Well isn’t that the $64,000 question? The answer really is a personal thing. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as both parties are over the age of consent. If you were to research the subject you would probably find that it is not uncommon for people to be in a relationship where there is an age gap. Sometimes there is quite a difference in the ages.
In some parts of the world it is not uncommon for young women to marry older men. Everyone has their own opinions as to why a young girl would marry an older man, especially one that is much older than she is. You know the sort of thing, ‘the girls are gold diggers, trophy brides or mail order brides, etc. It is also becoming more popular these days for older women to marry younger men. Again some of these young men may be gold diggers, but most people seem to think it is because the older woman wants a toy boy. Whether like the older men they want to have a trophy on their arm to show off to their friends or whether they prefer younger men for their sex drive, these couples often find their families and friends can’t cope with their relationship and often turn against them.
If you were to ask these young women why they would rather be in a relationship with an older man, they are likely to tell you that they are looking for someone who is serious about their relationship. They think that young men don’t want to settle down and really don’t know what they want. Younger men may also not be thinking about a relationship leading to marriage, whereas an older man has sown his wild oats already and will more probably be looking for a serious relationship. Most women also think that an older man will more likely have a better job than a younger man (although we all know in this day and age that this is not always the case!); therefore the older man will be the better catch. Some women believe that older men won’t break their hearts the way younger men have done. They believe that an older man will have the staying power for a long term relationship.
In the case of mail order brides, the young women are looking for an older man to be involved in a long distance relationship. In this instance they are looking for a man with a good job, hence being able to afford to fly to the young woman’s country to meet her. They hope that this long distance relationship will lead to marriage. But what about love, after all that is usually why couples marry, isn’t it? It would appear not for the mail order brides, they say that they want to be attracted to the man they choose, but behavior is more important. If a man acts like a gentleman, they may in time find him attractive and eventually fall in love with him.
Some women believe that older men know how to treat a lady and believe that a younger man won’t be as patient and is more likely to stray. They also believe that an older man won’t want to bed everything with a pulse in a skirt. (Yeah I know most guys aren’t worried about the skirt part these days!)
Personally, I don’t think there is a problem with a big age gap in a relationship. However having said that, I have to wonder what on earth a sixteen-year-old girl and a fifty-year-old man have in common. Apart from an aging man having a dolly bird on his arm, I cannot conceive what she sees in him. Am I being harsh? He may be a stud, the best lover ever, but how would a young girl know that. She wouldn’t have had so many sexual partners that she would be able to assess him like that. Would she? Well I hope my sixteen-year-old daughters haven’t!
We all have different ideas as to what is acceptable to us. We don’t choose who we fall in love with, it just happens. So how can we choose what age the person we fall in love with should be? What is acceptable to me might be totally unacceptable to my sister and most certainly would not be acceptable to my parents. However, before we pass comment on anyone else, we should take a close look at our family and friends around us. I know a young girl who is seventeen who is courting a twenty-six-year-old. Now, when her parents found out, they went ballistic. Well, we all want what is best for our kids, but hang on, don’t go throwing those stones just yet. Her parents for example, what is the age difference there? Well it’s about three or four years. What about grandparents? FIve years. Great grandparents? Seven years. Now, no one told any of those couples that they couldn’t see each other because of the age difference. They all married and were together all their lives.
Of course, if my sixteen-year-old daughter came home and told me that she was courting a fifty-year-old man I would flip out, but at sixteen they are classed as adults and there is little or nothing that you can do. If you lay down the law and tell them that they cannot see the older person, then all you will do is push them closer together. If you tell a teenager they aren’t allowed to do something then that is exactly what they are going to do. Perhaps, if you leave it be and don’t make a big thing out of it, it might just all fizzle out. To a sixteen-year-old, an older man might seem like a good idea. After all, he’s experienced, he knows how to treat a girl and when you go out he doesn’t expect you to hang around on street corners. But, these young girls will realize that the kick or thrill they get with this older man soon wears off. He won’t be able to keep up with a young girl for long. He won’t want to go clubbing and partying all night.
As I’ve said before there is no right or wrong answer to this question, but I think that this debate will go on for a long time. Does age matter? Surely the answer has to be that it should only matter to the couple concerned. If they are happy with the age gap then everyone else should respect their feelings and wishes and leave them to get on with it. As parents, we can only be there to pick up the pieces.
Originally published on Not Just the Kitchen