The Older Woman

by jennine on July 26, 2010

My grandparents families were family friends, when my grandfather first met my grandmother when he was 19, and knew she was the one from that moment. She was ten years older and married at that time, so he didn’t ask her out. They never went out until many, many years later, until after my grandmother’s first husband (my mom’s dad) passed away. They stayed married for 25 years, until my grandmother passed away in 2000.

In the New York Times article Modern Love: Being The Older Woman, where a 40 year old woman goes out with a guy half her age, only to leave him because, well he thinks of her as an ‘older woman’. It’s not the first of one of these stories we read about, and see in the movies. In Prime Uma Thurman dumps her younger man because he is too immature. (He’s 23 or 24, she’s in her late 30′s).  A TV show last year, Cougar Town, started with the premise of a hot older woman dating younger men, but she inevitably ended up falling in love with a man more ‘age appropriate.’ Are these our new cautionary tales?

It doesn’t stop in films and  newspaper columns… in May, Google declared the search term “Cougar” to be non-family safe, while keeping the term “Sugar Daddy” safe. Because you know, dirty old men are way safer than dirty old women.

In mainstream media, the younger man/older woman combination is always doomed. The only movie I can think of where it works out (and she doesn’t die at the end) is All About Eve. Then again, I don’t go out of my way to watch movies with this theme. The only publicly open couple I can think of, is Demi and Ashton.

My husband is nearly 10 years younger than me. When I first met him, I almost did not say yes when he asked me out, because he was too young. I was afraid he wouldn’t be ready to commit to a relationship. My girlfriends, tired of me making excuses to say no to every guy who asked me out, said.. ‘Give it a shot.. my friend who just turned 40 is in a serious relationship with a 23 year old guy. They’re having a baby.’

That was the strangest thing I ever heard. Eight years difference between Rocky and I isn’t a generation, but still the stigma of the older woman and younger man is demeaning on so many levels. Is youth, beauty and fertility all women can offer men? Is money and stability all men can offer women? Is sex all we can offer each other? How is it that all those qualities are linked to age? What was it that I wanted out of a relationship? It took a lot to look at what I most needed instead of playing into social stereotypes.

I didn’t go out of my way to find a younger man. It just happened. He just happened to be the one to man up and make a commitment. Sure, I dated lots of guys in my age group, but they never worked out. They weren’t more mature, they weren’t more financially stable, they didn’t have what I was looking for. Someone who I liked hanging out with, that was smart, funny creative, and really liked hanging out with me. He could have been any age, but this person I love turned out to be Rocky. That’s just the way it happened.

Will we be a ‘happily ever after?’ Who knows, we’ve been together for a few years, with ups and downs, but mostly quite happily. Most of all it’s working today.

Image from All About Eve

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Poochie July 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Only the people in the relationship should have a say in or knows what’s going on in their relationship. If my husband and I had listened to the predictions of others we would have never married… and we’re celebrating 13 years this year.

Keep the love alive!

jennine July 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm

haha, you gotta love predictions! my first marriage everyone thought we were perfect, and it was so far from what ended up happening. gotta love outside commentary.

Alicia July 31, 2010 at 10:10 pm

*fist pump*

Dudeguy is 19 years my senior and I swear if I would have missed out on the love of my life had I listened to outside influence.

Long live you and Rocky! And Poochie and hubs!! =D
.-= Alicia´s last blog ..…self-love and the dearth of creativity… =-.

Ashe Mischief July 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I prefer to call older men after young women Humberts (after Humbert Humbert)- far less nice that Sugar Daddies.

It’s really funny how age is so “important”- when I was in my early 20s (like 20-21-22), I dated a couple of early 30s guys… and it didn’t work out. Mostly because I knew that I was too inexperienced. They’d dealt with women and their issues, and I hadn’t learned to deal with mine. Especially because these relationships came loaded with other things (like polyamory), I was like, “WHOA! I need to learn to date a normal boy.” Then G came along. He’s a year older than me…. but it’s worked out, because we’ve had the pleasure of “growing up” together… getting through all those early & mid-20s issues together….

My mom was the older woman…. by about 5-6 years. It’s funny how people react, but if you’re happy, what’s it matter?
.-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..One Stop Lingerie Shopping =-.

Jaime July 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Ahhh, a reminder of one of my favorite books ever!

People love who they love. Age is so ridiculously secondary.
.-= Jaime´s last blog ..Would You Wear- Acid Washed Denim =-.

jennine July 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm

omg that must have been a crazy time! but more because of the polyamory than the age issue.
but yeah, the 20′s were like my teenage years only with no kerfew and rent. heck, so are my 30s.

Ashe Mischief July 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Also- I’ve always been kind of under the impression that, no matter who is older, the older you get, the more an age divide doesn’t matter…. like, when you’re 8 years apart and 21 and 29, that’s kind of a shock because of the experiences you’ve had…. but when you’re 31 and 39, it’s not such a big deal. More so if you’re like, 62 and 70.
.-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..One Stop Lingerie Shopping =-.

Tami July 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

What a sweet post! I love stories about how strong couples really make it despite strong societal conventions. The only thing that really matters is how happy you both are with each other, and how to keep that magic going during tough times.
.-= Tami´s last blog ..Anti-Eco Tees and Totes =-.

jennine July 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm

thanks tami! :)

Iva July 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

funny you should post this now! I was just reading that Linda Hogan is engaged to her younger man {although in her case he is younger then her daughter}.

I really don’t think age matters. Its the person. They make you laugh, smile, think, you enjoy your time with them, etc. There is always something people are going to want to talk about. I’m older then my husband { although only by 8 months}. There are stigmas to a lot of things. Although, I want to believe that things are really changing. I know its easier said then done, but I really believe we all just need to be us. Do what makes you smile….in your heart you know what is best for you. My husband is black and a basketball player, do you have any idea how many social stereotypes there are to that?! lol…oh gazzilions. But, almost 7 years and two kiddies later….I can honestly say I did right by me.

I didn’t know that about ‘cougar’ being nonfam safe! ….but Sugar Daddy is? ha.
.-= Iva´s last blog ..Gummi Bear Candelier =-.

Jennifer July 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm

I have dated younger guys (only a couple years younger) but I’ve also dated men older (up to 19 years) and I feel like if you are compatible as a couple the age will not become an issue. My husband is 9 years older than me and I am never aware of his age. Also, he is a black man and I’m white, so we have that difference as well. No matter what anyone says or how they feel about either issue (actually its a non-issue, or should be) I know that he is the man for me and I couldn’t be more in love with man I call my husband and best friend! So anyone who has something negative to say can just go say it somewhere else!
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Out Sick! =-.

jennine July 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm

yeah, that’s so true, there are guys my age that i have been on a date with that have nothing in common. these days it seems that interracial couples aren’t as controversial as they once were, thank goodness,! i can’t imagine anyone making a big deal out of that. but i’m sure it still happens.

Closet Cravings July 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

It is weird how there’s a stigma with “older” women dating someone younger. Watching “Millionaire Matchmaker” made me realize how much men think of younger women as their equals but women of their own age as “old.” Totally grotesque.
.-= Closet Cravings´s last blog ..Shop and Save! =-.

Fia July 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Such a great post!

The part about Google saddens me. Such a double standard (stud/slut).

Both my grandmothers are older than my grandfathers, one by 8 years which was disturbing to her mother-in-law because she already had a few kids. Yet knowing this, I still thought I’d end up with an older man. My husband is barely younger than me (6 months), and yet, people still give a little giggle when they find out. It’s just silly.

In film, it seems older women dating younger men are always shown as desperate and oversexualized.
.-= Fia´s last blog ..273 20 of 30 =-.

Midtown Girl July 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm

What a great post Jennine and I totally understand. I was dating this one guy who I later found out was only 3 years younger than me and he told me I should write about being an older woman dating a younger guy…like WTF was the big deal. Only guys who have issues with themselves have issues with an age gap.

Love knows no number - you guys will be happy & together for a very long time <3

jennine July 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Hahah, that’s funny 3 years doesn’t really count. Once I dated a guy who was 4 years younger, and made a big deal about it. Like 27 isn’t very different from 31. Sorry dude.

Jessica July 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm

my boyfriend is nearly 7 years younger than I am. I have no idea why it works. . .but it does, and I’m so grateful for it. Nice post!

jennine July 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm

:) it’s the best when it does work!

Ms. P & C July 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Fabulous! I love the relationship in “All About Eve”, mainly because Bill is the only one who really stands up to Margot consistently. She loves him for this, and that’s why they work… Even though he is a few years younger and that is a part of the plot, it never becomes a big deal. You know their love is solid as can be…
.-= Ms. P & C´s last blog ..P&C Questionnaire- Catie of Cuffington =-.

jennine July 26, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Yeah, I love Bill, he’s just the best guy ever. And it’s great how the age difference is not a big deal in the movie.
:) The whole movie is great all together.

Shelley July 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm

My early relationships were always with older men, but by the time I was in my 40′s, almost every guy I dated was younger. I found I didn’t have much in common with men my age as I didn’t have any kids, and was more interested in having adventures together than buying a house and discussing early retirement plans. As has already been said, it all depends on the maturity and personalities of the people involved. I’ve met some very emotionally mature 25 year olds, and some really childish and self-centred 40-somethings.
.-= Shelley´s last blog ..Folk Festival Fans =-.

jennine July 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Hahah, you could say that again. Age really has little to do with actual maturity… and talking about retirement plans isn’t really an actual sign of maturity either.

Sher July 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Thank you for this refreshingly honest post. I’m older than my bf by 6 years and we defied a lot of ppl including my parents to be where we are today. We just got engaged in Santorini last month and both our families have given their blessings, so I could not be happier. Yea, I still get the occassional teasing “cougar” remarks, but who cares as long as we are happy at the end of the day:)
.-= Sher´s last blog ..Bows and Scallops =-.

huong July 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Love this post.

I get younger men b/c i look younger than i am. i’m 30 and i usually get 25 year olds. I’m learning that age won’t matter to much because the last guy i date, who was 2 years older could not grow up and be a man. after that i have met some great 25 year olds.

Sandra @ DebutanteClothing July 26, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I’m not much older than my husband, but I am older. So is my mom and my sister. I think that age is such a minor portion of what makes a couple compatible. Even maturity level is relative. If you have similar beliefs and outlooks on life, that is all that matters. Well that and physical attraction. But even that changes with time.

SwanDiamondRose July 26, 2010 at 9:58 pm

my last long term boyfriend was 10 years younger than me. it didn’t work out but i wouldn’t say it was because of age. and i usually date men younger than me now, often around 5 years younger, it just works out that way i don’t look for them to be younger. and honestly the idea of dating someone my age or older now freaks me out a little. which i find strange but it’s true. i used to date or be in relationships with men older than me. it is a little different to be the older one when i was always the babyfaced “baby” in relationships. i do get confused for sure. though now i don’t judge men who date younger women, because now i’ve been there, on both sides. i mean who cares. people are lucky to find happiness with another person period. cheers to you two :)
.-= SwanDiamondRose´s last blog ..The newly new SWANclothing Floral Lasso tote Photos and lots of words 3 =-.

M July 26, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Age should not be an issue, I mean just because a man is your age does not equal maturity, it all boils down to what makes you happy and fulfilled from a relationship partner.
And btw why is this a big deal men have married younger woman for ages and no one cares, it’s one of those pesky double standards.
.-= M´s last blog ..a little fashion history =-.

Annie Spandex July 27, 2010 at 1:44 am

The term cougar has always offended me. It’s derogatory. Sugar Mama and Dirty Old Woman-fine. But cougar was started as an insult to women. It really bothers me. I see the point that it’s being embraced in an empowering way, but I still don’t like it.
I think once everyone gets out of college the age difference tends to mean less and less in general, especially post-20′s. But of course, it’s all just numbers.
.-= Annie Spandex´s last blog ..Quick Favor =-.

Penny Dreadful Vintage July 27, 2010 at 3:06 am

Great post - it really is another insidious form of sexism, so entrenched that most women believe it themselves. I’ve had to similarly encourage friends to date their now boyfriends, due to what seems a very small age difference to me. It is funny how we still subscribe to a Disneyfied ideal of older man younger woman. Thanks for writing intelligently and concisely about the real world, I love reading things like this.
.-= Penny Dreadful Vintage´s last blog ..Afternoon Tea at The Milestone in London =-.

Fajr | Stylish Thought July 27, 2010 at 5:52 am

I salute you! I for one can’t wait to be a cougar! :) I think there’s something so beautiful about an older woman throwing tradition to the wind and dating whomever she wants regardless of age. I feel the same way about sexy older men, who I call Cat Daddies!
.-= Fajr | Stylish Thought´s last blog ..Super Style- 5 Most Stylish Comic Characters =-.

WendyB July 27, 2010 at 6:19 am

I didn’t go out of my way to find a much older guy — sometimes things just happen. I think it’s best not to get hung up on age — similarity of life goals are more important. My desperately single girlfriends would all be married if they thought outside the norm once in a while.
.-= WendyB´s last blog ..Wishful Thinking- Compact Disk =-.

Nickie Frye July 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

I love an interesting love story! Maybe some day I’ll blog about mine with my husband. He’s 15 months younger than me, which is sort of interesting because our son is 15 months younger than our daughter. Anyway, I call him my “hot rod”. :)
.-= Nickie Frye´s last blog ..Hidden in the Grass =-.

SwanDiamondRose July 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm

i guess i forgot to mention that with my younger boyfriend people DID say things, and often. it didn’t help that he was a comedian and surrounded by comedian friends. so the saying was sometimes pretty public. mostly in fun but i would have preferred it didn’t happen. and people did give us looks, especially when he was on his skateboard and i was all dressed to the nines. but whatever, i love skaters. maybe it was mostly in my head. i have no idea.
.-= SwanDiamondRose´s last blog ..The newly new SWANclothing Floral Lasso tote Photos and lots of words 3 =-.

eyeliah July 28, 2010 at 10:13 am

I’ve seen it work a few times as well, and you are right about older guys not being any more mature (haha).

Milly July 29, 2010 at 12:55 am

I totally hear you on this. I hate the double standard on this. My husband is 11yrs older than me and you can betcha that we have no-one questioning this - it is seen as an accomplishment the other way round in our society but when we women even contemplate dating younger we are regarded as ‘cradle-snatchers’.
.-= Milly´s last blog ..White Milk & Candy Drops =-.

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