Dating an older white man
Sure, she’ll have skin like a baby’s bottom, but is that a big enough reward for looking a bit like Rickman? Apparently, luxury brands have seen sales flourish thanks to a vogue for younger women tasking older men with buying their handbags and high fashion in exchange for the pleasure of their company. Though the jury’s out on that last one – what average 32-year-old would want to date a man old enough to be her father unless she was getting a healthy amount of new season Prada out of it? Woke 35-year olds probably need no advice that dating anyone younger than your baby sister is weird. That said, as all of us who despaired at his Leave campaign lies knows, he’s always played fast and loose when it comes to numbers.There’s an age-old rule that an acceptable age to date is half your own plus seven. It’s the Johnsons of the world that need reminders that anyone under 30 probably has enough on their plate, what with the pressure of a lifetime of renting and the impending doom of Brexit to have time to bat away riled up old guys. And evidently, I’m doing the same thing in my dating life.To put it simply, I’ve been the token person of colour at school, at work and in circles of friends. I think that’s why I find an innate sense of comfort and recognition with dating a fellow minority, whether they are a part of my culture or not. But because that need is mutual, it’s met with a distinct understanding that feels akin to seeing someone familiar across a crowded room.But the feeling that I need to be pardoned for my background before I can find connection with a potential partner is something I’m finally throwing away.In the last few years, when I started working—and therefore spending most of my time—in an office where I am one of a few people of colour, I realized I’ve been gravitating towards more diverse circles on the evenings and weekends as if those spaces are water and I’m dehydrated.And while sharing your personal history and background is certainly key to building a relationship, there are times when I feel like I’m simply too much to understand.I have a long story for everything, whether it’s about how I left home or how he can’t have a relationship with my parents (think vibes with his, and that times 10 with mine).
“Don’t be like other brown girls.” This from a man who had opened the date by telling me he’d never been out with “a brown girl” before, so he was excited to check that off his list, as if I were an item on a sample platter. And it wasn’t entirely based on Trent; the long list of Trents, Daves and Andys who came before him contributed to my decision, too. As a Pakistani-Canadian woman in her late 20s, there’s a pressure to never move out of home, to have children, to opt for an arrangement, to maintain the “back home” quo, where dating of any kind and pre-marital sex is considered deeply taboo. Sometimes it feels like even the way these men say my name—the practiced pronunciation, and the inevitable request for definition—is a slight, and that’s not because it’s wrong to ask (it isn’t). I wouldn’t, after all, inquire about the ethnic origins of a James or a Michael. Something tells me those conversations aren’t happening in the same way with our other halves.They don’t generalize, they ask questions, and come from a place of wanting to understand rather than assuming they’ve got it down.But whether that effort is made or not, I find myself unable to get past why I always have to be the half carrying the heavier load simply because I was born with it, hoping I can pass without the texture of my life being used to dismiss me as not much more than “a brown girl.” I grew up feeling as though I needed to be ashamed of living outside the Western default, whether that was for hiding my “smelly” lunches in elementary school, committing to my unibrow throughout middle school or keeping my legs covered during the summer.I find myself having to explain family, tradition, tastes and experiences I did or didn’t have, while there’s a silent assumption that I already understood his—and honestly, I probably , because growing up in Canada meant learning how to straddle the East and West.Laying down my baggage, then, takes trust and vulnerability, especially with the risk of being misunderstood.