The Younger Guy

But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the ‘normal people’ as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others.  – Timothy Leary.

All my past relationships are of the same age except for my ex husband who was two years younger than me. Older guys somehow eluded me, no matter how hard I’ve tried to seek them out. My friends and I seem to have this common notion that older guys will take care of their younger partners. After going through relationships where I was the main caretaker and them the giver, I was curious how it would feel like to be switch roles for once. And my prayers are answered when I met that French guy. Partially.

I had just returned to Turkey from my father’s funeral and was not in the mood for a real relationship when the French guy entered. At that time, I was in between jobs and had time to kill, he came into Istanbul for some business trip and he wanted to meet me after chatting with me for some time online. I had him interested enough to know that I am intelligent enough to hold a deep conversation with him, therefore he wanted to meet me when he first arrived Istanbul. He was one year older than me, but because I look way younger than my usual age, he couldn’t believe our age difference was only by a year. And he looked at least 10 years older than me. But we clicked.

On our first meeting, I had made it clear that I wasn’t looking for anything long term. I was still at a grieving stage and would give anything to make me feel again. I had him interested enough for him to keep asking me out. Every day. So interested that he cancelled his appointment with his other potential date (and pissed her off permenantly but that’s not my problem). After a week, he went back home and I went back to my normal life and started my new job. Three months later, he came back to Turkey to look for me again.

In my head, I always assumed it was just a summer fling. Having a fling. It was one of those bucket list of things I have always wanted to experience so that at the end of my life, I could look back and said to myself, I have truly lived a rich life. I definitely did not factor him in coming back to visit again so soon. Being the nice asian girl I was brought up to be, I couldn’t say no and let him stay over at my house. But it was dreadful. And yet I kept up my cheerful self, playing the part of a geisha the whole time, while racking my brains trying to figure out what does he want from me. He had made it very clear that he is not looking for a relationship but I have no idea why he came. This dragged on for one year. Until one day he made a request: come to Paris and spend a few days with him. The catch? I have to leave my son behind in Turkey. Arrange someone to take care of him, he said. I never responded. To my relief, he never came looking for me again. That was the only experience I have with an older guy.

During that time, I met a younger guy. We have a 10-year gap between. And yet, we connected like no other guy I have ever met before. It was only much later I realized I had met my soulmate. But we were never romantically involved, mainly because I was not emotionally ready to accept anyone, and partly because he was way too young for me. But his mannerisms speaks of an old soul, someone way mature beyond his years. I was impressed with his intelligence and wit. He could get my dark humour and I could understand his quirks. We were fast friends. Until the day when he thought I haboured a crush on him and threatened me and my son with harm if I ever stalk him. But I didn’t even thought of or wanted to stalk him. It is not my character.

Evetually he did came around and sort of apologized for his harsh words, only to rub mud into my face by telling me I should be ashamed of myself for falling for someone so much younger than me. I wasn’t even that interested in him in dreaming of having any romantic relationship with this guy, in addition, I was busy getting stability into my life after being estranged from my biological family followed by my grief for my late father. Relationship was the last thing I was looking for. I lost all respect for this young chap that moment, so much so I needed to get away from him as fast as possible. By breaking all contact, I thought I could save some dignity of being insulted by this younger guy. But the weight of the shame when he threw those words at me haunted me for the next two years. I needed time to lick my pride and process those disgust swelling from my stomach pit. I swore to God I will never date any man younger than me by even a day. Perhaps, that’s why I am still single.

That is until recently, I saw this news on my Facebook feed last week.

“The next French President is 39 years old. But that is not the news.
He is married to a 64-year-old, that is still not the news. His wife was his class teacher 24 years ago…..not still the news.
His then class teacher had a daughter who was his classmate….everybody including his parents thought this teacher’s daughter was his girlfriend….nope they were wrong. He fell in love with his class teacher when he was 15….she was ‘happily married’ with 3 kids….now the ‘happily married’ is relative in this context.
At 17, he promised to marry her. She was at the time 42 years. They got married in 2007 with our man now 30…. well she was almost 55.
Next month he is going to be sworn-in as the President of France 6 months to his 40th birthday while his lovely wife who has 3 adult kids and 7 grandchildren (her first child is two years older than her husband while her second child, the former classmate/sweetheart is the same age as him).
His name is Emmanuel Macron (39) and he is the next President of France.

So if you’re single, relax. He is not born yet.”

As of yesterday, he was formally elected as the President of France. That’s when it hit me: Love is not a number. It’s a respect you have for the other person, no matter which age you are in. It is maturity, respect, sincerity and take tons of guts to go for smeone who is not of society standard of beauty and relationships. This story reminded me of a young man I met 14 years ago. He was telling me of his foreign girlfriend who had to return to her home country, and what he was attending the course I was attending in order to move to her country to be with her. And she was the older one. I encouraged him to go for it. I was moved by his certainty that she was the one for him. “Love is not a number”, I encouraged. He left soon after.

Two years have passed and the sting of those careless words now weigh less. After knowing the French President’s love story and getting to know a friend who is now dating a man younger than her by 15 years (and they are still going together after 8 years), it gave me new respect for the men who dare to break societal conventions and go after what they truly want. And set new standards for the next guy I want to be with: maturity and respect. They spell true maturity beyond their years.

Besides, my life is anything but normal. I take pride in being an independent single mother and am now more emotionally well-balanced. That in itself is already a success story. Perhaps it’s time for me to accept other unconventional experience if they come. Perhaps I should also follow my own advice, “Love is not a number”. So now I take comfort in these words – “So if you’re still single, relax. He is not born yet.” Maybe he is still in school. I can wait. I am not in a rush anyway.


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