Life Advice



Erika Ettin: Dating and aging

By Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Client question:

"As you know, I've been seeing (Doug), and he's 11 years older than I am and it's been on my mind a lot, every time we see each other. So I just asked my friend who is dating a guy 10 years older what she thinks about the age difference, and she said she worries about his death ALL the time (which I was afraid of)... but he has twice the energy of her younger ex-husband. And her dad is doing great at 80 and her mom is barely alive at 72 so you never know. In short, her conclusion is that an older energetic person is better than a younger sloth. Lol So maybe if I'm going to attract primarily older guys they will at least be of the energetic sort!"

Erika's response:

I have so many things to say about this that I'm not sure where to begin ...

First, it sounds like your friend would worry about death upon her partner whether he was 20 years younger or 10 years older. That sounds like a "her" thing, not a "him" thing. (I know I don't know her, and I have no doubt she's lovely, but I'd put money on my being right about that.) Why worry so much about the future when you can live in the present?

Next, clearly the age difference is bothering you. And you'll be able to draw whatever conclusion you like about it if you try hard enough. In other words, you'll find what you're looking for ... either way. (If you're looking for ways to prove someone's "old," you will, and vice versa.)

What really sticks out to me here is that you're attributing everything to someone's age — his energy level, his longevity, everything. When, in reality, age is just one factor among many in what makes a person who they are. I care more about you having a similarly active lifestyle with someone regardless of his age, which is what I think you were getting at!


I see this all the time with clients who say, "I'll never date someone who's never been married." Then, they attribute everything to that one variable. "That person did something selfish ... must be because he's never been married." "That person did xyz ... because never married." (Like divorced or widowed people are never selfish. ;)) When it comes down to it, people of any age can be energetic or not, people of any prior marital status can be selfish or not. Just as you're not the same as every woman "divorced with kids" or "who lives in Connecticut" or "who has teenage daughters."

But let's take this one step further ... let's say someone initially says, "I don't want to date someone with kids still in the house" because they have a certain perception of what "that person" is like. The minute you do something to corroborate that (maybe have to pick up your daughters?), then you've proven that person right. But it's just one part of you. That's what I'm trying to say about age ... or anything really.

When it comes down to it, if someone's age is the only thing on your mind the whole time, then I agree that he's not right for you. But that's something you have to decide for yourself, and I certainly wouldn't begrudge you for making that decision. But it shouldn't be because of what your friend says ... or even what I say. You know yourself best to make an informed decision on what's right for you.


(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter, for updates and tips.)

(c)2020 Erika Ettin, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.