A reader writes in:

I’m in an interesting predicament here. I’m 22 but very psychologically developed and integrated for my age. Most of my friends are older than me and in different stages of life. Some are even in their 40s and 50s, including one pretty intelligent guy in his 50s who strangely, I’ve been the mentorish figure to.

I regularly get mistaken for being nearly 30 because of my looks and demeanor, which leads to the occasional girl in that age demographic wanting to date me, then getting disappointed when she finds out I’m too young for her.

“22? You’re so mature though!”

I don’t think I’m anything special, but I dealt with a ton of psychological trauma and atypical developmental experiences in my teens and early young adulthood that, combined with the sheer sense of responsibility they gave me, ended up maturing me rather quickly. I don’t think this makes me better than anyone my age, it’s just the path I’ve been on, but it’s alienating when it comes to dating.

I’m fine having mostly older friends. The age difference there doesn’t bother me and that’s the company I enjoy.

But when it comes to girls, again, I’m only 22 and I’m not biologically attracted to older girls/women, with the occasional exception. There was one 25-year-old who liked me at first and who I was very down to be with, but she lost interest when she found out how young I was.

In short, I vibe better on a psychological level with older women but I’m only biologically attracted to younger women.

I know if I build up my social proof a bit more, I’ll have an easy time hooking up with girls my age, but I want more than just one-nights. I tried that path and it didn’t make me happy.

I also don’t want to put up a more immature persona to ease my way in with girls my age. I don’t want to fake myself like that. I’m ambitious and self-directed, and I’m not hiding those parts of myself.

My big problem is, predicting and reading girls my age (even ones a bit older), and always knowing their intentions, always knowing exactly what to do with them, is too damn easy. It makes me feel above them in an alienating sort of way, like I know all the moves to the “get to know someone like a mature, integrated adult” dance by heart but she’s still in the “make mistakes and get burnt” stage of her development.

That makes it very uncommon for me to feel any sort of psychological connection with a girl I’m biologically attracted to.

Any advice for this young gent who’s missed out on a typical adolescence, matured quickly from that, and wants a meaningful relationship with a girl in his age demographic?

Love your content btw, I always look forward to reading more and more of it!


This is an excellent question, with a difficult answer.

I’ve seen this scenario play out with others. A lot of spiritually aware men can’t relate to younger, modern women… their vapidity and shallowness turns them off. And so they end up dating women 5, even 10 years older than them who they feel they can psychologically connect with.

If this was something you were OK with, I’d tell you to do it — temporarily that is. This may not be a relationship that turns into marriage given the different biological timelines, but based on your personality you might enjoy it. Women like this generally take care of themselves and are very in touch with an integrated femininity… they’re often attractive well into their 30s, even beyond.

But as I understand it you do not really find these women to be appealing physically. You prefer, like most men, younger. So we have a bit of an impasse.

How do you find a 20 year old girl with the wisdom of a self-aware 30 year old?

The truth is that such women exist, it’s just very hard to find them.

My suggestion is to really “niche” down with your demographics. This means definitely avoiding settling into an American city, where a race-to-the-bottom among women behavior is common (NYC has some parts, but the artistic community has devolved dramatically in the last decade, just ask Goldmund).

The female counterparts you’re looking for are free-spirits. They’ve chosen their own path; a different one. And they’re likely going to be out in nature.

I was talking to a client a few weeks back about a girl he had met through a friend recently. She was a “wild woman” — declined to go to college, and instead moved out to Hawaii to surf, explore spirituality.

These aren’t women you can find on an app, they’re women you find simply doing the things that these women would do.

Small outdoors-oriented towns and cities / areas with strong artistic communities is where you’re most likely to find these girls. Boulder and Santa Cruz come to mind, though the former in particular is a mixed bag (there are a lot of larpers). Personally, I’d prefer Prague or Paris… but these are all different styles of the same fundamental energy.

The main point is you need to put yourself in a place that better fits the energy of a young, spiritually and psychologically aware person.

I’d explore more, gain some new experiences. Because what it sounds like to me is you’re surrounding yourself with people who have “been there, done that.” And maybe you’ve done quite a bit already, but there’s a whole world out there… I doubt you’ve seen it all.

Anyway, my 2 cents.

If you want more help meeting girls up your alley, apply here: www.patstedman.com/application

– Pat

PS If you’re wondering about ideal age gaps in dating, check out the definitive post here.