Some time ago, while in a humorous or cynical frame of mind (take your pick as to which one applies), I penned the below poem entitled, “Young Woman Older Man” which runs thus:
“Young lady older man, is there love or a cunning plan? Middle aged man with younger girl, does love exist in this world? What thoughts pass through your heads, as you lie entwined in your bed? Girl are you there or far away? What holds you, makes you stay?
“Oh my darling man why worry? enjoy me while you can. Life is short, I am sweet. Give in to lust then let us sleep”.
Yesterday I was chatting with a female friend regarding my writing. I can’t remember how the matter arose but at some point during our conversation she mentioned that older men (in their 70’s) shouldn’t be allowed to date young women in their 20’s. Her argument was that the young women could take advantage of the lonleness and/or vulnerability of the older man. On me questioning my friend further she mentioned she found it distasteful for people with big age differences to date.
I hear all my friend says. However, as I said to my friend, such a relationship cuts both ways. Many older men (and women) are in possession of all their faculties and know exactly what they are letting themselves in for. Lets take the worst case scenario where a much younger woman (or man) enters into a relationship with someone considerably older than themselves in order to gain financial staibility (I.E. love does not enter into the equation). I am sure that in many such instances the older party in the relationship is well aware that their other half entertains no romantic feelings for them. However both are gaining something from the transaction. The older person is gaining companionship and (yes) other things, while the younger participant is obtaining financial security. No one’s rights are being violated. Of course if the older person is suffering from dementia and the younger party takes advantage of this fact, this is wholly immoral and downright illegal. However many older people in such relationships are in full possession of their faculties and would, quite understandably feel patronised were anyone to suggest they didn’t know what they where doing.
What about the younger participant in the relationship, can not she (or he) be exploited? Yes they can. However if the law says (as it does in the UK) that people may marry, without parental consent at 18-years-old (and at 16 with their parents consent), then on what basis can a law stopping younger people from marrying those considerably older than themselves be based? Also how old is too old? Is it OK for a lady of 21 to enter into a relationship with a man of 41? If yes is it OK for the same lady to date a man of 51? If not, why not? And were, exactly does one draw the line and on what basis?
There is, of course the possibility of genuine love. People with vast age differences can (and do) fall in love, not all such relationships are based on crude calculations of financial gain and, ultimately provided both parties are adults and compus mentus it is, no concern of anyone other than themselves how they live their lives.
To say the above is not to argue that one should never offer advice in such situations. A parent who’s 18-year-old daughter announces her intention to move in with a man in his 60’s might well feel grave apprehension and (rightly) counsel her to think extremely carefully before taking such a step. It would, however, in the final analysis be the choice of the adult woman. One can argue that 18 is to young and that the law should (as was previously the case) stipulate 21 as the age of adulthood in the UK, however unless that happens (which is extremely unlikely) we must respect the decisions of others to do as they wish in matters of relationships.
So there is no doubt in the matter I believe that relationships should, in the ideal world be based on love and friendship. However it is not my role to tell other