Let's investigate, shall we?
When you hear about a couple with a big age gap between them, you might automatically think of an older man and a younger woman. While about 8 percent of couples in Western countries have an age gap of ten years or more, only 1 percent of those are couples where the woman is the older one.
Even when we think of our favourite celeb couples, many of which have years between them, they are almost always men with younger women, George Clooney and Amal Clooney (17 years), Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds (11 years), Rose Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham (20 years). And when we do think of examples of men with older women, it’s well known because it’s so unusual.
View this post on Instagram
In fact, in researching the topic, almost every single celebrity example or photo used was of French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte. They married in 2007 when Emmanuel was 30, and Brigette was 54 – a 24 year age gap. More recently, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas have been used in examples, however, the age gap is considerably smaller, with Priyanka being 37 and Nick 27.
So why is it that women dating slightly older men, or two women with a big age gap dating is more accepted and more common, when women dating younger men is so rarely seen? First up, we can probably thank society for that good old fashion social stigma that affects so much of our choices. If it’s not seen or represented a lot in our circles, it’s not something we really consider. Let’s not forget that a woman can’t so much as kiss a younger man without the word Cougar being thrown around.
View this post on Instagram
Pop culture also plays a big part, in movies and TV shows, a young, inexperienced man is often seduced by a brazen, loud, sex-positive rich woman who demands their affection. Even shows and movies like The Cougar, and Cougar Town, as well as soaps and sitcoms, often use it as an amusing or secretive storyline, but rarely portray it as a fully functioning relationship between two people.
Evolution could play a big part in it all too. Studies have found that we still search for partners that play into traditional gender roles. For example, in British academic journal Evolution and Human Behaviour it was found that while most men preferred younger, physically attractive women, women of any age preferred successful, established men their age or older. In another study, Long Term Trends in Marital Age Homogamy Patterns, it surmised that since men traditionally earn more as they get older, women may subconsciously or otherwise, prefer older men.
In the same sense, it’s suggested that in an evolutionary sense men seek out younger females because of physical attractiveness, youthfulness and health which could be associated with fertility and reproductive capacity.
Of course, both factors aren’t really relevant in 2020 and haven’t been for a long time, as traditional gender roles are no longer as common. Women are working and earning for just as long as men, and for many couples, children are not on the cards, so by the logic of modern living, both reasons are a little outdated.
With these factors no longer being relevant, perhaps the social stigma is slowly but surely beginning to lift too. And rightly so, because as of right now, it’s still getting in the way. A survey from Dating.com found that three out of five female users said that preconceived societal norms limit their choice of dating partners, And yet 78% of women surveyed said they wouldn’t mind a younger partner. So there’a a lot to think about. Whether it’s subconscious and has remained this way because of evolution, society or pop culture it’s clear that age has no bearing on the success of a relationship and people fall in love and have long relationships based on a myriad of factors, and a consensual age group shouldn’t be one.