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If you’re an older woman finding yourself single, it can be daunting to decide if someone is the right age for you if entering into a relationship.  If the man happens to be younger, more often than not, the inevitable question will be, “Is he too young for me?”  Is such a relationship doomed from the start or could there be a “happily-ever-after” situation?

It made news recently that news mogul, Rupert Murdoch, 84, was getting married to ex-model Jerry Hall, 59 shortly.  Hardly anyone batted an eyelid.  Nor did they when Catherine Zeta Jones married Michael Douglas or when Donald Trump married Melania Knauss, a woman 26 years younger to himself.

But reverse the situation and it would border on scandal.  If a woman were to have a relationship with a man 26 years younger to herself, there would certainly be a collective gasp from society. Yet in a world that espouses gender equality, why does this situation prevail?

There have been instances when the pairing has been successful. Joan Collins and Percy Collins have a 32 year age difference between them, and they have been married for 13 years.  The same goes for Hugh Jackman and Debra Lee Furness who is 15 years older to him.  It would behard to find a couple more in love than Hugh and Debra.

Psychologists believe the dynamic behind the “older woman-younger man” relationship may actually lead to more satisfaction and relationship commitment. A common rule of thumb when it comes to dating is that it is alright to be interested in someone who is half your age, plus seven years. However, the rise of the “older woman-younger man” relationship has loosened this relationship convention and instead celebrates the age-gap romance.

A recent survey conducted by UK dating website EliteSingles reveals that 20-something men actually have a preference for older women three to six years older than themselves. The biological presumption has always been men prefer younger women because they are expected to bear children, while women favour older men because they offer resources and constancy. But evolving gender roles in modern society have led to more equality between the sexes, challenging this outmoded notion for men.

Psychologists also believe that young men nowadays probably also recognise that older women are adept at diligently managing so many responsibilities such as children,career, fitness housekeeping,  finances, socialising, which makes them fascinating and attractive and a more secure option. The dating website analysed the upper and lower age search limits for more than 450,000 of its members to reveal the age of a man and a woman’s perfect partner. The survey found men aged 20 to 29 prefer older women to younger ones, and women preferred a younger man as they age.

This contradicts the pigeonhole that all men are focussed on finding a young, nubile partner, as these singles indicate a preference for a partner three to six years older than themselves. Akin to their younger male counterparts, younger women have reflected this interest in older men. Women between 20 and 29 years old have a preference for men who are up to 10 years their senior and no younger than up to three years. This underscores the notion that younger women do seek older men because they tend to be more emotionally mature, have more financial freedom, and have an established career that lets them devote more time to a relationship and family life.

Shifting back to the older woman-younger man relationship dynamic, the public still struggles to come to grips with these romances. Age-gap romances, though, do actually leave more room for gender equality, which tends to make couples happier. A study published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found women who are 10 or more years older than their partner report more satisfaction and relationship commitment compared to women who are the same age or younger than their partner. Age-gap romantic relationships could work because of the vitality a younger man brings into an older woman’s life.  Likewise the maturity and confidence men find in their older counterparts can be intriguing and alluring.

The rise of older woman-younger man relationship celebrates the loveliness of the aging woman and her active role and power in society. Calling these women “cougars” has a predatory undertone that is not precise, considering these younger men are just as willing as the women to initiate an age-gap romance. These women are not mother substitutes either who are “robbing the cradle ” but in its place an example of the modern day woman who is not afraid to come into her own.  Haven’t we heard it time and time again that “age is but a number?”