Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Did I overreact when old friend brought a much-younger date?
Boston: I was recently having cocktails with some old college friends (we're in our 30s now) and was appalled when one showed up with a date who couldn't have been older than 22. Worse still was that when his date went to the bathroom, several of the other guys gave him exaggerated congratulations. I was eventually so nauseated (and I wasn't the only woman to feel this way) that I cut the evening short early and went home. Did I overreact?
Carolyn: If you were otherwise having a good time, and your make-a-statement departure accomplished nothing except to deprive you of a few hours with cherished old friends, then you overreacted. If, instead, the bathroom-break high-fives were representative of the quality of the discourse during the rest of the evening, and if you weren't having a good time, then leaving early was just the right thing to do.
So really, what makes the difference is whether you just didn't like the men these college friends grew into, or whether you saw a righteous cause where an eye-roll and a shrug would have sufficed.
I am curious, too. Did you get to know the date at all? Because if you wrote her off based on age and (presumably) trophy-esque looks — apparently you were "appalled" just at the sight of her — then you fell into a stereotype with just as resounding a thud as the hootin' dudes did.
Boston Again: Yes, I spent the first part of the evening making conversation with the date. I wish I could say she was sweet and mature, but she reminded me of everyone I know (myself included) at age 22: giggly, insecure, easily bored.
She wasn't the problem; it was that a group of 30-something men, sitting among a group of their 30-something female friends, spent the entire evening implying that a girl in her early 20s is a prize, while an older one, by contrast, would not be. We were insulted.
Carolyn: Yeah, if they were at it the entire evening, then you didn't overreact. I wish I could say it was their loss, but it sounds as if it was everybody's — theirs, yours, the other women's, the trophy date's. The best answer might just be to wipe this one off the books. Bad night, move on.
D.C.: Re: The 22-year-old: I think of myself as a normal, mature, 30-year-old guy. My perspective on the 22-year-old deal? Real men aren't overly impressed by a 22-year-old trophy, once they are 25-plus. These guys should have been more mature.
As for the poster? There is nothing less attractive than a 30-plus woman seeming brittle or defensive about a younger woman. I can guarantee you that we men high-five each other over scoring hot 30-plus women as well. It seems like the real issue is that no one is high-fiving each other about her.
I think we can all agree that it's best to reserve judgment of people until after they have a chance to speak for themselves ... and, ahem, to be especially careful not to use shallow standards by which to judge others for having shallow standards. Thanks.