Dating an older white man
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).Each time, he had a rebuttal that probably sounded cleverer in his head. “You better not let your parents control your life like that,” he said, with a derisive laugh. Of course, I didn’t realize I’d made that choice until I reflected back on my last year in men. But it’s the latter who always seem to require an explanation for all of the above, and also for why I lived at home as long as I did and had an early curfew, and why meeting my parents isn’t as simple as pencilling in a Friday night dinner.“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.Since then, I’ve realized that I’m no longer looking at white men as romantic prospects. The fact is, all of these things are pieces of my cultural baggage, which is something many of the women and men of colour I know also have. Healthy relationships require a mutual give and take, and space for empathy.I can’t count the number of times we’ve sat around a dinner table swapping stories and asking each other: When do you tell them? But in my experience, dating a white guy often leads to an automatic imbalance.Last summer, I was on a date with a 20-something man we’ll call Trent. I had been explaining how my parents met and married through an arrangement, something that’s common in South Asian culture.At first, conversation flowed—we talked careers, food, travel, friends, family. He didn’t quite follow, which is understandable, so I tried to explain: “It’s a cultural tradition.” “They define love and marriage differently than the American way.” “It may not be for you or me, but it was for them,” etc.
Sure, it manifests in different forms – sometimes Tory and toffy, where the dream woman favours wellies and bad pashminas and Joules travel bags, and other times faux-bohemian, where she, like Grimes, is a touch more gothy, opting for black lace and a burgundy lip over a peppy pink shade.
That’s why, before I go on dates with white guys, I steel myself.
It’s like I’m going over a defense strategy that I’ve built over time and perfected; I know exactly when the questions will come, what they’ll be and the looks I’ll get.
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.