The “Younger Woman” Responds
Friday Jan 4, 2013 - BY Stacey
Last month, I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post about the difficulties of moving on from an ex, especially when you’ve gotten dumped for the cliched “younger woman.” It provoked quite a response in the comments section.
In addition to those comments, I also received the following letter from a thoughtful “younger woman” who took umbrage at parts of my post (and my choice of a still from The First Wives’ Club that I used on this site). Her letter was so lovely and sincerely intended, I asked if I could put up our correspondence on this site. Fortunately, she agreed.
My name is Clarke Wolfe. I live in Los Angeles. I am a regular volunteer in my community and a member of a wonderful organization called National Council of Jewish Women/ LA. Last year, I produced the press room and interviewed all of the speakers and panelists at the first annual Jewish Women’s Conference Southern California, which aims to educate, empower and inspire women everywhere. Next Monday, I will be speaking at the Emma Fellowship’s meeting Powerful Messaging from the Board Room to the Bimah. My topic is essentially how to multi-task in your professional life in this very competitive job market.
And I’m 26 years old.
And, until recently–Thanksgiving, to be exact–I was the “younger and hotter version” that someone’s ex was gallivanting around town with. Yes, my boyfriend as of less than a week ago was 44. That’s an 18 year age difference and I was very aware what other people thought when they saw us together (especially in LA). It also didn’t help that he is an extremely established entertainment photographer and I am an up-and-coming actress and producer.
I visit HuffPost Women regularly but more on the “often” side as of recently because I’m dealing with a break-up that I’m actually very sad about and navigating what will probably be an exceptionally challenging holiday season. I read your article called “Moving On From Your Ex” and while I understand the overall point of the piece, I felt compelled to send you a note.
The truth is, I’m not existing on this earth to make anyone, especially another woman, feel badly about herself nor was I participating in a May/December romance to sooth someone’s insecurity. I am mostly existing in this world to try to make it a better place and to hopefully be a good role model for any young girl that I might come in contact with. And until Thanksgiving, I was participating in a May/December romance because I wanted to be a companion to a (ugh, it pains me to say) good man that I cared a lot about and to possibly inhale a breath of fresh air from the 20/30-something men that just don’t quite get me yet (which, for the record, all day, every day makes me feel like an outsider in the dating pool that I’m forced to swim in).
And yet, my relationship ended all the same.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that a break-up is a break-up no matter the combination of partners and even us 26-year-old gals hurt too.
And finally, I think it’s worth pointing out that the arch nemesis in that photo from “The First Wives Club” pictured with the fabulous Bette Midler grew up to be the just-as-fabulous Sarah Jessica Parker.
After reading that carefully considered note, I felt compelled to respond. Here’s what I sent back:
Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I understand how frustrating it can be to read blog posts that occasionally employ sweeping generalities when we all know that every situation and relationship is unique.
Not for one moment did I mean to dismiss the post break up pain of an intelligent, thoughtful 26-year-old like yourself – or of anyone for that matter.
Break-ups suck and I think we can all agree that it is much easier to get involved with someone than it is to gently extricate ourselves from that relationship. I don’t know who was the dumper and who was the dumpee in your situation, but the fact is that you (and most likely he) are hurt and alone during the holidays. The advantage that you have over your 44-year-old ex is that you have the benefit of time on your side–to heal and to experience many more relationships.
I think you are already a good role model for any girl–young or old–as you are a sensitive and considerate woman.
Men are different creatures, and we women hate them because they are so immature and mostly, because they get so much better looking as they get older. I’m not surprised that you find the guys your age hard to date. And I’m guessing, that you were also a breath of fresh air for your December man.
You say that you know what people were thinking when they saw you together “especially in LA.” I think most people expect an attractive, successful man to be dating a younger woman–yes–especially in LA!
Believe me, I feel for you, because for most of my life I was the younger one with the older man. And I had my heart broken countless times. I never thought that I was “the younger, hotter “ or that I was making a more seasoned female feel insecure about herself. I just wanted to love and be loved.
As soon as your spirit heals from this relationship, I have no doubt you will meet another soul mate. Your December guy was someone you were meant to be with for the time you were together. I really do believe that the connections we make with others are not purely coincidental. And you will be that much wiser.
If it makes you feel any better, your ex is probably reading HuffPost Men trying to deal with the break up.
All the best and happy holidays–
This correspondence demonstrates that no relationship can be neatly labeled and filed away as such. Though we might traffic in cliches about older men and younger women, at the heart of every May-December romance are two individuals who are as complicated in their desires and goals as any pair that is closer in age. And breaking up, at any age, is never easy.