May 20, 2018
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I date older men and fear losing my youth. Help!

Emily Yoffe
By Emily Yoffe, Slate

Dear Prudence,

I’m a 21-year-old female who is becoming increasingly fearful of aging. Since I was 18, I’ve tended to date men who were in their mid-20s to 30s, which I figured that was about my attraction to the intelligence and maturity that comes with age. But I’m starting to realize that a large factor in my choice of mates is that I enjoy being cherished for my youth. I’m terrified of losing what I see as my most desirable trait. I am surrounded by beautiful women who are decades older than I am. But in my mind, youth precedes even physical attractiveness when it comes to sexual desirability. This sentiment has been echoed by the men I’ve dated. I’ve started exercising and using anti-aging skin products, but is there anything I can do to ease my apprehension?

— Not So Forever Young

Dear Young,

See the letter below for how weird things can get when people can’t accept the reality of aging. However, science has recently shown that it is possible to age in reverse. The only problem is that you have to be a jellyfish called Turritopsis dohrnii to do it. If at 21 you’re worried about losing your youthful allure, you have, as you recognize, way over-invested in an asset that is guaranteed to be a depleting one. Part of the problem is the men you are choosing. You think men value youth above all. But it turns out your sample is biased toward guys who only seek out partners not able to legally order a drink.

So give up these lizards, and start dating some nice young men who aren’t hung up on your age. Beyond that, focus on your education, job or volunteering. If you are actually making something of yourself, you’ll realize there’s a lot more to cherish about you than your date of birth, which is only going to get further in the past.

— Prudie

Dear Prudence,

I am a nursing student who has worked as a part-time nanny for the past two years for adorable twin 4-year-olds. Their mother is 65 years old. She had them with the help of a fertility clinic. I’ve stayed with her this long solely for the sake of the children. She is single and is majorly in over her head. She has been in three car accidents with the twins in the last 18 months. She wasn’t even able to take them for an outing by herself until they were 3 years old because she said she couldn’t handle it. Her neighbors and parents of the twins’ classmates have inquired about the situation because they just can’t believe their eyes. She has nannies six days a week, often working 12-hour shifts. She doesn’t eat dinner with the children and rarely puts them to bed. What kind of doctor would allow this to happen? She will be nearly 80 years old when they are graduating high school. There are no other family members involved and I can’t imagine what’s ahead. The twins need me but I’m reaching the end of my rope and don’t know how long I can stay involved.

— When To Say “When”

Dear When,

Let’s encourage people to buy red sports cars or run off with the pool boy as the preferred ways to deal with a midlife (or even later) crisis. Ordering up a pair of designer babies you have no interest in raising as a way to prove your youth hasn’t fled is monstrous. What a bizarre, heartbreaking situation this is.

So now two little children are being raised by revolving nannies while their vain, aging, out-of-it mother has nothing to do with them. Whatever the reason for the series of car accidents, she sounds impaired in some way, and is endangering her children’s lives when she gets behind the wheel.

That has to be addressed immediately. You could call Child Protective Services, but they may not see a need to intervene in a case in which a rich lady farms out the child-rearing to professionals. Since you’re so intimately involved in the children’s lives, I think you should start by asking for a meeting with their pediatrician, who is a mandated reporter. The doctor needs to be told exactly what is going on in the house, and that given the mother’s driving record, you are worried she is going to seriously harm the children. (You should also report the mother directly to the motor vehicle bureau.) The doctor knows the children, but needs a fuller picture of their situation to decide on a course of action.

I’m also wondering if you could draw out the mother about her family. She may appear to have none, but everyone has relatives somewhere. It could be she’s cut off relations, but they would be appalled to know there are children being raised in such circumstances. I hope that you feel able to stay some amount of time after you talk to the doctor, just to reassure yourself that action is being taken. But obviously you will finish school and have to get on with your own career. Maybe with the help of a case manager, the mother can get a better understanding of the obligations of motherhood, and realize she needs a plan for when she is forced to acknowledge the power of Father Time.

— Prudie

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