Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love Lounge: On the Mrs. Robinson stigma

So, friends, in light of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynold's surprising marriage this week, I have a question: Why is it perfectly OK for older men to date younger women, but it's most definitely not OK for older women to date younger men? In fact, a woman with a younger man is practically taboo in society's eyes.

We've talked about cougars before, about the Mrs. Robinsons of the world and even theorized about possible male cougar monikers. You know just how much I love a good deep analysis, friends, so after all that exhaustive soul-searching, I thought I'd at least have come to some sort of conclusion. If nothing else, I'd surely come away with a new nugget of wisdom no matter how small, right?

I suppose I just can't wrap my head around this frustrating double standard. No one bats an eye when a man dates a younger woman -- Lively is 25 and Reynolds is 35 -- and even if the age difference is a big one, it's never big enough to raise any eyebrows. Now, if Lively had been 35 and Reynolds had been 25, those eyebrows would probably have shot through the roof by now. Is it that women feel threatened? Is it that men feel superior? I'm not sure, but whatever the reason, it's a pretty poor one. I don't think I'd ever date someone, say, 20 years my junior, but five years? Sure. Women should not be made to fear the Mrs. Robinson stigma that will follow them around

What do you think, friends? Why do you think women and men are viewed differently when it comes to age difference? Is it fair? Would you ever date someone a lot younger than you? Have you? Let's chat! xoxo

[Photos via Le Love]


  1. I think as long as everyone is of age they should be able to date whoever they want. It's not hurting me so it's not my business, love is love.

  2. I don't think it's wrong or weird for a woman to date a younger man; I think it's just less common because women mature (emotionally) earlier than men - generally. I know there are exceptions.

  3. Umm who says it "most definitely not OK" ? The media tabloids? Why should you care about that. Should I think it is "most definitely not OK " that I might not lose baby weight as fast as Jessica Simpson??

  4. I do think that maturity comes into play–at 25, Ms Lively wants to buy a house and settle down, and I can say with certainty that my 25 year old baby brother has absolutely no interest in doing that–yet.

  5. I think "Mrs. Robinson" stigma is the wrong term here. Anne Bancroft's character in The Graduate was married at the time she was having an affair with her daughter's boyfriend. Married women cheating is not cool, but available older women who want to date available younger men is nobody else's business, really.

  6. my husband is 12 years older than me. would i have dated someone younger than I? I suppose I would have if I had found the right person. at school/university, that would have been quite the difficult task though.

    on a side note: I saw The Graduate recently and felt how dated it was though... great movie, but like James Bond... it so belongs to the past.

  7. Well I reckon fertility plays a big part. Some men who go for women who are much older have to give up on the idea of having their own children because their other half is too old. With older men/younger women that isn't really a big problem. The fertility of men decreases too but for women there's the risk factor involved.
    Also, as has been mentioned already, men are generally not ready for settling down as fast as women. I'm 25 and can't wait to get married and start a family and would like to reach that goal by 28. My 26 year old boyfriend however finds it all a bit daunting. A lot of men have the 'at least 30' idea in their head when it comes to marriage and children, hence probably why a lot of women tend to be attracted to guys that are a bit older.

  8. I empathize with your frustration. My dad was 21 years older than my mom. No one ever questioned it (although, I always thought is twas a bit weird). Had the roles been reversed my parents would have been the joke of the neighborhood. Double standards suck, plain and simple.

    Personally, I have no problem with age differences either way as long as everyone is a consenting adult and there isn't a huge gap between birth years. I dated a 19 year old when I was 25. We lived together for a year and a half. He wanted to get married - I didn't. We're still friends today.

  9. I agree with all of the maturity comments. Nothing wrong with two adults dating, including younger men and older women. It just seems shocking because we're so used to the opposite, where the man is older, or couples that are within a few years of age with each other. I think a lot (though certainly not all)of women get to a point of wanting to settle down earlier in their life than the guys their age so they connect more with older men. Luckily, there's no one right way to be happy in love or marriage.

  10. My husband is 4.5 years younger than me. While I guess that's not a HUGE difference, it's actually something I still struggle with a bit! I guess we just get it in our heads that the man should be older.

  11. I've recently fallen in love with a man who is 10 years younger...we didn't know, either of us, how old we were. So there you go. I can't stop loving him now. For heaven's sake.

    We are older, though, he in his 40s, I am 55. I guess it "helps" that I look quite young. I don't want to tell people, though, about the age difference (other than ppl who know us closely) because of this very nonsense. It's really upsetting to me. I'm working on getting over it. I never ever thought I would have a problem with it, I had no problem with friends who have a similar difference.

    I am going to be anonymous here though I would love to sign in as usual. I just can't yet. (And on top of everything, we met on Twitter. I don't need the joking about that either. It's a sensitive Friday, today;)

  12. There is no stigma anymore. My husband is younger than me, and my whole social circle married younger men. I never found any of the much older men (8+ years older) who pursued me the least bit appealing, but I did find them often controlling (kind of treated me like I didn't know better about a lot of things).

    I think a lot of women who marry older men didn't find a guy who treated them well their own age (meeting the right person can be a challenge) and older men treat them better because these men are happy to have a younger woman, where as younger men have a bigger pool of women to pick from and tend to just date a while longer (and women tend want to settle down sooner, though today this is changing too).

    Older men are risky though, because many mental and neurological disorders people have can be tied to having an OLDER FATHER (for example, men who have children past the age of 40 have a higher risk of having children who eventually develop schizophrenia during their lifetime). I'm not sure why people tie it all into the woman's age and think a man can have a healthy child at any age- a woman's age is mainly tied to things like Down's Syndrome, but an older father has its own slew of health risks (sort of like people used to blame women for the gender of the babies she has…it's good to learn about these things before making assumptions because so much is tied to the age and health of the father- overweight men also have a higher risk of children with health problems, so both parents trying to be healthy is a plus).

    I think if women were aware of the risks of having a much older man father their children, they'd be more cautious (traditionally, it was about having a man support you, but for children who have a lifetime of good mental and physical health, it's better to pick a man who is young and healthy to marry). There are older men and women who have healthy kids too, but obviously 20-35 for both genders has been shown to be the best age overall.

  13. I love hearing everyone's stories -- thanks so much for sharing, friends! xoxo


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