Jess Lewis, 29, started dating her 56-year-old boyfriend after they met through work.
While she loved dating a more mature man, she felt anxious about telling other people.
She's since opened up to her mom and friends about her relationship, and wished she did it sooner.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jess Lewis. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I was never attracted to older men or considered dating someone with a significant age gap.
That all changed when I met my boyfriend at our brokerage’s 2022 Christmas party — one neither of us wanted to go to.
As realtors, we had a mutual client and knew about each other, though we lived two hours away from each other in Canada and never met in person before. At the party, I sat by my mom, the office manager of our real estate company, and he asked to sit by us.
We hit it off, bonding over our work and naturally gravitating towards each other. I loved how fun and easy our dates were, and knowing that his previous marriage ended on good, civil terms felt like a huge green flag. He’s also felt more mature than the men I’ve dated who were my age.
But the fact that I was in my late 20s and he was in his mid-50s made me apprehensive about going public with the relationship — something I wish I had done sooner.
Our relationship feels both secure and exciting
As we were easing into the relationship, we started out with simple drinks and dinner dates. But after we became more official in March 2023, we started to venture out more, and have gone to Mexico, Hawaii, and New York. I don’t have kids, and his kid from his last marriage is in college, so we’ve had the free time and financial means to travel a lot together.
While I love going on nice dates and trips, I struggled to date men my age. As someone who’s more of an introvert and quiet homebody, I’ve never been to a nightclub and got frustrated with guys who only wanted to bar-hop. I also found it off-putting to see guys obsess over social media or “heart” photos of half-naked women. But my 56-year-old boyfriend barely goes online (outside of reading the news) and is more in-line with what I want to do on weekends.
But what makes me feel the most secure with him is how he helps me through any issues. I have anxiety, and I remember guys my age not really knowing how to deal with it. They would hug me and say they were sorry, but my boyfriend also tries to help me find a solution. It’s taught me to be more resilient and in control of my life.
I kept the relationship a secret more than he did
At first, we both kept the relationship under wraps as we saw each other.
Slowly, he started to open up more with his friends and family, but I think part of that had to do with the fact that there was less stigma for him. As an older man with a 29-year-old girlfriend, he was getting high-fives. But I worried that I would look like I’m chasing his money, dating someone almost twice my age.
I told my mom I was dating someone — without any details — over the summer. I started to become more unavailable, spending more time in his town. The lies started to wear on me. Eventually, everything had to come out.
I could have used support from my loved ones sooner
Because we were both at the same company, I finally came clean and abruptly left it. As I started to open up more to people about my relationship, I made it clear that I just wanted to share my life with them, that I wasn’t looking for opinions or judgment.
Right before we went to Mexico in November, he sat down with his ex-wife and son to tell them about our relationship, while I did the same with my mom. Everyone was really understanding, and when my mom hugged me, it made me realize how much I could’ve used that support earlier on.
While I haven’t told everyone about my relationship yet, my closest friends have been amazing and so accepting. Part of that is also because my partner gets along with them: he’s young at heart, plays guitar in a band, rides a motorcycle, and is just a fun guy. His own group of friends has a huge friendship age-gap, with everyone ranging from their 30s to their 70s.
If I’ve learned anything from all of this, it’s that I should’ve owned who I was and how happy I am in this relationship sooner. Not only did the stress of keeping things a secret impact the relationship, but it also took away all the love and support I could’ve had all along.
I read so many Reddit posts from people in similar relationships, who feel ashamed of their age difference. But I say: it’s 2024, you can be who you want to be and love who you want to love.
Read the original article on Business Insider