Is age really just a number? I have been wanting to write about age gap relationships or a May December romance, for as long as I can remember. It was from a May December relationship in my early 20’s that my entire life (and the way that I viewed it, myself, and the opinions of others) changed.
What is a May December romance?
May December Romance comes from the metaphor of a year being the lifespan of a person. May is a time of relative youth where everything is in bloom and December is later in maturity. The leaves get even more beautiful and change for the final time that year. Age gap relationships are all around us – George and Amal Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, and most recently, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. I know some people who even classify Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as an age gap relationship (yes, it’s only 3 years).
It all boils down to everyone’s individual beliefs, insecurities, and comfort levels. I used to be so reactionary and judgemental.
Nowadays, yes, of course, I have my own opinions and beliefs but they don’t close me off from genuinely hearing and appreciating other people’s. And nothing triggers me to the point of such impulsive judgment, that I momentarily unglue and contradict everything I stand for.
May December romances are in movies, television, books, and in real life – especially here in Los Angeles. And there’s a stigma attached to May December romance that sadly, I don’t think will ever go away.
In regard to a May December Romance…
Whatever appears to color outside the lines of what someone believes (especially if they are unable to evolve, uncomfortable in their own skin, unhappy, and/or are not solid in their own affairs) will always fertilize a very unnecessary and unfair level of judgment.
- “A May December romance? Ha! She’s just with him for his money. Obviously.”
- “Look at how desperate they both are. Why would any man that good looking, who can get anyone he wants, be with an older woman like her? People will do anything for free rent I guess. Good luck with that.”
- “She’s with him?? He’s old enough to be her father. Whoa, she must have some serious daddy issues.”
- “What kind of life is that? They’d be lucky to have 15 good years together before he needs velcro shoes and diapers” (I actually heard someone say this at a wedding that I recently attended and I had to walk away. It made me sick to my stomach).
- “Really? A May December romance? This isn’t romance. It’s clearly a transaction.”
- “I feel so bad for their kids.”
- “They shouldn’t have kids. It would be so unfair to them.”
- “What a shame that he will never get to have kids. She’s too old now and hers are already grown.”
- “Oh you know he/she is cheating on him/her. I mean, how can they not?”
- “He/She is getting back at his/her parents/grown children/ex… If this doesn’t scream mid-life crisis/breakdown, I don’t know what does.”
Of course, these reactions are more prevalent where there is a more significant age gap.
I get asked a lot if an age gap really matters in relationships and whether or not a May December romance can work.
Does age really matter?
As far as a May December romance goes, I don’t think that age matters – to an extent. If you are many years apart, there will be obvious things that need to be addressed and discussed as far as your personal situation and relationship go. It’s ultimately up to you to discuss and make that call.
I personally prefer older men. I’ve always had better luck and relationships with men who were 5-10 years older than me. This took me a while to figure out because when you are very young, even a one-year age difference can feel like five or more. I’ve dated guys my own age, others a few years older, some many years older, and one time I spoke to a guy for a few months who was younger. I’ve never really been into younger guys but I do know people in relationships where the woman is older and it’s incredible. To each their own. I just try to always remain as open as I can and not allow myself to close off in ways that birth bitterness, judgment, or would allow me to miss out on something potentially amazing. I try to not let my poor experiences with anyone of any age affect how I feel about it as a whole.
The real danger is when you allow your pain to sabotage your success by adopting a bitter and delusional belief system – Instead of giving that pain a purpose and allowing it to propel you out of the bs and into the peace of lessons learned.
When I was in my early 20s, I met a man who was significantly older than me. By significantly, I mean 22 years.
At the time, I had only dated a few guys my own age and one who was 2 years older. Never anything even close to this. Looking back, I think we both knew deep down that the relationship wouldn’t last but we met in the most beautiful sweet spot of both of our lives. I learned so much – about myself, what really matters, what doesn’t, what I like, what I don’t like, and how much more I was attracted to genuine, mutual, communicative intimacy than only having a physical connection, social status, and crumbs to rely on.
I loved that I could express myself without having to worry about him recoiling, misinterpreting what I said and running with it, or getting freaked out. It was nice dating someone who was agenda-less, had nothing to prove, knew who he was, and knew who he wasn’t. This man was solid. He was honest, confident, communicative, successful, ambitious (emotionally, empathetically, relationally, professionally), and had standards.
That kind of power was such a turn on, it superseded the toll that time had taken on him physically. All of the superficial stuff that I had always held in such high regard didn’t matter so much anymore.
Men sexually peak much earlier in life than women do. And, if they are emotionally and empathetically available, and open to growing and evolving…
As they get older…
They will rely more on intimacy than on relational “auditioning” and sexually “performing.” There’s no more stage and no more validation seeking tug-of-war. Just connection.
They also won’t be attracted to or try to bring that out in you either. For them, the real performance is connection. It’s the sex they’re able to have, first and foremost, between the ears with you. It’s called emotional availability, relational meaning, and the true intimacy of connection.
I was never the same after that relationship. It wasn’t like I was only attracted to older men after that though. I just stopped over-valuing the things that you really can’t grow old with because they change and fade over time (personality, looks, bravado, chivalry, money, grandiose words, etc.). I haven’t been in a relationship with that big of an age gap since but I don’t regret one moment of it.
If you are in a May December romance because…
- You are trying to invalidate a physically and/or emotionally absentee parent.
- You are an emotional orphan looking for a home that the age gap directly caters to.
- You are both codependent.
- You love the fact that you have all of the control/upper hand due to your age, finances, success (or lack thereof for pity mongering), ability to manipulate, etc.
- It is transactional and not rooted in love and respect.
It’s not a good idea to continue until these issues are addressed.
When it comes to a May December romance, you need to ALWAYS be more concerned about a totally different age difference FIRST.
Remember this and it will save you so much time and heartbreak:
You could date someone who is the exact same age as you and have way more of an age gap than someone many years younger or older than you.
What should always matter most is that you are the same emotional, empathetic, intellectual, and communicative age.
Just because someone is older or younger, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have the emotional intelligence of Peter Pan (or conversely, someone you deserve). Physical age matters much less to me, as do looks, because of this. I never judge an age gap relationship because I’ve not only dated many different ages, but many of my closest friendships have significant age gaps.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to not being years (or galaxies) apart where it matters the most.
Growing up, one of my girlfriends always used to tell me how lucky I was that my Mom had me when she was young. Her mother had her when she was 41 and she was always worried that her Mom wouldn’t get to see her grow old like mine would.
Today, my Mother is still younger than hers but my Mom has cancer and may not live to be her Mother’s age. Her Mother’s health is great.
You never know in life.
As far as romantic relationships, I would so much rather have the most incredible 15 years with someone than a mediocre 50.
Age is just a number. But it’s a number that can really mind f*ck us if we allow our obsession with it to blind us from the most red flag, non-negotiable of all:
Being in an emotional and empathetic May December romance.
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