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(Photo: Buzzfeed)

“My friend was with a younger man and the second she turned 50, he left her.” “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, unless you’re flaunting it in public.” “Isn’t it like fucking your son?”

These are some actual quotes from people when I tell them my boyfriend is almost 14 years younger than I am. In this generation of D​emi and Ashton, Samantha and Smith­, why is there still a stigma about an older woman canoodling with a younger man?

As someone who’s been single for a REALLY long time (six years), I was at the place in my life where I was accepting “It” might never happen for me, “It” being falling in love again, partnership, or even the big “M” word (I won’t even touch on the topic of children because that’s a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down). Let’s just say I’ve always been one of those women who felt, “If it happens,­ great! If not, that’s totally ok.” That aside, I was holding a torch for all those years for my ex. I was so in love with him, a connection and soul bond so deep that I thought that was my last and only chance at a partnership.

(Related: Stop Apologizing for Being in a Great Relationship When Your Friends Aren’t)

During these last six years, I tried to date, and I did, albeit unsuccessfully. I tried to have sex a few times, and I did, unsatisfyingly. The thing is, I’ve never really had a “type” and rarely have rules for the kind of guys I go out with. I’ve loved all kinds of men, so I figured, why cut anyone out? My ex was a sober addict (that was an education in and of itself), and I’ve been with military men, musicians, actors, lawyers, and at least one teacher. Other ethnicities, backgrounds, cultures: bring it. I feel very “equal opportunity” in the dating realm, when I’m open to actively dating, that is.

However, I have never dated anyone much younger than myself. It’s not that I was against it—it’s just that it’s never happened and I haven’t ever been attracted to anyone that much younger. That all changed when David entered the picture. I knew him through a gig I used to have working at a boutique in the city. He’d shop there frequently, alone or with his girlfriend. I always thought he was hot and never imagined he’d ever leave the long term relationship he was in. They seemed happy and adorable, thought that didn’t stop me from getting butterflies and harmlessly flirting a little whenever he came in.

About three months ago, I found out David left his long term, live-in girlfriend and was single. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited (even though he’s 14 years my junior. Well, more like 13.5, but still, I didn’t know this just yet).

Yes, you read that right: he is over a decade younger than I am. Sure, I’m no longer in my 30s, but I don’t look my 40-something age, and he doesn’t look his age either­. He looks about 35 at least. So, in that sense, we kind of meet in the middle. Not that I should be so concerned about what it looks like, but truthfully, it is important to me. Call it vanity, call it ego, fine. I just don’t want to look like a “cougar” (ugh, I hate nomenclature sometimes).

(Related: How to Not (Try To) Steal Someone Else’s Boyfriend)

Anyway, David came into the boutique one day in October, told me that he and his girlfriend had split in June, and said that we should grab a drink sometime. We exchanged email addresses and stayed in touch occasionally, but he never formally asked me out. One day after we ran into each other on the street, I got an email from him asking what I was doing on Saturday night. He took me to a lovely French restaurant and was very thoughtful. He even made reservations, something my ex hadn’t done in years. On our first date, I asked him how old he was, and when he told me, I nearly choked on my wine. I asked him if he knew how old I was, to which he replied, “Originally, I thought you were about 36, but now, I’m not sure.” I told him my age. His immediate response: “Older women are hot.”

My initial concern was, of course, the age gap. How could I possibly get involved with someone who was drinking from a baby bottle when I lost my virginity? I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. Even though the physical chemistry was off the charts,­ I wasn’t sure there was a future in it. As I told my girlfriends about him I’d wake up to GIFs in my inbox of “The Graduate” and pics like this.

One of my girlfriends is 51 and her husband of 16 years is 40. They have an amazing relationship and he adores the crap out of her­. Her advice to me was, “Don’t do the math of, ‘When he’s ___ age, I’ll be ___ age. It’ll fuck you up and you’ll get stuck in your head.'” Good point.

The more time passed, the more I liked this person. He was easy to be with and to talk to; he listened unlike anyone I’ve ever dated, he was present, affectionate, and smart. The numbers began to dissolve in my head and I was more and more able to just see a man there. Still, I couldn’t help the ever-present Google search of “Older Women, Younger Man Guide” and the plethora of information that came with it.

Charts, studies, and stats aside, it’s all about how you approach life, your attitudes, your emotional fortitude and maturity. Compatibility and communication are key. This man, at almost 14 years younger, is light ­years more respectful, mature, and supportive than my ex who was my age. He is thoughtful, kind, and generous. I am smitten and I don’t care at all about the age difference anymore. In fact, I got over that pretty quickly and now it’s just two people connecting, and having off the charts, incredible, mind blowing sex.

So there.