Is age really just a number? I have been wanting to write about age gap relationships or a May-December romance, for as long as I can remember. It was from a May-December relationship in my early 20’s that my entire life (and the way that I viewed it, myself, and the opinions of others) changed.
What is a May-December romance?
From what I have read, May-December Romance comes from the metaphor of a year being the lifespan of a person. May is a time of relative youth where everything is in bloom and December is later in maturity. Age gap relationships are all around us – George and Amal Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, and most recently, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. I know some people who even classify Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as an age gap relationship (yes, it’s only 3 years).
It all boils down to everyone’s individual beliefs, insecurities, and comfort levels. I used to be so reactionary and judgemental. Nowadays, yes, of course, I have my own opinions and beliefs but they don’t close me off from genuinely hearing and appreciating other people’s. And nothing triggers me to the point of such impulsive judgment, that I momentarily unglue and contradict everything I stand for.
May-December romances are in movies, television, books, and in real life – especially here in Los Angeles. And there’s a stigma attached to May-December romances that sadly, I don’t think will ever go away.
In regard to a May-December Romance…
Whatever appears to color outside the lines of what someone believes (especially if they are unable to evolve, uncomfortable in their own skin, unhappy, and/or are not solid in their own affairs) will always fertilize a very unnecessary and unfair level of judgment.
- “A May December romance? Ha! She’s just with him for his money. Obviously.”
- “Look at how desperate they both are. Why would any man that good looking, who can get anyone he wants, be with an older woman like her? People will do anything for free rent I guess. Good luck with THAT!”
- “She’s with him?? He’s old enough to be her father. Whoa, she must have some serious daddy issues.”
- “What kind of life is that? They’d be lucky to have 15 good years together before he needs velcro shoes and diapers” (I actually heard someone say this at a wedding that I recently attended and I had to walk away. It made me sick to my stomach).
- “Really? A May-December romance? This isn’t romance. It’s clearly a transaction.”
- “I feel so bad for their kids.”
- “They shouldn’t have kids. It would be unfair to them.”
- “What a shame that he will never get to have kids. She’s too old now and hers are already grown.”
- “Oh you know he/she is cheating on him/her. I mean, how can they not?”
- “He/She is getting back at his/her parents/grown children/ex… If this doesn’t scream mid-life crisis/breakdown, I don’t know what does.”
Of course, these reactions are more prevalent where there is a more significant age gap.
I get asked a lot if an age gap really matters in relationships and whether or not a May-December romance can work.
Does age really matter?
As far as a May-December romance goes, I don’t think that age matters – to an extent. If you are many years apart, there will be obvious things that need to be addressed and discussed as far as your personal situation and relationship go. It’s ultimately up to you to discuss and make that call.
I personally, prefer older men. I’ve always had better luck and relationships with men who were 5-10 years older than me. This took me a while to figure out because when you are very young, even a one-year age difference can feel like five or more. I’ve dated guys my own age, others a few years older, and some, many years older. I’ve never really been into younger guys but I do know people in relationships where the woman is older and it’s incredible. To each their own. I just try to always remain as open as I can and not allow myself to close off in ways that birth bitterness, judgment, or would allow me to miss out on something potentially amazing. I try to not let my poor experiences with anyone of any age affect how I feel about it as a whole.
The real danger is when you allow your pain to sabotage your success by adopting a bitter and delusional belief system – Instead of giving that pain a purpose and allowing it to propel you out of the bs and into the peace of lessons learned.
When I was in my early 20s, I met a man who was significantly older than me. By significantly, I mean 22 years.
At the time, I had only dated a few guys my own age and one who was 2 years older. Never anything even close to this. Looking back, I think we both knew deep down that the relationship wouldn’t last but we met in the most beautiful sweet spot of both of our lives. I learned so much – about myself, what really matters, what doesn’t, what I like, what I don’t like, and how much more I was attracted to genuine, mutual, communicative intimacy than only having a physical connection, social status, and crumbs to rely on.
I loved that I could express myself without having to worry about him recoiling, misinterpreting what I said and running with it, or getting freaked out. It was nice dating someone who was agenda-less and had nothing to prove. He knew who he was, and knew who he wasn’t. This man was solid. He was honest, confident, communicative, ambitious, and had standards. That kind of power was such a turn on, it superseded the toll that time had taken on him physically. All of the superficial stuff that I had always held in such high regard didn’t matter as much anymore.
Men sexually peak much earlier in life than women do. And, if they are emotionally and empathetically available, and open to growing and evolving…
As they get older, they will rely more on intimacy than on relational “auditioning” and sexually “performing.” There’s no more stage and no more validation seeking tug-of-war. Just connection. And that’s a beautiful thing.
They also won’t be attracted to or try to bring that out in you either. For them, the real meaning is connection.
I was never the same after that relationship. It wasn’t like I was only attracted to older men after that though. I just stopped over-valuing the things that you really can’t grow old with because they change and fade over time. I haven’t been in a relationship with that big of an age gap since but I don’t regret one moment of it.
If you are in a May-December romance because…
- You are trying to invalidate a physically and/or emotionally absentee parent.
- You are an emotional orphan looking for a home that the age gap directly caters to.
- You are both codependent.
- You love the fact that you have all of the control/upper hand due to your age, finances, success (or lack thereof for pity mongering), ability to manipulate, etc.
- It is transactional and not rooted in love and respect.
It’s NOT a good idea to continue until these issues are addressed.
When it comes to a May December romance, you need to always be more concerned about a totally different age difference FIRST.
Remember this and it will save you so much time and heartbreak:
You could date someone who is the exact same age as you and have way more of an age gap than someone many years younger or older than you.
What should always matter most is that you are the same emotional and empathetic age.
Just because someone is older or younger, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the emotional intelligence of Peter Pan. Physical age matters much less to me, as do looks, because of this. I never judge an age gap relationship because I’ve not only dated many different ages, but many of my closest friendships have significant age gaps.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to not being years apart where it matters the most.
Growing up, one of my girlfriends always used to tell me how lucky I was that my Mom had me when she was young. Her mother had her when she was 41 and she was always worried that her Mom wouldn’t get to see her grow old like mine would.
Today, my Mother is still younger than hers but my Mom has cancer and may not live to be her Mother’s age. Her Mother’s health is great.
You never know in life.
As far as romantic relationships, I would so much rather have the most incredible 15 years with someone than a mediocre 50.
Age is just a number. But it’s a number that can really mind f*ck us if we allow our obsession with it to blind us from the most red flag, non-negotiable of all:
Being in an emotional and empathetic May-December romance.
+ If you need further and more personalized help, please look into working with me here.
Natasha, how do you know EXACTLY what I am going through? It is like you can read my mind. Thank you for writing this. I am dating a man who is 13 years older than me and I went into it for the very reasons you wrote. I (and everyone else) made such a big deal over the age difference but thank to you, I see that that is the least of my worries. The real age difference we have is the non-negotiable empathetic one. He is a lovely man but emotionally unavailable. This was exactly what I needed.
Thank you. I so needed this and now I know that I’ll be ok. Can’t wait for your book ?
So happy it helped! 🙂 Thanks for being a part of this tribe Justine. XOX
Great post Natasha! I am a 37 year old male and my girlfriend is 26. Everything I needed to know and every question and worry I had, you answered it. Now I know what I have to do. Now I know I’m not crazy. So much respect for what you do. Thanks.
Thanks Ted <3 You are never alone. Glad that the post served you.
You nail it every time Natasha. Can’t wait for Unf*ckwithable ? I hope you can visit Chicago on your book tour.
ME TOO – I love Chicago! 🙂 Thanks Jess!
I can’t even believe the timing of this blog. I have been seeing someone 17 years younger than I for the last 7 months and we literally were forced for reasons I won’t share to discuss what direction we’re going in this weekend. We almost broke it off completely. I told him I need to be monogamous and like most men, they instantly think serious relationship. From what he shared with me about not seeing a serious future is all because of the age gap and he doesn’t see how sustainable it would be. Also, I think it bothers him more than myself and is worried about how it would appear. I think he thinks a relationship should look a certain way even though he tells me and said again that he likes being with me 100%. I’m at a place in my life where I’m comfortable being on my own and have a young daughter and don’t really need to be serious and don’t want anyone intruding on our space and may not be ready for that for a long time. So, once I expressed that, we decided to continue doing what we’re doing. However, like you said, we are the same emotional, empathetic, intellectual, and communicative age. If we were not, this would not have lasted as long as it has. It has been one of the healthiest and respectful relationships I’ve had. (Even if not serious, still they’re all relationships). I have lost all my immediate family already so I completely agree with you that you never know in life and I would rather experience this however long it lasts, to never have at all. Anyway, this was a great read at perfect timing. I’m considering sharing it with him just because of the coincidence, but am afraid he might interpret it as see, we can make it work in the long term. Lol. Thank you, Natasha!
No way! We are definitely in sync 🙂 I’m so happy that the post served you and your situation (that you were kind enough to share. It helps so many people who are unsure about commenting feel less alone <3 ).
I am also so sorry that you've lost all of your immediate family. I am tearing up as I type this, but I get it. I really do. And you are never alone.
All my love to you April. Thank you endlessly for your connection, love, and support. Thank you for being YOU. xx
PS. You have family here in this tribe and always will.
Natasha, Great (AGE) article. That “age” I did debated what range!?! Looks like 15 below 5 after of my age range. But who knows? ????? Hope you will be able to write story for certain struggle hurtful, insecure, people trying to better oneself that have their disadvantages such as handicapped, little/huge weeny, bubble/flat breast/butt, weight issues, ugly/pretty face or skin or etc, low-high income range regardless on disability or working, and etc that some of us feel no worthy or “My man/woman day is over”, heartbroken/afraid to retrust due their disadvantages sabotage them to pursue positive pathway or or whatsoever word you fill in. Especially betrayed/cheated and left for another partner. (Monkey-swing to the next). Feeling they are better than oneself that he/she left EVEN you have many other attached articles but I couldn’t find relate to disadvantages as mentioned above. Maybe your next article (DISADVANTAGE) might inspire readers having such issues as mentioned above. Look forward to future next and next articles. Keep up the good works. Regards. Hugs. John.
Thanks John! I will try to write about some of these topics soon. Thank you for the support and love!
Everything you just wrote is so spot on. I’ve always been attracted to men a decent amount older than me and during my own May December romance I would ask myself those questions like “do I have daddy issues?”or “is there something wrong with me?”. I was constantly in my own head. However you are so spot on, the reason we connected was because we were the same age intellectually and emotionally- our biological age didn’t matter. He treated me better than guys my own age and in the end while it didn’t work out it further refined what I do and don’t want in a relationship. Thank you for talking about this subject and for everything you have taught me, you’re incredible. I love you and the blog so much. xoxo
I love you too Catherine. Happy it helped 🙂 xo
This was such a beautiful post. I say that because just as you witnessed yourself, people tend to basically speak badly of these relationships.
It’s really not fair and really very sad because people come together for different reasons. What they do to nurture and grow the relationship is their business.
You really made this a classy, tactful and beautiful lesson on a type of relationship that does not seem to earn much respect. It’s a different type of love story. People can bring out the best or the worst in each other no matter what age. It is the other things that count like the intimacy, the communication and honesty, and the other ingredients that keep the relationship thriving.
Thank you for this. It’s a very interesting to me and opened my eyes more to a different type of relationship.
I love you and I hope you are well. Miss you and cannot wait to read the book. Thank you again.
Take care my sister. ????
I agree with everything you said. Your response to this great post of Natasha’s made me feel much better about this chapter of my life that I am in. It’s a chapter that has caused a lot of confusion, regret and shame. Fear too. I have wasted so much time and life has passed me by. I know that PMS seems to be directed toward women, but it has been a lifesaver for me.
You are a beautiful person Linda. This is the first time I have ever commented (but have followed for years). Your comments gave me the courage to do it.
I agree with you David 🙂 Linda is a gem.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am glad I can help. I am very touched.
I feel like relationships are always a work I progress. I am always a work in progress. I hope I meet someone someday who has a lot of the qualified and values I have learned here but if not, I will be ok too.
Thanks again for your nice comment. ?
I am so happy that you took from this post everything I wanted to provide <3 Thank you for further elaborating and for taking the time to share. It helps me and so many others more than you will ever know.
You are so missed, believed in, supported, and loved. Endlessly.
I find all your articles thought provoking, honest and touching. I wanted to just say in general how great your blog is because I’ve been feeling shame at letting people treat me badly for the last few years/I can relate to the concept of reverse narcissist I think i’m getting out of being that and feel they are wasted the best thing about the blog for me is it makes feel I wasn’t wrong for it and it helps me accept it and that things can only get better from here!
Thank you xxxxx
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Rosie ?? Your awareness, peace, happiness, indifference to bs, success, and self love are the greatest gifts you could ever give me. It’s what I live for. Thank you for being a part of this tribe. All my love to you sister. Xo
This hit home. I got out of a pretty significant relationship with a guy 4 years younger than me. I had a somewhat unbiased approach when I met him that age is just a number but doesn’t necessarily define someone. I have always been very young spirited myself so I gave it a chance. Since that relationship ended I think I started to turn bitter towards younger men..assuming they would all hurt me and waste my time. I now realize from this post that his physical age had little to do with it, he was emotionally immature. I see now that even with age that is something that people can lack. I still think I’ll be interested now in someone my age or older but this post re-softened my heart a bit to men of all ages….I will be more alert of what counts from here on out and regardless of age that will be what is on the inside.
Thank you for taking the time to share and for being a part of this tribe ? I know exactly what you mean and have been in a very similar situation where I felt cynical and hardened toward a certain age group when really, it had to do with emotional immaturity. I’m so happy and honored to help. You are never alone. All my love to you ?