My friend Mandi, 31 from Pretoria wrote back with this lengthy response to my Girlfriend Marketing Plan.

My comments in Red

My remarks are not intended to start a battle of the sexes, but it might be good for you to just ponder on it a bit:

I fall into the category of “older” women so this is really from our point of view and not a bitter Women’s Lib ranting. In my experience when an older guy looks for a younger woman, it might be that he cannot handle the independence and maturity of a woman his own age or older and wants someone he can mould into the shape/person he feels comfortable with. I am not saying that it is necessarily the case with you, but bear in mind that many women are going to view your plan and I am giving you the low and lower of what may emanate.

I’ve dated several older women. And maybe I couldn’t handle them at the time but I don’t put up with bullshit, hang-ups about sex and insecurities.

This is the perception of all women I know my age and even younger. And from experience I know perception can kill many good intentions and make people lose out on many golden opportunities. Most people I know carries emotional baggage, having been burned from past relationships, regardless of age. I have quite a number of younger friends (male and female), ages ranging from 21-27 and are currently forming a good friendship (with a healthy dose of chemistry) with a guy 9 years my junior. Without being patronizing, I can tell you very honestly ALL of them have got a few hang-ups in the relationship department, things that I have come to identify as the small things that won’t matter later on in life but something that only experience and time will teach them. This just makes so much sense to me because I believe if a relationship is going to be exiting, there must be a spark so there’s bound to be fire eventually. But since it’s human nature, sometimes you get too close and you will get burned. Why should this be viewed as a negative?

Most people have baggage but very few deal with them and even less are honest about them.

Why do people fear it so much? This is what we are all about! Experiencing life – the good and the bad, the best and the worst, the pretty and the ugly, the highs and the lows – embrace it and take lessons from that. In this way older women are therefore more experienced which undeniably will make them more guarded, but I don’t believe that prevents them from enjoying life. On the contrary. I believe this equips us better to handle life situations more realistically, because we are at a stage where we really know ourselves, what we want, where and how and when we let our hair down, we do it with confidence but also caution, something which might be viewed as reservations. We are more in sync with our needs, emotionally, sexually, physically. And if you have emerged as strong as you know you can be, we are not intimidated by relationships, we are not inhibited by society’s rules and prescripts that a woman should carry herself as a “lady” – a word I personally don’t take kind to ’cause that just puts you in a box or category of acceptable behaviour.

I want a lady…a woman who can be soft, gently and wild when necessary. And one who makes me feel like a man because I will make her feel like a woman. Like my princess…she will have found her prince as well.

Now this may sound harsh, but this is my honest opinion. Your criteria creates the impression that you are also still carrying hang-ups from being burned by past relationships and have not quite dealt with it. Don’t let that cloud your judgement Ramon. I read in an article in the Cosmopolitan once that we should give every person that expresses interest in us a fair chance by just talking to them at least, regardless of our own set criteria. At first I reacted negatively, thinking that since I love myself and I want the best, why should I compromise? But I thought about it for a long time and realized just how unrealistic my criteria really were. How would you know if there aren’t something just so purely perfect and right, made just for you, if one can’t see past things like looks or age. I found the most beautiful people under less attractive exteriors, or a few wrinkles or even under a bit of emotional baggage. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got that criteria, but I’ve moved it to the back now, I prefer to get to know someone first these days before I just dismiss them as too short, or too serious or too old/young or too full of it, etc.

I have dealt with all past issues. Thank you for asking. The door is closed on the past for me. When you quote Cosmopolitan I roll on the floor laughing (ROFL) because if the advice from magazine’s worked why are women still so unhappy? I have spoken to hundreds of women, older and younger and finding a real man, a man who has his life together, who is stable, secure, intelligent, has a sense of humour, and creative is very rare find indeed. Quoting Cosmo is like quoting the the outcome of a relationship of a soap opera – it’s just not real.

I have said a lot now, definitely more than what you may have bargained for. I hope you view it in the light it was intended, an honest and as objective as possible opinion. I don’t expect of you to give me any specifics of why you believe so strongly that your criteria is unfaultable, I will rest my case and respect them as your choices.

Younger people might be more open to experiment with new things, trends, etc, but that is usually due to their understanding of what is expected from them being in a certain age group or grouped in a specific generation. Older people have been there, done that and found other priorities or emphasis in their lives.

Younger women, especially in South Africa is growing up with more freedom, freedom from discrimination, freedom from racial prejuidice and freedom from society rules to a large extent. Technology like the Internet and cellphones break down more barriers to allow for direct communication then ever before. Younger people who make good choices in dating can be happier when they get older. When a women has reached 30+ and has never married it proves my point how many misguided mistakes women make in their choices of guys they date when younger. The best age for a women to get married is between 25-30.

Truthfully: from my experience people’s openness to experiment or try new things are not limited to age at all. It is in most cases a state of mind and depends entirely on the type of person/personality, regardless of age.