Love comes in all forms, shapes, sizes, and numbers. At least we’d like to believe so. In the real world, love tends to be restricted by personal and social beliefs. Some of these social norms have been around for ages, like that which considers large age differences between intimate partners to be taboo.
Despite the general lack of acceptance of large age gaps between partners, the idea of younger women forming intimate relationships with older men is not considered to be as taboo as the reverse. In fact, in the vast majority of heterosexual relationships where one partner is considerably senior to the other, the older partner is the man.
However, most sources show that relationships composed of younger women and older men are inherently unequal and ultimately more harmful than helpful for the women who partake in them. Because the partners, consciously or unconsciously, often have motives besides pure love, the relationships don’t improve, but detract from women’s self-worth and well-being.
While in relationships with older men, much younger women tend to see their relationships as happy and rewarding. They say they feel more mature than their age or that men their age are too immature and have little to offer them. Researchers say that this notion that these women have of themselves as different and, perhaps better than their age mates, is usually given support by her older partner who will praise her as special and extraordinary.
Other times, women are simply looking for a father figure as women who partake in research involving these relationships readily admit. A woman from an abusive or poverty-stricken home may be looking for stable grounding in an older and more established man.
Motivations aren’t so helpful on the men’s side either. Some older men who find women their own age to be too demanding or jaded seek refuge with younger women. They believe that younger women will admire them and truly love them, instead of expecting so much. In other, more notorious cases, older men see younger women as naïve and exploit the women’s lack of knowledge and experience to their own gain.
In sharp contrast to their testimonials while in these relationships, women who were involved with older men as young adults tend to regret these relationships later in life.
These women feel that they were manipulated or somehow taken advantage of, and feel that these relationships negatively affected their sense of self-worth and ability to trust. Regardless of whether their relationship was unhealthy in more obvious ways, women tend to feel like they were somehow victimized.
It goes without saying that every relationship involving an older male and younger female is not unhealthy and devoid of true love. But given the mounting evidence, perhaps the idea of younger women dating older men should be looked at with a more critical eye?