I guessed his age at late 20s: He’d just turned 30. He made a joke about his immaturity giving it away. Which was amusing, but entirely untrue. He’s an articulate, smart, engaging man who has only been in my inbox for a very short while, but already I enjoy him a lot.
It’s interesting, the age thing. I’ve written various pieces about it before, but my guessing relatively accurately how old he was led me to think a little more about how I knew.
I explained it like this:
…(generalisation warning…) some younger men have a quality about them that gets lost as they get older. It’s hard to put a finger on what it is exactly. There is a particular way that they look at the world, and it’s quite lovely. I *want* to say ‘naivety’, but it’s not quite right because it has too many implications beyond what I mean.
Perhaps more accurate to say that they have an honest wide-eyed and genuine way of exploring, a way of interacting that hasn’t yet been worn down with age and experience. They haven’t yet learnt to be defensive, to pave their way with expectations, aren’t yet jaded.
I feel it as a kind of ‘breath of fresh air’, all crisp and shiny and ready to bloom.
You have it.
Although it typically is used to refer to young women, my ex once compared me to an ingenue, with my wide-eyed, sincere, willing, and trusting attitude. There really isn’t a comparable term for men that I can’t think of.
I tend to think of an ingenue as more aligned with a kind of naivety or innocence, which is not quite the quality I mean, though it might have some roots there.
Interesting with all the words we have to choose from that sometimes there just isn’t one that fits what we want to convey.
Unrelated: Words like schadenfruede get appropriated because we don’t have a word for it. I find that fascinating.
There is a word in Dutch that I love: gezellig. There are a dozen English words that try to explain it (cosy, intimate, convivial, snug, homey) but none of them quite fit. It means a feeling of rightness, comfort, sweetness, goodness, welcome… In a sense ‘all is good and right with this (situation/person/place) and it makes me feel happily at home’.
I remember when I was like that… It was a long time ago.
I’m not quite sure I was ever like that. Maybe.
I know what you mean. Less cynicism, more idealism?
I do think that can be part of it, but doesn’t quite hit it. In my experience, they can be cynical or idealistic (or even both), but even if they are a cynic, they STILL interact with the world in this way, if you know what I mean.
The pretty thing had this quality, and he could be both terribly cynical AND crazily idealistic.
I’m thinking about this more and more and *maybe* it comes from a mindset where ‘all things are possible’, and they embrace the world and people with that unwavering belief *regardless of their experience*. And I think it becomes harder to believe that as you get older. Maybe it’s about the ability to keep that fresh eye *despite* their experience. Musing. I’ll have to think about that some more.
My last submissive had this quality, despite being in his 40s, and I think it’s because he had a wild imagination that never stopped seeing possibilities. He had a light, whimsical, original way of looking at the world so that everything was fresh and new to him, and through him, to me. It’s an amazingly appealing quality.
I love how this is making me think, thank you *smile*.
“they have an honest wide-eyed and genuine way of exploring, a way of interacting that hasn’t yet been worn down with age and experience. They haven’t yet learnt to be defensive, to pave their way with expectations, aren’t yet jaded.”
So much this. I have a habit of attracting younger men. And I know exactly what you mean. Not to say that all older men are jaded or defensive. But there is just something about the enthusiasm and optimism of younger people that engages me. I still have some of that myself. I think that is one reason that I attract younger *people* into my life (not just lovers but friends as well) on a regular basis.
I’ve managed to maintain a certain amount of my … youthful vigor? My naivety? Whatever that thing is. I still have some left. Even at my age. I have a combination of that optimistic enthusiasm but enough experience to have a much better idea of what I want and how to go about getting it. I haven’t quite reached guarded and jaded. Not yet. But I see it off in the distance sometimes. I’m in no hurry to get there. :)
“Whatever that thing is. I still have some left. Even at my age.”
I love this! And I love that you still have it.
I link it to age purely because I’ve found it much more frequently in young men. I like how you say you still have ‘some left’ because I DO kind of think it gets worn down, or it runs out, or something of that ilk.
I think that I enjoy it so much when I see it in someone because there is an inherent optimism in it that is contagious, and when I am in its shadow, I get to see things with a fresh eye.
I’ve been seeing a younger guy (early 20s!), and I find it super refreshing. He’s eager to explore and so sweet… much less “jaded” than I’m used to!
Oooh… lucky you!! And ‘refreshing’ is a great word.
Good evening, Ma’am. I read your post last night, followed the links you provided, and immediately felt the need to come to the defense of my fellow old men. (I’m 64) I decided to give your thoughts 24 hours to sink in so that I could provide a suitable rebuttal. Well, the time is up, and though I have spent the good part of the last 24 hours contemplating my answer, it turns out I have none. I have none because your description of what happens to so many of us men as we grow older is, sadly, accurate. For me, health issues, the deaths of loved ones, thoughts of my own mortality, my wife’s first battle with breast cancer and its subsequent return last month, have taken its toll. The youthful enthusiasm, vigor, and joy of which you and the commentators speak has weakened over time. One of the great tragedies of life is that, often, what is lost cannot be regained in full. There is very little that I, and so many like me, would not give to wake up tomorrow morning with those powers flowing fully through us once again.
Oh Stan, I wanted to answer this immediately because I hear you and I just wanted to give you a big hug *hug*.
I had a brief exchange with a friend about this post where I mused that I can’t remember EVER having been this way.
Perhaps I was, and perhaps we need it reflected back to us to see it because in the moment it’s just ‘who we are’ so we don’t see it.
Your comment sounds sad and I’m sorry for that. But I do think that there are very few who keep this quality as they get older. I certainly don’t think I have (if I ever had it).
I think I value it so much *because* I don’t have it. Because it feels like renewal.
But for all of that there are plenty of people who will take life experience and a healthy scepticism over wide-eyed wonder any day. And for that, I am truly grateful *smile*.
Sending positive thoughts and best wishes for your wife’s recovery.
You said “*maybe* it comes from a mindset where ‘all things are possible’, and they embrace the world and people with that unwavering belief *regardless of their experience*. And I think it becomes harder to believe that as you get older. Maybe it’s about the ability to keep that fresh eye *despite* their experience.”
That’s close, but it’s not exactly that `all things are possible’; it’s more the luxury of being confident while realistic: believing implicitly that if you work at it, do it right, and are moderately lucky, the Universe (or your social environment) will respond by letting you move closer to your goals. (That’s me in my 30s.)
Later you learn you have to allow for a substantial amount of randomness thrown in (mostly of the bad kind), and for the fact that the people around you simply don’t care: you’re on your own. (That’s the 40s). And in the 50s, that time is running out: there will be no radical “new beginnings”, except for those you can undertake as an individual agent, without outside support.
This realization that one gradually loses the ability to change the situation for the better at a much faster rate than one’s perceived level of energy or competence is declining can’t help but subconsciously `bleed’ into the desire or ability to form new and deep personal connections. If you’re lucky, you’re already with someone who is at the same `stage’ of things. And if you’re `looking’: does it make sense to be with someone who is at an earlier stage?
I think your analysis might well be right, though it sounds like you are making a link between that way of looking at the world and something quite concrete (life/ career/ relationship goals?), and while I think that may be true for many, I don’t think it’s true for all. I think it’s certainly easier for the young for the reasons you state (and a bunch of others on top), but some people manage to *keep* that bright eyed view of the world throughout their lives regardless of what life throws at them.
Perhaps those who manage to keep hold of that quality are a special breed: the dreamers, the poets, the beauty-seekers who never really quite touch the ground.
“And if you’re `looking’: does it make sense to be with someone who is at an earlier stage?”
I try very hard to keep an open mind about the age thing with potential partners. There ARE ‘stage of life’ issues with an age difference, absolutely, but this… this particular thing… it’s not one of them. If anything, it’s one of the key reasons that I like younger men: I get to see the world in a different way when I am with someone who has this quality, and that’s amazing.