|My boyfriend and me|
For some reason, I have always dated younger men. I don't exactly know why. All of my defining relationships were with men a little bit younger than I am. My first boyfriend was two years younger than me, something several people thought was totally inappropriate and let me know so. My first real serious boyfriend was two years my junior and that was never really an issue, aside from a few snide comments here and there about our age difference. A couple years ago, I got involved with a guy five years younger than me, which turned into a disaster, more because of the fact that he is not a good person than his age (and turned out to be pretty much dating three women at the same time). However, I resolved to only date men my age or older than myself after that. I decided that everyone must be correct and that dating younger men only ended in disaster. I stuck to my resolve and ended up with a guy two years my senior for a couple of months of dating, and that didn't work out either.
How It Happened
I took a deep breath and resolved to be single for a while. Which I was for about nine months. And then I met met my current boyfriend. I remember the first time I saw him, thinking he was so handsome. When we talked, he made me laugh and laugh. After the horrible year I had previously, it was amazing to be with someone that put a huge smile on my face. He was even understanding about my lupus and spent a couple of hours with me in the ER (or A&E in the UK) before we were dating. But there was one problem: he is nine years younger than me (STILL legal, though, thankyouverymuch). Eventually, I ended up having a bit too much to drink and kissing him, though swearing up and down that he was far too young for me. But the more I resisted it, the more I felt like I was missing out on something. So, we ended up together.
My parents, who are mostly old-fashioned in all regards, were quite supportive. You see, I was raised with parents where my mother is several years older than my father and that never seemed to be an issue in their marriage. Sure, sometimes I would laugh at the fact that we would find things in boxes from their time growing up with the same year, my mom at the time in college with my dad still in junior high school. But other than that, since they met when my father was in his late 20s and my mom in her early 30s, it wasn't really a thing with them. My boyfriend's parents have a big age gap as well, though it is more traditional (an older man), but they accepted me anyway. Additionally, my first-cousin is also married to a woman, coincidentally, nine years his senior. As I don't see them very often, I'm not sure what kind of grief his wife gets, but I'm sure she hears it here and there.
Am I a Mrs. Robinson?
However, I very quickly learned what many people think of age difference relationships with women who are older: and it isn't very nice. Sure, most of my close friends and family members don't mind, as long as our relationship is loving and we are happy. But here and there, I get comments letting me know I've overstepped my bound in the way of traditional dating which makes me wonder what people must say about our age difference behind my back.
Reddit's Say in Our Relationship
Once, I posted on Reddit about a completely unrelated situation to our relationship that involved both my boyfriend and myself. I had to post our ages, as is required by this subreddit. Although nothing about the post had anything to do with my relationship to my boyfriend, a poster suggested my boyfriend and I break things off. Of course, I wasn't ready to follow his advice, but when I asked what his reasoning was, he said I needed to find someone more my age because women my age want to settle down and men his age don't. What a sweeping generalization, which includes the assumption that all women are chomping at the bit to settle down and have children. As I am in my last year of my PhD and still not totally financially stable, a wedding and kids aren't really on the forefront of my mind.
I've had people tell me it is downright inappropriate for us to date, simply knowing our age difference. While most people are supportive, it makes me wonder why people think they have the right to say such things. And it also makes me wonder if the situation were reversed and I was nine years younger than him, would people really have that strong of a reaction to it? As long as both parties are legal and everyone's families are supportive, why does it matter?
What also makes me wonder is that not so long ago, during the whole "Is Maggie Gyllenhaal too old to date a 55-year-old" debate, several Reddit users asserted that it is "normal" and "natural" for older men to want to date much younger women. Even though Maggie was already almost 20 years younger than her co-star, they still didn't see an issue with a man dating a woman 30 years, or more, his junior. Yet somehow, our nine year age gap is grounds for relationship termination?
At any rate, almost two years on, we are still going strong. We live together now in a little shared house and he has all but adopted my dog as his own. He has seen me through some pretty awful health issues with lupus and in general, I can't see things with us getting much better.
Though, I guess, according to Reddit, I should be running a mile and into the arms of a man in his 50s or 60s (NOTE: I did want to say that there is nothing wrong with relationships with large age gaps if both people are in the relationship for the right reasons and are all of age, but to say the only appropriate pairing for any man is a woman under 35 is a bit ludicrous.)
I think I'll stay where I am.