Add Another Candle and Is Age a Turn-Off?

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Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeeeee……Happy Birthday to me!

I don’t really feel any older than I did yesterday, or ten years ago for that matter. I bet my body would disagree, though.

And I am proud of every candle on my cake. Each one brings one more year of wisdom and one more year of blessings!

I will be partaking of chocolate cake today because when it’s your birthday, chocolate cake is the only way to go!

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Today’s post is about age. How appropriate. ๐Ÿ™‚

Let’s pretend we’re reading a romance novel and we find out that our hero is ten years older than our heroine. As a reader, how does that sit with you?

My guess is that the majority of female readers would be a-okay with this age gap, crediting our hero and his ten years with maturity and wisdom earned by living. It might even make him more appealing to our heroine and our reader. Same thing goes for real life, I’d wager.

My husband is four years older than I. I like to remind him that I was in the 8th grade when he finished high school. Perhaps the age gap would have mattered in those years (my parents would never have let me date a boy 4 years older when I was in high school), but now, the age gap doesn’t matter at all.

But what about when the age gap goes the other way? What about when she is older than he?

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Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about dating and she let me in on her little prejudice against younger men. She’s single, thirty, and feels like dating younger basically equates to dating someone less worthy.

Hmm…. But what if he’s the one? What if God has designed him just for you but because he’s two or three or four years younger, you won’t give him the time of day?

How young is too young when it comes to relationships when the woman is older?

Now, let’s set some parameters here. I’m not talking May-December romances, gold-diggers, or “cougars”, which clearly deserve a post all to themselves with serious psychiatric evaluation.

I’m strictly talking about women and the possibility of dating/marrying someone younger than themselves within a reasonable age gap.

The question is then– what is a reasonable age gap if the woman is older than the man?

I personally know a couple of gals who have married men who are three years younger than themselves. Acceptable? What about four years? Unacceptable?

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Put it in this context– if you were reading a romance novel and the heroine was older than the hero, how many years is acceptable between them? How many years between them suddenly becomes “weird” or unacceptable and would cause you to toss the book aside?

Share with me: Would you date a younger man? How many years between a story heroine, if she’s older, and a hero is acceptable to you? Why do you think there’s more of a “stigma” for women who date/marry younger men than there is for a similar age gap if the man is older?

Enjoy my birthday, readers! Have a piece of cake (chocolate) in my honor. ๐Ÿ™‚

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17 Comments

Filed under Romance

17 responses to “Add Another Candle and Is Age a Turn-Off?

  1. First of all….Happy Birthday! Hope your day is awesome! I think age is relative. I usually get lost in the characters of a story. If the character development is as it should be then I’m pretty sure I don’t even notice their ages. I’m much more interested in their story than I am a number. I’m a bit biased though cause I married a guy who’s three years younger than me!

  2. Happy Birthday, dear Jennifer!
    It’s my birthday today too, let’s celebrate!
    All the best.
    Take care, enjoy life.
    ๐Ÿ™‚
    Greetings from the Far North
    Dina

  3. bethkvogt

    Happy, Happy Birthday, my friend!
    And what an intriguing blog post! Love it!
    My daughter, Amy, got married this past summer. Her husband, David, is 2 1/2 (almost 3) years younger than she is. And that was a little hiccup for me at first because, well … they are both young. David was 20 when they met. And he just turned 21 when they got married. But here’s the thing: Life experiences had made him mature for his age. And even more important: They love each other. They prayed through this relationship — together and with us. They sought wise counsel.

    • I think seeking wise counsel is definitely key, here. And life experiences definitely shape a person. But just out of curiosity, do you think it would have made such a difference (the age gap, I mean) if your daughter was 34 and he 31? I’m so curious about this topic! Thanks for sharing, Beth!

  4. Happy birthday, Jennifer!

    From a male perspective – I usually don’t think about the ages of fictional characters unless it’s emphasized for plot and character development purposes.

    In “real life”, there’s still definitely some degree of stigma attached to a relationship in which the woman’s older. I think it comes from two sources –

    1) Fertility, the obvious one, and its time limit

    2) The Biblical concept of male “family headship”; age traditionally equates to wisdom, and the woman being older can be seen as causing a potential struggle for leadership.

    The difference is probably too great when age-related change-of-life issues (NOT limited to women, and not limited to sexuality) affect one partner significantly before the other. The problem with using this as a yardstick is that it’s so individual, and almost impossible to predict, because attitude in dealing with change-of-life is really the deciding factor. It”s kind of like, you see a problem in a relationship, and “Yup, I KNEW he/she was too old!”

    (And “real life”? Richard Bach once said that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats. I’d agree with that.)

    • I think you are definitely right about the “headship” as an issue reflected by age. People assume that because one is older, one is in charge, and I think that’s both within a Christian worldview and outside of it. But then I wonder– why do people assume that if the woman is older, she can’t be a Biblical submissive wife? Hmmm… so interesting.

  5. karenk

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer.
    Celebrate YOU!

  6. Happy Birthday!!!
    I met a couple who were somewhat, umm, challenging to get along with One thing that stood out IMMEDIATELY was that the Mrs was at least eleven years older than the Mr. I’d say maybe it was more. She was THE BOSS. And I don’t mean she liked Springsteen.

    As for a few years here and there? Doesn’t bother me at all. As for heroines, mine is 10 years younger than her hero. But they meet when she is 40 and he is 50.

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes!
      See, I think 11 years is a significant age gap. That’s a generation, which I think marks a wide difference between the two. But if it were only two or three years, would it make such a difference in their relationship?

  7. Oooh….you’ve got to read Lisa Lickel’s Meander Scar. It has a heroine 11 years older than the hero. I did a review about it here.

    I think once people are in their late twenties, this becomes significantly less of an issue…as you have more of an idea who you are and where you are heading. But if you have even a 4 year age-gap from 22 to 18, for example….there’s a TON of life experience missing that would impact that relationship. (Not to say it can’t happen…just harder to sustain.)

    Great topic to get people to thinking. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRIEND!!

    • Putting it on my TBR list. i think you are so right– as people age, the age gap itself can become less significant because of life experience. I think that as long as it’s less than a generation, the relationship can be as normal as any other. And thank you for the birthday wishes!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Pam K.

    Most of my siblings and I have (or had) spouses younger than we are: two of my brothers married women 2 or 3 years older, my sister’s husband is two years younger than she, and my husband was about four years younger than I. My siblings have all been married 20+ years; I don’t think age has been an issue for them. My marriage was unfortunately not successful (lasted 17 years) but I’m not sure if the age difference played a very big role, though there were times I felt like I had to be the “mother” and didn’t like that. I think ultimately it depends on the people and their love for each other, rather than any age difference.
    Happy Birthday, Jennifer. This was an interesting post.

    • Pam, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experience! I think it’s really interesting that you and your siblings all qualified in the woman-older-than-man age gap. I think I’m going to have to do another post on this topic soon…

  9. Lori

    I happen to be the older woman in my marriage. My husband NEVER lets me forget that little fact. I am all of 4 months and 6 days older than he is, but when I was dating, I dated people with similar interests and values and did not concentrate much on age. I was in high school and was dating a man that was 4 or 5 years older than me. Clearly this relationship did not work out (I am still singing praises that I got out of that relationship) but I think that there are many obstacles to a relationship age has not really been a huge factor to me. I have never been romantically interested in people that were many many years older or younger than myself.

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