I remember growing up and being very tall and very skinny. Believe it or not, these attributes didn’t faze me until I hit my teens. Before then people would question whether or not I was eating regularly, so my sisters were always in full defence saying I actually eat like a pig (which is true). However, something different happened when I hit my teens, boys happened.
The moment a young adolescent girl begins to think about boys, and what they think about her, her whole perception of who she is as a person can change, and before you know it, she may even start to form insecurities about herself. It took a long time before I became okay with the fact that my body is different, and I don’t need to compare myself to the other girls in my school or the girls in music videos. Irrespective of me drawing to the conclusion that I am fine with who I am, insecurity still somewhat laid dormant in me.
The first time I dated an older man, I was 18. I think what law can do at times, is confuse our psyche about what we can do mentally, because of what we can now do legally. Just because I had turned 18 and it was legal for me to date an older man, it doesn’t mean that I was mentally prepared to be with one. There are a plethora of reasons why I feel at the tender age of 18 I made the mistake of dating a man much older than me, and I’m going to list a few below. (If you find this post helpful, I would urge you to pass this onto your younger sisters, daughters, nieces and any young woman who is below 18 so they can see that it’s not worth growing up too fast.)
The first reason a teen can date an older man is due to insecurities carried over from adolescence. As I touched on before, these insecurities may be stemmed from body image. In my own experience of having no breasts and no thickness in my body, I didn’t feel as desirable, so when a man of an older age approached me, I finally felt mature and somewhat worthy of the attention I felt I missed at a younger age. Also, in contrast, some of us as young girls develop early and then we use that as a reason to say, “I’m a big girl, why wouldn’t he want to be with me?” We can’t get lost in letting our mental maturity or physical maturity make us think we are older than we are, because this is the same thinking an older man can use to manipulate us in more ways than one.
A second important factor is the need for survival, but at a particular lifestyle. When young girls date boys their own age, these boys may only be able to provide a particular standard on dates. However, psychologically some young women may want to feel safe and secure, and an older man can provide that because he may drive, he may pay for dates and he may give them the emotional responses they need to hear (this is also known as grooming). Whilst young women are receiving the type of security they may have been yearning for, this can leave older men with their sense of freedom, so the exchange between both can seem like a win-win. The key component to spot is that this older man may not be looking to make a big commitment, so they entertain a younger woman because what they may be asking for in return, may be quite small in comparison to a woman their own age that may be looking to settle down.
Last but not least, dating an older man when you are still a very young woman could come from having a lack of a father figure in one’s life. In a father we require the things I’ve just listed above, such as security and emotional support. What we may also require is a sense of energetic fun that makes us feel young, and an older man may be seeking that thrill too, especially when in a physical and mental sense the man in question still feels like he is 21. These activities of fun may descend from the fun one wished they had with their father when they were growing up.
In everything I’ve spoken about, some of it applies to me so I don’t want anyone reading this feeling as though this is coming from a place of judgment because it really isn’t. This is coming from a place of experience and while they say you should have no regrets, if I could go back in time I wouldn’t date that older man because he had no business entertaining someone as young as me. So my message for you today is don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, enjoy your youth with the youth and don’t get too big for your boots.
Written by Bola Sol
Twitter and Instagram @bola_sol