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It’s funny how, as children, we’re told that it’s what’s inside that counts; to treat others the way we want to be treated; not to judge others; and that it’s important to have role models. It’s also interesting how these refrains go out the window when we encounter someone who doesn’t quite see the world the same way we do.
What’s wrong with older men dating younger women? Nothing!
A lot of famous, inspirational men who we’ve looked up to have dated and/or married women much younger than them. U.S. President Grover Cleveland, South African anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, writer J.D. Salinger, artist Pablo Picasso, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and silver screen royalty such as Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Olivier, Fred Astaire, Robert Redford, and Jerry Seinfeld are all examples of older men dating younger women.
But you don’t have to be rich or famous to date or marry much younger women.
Sure, there are a number of stereotypes about older men dating younger women, but that doesn’t mean they’re true. Older men who date much younger women are not all cads who left their wives in a desperate attempt to relive their checkered university years. Likewise, the much younger girlfriends are not all brainless wonders content with being eye candy.
On the other hand, if you’re an older man married to or wanting to date a younger woman just because she’s younger, then perhaps the stereotypes apply—in which case, you probably don’t care.
For the most part, older men dating younger women are looking for the same thing everyone is—to find an intelligent, nice, and beautiful person they can connect with. As a result, a relationship between an older man and younger woman can be just as healthy as a relationship between two people the same age.
After all, relationships are more complicated just than one issue. If age was the litmus test for marital success, the divorce rate would be significantly lower.
Half your age-plus-seven rule: To avoid being embarrassed in public—and to stop people staring and snickering—it’s been suggested that our cultural dating rule of thumb says older men are not supposed to date women younger than half-their-age-plus-seven. For example, using this equation, a 45-year-old man shouldn’t date anyone younger than 29-and-a-half; though he can round up or down at his leisure—probably down.
Not surprisingly, some have suggested a similar equation that opens up the dating door for older men even more. Instead of half-their-age-plus-seven, the other equation is to take seven years right off the top and divide by two. This simple adjustment means a 45-year-old man could supposedly date a woman as young as 19 and still avoid being a cultural cast-off.
Though really, when you think about it, any older man that looks at a younger woman and considers whether or not she fits into this rule is basically admitting that it’s more important to bend to those who are intolerant ageists than to be happy.
For relationships to succeed, couples need to: connect emotionally, physically, and spiritually; feel free to be themselves, be vulnerable, and know they can make mistakes and be accepted unconditionally. Couples also need to have fun, grow, and evolve together.
The last part is especially important for older men dating younger women. Why? Because you’re violating everyone’s concept of what an acceptable relationship is. Connecting and having fun means succeeding where others thought you’d fail.
Sadly, everyone seems to be preoccupied with the idea of age when it comes to older men dating younger women. A weird thing to obsess over when there are more men concerned about finding women based on their hair color, height, weight, eye color, and cup size; or being turned off because her toes are too long (or any other trivial physical trait).
Age is just a number. Older men date younger women. Some find their soul mates while others do not. But it’s worth the risk.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain
The question is simple, as life expectancy goes up and people take better and better care of themselves, do traditional notions of appropriate age differences in relationships matter? Are we just making it harder on ourselves by refusing to consider potential partners who are outside our age limits? Or are the cultural similarities that occur between people of similar ages important enough to be deal-breakers?
Of course, if having children is in your plans and you’re a man, the age of your partner matters. There are certainly ways for older women to conceive children, but most men who want families tend to try and date women who are younger than 40.
Aside from that scenario, however, is there any reason that a 30-year-old woman can find love with a 37-year old and not a 44-year-old? How about a 50-year-old? Knowing that there are men of that age who are in great shape, physically attractive, interesting and successful is there a reason to categorically exclude these men?
Men often pursue younger women, even if they aren’t interested in a family. The typical reason being, “that’s who I’m more attracted to.” But again, the “sex appeal boundary” gets pushed out further and further as women in their 50’s and 60’s find themselves as public sex symbols. Kim Catrell of Sex in the City fame is 55. Jane Seymour is 60. Jaclyn Smith is 62. And while most people aren’t as attractive as these, it is certainly possible to meet someone significantly older who is sexy and attractive. Is having a policy against it a good idea?
Women in their 50’s will often narrowly restrict their dating range because they have a fear of meeting and falling in love with an older man – and then having to deal with his health issues. Men certainly have a shorter average lifespan than women, but this doesn’t tell you anything about a particular guy. Is it wise for a woman of 55 to consider a relationship with a man who is 65 or 70?
Finally, there’s also the impact of “the marketplace”. Like it or not, there are ages and individuals who feel that their value in the dating world is so high that they can have success with a very narrow set of criteria. It might be easy to think of a very attractive 25-year-old man or woman saying, “I can date whomever I want, and I only want people who are within two years of my age either way.” While any person is free to do what they like when looking for a relationship, is it to the benefit of the searcher to cast in such a narrow fashion?
These are all interesting questions that reflect a real change in the way people age and date. What do you think?