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As you know from my last few posts, I spent the last weekend in Austin, Texas, visiting family. Had a great time despite the 95-degree devil weather. But who knew spending time with a bunch of married folks would give me so much material for my little dating blog?

One night we barbecued at my sister’s house and invited everyone over. The meat was delicious, the kids were running around the yard nonstop and the company was divine. My sister’s pastor and his wife stopped by, too. I realized early on that The Pastor had two roles in life: 1) ministering to his congregation and the people of the Austin community; and 2) matchmaking.

Now, if you know me, you know I will never turn down a matchmaker. I’m all for being hooked up by someone I know. An introduction is the start of every relationship, after all. And, really, saying hello to someone never killed anybody.

So over grilled skirt steak and roasted potatoes, The Pastor rattled off names of single men he knew, as everyone else offered a thumbs up or down. It started with lots of loaded questions: “Does it matter if he’s divorced?”; “Would you date a man with kids?”; “Is it okay if he doesn’t have any arms?” (Yes, this really happened.) After a lot of questions and laughter, The Pastor settled on a man we’ll call Mr. Texas Football, based on his love for the sport and his glittery state championship rings. Some in the group said he was too old for me, but The Pastor insisted he wasn’t, and also insisted he was a kind, wonderful man. Seems I’d have to give this guy a chance.

By the time Sunday morning church rolled around a couple days later, I had forgotten about The Pastor’s matchmaking efforts. I sat through a wonderful service and mingled afterward with the southern folk of the Lone Star State. Suddenly I felt The Pastor grab my arm and pull me toward a large, burly man — aaah, now I remember. I was introduced to Mr. Texas Football. And The Pastor was right — he was a very, very nice man. Kind, sweet and a fine lookin’ fellow.

The only problem was that, from the looks of it, Mr. Texas Football was 55 years old.

Age. It defines us sometimes. I saw this man, who could be the perfect man for me, and I was immediately turned off because he’s two decades older than me. There was just no attraction, no chemistry, no chance. But, should there be?

Some say age is just a number.

Warren Beatty and Annette Bening are 21 years apart, and have been married for 20 years. They seem happy.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones are 25 years apart. They’ve been hitched since 2000 and are still in love.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are 16 years apart. It’s a super creepy relationship, but they still seem to be in love. (At least according to their marriage contract.)

Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were 16 years apart. We all know how well that went.

And let’s not forget that one blonde girl that Hugh Hefner was engaged to. There were 60 years between them. (I can’t even comment on this one.)

But for me, at 31 years old, I just can’t do it. Why is that? Why can’t I see myself with a man much older, or much younger for that matter?

Because age is more than just a number. Age is a milestone of life experience, wisdom and maturity, or the lack thereof. Age is a generational marker. Age is a celebration, of how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. So, naturally, those that surround me in age (give or take a decade), are those who I’m most attracted to, who I have the most in common with.

This is not to say that I can’t befriend someone outside of my generation. It’s not to say that I can’t sit for hours and talk about life with a 20-year-old or a 60-year-old. But there is something about love that requires that similar life experience, that shared level of maturity.

Some don’t agree. Some say love knows no age limit. Some have found true love with mates much older and younger than they are. For me, it’s different. For me, Mr. Texas Football reminds me more of my father than a man I could see myself falling in love with. For me, age matters.

So I left the Lone Star State still a loner starring in my state of singlehood. And I left wondering how important age really is in the great scheme of life and love. Perhaps you have a story to tell? Perhaps you agree or disagree? Do share. I am constantly learning on this journey, and your insight might be exactly what I need today.

~Ruth