Last year a young man asked me out on a date. He was attractive, seemingly put together and had a self-assured vibe about him that I tend to like. He was young.
The truth is, I never dated younger. Not that it was a hard and fast rule, just that the majority of the men whose eye I caught (and admittedly, caught mine) were a bit older, established and very confident in who they are. If I had a type, that was it, but I do believe in life there is room for exceptions.
So, I went on the date. I met the well-dressed 20-something at a bustling bar off 28th street — close enough to Penn Station so that if I had to maneuver an early exit I could escape without the stress of a ticket swipe, transfer and everything else that goes along with being a commuter in New York City. About 45 minutes into our date I realized I wasn’t going to need my perfectly orchestrated out. I was having a good time.
A couple of cocktails in he askes me, “So how old are you?” I was 32 at the time. But when I told him to guess, he pegged me at 36. [cue exit] Banter ensued about what shaped his speculation and I realized, it’s not necessarily that he thought I was four years older than I was, it’s that he wanted me to know that even if I was, he could handle a woman nearly 10 years his senior. For women who date older, that tends to be the hang-up with young men. Us “Karen’s” of the world are looking for a man that’s decidedly solid. Someone who impresses us with what their bringing to the table, not words and affirmations they think will prove their readiness.
A Miles, whose kind and attractive, and purportedly established, is cool, but where he seemingly falls short is in his inability to show clear resolve, a capacity to come off completely fastened to who he is as a man. On the honeymoon, Miles mentioned that he had been in about 10 serious relationships. “Age is nothing! I told you age ain’t nothing, I’m a vet,” the 26-year-old said jokingly, comparing Karen’s lack of dating experience to his own. But in his attempt to prove his age was not a factor, the confession left me (and 30-year-old Karen, obviously) questioning his maturity. Miles noted that two years before the experiment, so at roughly 24, he took a break from dating. How then, could one fit in that many “serious” relationships?
In my dating life, I’ve realized there are two kinds of people — default relationship people and default single people. Miles is clearly a DRP, while Karen is admittedly the latter. Will that present an issue in their relationship? I hope not. But I also hope that Miles spends some time thinking about who he is outside of the confines of a romance. I know he’s a great catch. That’s obvious from the way he treats his new wife and inferred by the love he has for his mother. But on the outside looking in, I do question how intimately he knows himself without the validation of a woman — his wife, mom or otherwise.
On the latest episode of MAFS, the fan favorite was asked what he wants out of the marriage. Pastor Cal, one of the show’s experts, wanted to know what he was hoping to receive from his new wife. Miles honestly could not say. Instead, he suggested making his wife happy was the only real item on his marriage agenda. It’s a response that sounds sweet and kind on the surface, but a bit concerning in reality. I also think answers like that are why Karen initially finds it hard to trust she’s getting the real person. How long will his desire to please last?
As the season rolls on, what I want most for Karen and Miles is for her to let go of any hurt she may have experienced in the past, and any preconceived notions for who her husband should be. And for Miles to let go of his incessant need to impress, or communicate through words his readiness for their union. As I told that self-assured 20-something at that bustling bar on 28th street, there’s no need to tell me what you think I want to hear, tell me all you need to say through actions.
Catch all-new episodes of Married At First Sight every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
Tanya A. Christian is a News & Politics editor at ESSENCE.