.
So when we find ourselves divorced in our early 40s, many of us have a second sexual awakening. We aren’t looking back to that first time, we’re claiming it for ourselves, for the first time. Our hormones are raging, biologically speaking, we’re at our peak. Emotionally speaking, we have figured ourselves out and have autonomous agency over our bodies and desires that nobody in their early 20s can have.
You find yourself divorced? Goodness! I wonder why?
You’re claiming your sexual awakening for yourselves, are you? Now you’ve run to the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of having sex to get stuff or to keep your boyfriend, you’re having sex only to please yourself?
Good plan. I’ll bet you have a line of men outside your door who want to hop in the sack with someone who claims sexuality just for themselves. Sounds like hours of fun.
What many of us want are men our age who have the same power and wisdom and experience, who will want us for who we are as people. We’ve given away the sexy bits for too long, on other people’s terms. Now we want to really use it, but on our terms. With people who appreciate it. Ideally, people who want a hot body, a sharp mind, an independent woman—no puppet strings going in either direction.
You know why men don’t want you as a person?
Because you’re not a very nice person.
You’re bitter and angry and righteous and shallow and superficial and most of all, deeply, brutally selfish.
We don’t want to be your mother. We don’t want you to be our father. We want equals. And hot sex.
Oh, honey. Not very many men want to have sex with their mothers. But don’t confuse being loving and nurturing and kind and thoughtful with being someone’s mother. Men do like those things (so do women), and there is nothing wrong with wanting or giving those things.
I’m going to tell you the secret to really hot sex, but you won’t like it.
Forget about your own pleasure. Don’t give it one moment’s thought. Focus entirely on his pleasure, and his alone. Let YOUR pleasure be HIS.
Know why? Because when you enthusiastically and completely immerse yourself in another person’s pleasure, all their instincts are to do the same for you. When you STOP making sex a competition (who came first last time?) and START making it about delivering the most mind-blowing experience to your partner, you get it back in spades.
When your whole world is his pleasure, and his whole world is yours, that’s when the earth moves.
You get out what you put in, so to speak.
Why does it seem so wrong?
Why does it seem so wrong when guys our age date women half their age?
Because you’re a miserable cow who just spent a decade or more using sex to emotionally manipulate your partner and now you can’t stand that men have pretty much had enough of your shit and are looking to greener pastures?
Got ahead of myself there.
There’s an inherent power differential here that makes “true” consent almost impossible. She may say yes to things that she may not want, or may harm her in the long run, in order to get her goal. She’s not necessarily able to protect herself emotionally because she’s putting her emotional self on the back burner—because, in many cases, she hasn’t learned not to.
You’ve got to be kidding me. This is essentially an argument that sex with older men is rape. If you can’t give true consent, that’s rape. Adult women are so stupid, so fragile, so immature that they can’t consent to sex with someone older than themselves?
You’re missing the REAL power differential. A 45 year old man with a 25 year old girlfriend who is at the peak of her fertility and sexual attractiveness is very likely to be gobsmacked with desire, and he is the one who is vulnerable to emotional abuse.
You don’t think young women know that? My ass, they don’t. There is nothing quite like the intoxicating power of being sexually desired by a powerful man.
When I was in my twenties, I was involved in a serious relationship with a man nearly 30 years older than me. He was insanely rich, handsome, sophisticated, intelligent and oh so very appealing. He had lost his wife to cancer and raised their two children alone, and he did a remarkable job. They were utterly lovely people. Our relationship ended with a marriage proposal, but when push came to shove, I found that having children was something I was not prepared to sacrifice, and he did not want to start another family.
I know very well what it is like to be the younger partner and to be desired. And so do all these young ladies dating older men. It’s a key part of the man’s appeal.
It’s also a weak choice for the man. It’s like an NBA player going one-on-one with a high-school player. How cool does the NBA player really look when he scores? And how good does he really feel?
Nice try. How good does he feel? Pretty fucking good.
But beyond that, many of these men are inadvertently validating the notion that most young women still have—that the only thing of value is their sexiness. We’re drenched in media images that tell us we have to be sexy. Not smart, not strong, not driven, not creative, not even kind. Just sexy. We’re only as valuable as we are sexy. The way we get things is with sex. When we’re no longer sexy, we’ll be tossed aside for someone who is sexy. Which is what it looks like when the older guy is with the younger new model of a girl.
Alsyssa, it looks like that to you because you have zero clue what sexy means. Sexy IS smart, strong, driven, creative and kind. You take all those qualities and couple them with a strong, fit body and a cheerful personality and you have sexy in a jar, love.
This comes back to you thinking that men are pigs who only care about a firm ass and a nice rack. That men will accept any kind of bitchy, manipulative, stupid, irritating, emotionally dysfunctional woman as long as she looks good.
If that were true, you wouldn’t have any trouble getting dates, now would you? I mean, for 40 something, you’re in good shape, but that’s not enough is it?
Men want more than just good shape.
When the supposedly older, wiser and more powerful amongst us behave this way, it validates those messages, becomes the acceptable mode of behavior. Imagine it’s your daughter, is that what you want her to learn? Do you want to teach her that that’s her value, and that’s how she should expect to be and accept being treated?
No? Then don’t set that example.
Actually, yes. That’s exactly what I want to teach her. Being sexy is BOTH your personality and your body. Those two things work in concert.
Again, I don’t know any men who would do this intentionally. But they do it unintentionally quite often. And it damages everyone. (Including themselves. They too deserve to be loved for who they are, not just what they can provide.)
I’m beginning to think you don’t know any men at all.
So what, if so many are doing it knowingly? She’s getting spoiled, he’s getting laid, it’s equal commerce, right?
Wrong. In early adulthood, women are defining who they will be for the next decades. Just like in early childhood, when we teach children what works and what doesn’t by having clear rules and boundaries with our children. Early adulthood is a polishing of that framework. If we allow women to believe that they can and should use sex to get what they want, they will learn that sex is the commodity of value for emotional commerce, and it will become a game of debit and deposit.
Women are not children. And the relationship between sex and emotional “commerce” is not one in which one side is exploited and the other is exploiting. Sex and emotional connection happen for both men and women. The simple act of hugging releases hormones that encourage bonding between men and women. This isn’t a weapon to be used to exploit another person. It’s the basis of human pair bonding and the means by which we all survive.
If you could wrap your head around the fact that men are actually people, capable of deep emotional connections, you might see that emotions aren’t commerce. They are what make us, all of us, human.
Sex will become a tool, rather than a union. Sex, then, is not about what it feels like or even what it means in a relationship or to the individuals. It is simply a tool. Further, sexiness is judged only by physical appearance and ability to meet external expectations.
By you, Alyssa. You are the one judging sexiness soley by physical criteria.
This separates women from their own sexuality. Rather than it being a part of them, it is a tool they use. And that can be used against them.
One presumes Alyssa is talking about the version of sexuality that is all about her own pleasure. If you’re claiming your second sexual awakening as being all about yourself, doesn’t that make your male partner a mere tool for your gratification? I suppose that’s okay, right?
This is the first step in making a woman’s sexuality the property of other people. This is what makes it possible for “sex crimes” to go unreported, victims to be blamed, and continue using sexualized images of women as a way to sell products—cementing our belief that it is a tool of commerce, not part of a woman’s body and soul.
This doesn’t even make sense. Sex is part of a woman’s body and soul, but if you show her body as sexy, you’re saying it’s not part of her body?
So yes, it’s wrong.
Well, we agree there, Alyssa.
As my friend Hugo [Schwyzer], who has written and lectured extensively on the subject, said to me in a Facebook comment thread:
And the onus is on the older men, too, to see through that. As a prof who works around sexuality/body image issues, lots of female students who first come to meet me are flirtatious because that’s how they’ve been taught they need to be to be taken seriously.
They don’t want to fuck me. They don’t usually even want me to want to. What they want is attention, and they don’t trust me (or any other man) to give it for any other reason. After I gently make it clear that I’m absolutely not sexualizing anything, they change. First time in my office hours, it’s miniskirts. A month later, its sweatpants. I take that as a compliment I’m doing my damn job.
That’s pretty rich. This is the guy who openly admits to fucking his students.
But we also need to redefine sexy. It’s not just a hot body, but it’s also creativity, adventure, kindness, smarts… It’s the whole package. It is everything that we are, not just our collagen and follicles.
No, we don’t need to redefine sexy. Sexy is already all of those things. You need to understand that. And then perhaps cultivate some of those other qualities.
Why doesn’t it seem wrong when women our age date men half our age?
For me, personally, it seems weird, but not quite as wrong. I’ve had some very smart, hot and awesome guys in their 20s pursue me in damned near irresistible ways. But I can’t do it, because to me it seems selfish.
Oh, goody. Let’s get hypocritical. Men, no younger women! It’s practically rape! Women dating younger men? Oh, okay.
I know that I want a relationship, with someone who is well-past wanting to start a family. Someone who knows who he is and what he wants. I don’t want to delay them from finding what they really want and need.
Well, aren’t you generous?
The sex may be fun—and I can easily convince myself that I’m doing a service to all their future women by teaching them what I know—but ultimately, it just doesn’t feel balanced to me.
Well, how could it feel balanced? If sex is all about you and you stop for a moment to consider your partner, that might bring his pleasures into play. Can’t have that. It has to be all about you! This is your second sexual awakening! You need to own it! It’s yours, and yours alone!
Do all the future women a favor and DON’T teach him anything.
I want to be emotionally and intellectually challenged—and someone younger than me is not likely to offer that. I want someone who can understand where I am in my life—easier if they’re in a similar place. I want to feel truly free and playful and able to explore the world—and someone younger than me who is just sorting out his future isn’t likely to be there. I don’t want to deal with the head games of youth—I didn’t like them the first time, I don’t want them now. And for gods sake, I want a man who has learned how to eat pussy, and as far as I can tell, that takes a good 20 years for them to master.
Young men are stupid
They are incapable of seeing any perspective but their own
They have no sense of fun or playfulness or freedom
They play head games
They suck at eating pussy
Hmmm. I’m really confused about why Alyssa has such trouble with relationships. No one wants to go down on her, apparently. So confusing.
Also, yech. Anyone else feeling a little nauseous at the thought?
However, as I said earlier, I believe there’s a direct analogy to a guy’s initial sexual awakening in his 20s, and a woman’s autonomous sexual awakening in her 40s. In that way, I think that men in their 20s and women in their 40s are in the same place in terms of their sexuality. I think that’s why it’s less bothersome when the age difference has the woman on top.
Well, at least Alyssa is honest. She portrays young men as rutting animals with no interest in anything other than a warm hole and then admits she is pretty much the same. Her sexuality is all about her pleasure and her pleasure alone.
There are obviously many shades of grey. Not all men are the same, not all women are the same. And I truly don’t believe there is any predatory or abusive intent.
Right. When older men prefer relationships with younger women, who are too stupid and fragile to consent to those rapey relationships, there is nothing predatory and abusive involved. Nice try at mitigating all the previous garbage you spewed, Alyssa.
But I do think we’re socialized to do things without questioning their impact on us or anyone else.
You certainly appear to have been.
Speaking for myself—and observing many of my friends—the early 40s are a golden age for women. We’re hotter, hornier, smarter and more fun than we ever were in our 20s and 30s. It’s because we’ve been through the ringer and come out whole. We’ve been able to define ourselves for ourselves, rather than as we think other people want us to in order to get what we thought we wanted.
Yes, please, speak only for yourself.
I cannot count the number of times I used sex to get what I thought I wanted when I was younger. I did it on “their” terms, not mine. To be the person they wanted, not that I was, because I had no idea who I was. I felt insecure, uncertain, disingenuous, and unstable, but I sure got some skills. Now that I know better, I have all these skills and am a more amazing woman than I ever knew possible.
Oh, big surprise there. No, you didn’t do anything on “their terms”. You did it on your own terms, which was to get what you want. You can’t turn around and blame your partners because you were just straight up abusing them for your own gratification.
You got some skills, did you? I’ll bet. That tends to happen when you’ve had sex with more men than you can count.
And for those who value me for all the things that I am, and are lucky enough to know the lover I’ve become, it was worth the wait. No games. No drama. No goal. Just the powerfully awesome autonomous sexuality of a powerful woman, shared freely with a man who values it, to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
No strings attached, because it turns out, I’m not a puppet. I don’t want someone to pull my strings. And just as importantly, I don’t want to pull strings to manipulate anyone else either.
Unless, you know, we’re both into that.
The powerfully autonomous awesome sexuality of a powerful woman with no strings attached. Hmm. Isn’t that how the whole article started? Powerful men want sex with no strings attached, and that’s bad.
Powerful women want sex with no strings attached, and that’s awesome.
I think we should just leave this powerful woman with her autonomous sexuality and no strings attached to her own devices (heh).
Stock up on batteries, Alyssa.
I think you’re gonna need them.
Lots of love,