And check out my joint blog with the love of my life and writing partner Dmytry Karpov: Kimberly ♥ Dmytry

Then his blog: Dmytry Karpov

Friday, November 5, 2010

Love, Sex and the Question of Age PART 2

Society Values What???

There’s a lot of criticism out there for those who follow their heart rather than societal views of how and who you should love. If you don’t “match” your partner closely in race, status, intelligence or beauty, you invite critique.

Nowhere is this truer than with the issue of age (though from what I’ve heard, race could be a close second.) It seems odd to me that in certain situations we feel it’s permissible, even morally imperative, to shove our two cents down the throats of those who engage in relationships or behaviors we don’t understand.  We are mighty selective about what we choose to chime in on as well. We will ignore domestic abuse, child abuse, elderly abuse, the homeless, the poor, the injured…but put a 19 year old man in the arms of a 40 year old woman and all hell breaks loose.

Am I the only one struck by the insanity of this? And those who cite the desire to protect the sanctity of love and marriage should really take a good hard look at the statistics. Is it really the mismatched couples of the world leading high divorce rates? No. It’s not. Nor is it the homosexuals. Or the mixed-race couples. Come on people. Get some sense on this please.

People of like age, mind and social status marry and divorce all the time. They grow apart, cheat, lose interest, learn to hate each other etc. They fail to find common bonds, mismanage child rearing or money management, argue over movies and hate each other’s friends and parents. These joys of couplehood are not the exclusive domain of one group. It’s life. I had many of these experiences with every man of “appropriate age” I dated.

So let’s take a look at some of the most common arguments people use to naysay the Older Woman/Younger Man romance. (To be clear here, I’m not referring to specific ages or even decades. Older can mean early 30s if her partner is in their 20s. Whatever age gap between the man and woman that results in any kind of social stigma.)

As promised, my boyfriend Dmytry has compiled some rebuttals to counter all of this prejudicial nonsense.


16 year age gap
*A younger man can never hope to match the maturity level of an older woman.

Not true. Everyone develops differently and this issue can occur in close-age relationships as well. Compatibility and the ability to maintain a relationship depend on how well a couple's outlooks coincide and what they require from each other.

Does a mature woman require more than a younger one? Maybe. But many seek such things as a stable family, income, and place to live, including younger woman. The younger man--any man--if to satisfy these needs, must be able to understand them and to cope with the duties of attaining and maintaining them. This requires a specific kind of maturity and responsibility and is something that men can learn at any age. Some may attain it young, others never. Age is not the meter by which this kind of maturity is measured. Instead one must look at education, raising, and innate personality when determining a man's ability to act responsibly and handle pressure.

Also, varying maturity levels are not an issue in themselves. An older woman may use her maturity in beneficial ways, possibly compensating for any lack that the younger man might posses, solving a variety of relationship problems. But of course, a relationship should not be one sided, so the man must be able to meet the woman's needs, often generated by her own maturity, in order to keep their life together balanced.

I'll admit, Kimberly has been through a lot more than me. She's been through a lot more than anyone I know. But this hasn't made me feel inadequate or incapable. I treasure her experiences and learn from them whenever possible. Honestly, I learn from everyone I know. 

*A younger man can’t hope to handle family responsibilities such as children and home life that the older woman may require.

Yes, raising children: something a young man is often said to be incapable of doing. However, children require different forms of attention and care, and some of these can be easily addressed by a younger man. First, a younger man can provide for the kids as any man capable of working. He can also watch them and keep them safe. Secondly, a young man can imbue children with the morals and knowledge they need. His only lack may arise in, once again, dealing with the responsibility and stress of raising children. Some men will be able to cope at a young age, others may not, and others may struggle. However, the more mature woman can always use her experience to help her partner handle problems.

Raising children, no matter what your age, is always a learning process. Both an older woman and a younger man, if first time parents, start off with the same level of experience in parenting. And people as young as 18 are known to marry and reproduce together quite frequently, bringing children into a family in which neither of them are experienced.

It would seem that if at least one partner is older, that would be an advantage. Also, the younger man brings a playfulness, energy and enthusiasm that children need and older men often lack.

Now, raising kids does feel daunting, but it would feel that way no matter what age I was. Nothing in my life can prepare me for that kind of responsibility nor give me the skills to do it perfectly. But I'm willing to try. I want to try.  Besides, Kimberly knows so much more about kids than me and I will have her support. So, I can't fail. Right? Right, because failure's not an option.

*A younger man isn’t emotionally ready for a mature relationship and will likely be unfaithful with so many wild oats left unsown.

If you believe that, I'm surprised you trust any man, or humanity for that matter. Yes, it's true that once a younger man enters a relationship with an older woman he is, if faithful, deprived of any chance for other sexual and emotional relationships. But so is any other faithful man. Does age have anything to do with keeping it in your pants? Is there some kind of natural progression where a man sleeps with less and less women over time? No. Look at men like Hugh Hefner. Settling down has little to do with age.

But of course, some may argue that limiting a young man in this way is unjust, robbing him of experiences he is morally obligated to obtain. However, the entire purpose of relationships is to fulfill physical, emotional, and even spiritual needs. If an older woman can fulfill these for her younger man, than that is not depriving him of anything except disappointing and heartbreaking experiences. It’s true that these may be valuable experiences for some, but they only provide knowledge on how to best engage in effective relationships, which is not necessary if already engaged in one.

And I am engaged in one. And I don't have some sort of natural urge to be unfaithful. Instead, I have a natural urge to be with Kimberly.

*If the age gap is more than 7-10 years, the generational gap is too extreme. There will not be a basis for common ground and they will soon tire of each other.

I'm not tired. Anyway, though an older woman may have a wider range of experiences to draw from then her younger boyfriend in order to socialize and find commonality, there are still many topics of discussion that both can share. These are often found in things that have stood the test of time, such as classics and traditions. Also, there is always the present--a limitless topic--and the experiences that vary between the couple can provide fresh outlooks on life, allowing both to learn from each other.

Furthermore, not everyone is tied to their specific generational icons. Kimberly, for example, is sadly lacking in proper pop-culture knowledge of the last several generations. We are working on rectifying this. She is, however, brilliantly informed in literature, art, music and culture. This level of genius spans any gaps between us. The rest I can introduce her to.

What SHE Says

I hope you can see from just this brief glance how awesome this man is. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I did not have a normal kid experience, and did not grow up knowing the same kinds of things other people did. I’ve never had common ground with men I dated, who were my age or older. It had nothing to do with age, and everything to do with finding a partner who understands how my crazy brain and heart work. And loves me for all the insanity.

Dmytry and I found that common bond on every level except that silly little number. Now, I’m not trying to negate the value of life lived, or the wisdom accumulated in years. There is something specifically important about passing those markers in life and taking the precious gifts they offer into the next phase. And there have been times where I threw a reference out there that left him with a blank expression. Oh No! What to do? Well, thank god for google.

So really, the only problem in all of this that is not a normal part of any relationship is how others view us.  Except, being writers, we’re kind of morally obligated to defy societal norms anyways, so what the hell! We will live life on our terms, and enjoy success, connection, love, happiness and great sex. Those who don’t like it can crawl back to their own unhappiness. And those who can embrace that which is different, well, we’ll be throwing some kick-ass Halloween parties in the future. You’re all invited. Then, we can all be ANYTHING we want, and no one gives a damn!

See you at the party! Love,

Kimberly and Dmytry