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Younger Women, Older Men: Vice Versa and Versa Vice
by Marjorie Dorfman

Biologically, it makes more sense for older women to have sex with younger men- unless they want to talk afterwards.   
– Joan Collins

Are you the only one on your block hanging out with people your own age? Secretly, do you wonder what makes these May-December romances click? Well, ponder no more, yonder or otherwise. Some answers are here as well as a lighter attitude and a few chuckles.

If love between a man and a woman is as old as the hills, how much older then, is love between younger women and older men and vice versa? If opposites attract, as the saying goes, then King Solomon’s words, uttered shortly after he threatened to cut the proverbial infant in two are also true. He is credited with having once said that whatever draws a man to a woman is the greatest mystery of all. He ought to have known, as he had many, many wives! If a great and wise king like Solomon couldn’t figure these things out, why should we lesser mortals bother to try?

It seems, indeed, a dauntless task to understand the depths of human nature. The truth of the matter is that age taken by itself has little bearing on any relationship. The couple’s feelings for each other and their overall level of compatibility are what cement their future. More important than one’s actual age is the age one feels. Hence, someone can be old at forty and young at seventy-five. According to sexologist, Sandra Reishas, when two people of different generations come together, they each bring something unique to the relationship. Different experiences can only enrich the time spent together.
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Men have been dating and marrying younger women for ages. It is accepted even when there is a great age difference. When George Burns was once asked why he didn’t date women his own age, he smartly replied, "There are no women my age." In a recent interview with David Letterman on the subject of his divorce from actress and model Rachel Hunter, Rod Stewart admitted he had been foolish to marry a woman 20 years his junior. He was not referring to dating, but rather to the complications arising from a young wife who grew into a person with different goals and expectations.

Even though this is hardly a hot new trend, repercussions can be unexpected, far-reaching and sometimes even devastating. A sexual affair between a thirty-something woman and a teenage boy can lead a lady to jail, as in the notorious case of Seattle schoolteacher, Mary Kay LaTourneau. On the other hand, this same sort of liaison can inspire a critically acclaimed movie comedy such as Tadpole, in which a fifteen year old preppie tumbles into bed with his mother’s best friend and during intermission develops a king-size crush on his very own step mother! Many glamorous stars are married to conspicuously younger men. These include Susan Sarandon (twelve years older than her spouse), Daryl Hannah (also 12 years), Raquel Welch (14 years), Bernadette Peters (14 years), Madonna (10 years) and Joan Collins, who is a whopping thirty-three years older than her husband. And don’t forget Mary Tyler Moore who married her doctor, a man considerably younger than her, and with whom she appears to have a strong and healthy marriage.

In many of these relationships, the older woman is loved for who she is and not what she looks like. Basically, two people are attracted to each other for the same reasons any other couple are. (King Solomon, where are you?) Some important questions abound however, when and if the relationship takes a turn for the more serious. Should she move or should he? Who sacrifices their job? What about her children? What if he changes his mind? Will he leave her for another woman ten or twenty years down the road? (That can happen at any time anyway.) The answers are simple. Ignore them. Follow your heart, hold on tight and don’t look back! (Otherwise, a major headache and possibly some palpitations might ensue.)

Some would say that these unions represent evidence of female empowerment. According to author Warren Farrell, older women with younger men was an almost non-existent phenomenon in the 1950s and 60s because there weren’t enough opportunities for women to be economically secure on their own. (Except maybe Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard.") Women have more rights and choices to exercise today, not to mention the right and inclination to exercise. In the 1950s, a lady as young as 35 or 40 might be expected to resemble Betty Crocker or someone of that ilk. Novelist Anna Quindlen has bravely divided women’s lives into three distinct stages; Pre-Babe, Babe and Post-Babe. Thanks to aerobics, hormone treatments, cosmetic enhancements and other technological advances, many females can greatly reduce the duration of that final stage or eliminate it altogether.

According to those in the "perhaps know", the idea of accomplished and desirable mature women choosing to connect with far younger males indicates how much the old marital model has already broken down. These relationships may flow from the fact that older women are not only more attractive than ever before, but also more available. It used to be that in previous generations the overwhelming majority of women over forty lived within lasting marriages (not necessarily happy, but lasting). Widowhood was the only exception to that rule. Today millions of aging females have been left unattached through divorce and other reasons. These women sometimes incline towards younger men with full knowledge (carnal and otherwise) that the connection may not lead to a permanent alliance. Some, who won’t reveal their names because they are far from innocent, insist that the sex is spectacular. So, who’s to say or judge or even care?

While most men will applaud the sudden, unprecedented abundance of sleek, sexy sisters in their 50s and 60s, there is still something uncomfortable about the fact that so many of these hot ladies select younger males for coupling and companionship. After all, they aren’t men, are they? But what about the men? Aye, there indeed is the rub, because it is more likely that their arrangements will work better than those of their female counterparts. Why, you ask? Good question. The brute force of biology is the answer, as that makes it much less likely that an older woman and a much younger man will produce, or prove willing to raise, children of their own. Larry King and Warren Beatty offer two prominent examples of charismatic older men who married women many decades younger, sired children with them and achieved genuine, well-advertised bliss.

For the younger man, besides the concept of different strokes for different folks, what is the attraction to the older woman? There may be several reasons, one of which is that some younger men may be challenged by the mental stimulation, self-confidence and maturity that an older woman can offer, not to mention a clear picture of what she wants. Women their own age may seem immature, lazy and hard to please. Don’t forget too, that some younger men are more mature than they are given credit for and they can bring innocent fun back into an older woman’s life. But like everything else, there is a flip side. Some younger men may prey on an older female in the hopes of being "kept." Some use their bodies and their looks to get what they want. Unfortunately, the fact that the woman is older doesn’t mean she is automatically wiser.

To the younger woman, men of their own age have a very different set of priorities than men in their thirties and forties. "Seasoned" men are almost always more mature, despite the old axiom about the only difference between men and boys being the price of their toys. Truthfully, most twenty something men are still searching for who they are, what talents they possess and the type of women they desire They are experiencing many aspects of life for the first time. Physically, they are approaching their sexual prime and seek physical relationships more often. Sex, money, personal improvement, material possessions and status are their primary interests and motivational forces. Their "me" mentality has not yet matured into a "we" philosophy.

Older men are a whole different smoke, so to speak. They have learned physically, emotionally and intellectually what satisfies a woman and the younger beneficiary is often a very happy one indeed. More mature men cause less "agita" because they are responsible and usually have a life beyond their relationship with a woman. In general, women assume very different roles in the lives of their men depending on the age of the men they are dating.

To answer Tina Turner’s eternal, million-dollar question, love has everything to do with it. Love has, however, got nothing at all to do with age, race, culture, religion or social class. Compatibility in relationships is the glue that withstands the test of time and sustains love. If you find someone you love, don’t discard the experience for fear of age differences. We only go around once and have to learn to grab our happiness when we can. Coo, coo, cachoo Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Robinson, your nephews, nieces, sons and fathers as well! Who can say what forces bring us all to one another? If you’re having a good time, should you really care?

Did you know . . .

Copyright 2003