With the recent press about age difference relationships, I couldn’t help but jump in. It is a subject I am asked about a lot, given I spent more than half of my adult life in a relationship with someone 25 years older than me.
We met in a bar, dated (albeit rockily as there was so much pressure from people around us), gradually fell in love, married, and had twins. Ok, so we sadly divorced nine years later. But was it because of the age difference? Not really. It was just like many relationship breakdowns – we grew apart. Was it a failure? a 13 year commitment ? I don’t think so. Did age, wrinkles, lack of maturity or fitness ever cause an issue? No.
People are always quick to judge relationships, and an age difference is a better reason than most to rip into a couple. It’s human nature. And a couple who are happy in an age difference relationship challenge a lot of our belief systems and insecurities.
If a man commits to a much younger woman, it can make other women sweat. Women looking on who are in relationships with men of the same age naturally fear their guy could one day leave for a so-called “younger model”.
I was called everything under the sun when I dated a much older man by other women. It was tough, but in hindsight must have sadly reflected their own insecurities. And eventually, they all found something else to talk about.
People assume things, such as he must be wealthy, she must be after money. She must want a father figure, he must be sexually needy. But in many cases, none of those reasons are valid. In my experience, any relationship is about connection and chemistry, and age difference has little to do with it. You either feel it, or you don’t. You either find yourselves sitting up in bed until 4am talking about life, wanting to spend time together, or you don’t. You can’t make it up.
Rod Stewart is a classic – he’s a serial age-difference dater, and it seems to continue to make him happy. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have survived the rough and tumble of a 25 year age difference for over 13 years. Mary-Kate Olsen is 28 dating Olivier Sarkozy, 45 (17 years), there’s 12 years between Jay-Z and Beyonce, there’s 23 years between Harrison Ford (who can believe he’s now 72!) and Calista Flockhart. And there’s even 11 years between Angelina and Brad.
But if you ever want to see grown men fly into a rage at a dinner party, just mention an older woman with a younger man. It is amusing to listen to 40 and 50 plus men ranting about young men who date older women. There’s a fury when they say the guys must be “desperate”, “needy”, “in need of a mother figure”, “child-ish”, “unable to grow-up”, and the classic; “in need of sex lessons”. And they all insist they’re cheating on the older woman with someone of their own age “by definition”.
A study by stylist.co.uk revealed 75% of British men fantasise about dating an older woman. Again, many women around me are in committed, loving, long-term relationships with much younger men, and they’re happy. They go through ups and downs like any other couples, and the biggest challenge when a woman is older, is children, if the man wants one, but with today’s scientific advances, there are even ways around that.
And there’s plenty of high profile examples of people who have made it work. Hugh Jackman is 13 years younger than Deborah Lee-Furness, Halle Berry’s partner Gabriel Aubry is 9 years younger, Gwyneth Paltrow is five years older than her ex Chris Martin, Demi-Moore is a serial younger dater, her current beau Sean Friday is 23 years younger and our own Kylie Minogue usually dates younger guys.
I have a striking Sydney friend in her 80’s, and I went to her recently to ask for relationship advice – what’s the answer for a Sydney woman at 40 who wants a long-term relationship with someone who will go the distance? I asked. “Younger, always go younger from now on,” she said. “Statistically you won’t have to deal with illness, lack of energy or low libido.” She revealed she has been in a six year relationship with a man 17 years younger and they “adore each other”. “Life is full of fun, laughter and great sex,” she said.
My takeaway from all of this is simple: Don’t judge others, and don’t be harsh on yourself. Connections are hard enough to find without finally finding it and bailing because he or she is too old or too young. Life’s short, live it to the full, and be happy.
You never know when love will find you, but when it does, feel that chemistry, see the person, and how they treat you, not the age, the job, your family or mate’s opinions or the postcode.
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