give me an older man every time

Old enough to be her father? Oh yes please, says Louise Dickson

I'm so glad it's finally over between you and Will," my friend stated after a few drinks one night, "he was old enough to be your father." Of course he was, I almost screamed at her, he wouldn't be sexy and intelligent and worthy of my emotional attention if he wasn't.

Will made my heart beat faster and my knees weak when he was near me. Like one of those pathetic heroines in cheap romantic novels, when we kissed I wanted to melt - not bad for a man 18 years older than me who sometimes complained of being past it.

As far as I was concerned Will was to-die-for. At one point I believed he was my ideal man, mainly because I prefer men who are at least 10 years my senior and the nearer to the "20 years older" mark they are, the nearer they are to perfection. My thing for older men emerged when I was about 12 years old and a complete telly addict. All the film and TV stars were much more appealing when compared to the creepy humanoids I went to school with. I always knew men like Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum in The Man from Uncle), and Sean Connery wouldn't pull my plaits or stop me from playing football just because I was a girl. Most of the older men I came into contact with in the real world seemed to have so much more respect for me than the teenagers I knew.

Thirteen years later it seems virtually impossible for me to attract or be attracted to a man my own age (25) who isn't gay, married or psychologically unstable. Men in their forties with silver streaked hair and the age-ripened confidence to admit you're attractive without looking close-to-death-by- embarrassment are an abundant commodity at the moment. In the past week alone I've met three such men who I've described to my friends as "shaggable". My friends have invariably replied: "Urghh, he's old enough ..." when I've pointed them out.

A psychologist friend actually told me I was exhibiting signs of Freud's Electra Complex, meaning that unconsciously I have such strong sexual and romantic fantasies about my father that I feel compelled to play them out over and over with men who are (you've guessed it...)

Who am I to argue with the theories of a genius like Mr Freud? Will is only seven years younger than my father and Will, like my father, wouldn't have been caught dead going to a night-club with me, but then I can't see my sensible father playing drums in a jazz band, or rolling a joint in the corner of a pub. My father doesn't punctuate every sentence with a profanity, or snog younger women in shop doorways. So Mr Freud was slightly wrong in my case.

When I pursue an older man I seek not another daddy but an adult. I like to think I've grown up and I want a man who will reaffirm this. Men my age are usually trying "to find who they are" or trying to get their careers started. An older man will have been there, done that and will have some stories that don't involve 27 pints and throwing up on the way home. I particularly like the idea of someone who will be a bit of a male Mrs Robinson when it comes to sex.

Admittedly there are drawbacks to dating older men. The night-club thing with Will was a problem because I love clubbing. I also try to avoid my friends meeting most of my older men because, for them, it would be like talking to their father or their boss. The biggest drawback is the patronising tone an older man will adopt if you disagree with him too often. "When you've grown up a bit more, you'll understand," one older man said when I refused to defer to his opinion on some political matter.

"Maybe I will," I replied frostily, "but at least I've got reason to be juvenile when someone disagrees with me."

But back to my friend who was "so glad" it was over between Will and me. What she was actually doing was defending the latest man - Mike - I'm seeing, only because he's 27 and she thinks, like a lot of my friends do, that I need a man my own age. Mike is very adoring and very nice but when I shout at him, he gets scared. When I tell him to do something, he does it without question. If he dares to answer back or start an argument, he's always the first to apologise. What my friends can't seem to understand is that older men usually have the arrogance and security of experience to stand up to me. So until men in their twenties and early thirties can get this right, I'm going to be always looking for the older, more experienced man. However, I have this feeling that when I hit the 40 mark, I'm going to be very unsatisfied with 50- and 60-year-old men. I'm pretty sure that by the time I get to that stage of my life, men in their thirties and twenties are going to look one hell of a lot more appealing.

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