OPINION: Does a disparity of age actually matter in a relationship?
In Eastern societies, it is a social norm and a general trend for an older man to seek a younger woman. This practice is for reasons obvious due to the fertility that comes as a result of youth. Regardless of whether the reasoning concerns greater fertility or is just a result of a cultural tradition, the age difference between people in relationships is widening in the United States as well.
It is not uncommon to spot a tabloid on a magazine stand talking about a celebrity marriage with a notable age difference. For example, many might remember René Angélil and Celine Dion’s wedding as a popular subject that caught most of America and Canada’s attentions due to the thirty-year age gap between the couple. These two have been married for around eighteen years, and few bring up the gap in age anymore. So what is holding Western society back from being able to fathom this harmless topic? In the Western hemisphere, it seems relationships with an age difference are not as accepted due to the lack of popularity of the issue in our culture, especially when two people are only dating. If two people are married with an age difference, it seems the subject is somewhat more accepted in our society.
Many girls I know choose to date older guys because, unlike the expected argument—that people so far apart in age could not have much in common, it is the very opposite. Girls who have a level head, a mature persona, and who already engage in more mature activities have much more in common with someone who is older than they are. From a psychological perspective, girls might even date older guys because they see them like indirect father figure. Young women might feel like since their significant other is older, they have already gone through some of the experiences they themselves are going through. This can create a “fatherly” feeling when the older guy in the relationship can provide suggestions on dealing with the experience.
I have witnessed firsthand relationships with age differences that worked out perfectly--my parents’, for example. I grew up in a household where my parents’ ages were 12 years apart. They dated for five years before they decided to get married; they have been happily married ever since. I admire their sickeningly adorable marriage. Their relationship is what I hope to have when I find the right person.
So what is stopping the United States from being able to accept such a popular dating trend? I wish I knew the answer, but I do not. I, personally, date much older guys and feel this works best for me as a result of having a noted “old soul.” If the shoe fits, wear it. Obviously, there are certain age differences in people’s lives that might be awkward, especially those that find each individual on a different level of maturity. However, if two people have an undeniable connection, then they should be together. Societal norms should not stand in the way of two people being happy together. Someone who wished to remain anonymous once said that “age has extremely little to do with anything that matters. The difference between one age and another is, as a rule, enormously exaggerated.”
Opinions expressed in this column are solely the beliefs of the writer.
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