Relationships: Age Is Just A Number?

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[On Relationships]

When an older man goes out with a girl young enough to be his daughter—indeed this is a well established trend—it is not news. When an older woman goes out with a younger man, it’s a talking point, as if suddenly the generation gap becomes insurmountable. 

Is there really cause for concern or is this just another societal hypocrisy?

Although age gaps between couples still raise eyebrows, It seems that society still views an older woman with a younger man as more of a taboo and the stigmatization appears to be worse in the Black community with friends and family immediately assuming that the younger man has an ulterior motive, especially if the woman in question is wealthy or it is just a ‘’meantime’’ thing.

Relationships are hard enough as it is without longstanding preconceived stereotypes.  One does not choose with whom one falls in love. Successful relationships should be based on love, consideration and mutual respect; however, commonsense, morality and legality must come into play when a woman in her 20s and beyond embarks on a relationship with a boy in their teens. 

Adults have the freedom of choice and responsibility for their decisions.

Psychologists have conflicting views as to the increase in the population of older women dating a younger man.  Some say the young man could be looking for a mother figure; that is to say, he has not attained the level of maturity that he should have and is looking for someone to take care of him the way his mother should have. Another view is that the older woman is looking for someone to mould into exactly what they want.

It has also been suggested that the older woman is merely looking for a more active sex life.
An older woman taking up with a younger man is not a new phenomenon—this has gone on for centuries, possibly because of an older woman’s maturity, wisdom and awareness.

More recently with economic independence, the fact that older men pursue younger women, and availability of gyms and cosmetics, women in their 40s and 50s can look ten years younger than they actually are. This could explain the surge in older woman, younger man relationships.

I recently conducted a survey for a sociology paper in which I posed the question, is it wrong for an older woman to couple with a younger man.  Out of 10 female Caucasian participants, 7 were of the opinion that age was just a number and that you could find young men in their 20s and 30s who were more mature than men in their 40s and 50s and all 10 male Caucasian participants said they would date an older woman because they could not be bothered with a needy, insecure and self obsessed woman of their age!

And that an older woman could teach a thing or two! The contrast in answer from Black female participants is quite alarming; with 8 out of 10 saying that it was wrong for an older woman to couple with a younger man. 

There were no specific reasons as to why it was wrong; but it just didn’t feel right. One of my Nigerian participants simply exclaimed, “hai, abomination!” adding that when she wants a child, she will bear one. Five out of 10 male Black participants thought that as long as the lady looked good, was fun and adventurous, had a sense of humor, then they would date her.

There are women who specifically pursue a younger man, possibly for the same reasons an older man pursues a younger woman, and that is to make them feel young again.  But not all older women are cougars; but because they look younger than they are, they tend to attract, rather than purposely pursue a younger man.

There are numerous successful relationships between older women and younger men and examples of such celebrity relationships are Halle Berry, 40 and Gabriel Aubry who is 9 years her junior; Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon who is 12 years her junior; and, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher who 15 years younger.

What is my opinion? 

Between mature consenting adults, age is nothing but a number. If an older woman and a younger man feel comfortable having a relationship and genuinely enjoy each other’s company then they should celebrate it without societal criticism and condemnation. 

That is not to say you should rush in like a fool; check a brother out, make sure he is for real.

Please post your comments directly online or submit them to [email protected]

‘Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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