My mother called me one day a couple of years back with a sullen voice of shame. She had something to tell me. “Last night, I had a dream about a man,” she said. Clearly, I didn’t see the problem with it and was quite happy. “Well, there’s more. He’s a much younger man.” Still, I couldn’t see the issue. Then, she said, “The young man was Usher. Would you mind if I ever dated a younger man?” After controlling my laughter, I assured her I would not, especially if it were Usher.

Recently, one of my sister-friends came to me with a similar real-life dilemma. She’d met a man on one of the popular dating sites, but he was 13 years her junior. She’d gone on a date with him and was very interested. Yet, she couldn’t get over his age. “He’s the same age as [her younger brother], that’s gross,” she said. “But, sweetheart, he’s not your brother,” I replied. I’m always have an expansive view on dating and love, so I really didn’t see the problem. If the man was mature, made her happy and could hold his own, then his age really shouldn’t matter. We all know plenty of “forty-somethings” that act their shoe size and not their age.

Moreover, from what she described the guy had his life together — a great job; no kids; a strong family background. And, by her account, he was fine. My only caveat was that although he might be mature on paper, and during first impressions, if she were to enter a long-term relationship with him, she would always have to take his age into consideration when judging his actions.

“But, you just said his age shouldn’t matter,” she questioned. True, but having been in a relationship with someone who was 10 years my senior, I also knew there were some considerations to mention. At 26-years-old, I was a successful lawyer and had my act together too. However, I was still 26 when I entered into the relationship. And often, my partner assumed I was mature enough to make certain decisions that I wasn’t. I was mature professionally, but not so much personally. I’d devoted my entire life to achieving in school and work, but I was still very much in my 20s. I gave my sister-friend some examples of how that came up in my relationship and the issues it caused. With that said, every person is different and my experience wasn’t necessarily the rule.

I encouraged my sister-friend to explore the relationship with him. (They’ve been out on more dates and it has continued to go well.) She had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And, a little young love might put some pep in her step, right?
I consistently say that dating is hard for everyone. The more restrictions you put on your potential partners, the more you shrink your dating pool. If a pretty young thing catches your eye, don’t be so quick to throw the guppy back in the ocean. He might be just what you need. So, ladies, I ask you: Would you take a trip to cougar town?

Wishing you love and ceaseless joy! Follow @NathanHWilliams on Twitter.

Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.

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