In Praise Of Older Men


While human and cinematic history is filled with May-December romances, in contemporary society they are relatively rare. In movies, there is rarely any mention of a large age gap between romantic leads, but I can say from experience that it can, in fact, be a significant issue on many levels. In a relationship involving an older man and a much younger woman, there is often an assumed implication: that she is bartering her youth and fertility for his wealth and security. That may be the case in some unions involving a difference in age of several decades, but in my case, it was love at first sight from the start.


Since I was a child, I’ve always sought out older people of both genders to befriend and advise me. My first real crush – aside from my passion for Underdog when I was 5 – was on my sixth grade social studies/PE teacher, who was 47 at the time. We shared a phenomenal intellectual connection and an effortless affinity. He inspired me to achieve my personal best in my studies and in my athletic pursuits, and we developed a mutually appreciative, very close yet utterly innocent extra-curricular relationship that would be impossible to maintain in today’s Law & Order: SVU-influenced society.


At age 14, I met a 29-year-old Christopher Atkins lookalike at a family wedding, and I came thisclose to dating him in secret. When I was 17, my I was smitten by a hunky, hip, obscure rock musician my parents’ age, who lived in our apartment building. He confessed to me once that if not for my mother’s watchful eye, he would have invited me up to his apartment eagerly.


At a spiritual retreat near Woodstock, I met my first lover, a tantric adept, when I was 19 and he was 40. (We are still close friends, 24 years later.) Between the ages of 19 and 26, I had lovers ranging in age from 18  to 60.  I met my boyfriend and companion for the last 17 years when I was 26 and he was 57. Like other much older men I’ve been attracted to, one of the things which intrigued me most about him was that he was uncomfortable with our large age difference. It’s proven much easier for me to bridge the gap in life experiences with someone who is not seeking a token or trophy to reminisce his own lost youth.


My present relationship calls to mind the enduring marriage of (early 20th century film icon) Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill, pictured above. They met when she was 17 and he was 54, and their union lasted until his death, more than three decades later. Chaplin caught a lot of flak for the woman he chose to be his wife. But if he had ever listened to any of the prurient gossip and made a different choice based on it, he would have missed out on sharing the truest love of his life.


When love finds you, age, sexual orientation, racial/ethnic, or religious backgrounds really don’t matter. As the world becomes more diverse, there is more acceptance of individual choices which seem to be outside the norms of society. In being true to yourself, you are never alone.


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