Please forgive my clumsy Photoshopping, but older woman/younger man photos are hard to find. Just like actual couples.
This romantic dynamic has always fascinated me. It’s normal for a man to marry a woman ten years his junior. But when a woman ties the knot with a younger man, get ready for smirks, sly comments and bets placed on the divorce date. Why?
In a nutshell: money, looks, babies, common interests and societal expectations. But that is all changing as Generation X and Y enter middle age. Here’s why.
We’re Making Our Own Cheddar:
One of the reasons women tend to favor older men is because of their greater earning ability. Let’s face it ladies. We may be romantic, but we’re practical, too. We want nice things. But now that we make up nearly 50% of the workforce and are gradually worming our way into those higher-paying fields and positions, we don’t need men to buy them for us. Cross “high salary” off the list of deal-breakers and the dating pool just got a lot deeper. And younger.
But We’re Not Eating It:
In two words, Jennifer Aniston. Almost fifty and hotter than ever. Sure, she’s had a bit of the kind of help that only money can buy, buy who hasn’t? Women take care of themselves. Men? Not so much. According to Statistics Canada, women of any age are far less likely to be obese than men. We spend more on appearance, and care more about it. Think about a same-aged married couple you know. Which of the two has gray hair and a roll of fat spilling over the top of his Dockers? And which of the two would look just fine in her skinny jeans holding hands with a man ten years younger?
We’re in It to Win It:
Once upon a time, a middle-class girl knew how her life was going to go. High school. University or the typing pool. Marriage. Kids. The end. Today neither marriage nor kids are necessarily a given. In fact, more women than ever are choosing not to have children. Traditionally, a woman’s relatively short span of fertility put the kybosh on the possibility of a relationship with a younger man. With more women focused on growing their careers rather than raising children, fertility isn’t the obstacle to a reverse May-December relationship that it used to be.
But We Want to Enjoy the Ride:
Ever hear of Creamfields? It’s a massive dance music festival where DJs whip crowds of scantily-clad electronica freaks into a beat-mad frenzy. I went to my first when I was forty. Sure, the demographic skewed Millennial, but I wasn’t the only Gen-Xer there. A good friend of mine is celebrating her 50th birthday with a scuba-diving trip to Iceland. Another just took up snowboarding. The interests and activities of the middle-aged are no longer age-specific. Generation X women are more open to new experiences, different foods, out-of-the-way places. Which we want to share with equally adventurous men.
And We Don’t Give a Damn if Grandma Approves:
Interracial marriage, forbidden by law in West Virginia until 1967, is legal. Gay marriage is legal in Canada, the US, and a growing number of other countries. The old social norms are breaking down. Things that were not just frowned upon but punishable by law are becoming part of the spectrum of normal. In most urban, educated areas, dating outside one’s own religion or race doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. Transgressing age stereotypes still gets a wink, but that is changing, too. Soon couples like Fifty Shades of Grey director Samantha Taylor-Johnson and actor husband Aaron will be as yawn-worthy as Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart.
Isn’t it about time?
My erotic romance novel Please is the story of Elizabeth Holmes, a 38-year-old small-town romance writer and Sebastian Faulkner, the 28-year-old Hollywood bad-boy who seduces her.