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So, we see that women are committing to their partners even if they are older than their male companions, even if they rarely get married to them, they enter and stay in a stabile relationship. We have every reason to believe that women are in it mainly for the psychological comfort. But what about the men? Young men can date women of any age, given the fact that youth is one of the most powerful arousal-factors for all species of mammals. it's slightly unlikely for a younger man to stay in a common-law relationship with an older woman, as it usually happens in an average age-discrepant couple (Boyd&Li, 2003), just for one reason: sex, money, influence, etc. But the subject is open to debate.
How does society reacts to age-discrepant unions? Until now, not quite well. The significant difference in age for a couple, whether it's a young woman with a much older man, or the so called "May-December" relationship (Boyd&Li, 2003), or a young man with a much older woman, has first (60s, 70s) been labeled as borderline pathological, with references to freudian theories (Boyd&Li, 2003). The love between an (much) older woman and a younger man was seen as depravation and morally questionable. It was a serious offence brought to the church (if the couple wasn't married) and to family tradition. That is why most affairs of this kind were kept very private. With industrial progress came a breeze of freedom and equality. Women gain, step-by-step, their right to choose and decide for themselves. The society went a little easier on them this time, but the controversy is not over. The public seem to be incapable of being free of bias when it comes to sexual or intimate conducts. The age-discrepant unions are often blamed and judged, because they put a fair distance between what should be and what it really is.
Equality is not about age, it's about character and education. it's an unfounded statement that age-discrepant couples in which the woman is older then her partner pay more attention to equality than same-age couples. Women are not equal to men because of their age. They are born equal, in social and human rights and obligations.
Younger men should not treat the women they love with more respect just because they are older, but because of who they are as persons, because of what they represent and what they can become as equal members of their relationship. it's possible for older women to win more respect and appreciation from their younger partners, but that is something they won, not something that has been unconditionally offered to them. Every person must give and receive the respect that he/she is worthy of. Older women have a more mature and experienced approach to relationships, while younger men should bring energy and vibrant emotions to the union. The same thing can be said about younger women/older men couples. The woman should not be respected less or treated as inferior just because she is younger. To treat a person with different amount of respect of equality, much more an intimate partner, based on criteria such as age or sex is commonly known as discrimination. And especially in a couple, it has no place or reason to exist.
Although the incidence of younger men/older women couples is smaller then that of younger women/older men, both in Canada (Boyd&Li, 2003) and the U.S. (Darroch, Landry&Oslak, 1999), the partners frequently have to face the public disapproval for their relationship. Researches show that older women who become involved in longtime intimate relations with younger men, rarely decide to have children with their partner. On the other hand, very young women involved in relationships with older men are more likely to become pregnant and give birth as the age gap widens. The data available from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), from 1995, shows that the older the male partner is the higher the possibility that their younger (frequently adolescents) female companion should become pregnant and give birth (Darroch, Landry&Oslak, 1999). Although society is more sever when it comes to alarmingly young mother, the older women/younger men union issue is not forgotten while the controversy surrounding it takes new shapes suitable for new times and people.
Whether we like it or not, whether we approve of it or not, the relationship between two consenting adults is a form of very complex and personal interaction, that should be respected as such. The choices that responsible people make concerning their present and their future, the steps they take throughout their lives should not be anyone business but their own. We usually tend to dislike or to be against things that are not sufficiently familiar. We fear what we barely understand or do not understand at all, therefore we have developed a reflex to evaluate in negative terms and oppose what doesn't fit the pattern we know and use. When it comes to matters of the heart things are never easy or simple, it's a field of knowledge we haven't mastered yet. Also, the affairs of the soul cannot be bond to any laws or rules, do not conform to any logic we know and understand. Their logic is the logic of emotions (Th. Ribot). Age, sex, color of the skin, cloths, wealth, or any other aspect independent of our inner self and our attitudinal system, have no importance and do not influence the course of action in case of a sincere and profound intimate relationship. No convincing answer can so far be given to the questions: Why can't an older woman be dating a younger man? Why shouldn't they live the way they both agree is best for them and for their relationship (married or not, with children or not), without affecting in any wrong way any other lives? So then, why are we so presumptuous, so keen on pointing the finger and judging? Because we love to be the jury, we are thrilled to know that we have a saying in a given matter. Discrimination and prejudice are faces of the same complex, of the same human need: the need of power and recognition, connected with the need to be accepted, appreciated and loved. Therefore, could it be that all our bitter remarks and all our malicious comments regarding other's personal lives are no more than active needs of integrating and adapting properly to the group? This is an age-discrepant couple's biggest challenge to face: people's mentality and society's minority rejection reflex. The way public opinion reacts can be changed at individual level only, by changing the premises we build our theories and assessments on.
As for society, it just has to get used to the idea that love is indeed ageless.
Boyd, M., Li, a. (2003). May-December: Canadians in Age-Discrepant Relationships. Canadian Social Trend Statistics Canada Catalogue, No.11-008, 29-34.
Darroch, J., Landry, D., Oslak, S. (1999). Age Differences Between Sexual Partners in the United States. Family Planning Perspectives, 31(4), 160-167.[continue]
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