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Never mind the age gap

Date
Edna and Simon.

Edna and Simon. Photo: BBC

‘‘She’s 79, he’s 38 - and they’re madly in love!’’

That’s a real headline, published on an actual newsite, relating to the latest tongue-wagging doco to grace the airwaves of the UK’s ever entertaining Channel 5.

Certainly tickled my fancy. I mean, a woman, in love with a man, less than half her age? Smashing! What a duck! What a dude! What a reason to read on! Subsequently I learn about three couples who have overcome festy judgment and fleshy obstacles to create beautiful, loving lives together.

Edna and Simon, our beloved title-bearers, are happily married, having bonded years ago over a shared passion for, of all things, organs (the kind you play. With your fingers. In a church). So what if Edna’s kids are all older than her husband? So what if Simon had never been kissed before he snuck in a quick wet one at a recital? They say they’re happy, they say they’re in love, and they say they are “at it like rabbits”.

Then there’s Joan and Phil. Joan was married, but on his deathbed, her ever benevolent husband gave her blessing to go on, and live a full and wholesome life. One that may include “new boobs and a lovely toy boy”, if she so chooses. And while there was no explicit mention of a chest boost, she did roost with one young buck, with the blessing of his mum, I might add. A woman, probably of Joan’s vintage, who is, Phil says, just “glad that Joan looks after me”.

Well. I for one am also glad. That these people have found love in a world filled with disappointment, rage and hate. Good on them, I say, for sticking it to society’s norms, and carrying out what appears to be happy, healthy relationships. We should be supportive of such rosy romance, should we not?

Yet their experience is in the minority. Not just because they’re partnered off at a time of rising singledom, but because their age-gap is just so very vast. And because we’re talking women and boys, not men and girls.

Funnily, old blokes with young birds is a far more common, and socially acceptable phenomenon. Even if such pairings - witness Hugh Hefner with any one of the bunnies bounding about his hearth and grotto-home - inspire eye-rolls, winks and knowing nudges. Even if, they are still les likely to inspire what I presume the abovementioned love affairs would - a blend of bemusement and derision. The kind of ‘‘haha-but-seriously-no’’ reaction I vaguely coloured this blog’s opening with.

Why is that? Why are we less in love with the idea of older women loving younger men, than we are when the bedside tables are turned? Sure, there’s that old idea about young brides swapping their fertility for an aged groom’s economic security and social status. Sure, we’re more familiar with that order of things. But it doesn’t make it more ‘‘right’’. Does it?

Fact is, we are living longer, we’re more mobile, our social networks are linked through ways and means not possible in the time of Abraham. Diversity is becoming the new normal. We’re more accepting of the fact that two men can love and make-love-to each other, or that my Vietnamese girlfriend can enjoy a robust, egalitarian and passionate relationship with her middle-aged white-guy fiance. So what’s wrong with 79-year-old Edna and 38-year-old Simon shacking up together?

Enter couple number three. William and Marylin. Their relationship began when he was 16, and she was 45. His family were not impressed. He says he was also shunned by his friends, and beaten up because of their relationship. Well, 16 year-olds are prone to stupid acts and peer-group pressure. But there’s nothing illegal about their love affair, they don’t appear to be harming anyone else, so why the trouble?

Indeed, you’d think young Willy would have been back-slapped and high-fived for his Mrs Robinson-esque marauding. Certainly one would assume that the outcry over inappropriate partnerings would only have occurred if this particular situation was reversed - if a 16-year-old girl to fall for, and pair up with, a 45-year-old-man. Then you’d expect to hear cries about exploitation and taking-advantage and gross misconduct and so forth. Funnily, this would be because we’d fear our young damsel is just “not yet old enough to know better”. Funnily, because the refrain commonly attached to comments about older women with much younger guys is “she’s old enough to know better”. Why is this so?

I say go Edna, go Simon, go any adult who’s found real love in this world. I am all for it.  
Are you?

51 comments

  • Please. The media is constantly attempting to shame men for this. It's portrayed as sleazy or predatory when a man does it but when Madonna or Demi Moore does it, its 'empowering' and a 'you go girl' example for women. It falsely gives women the impression that they can/should also do it, but really these women highlighted in the media are a very small percentage whereas the 'older man/younger woman' couple in real life is much more prevalent. If you ever briefly visit a dating website or two you'll notice the age preferences of men and women respectively reflect this.

    Commenter
    blogster
    Date and time
    February 07, 2014, 10:32AM
    • I think he's punching above his weight :)

      Commenter
      leela
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 12:14PM
    • What part of CityKat's column do you think aims to shame men? I think she celebrated both sides of the story. Not my cuppa, but good on them.

      Commenter
      Phil
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 12:39PM
    • leela, you are naughty, hehe.

      Commenter
      Phillip Macavatee
      Location
      Qld
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 1:09PM
    • Has he met her parents yet? What do they think....

      Commenter
      Crackle
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 1:29PM
  • Wish them all the best but it's not for me.
    and i don't understand it either when some old guy marries a young chick, most of those relationships are unbalanced and/or dysfunctional.

    Commenter
    Victorious Painter
    Date and time
    February 07, 2014, 10:44AM
    • But their lives run in parallel together which would undoubtedly be more than with many couples. Only the ages are incidental.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 11:49AM
    • Vic painter, what do you not understand? Do you ever hear of Brie, 34 yr old ex model hooking up with Ken 62, retired builders laborer now aged pensioner? No its always Brie, hooking up with Ken retired merchant banker. Much to do with size of wallet and how much she can spend before he shuffles off the mortal coil and or his ex wife/children get their hands on the loot. Know personally of a couple of these relationships and they are hilarious. As for above not sure if Edna would have a pile in the bank.

      Commenter
      sipper
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 1:23PM
    • Look at Normie Rowe's new girl (he's 66, she's 40). He was born same year as my mum but moves about like an old man. I saw them on telly recently and was shocked to see how physically feeble he is. Meanwhile, her young kids were jumping all over him and I thought the poor guy was going to have a heart attack.

      I personally don't understand how that relationship works or what she gets out of it (I can't imagine he would be sprightly in the bedroom if he has trouble standing upright), but then I don't live with them, so good luck to them.

      At least they have each other. I've been so unlucky in love that I've given up on the whole process.

      Commenter
      Audra Blue
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 2:15PM
  • Good on them. With so many other things to worry about in this world, love between two consenting adults shouldn't have to be one of them.

    Although, I wonder if the tone of the story would change if the elderly lady was rich beyond measure!

    Commenter
    Web
    Location
    Phloem
    Date and time
    February 07, 2014, 10:52AM

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