You know that an idea has the public imagination when you hear it described by a number of imaginative epithets. Older women-younger men romantic pairings somehow really have the public imagination. They get called Cougar relationships (the cougar being the older woman, as you probably know from the Courteney Cox-starring TV show Cougar Town), May-December relationships (from the idea that the boy is seen to be in the spring of his life and the woman in the winter of hers) and other colorful terms. Actually, age disparity in relationships where the woman is older isn’t all that new. People have been talking about this for 20 years now. The fact that it still attracts a fair amount of press goes to show how a woman being older in a relationship is something people really consider strange.
Which is a shame; the only reason older women-younger men match-ups are even done today is that women today are freer and more independent than they ever were. Why, the Michael Douglas – Catherine Zeta Jones pair never attracts that description; only an Ashton Kutcher – Demi Moore relationship does. It isn’t an age difference per se that gets people wondering. It’s the fact that it’s the woman who is older. Why would a young man want to do that, they wonder. Is the man gay? Is he looking for a free ride? Is he somehow strange? It never occurs to people that fairness usually comes into play when you allow people to do what they really wish for. If people wish for love, if they don’t fear society, and if they have the means to be free, society will begin to witness just about every kind of relationship it is possible for people to have.
Some people like to point to how a relationship between an older man and a young woman is supposed to be somehow more natural. Emotionally speaking, men happen to take longer to develop than women, they say. A woman with an older man would naturally feel right at home – as he would be her emotional equal. An older man would also be financially more stable, they say. By that reasoning, older women -younger men pairings would have to be all wrong. An older woman would have to be far, far more emotionally mature than her younger partner. But that’s not really how it works.
Women in such relationships report that their partners usually are adequately mature; they also value how a younger man comes to them with no emotional baggage. Quite simply though, tastes just differ. Some men simply have an eye for the kind of mature and vulnerable beauty an older woman possesses.
For men who understand all this, a relationship with an older woman can be especially meaningful. Partners can contribute to a relationship in different ways. As long as a relationship is equal and allows room for both partners to contribute in whatever way they can, it really can work. As long as both partners understand how aging can change things or are at least open to handling all of it the right way, love certainly can work. It has before. And it will in the future.