Nothin’ but a number: College students share their sexual experiences with older partners
*Editor’s note: The names in this story have been changed to protect sources’ privacy
Justin Marshall* was at The Old Pink bar on Allen Street anticipating what he though would be a normal night.
He met a woman at the bar and they had a few drinks. Marshall got to know the woman a lot better that night and though he woke up the next morning with an initial feeling of regret, he continued to have sex with her a few times after that.
“I never bothered asking how old she was because that was impolite, but eventually after hanging out a little bit more, she dropped the number,” he said.
Marshall found out the woman was 37 years old, 15 years older than him. Now, as a college graduate, he said he would never hook up with a woman that age again.
According to The Spectrum’ssex survey, nearly 8 percent of UB students have had sex with someone who was 15 or more years older than them. Marshall isn’t the only college student who’s had sex with someone who may have more than a few years of sexual experience.
A number of students said that sex with an older person isn’t much different from sex with someone their own age, but there is a difference when it comes to emotional connection. There are people who don’t see age as a deal breaker – there are some who are alarmed by the age and put a halt to the hook ups.
Donna Rencsak, a sexologist from Carlsbad, California, said a large age gap between sexual partners is fairly common, but there are numerous reason as to why – from a younger man liking an older woman’s sexual experience to an older woman liking the attention younger men give them.
There’s never just one reason.
Something too ‘motherly’
A younger man may sleep with an older woman because of the woman’s sexual experience.
“There is an idea that there is less drama [with older women] and males are sometimes unsure about themselves so they may try an older woman who’s more centered and self-assured about her sexuality,” Rencsak said.
Rencsak said younger men might also be attracted to older women romantically because she may be past the point of birth control and they won’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancies.
But Marshall, who graduated from a SUNY school in 2015, didn’t even know the older woman’s age until after they hung out outside the bedroom. He said he was sexually attracted to her and also attracted to her as a person.
Marshall said once he learned the woman’s age, things got “odd.”
“She’s a very cool person, but it was too weird to go on because things got motherly,” he said.
He said there are differences between hooking up with a woman his age and a woman 15 years older than him. The different maturity levels were “obvious.”
Rencsak said in her practice, she’s seen that as women age they may feel that their husbands don’t look at them the same way physically, causing them to seek validation somewhere else.
“A woman who’s been rejected wants to feel attractive to someone,” she said.
Marshall said he didn’t seek any other benefits besides the sex and her company. But for other students, they received more than just sex.
The sugar daddy
During the summer of 2015, Allison Demarco* stumbled upon a sugar daddy in a Staten Island pizzeria.
A sugar daddy is an older man with money who gives expensive gifts to a younger person. Sometimes, these gifts are in exchange for sexual favors.
For a younger woman, a relationship with an older man sometimes allows her to experience more, not only sexually but financially.
Shopping sprees, new cars and expensive dinners are usually not in a college male’s budget, making it exciting for a woman to explore that other side, whether it’s for one night or for a long period of time, Rencsak said.
As Demarco ordered her slice of pizza, her soon-to-be sugar daddy stared at her, making it clear he was interested. After they exchanged numbers, Demarco thought to herself that the man “didn’t look that old.”
Later on, he told Demarco his age and she continued to talk to him despite the fact that he was 38 years old and she was 19. That summer the older man bought her food when she was hungry and even give her money to go shopping.
And the favors continued when Demarco went back to UB in the fall.
“When I went away for school I told him I was stressed about money and textbooks and he told me he would help me out,” she said.
But phone numbers and credit cards weren’t the only things they exchanged.
After spending time with the older man at his house, they had sex and she said the initiation was mutual.
Demarco said having sex with an older man wasn’t much different from having sex with someone her own age.
“Even though he’s older and maybe more experienced, I don’t think the sex was any better than being with someone who’s 20,” she said.
Demarco hasn’t had sex with her sugar daddy since last July, but he does continue to support her financially. She said neither of them planned on pursuing a romantic relationship mainly because of the age difference – although she did see some perks.
“Older guys are more straightforward and obviously mature,” she said. “If I were dating a guy my age and told him that I was struggling, he would probably just tell me to get more hours at work.”
For Megan Leigh,* though, sleeping with a financially stable, older man was attractive – but only for a night.
On the Saturday night before finals week last semester, Leigh was supposed to meet her friend at the library. Instead she decided a night at the bar was long overdue and went there to meet her friend Darrel. One drink turned into shots and the shots turned into more drinks. Darrel went to “take care of business” on the East Side of Buffalo, as Leigh puts it, and she was left with his friends – one of whom happened to be 41 years old.
“He buys me this nice expensive meal, pays for all my drinks at the bar and next thing you know, I woke up naked in his bed,” Leigh said.
But his Victorian home, BMW and defense attorney/singer career wasn’t enough to want to make the man her sugar daddy. When she woke up, he talked about marriage and spending the remainder of the day with her after serving her a nice breakfast.
“He was a very clingy man, I never expected the old guys to be like that,” she said. “He gave me his number after that and I never called him. Now whenever I see him, he ignores me.”
The 41-year-old man’s clinginess and talk of marriage is somewhat atypical for an older man seeking a younger woman, according to Rencsak.
She said there are a number of older men who suffer from sex addiction and a younger woman who may not be looking to have children or settle down with one man for good may be attractive for them. To some men, these younger women seem more desirable because they aren’t looking for a commitment, making the sexual experience more satisfying.
When it first happened, Liegh didn’t tell anyone because the initial shock bothered her. Now she said she’s “over it.” She said having a one-night stand wasn’t the issue, but having a one-night stand with someone double her age was “a little weird.”
But she doesn’t deny her attraction to him, and although she didn’t make the man her sugar daddy, she admits it was nice to be with someone who treated her like she was special with gifts like food and drinks.
“I think it’s the way [older men] treat you,” she said. “They treat you like a goddess. It’s nice to have someone who’s financially stable, not like your typical college kid. There are a lot of benefits.”
Leigh said she would definitely consider sleeping with an older man again.
“Don’t mock it ’til you try it,” she said. “You can never rule out anybody.”
While some people can’t look past the age difference, one UB student believes gay people are less likely to dwell on the situation.
A smaller dating pool
Tony Richards* spent some time in Philadelphia the summer before his sophomore year at UB. He was 18 at the time and went to visit his older brother and his fiancée.
While looking for things to do on his trip, Richards and his brother decided to go to the King of Prussia Mall. When he went into the shoe store, he noticed the manager was someone he’s seen before: On Instagram.
It wasn’t long before they formerly introduced each other and the Instagram guy invited Richards to his apartment.
“Me being me, I felt like doing something I knew I would regret,” he said.
Richards didn’t know the Instagram guy’s last name or his age. He said he looked at most two years older than him.
The transition from the mall to his apartment was smooth and the transition from the door to his bed was smoother.
“He asked my age and then made a joke and called me Kylie Jenner,” he said.
Richards then found out the man was turning 29. Initially, the age difference wasn’t a shock. The only thing in his mind was that the Instagram guy was the same age as his brother.
“The whole time I was contemplating if we should have a conversation or just have sex,” he said. “Then he initiated the whole thing.”
Richards said, in his opinion, the LGBT community is less likely to fret over a significant age difference because the dating pool is smaller.
“I didn’t overthink the whole age difference because it’s really common in the gay community,” he said. “I just went along with it.”
As far as having sex with an older person again, Richards said he would do it in a heartbeat because their schedules and money “makes everything easier.”
“I feel like older people generally know what they want and that’s so refreshing,” Richards said.
Tom Dinki contributed reporting to this story.