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Young To Old And Back Again 

From time to time, I write about the pros and cons of being thirtysomething and single in Charlotte. There should be a specific science dedicated to finding a partner in life -- maybe it should be called Singletology? Anything to get some federal funds thrown its way to keep me from maxing out my credit card at Concord Mills. Shopping is an expensive way to pass the time. With the New Year, I decided it was high time I changed some of my ways of thinking, particularly in the direction of the opposite sex.

I've discovered that being a woman in your 30s does give you the unique liberty to select a partner from a dating pool that can easily span about 20 years, and not sacrifice much on the quality end of it. Of course, there are no rules when it comes to age groups in matters of the heart, but the truth is, most of us will choose to date someone who's generally in our own age group. There are always exceptions to this, as in, if you're a geriatric multi-millionaire with one foot in the grave, chances of you getting married if you're in a coma are still pretty good.

At the ripe old age of 33, what has caused me to take a look back at my former beaus is that I woke up one morning and realized that in the past two years, I had dated men who were anywhere from 22 to 46. There was something inherently odd about going out with one guy who was 10 years my junior and then another who was old enough to be the first guy's father. It just felt, well, weird.

Toward the end of last year I had a new addition to my life: a much younger boyfriend who wasn't so set in his ways that he couldn't learn to appreciate me for the feisty, considerate, and bitchy woman I can be. He also has an over-indulged libido that, I was pleasantly surprised to learn, matched my own. He tolerates my mood swings, my tendency to be a chatterbox, and my obsession for scheduling everything. In turn, he enjoys the benefits of being with someone who enjoys nothing more than to pamper him to his heart's content. I thoroughly enjoy spoiling him. . .but a girl's gotta know where to draw the line. You can't let them get too cocky.

I've written several times about the trials and tribulations of dating younger men, but every time I try to venture a little higher in the age bracket, I start to get bored. I'm not sure if it's the predictability of their career path, or the fact that they always call back on time, which gives me absolutely nothing to start a fight-and-make-up-session with. I can't stand the thought of an early morning presentation at work taking priority over sex, and if he can't get up off his ass and go dancing every once in awhile until 3am, then I just wouldn't know what to do.

I have two close girlfriends who go through this same roller coaster ride with me; one is my age, and the other is in her early 40s with two children in college. It's like younger men have the rubber band effect: You try to stretch out to broaden your horizon and go out with older men when you reach your threshold of bullshit, but eventually, it snaps you back. Maybe we should start a support group.

When you think about it, even Generation X women have grown up with the pre-programmed idea that we're to find a man who's able to financially support us, but why is that so important? There isn't anything wrong with both people in a partnership carrying their own weight, or how about this for an idea: A woman as the breadwinner? What a concept.

Years ago, I worked with a guy, "Tom," who had a fairly menial job, but he casually referred to himself as a "househusband." He worked only part-time in order to keep their children out of daycare. When he couldn't find a babysitter? He brought his youngest to work with him. He was totally responsible for getting the other two up every morning and taking them to and from school. When one child was sick? He stayed home.

His much-older wife was an Executive Vice-President of a large Charlotte corporation with a six-digit salary. When I kidded him about his arrangement, as many of us did, he always said he didn't mind it at all. He frequently joked that he would keep it up "as long as she's able to keep me in the lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed."

Gotta love that Boy Toy effect.

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