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Older Women Partnering With Younger Men

Why do some people have a problem with that?

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image of older woman on a date with younger man
Philip Lindeman
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When I got separated from my husband, I went on a few dates with men who were significantly younger than I. I felt a desire to conceal their age from my family, reasoning that it was no one’s business but acknowledging that I did not want to be judged.

Why does it remain somewhat controversial for a woman to couple with a younger partner? Men do it with impunity. Yet some women my age (I am 59) who are dating younger men declined to be interviewed because they did not want to feel judged and believe that many people still have the archaic stereotype that the male partner should be older and wiser.

According to Dr. Nicole Cutts, a psychologist, “Much of the stigma against older women dating younger men is rooted in gender role expectations and ideas of beauty that were based on biology, i.e., younger women more able to reproduce were seen as more attractive. Due to advances in medicine, science and society, this is changing. Women no longer need rely on men for financial security, and many of these women are choosing men for their physical attractiveness and vitality.”

Nevertheless, women who date younger men often must tolerate raised eyebrows from family members and pushback from their grown children. Friends usually cheer their besties on, sometimes with a tinge of envy. I have a close friend dating a much younger man, and I observe how he gets her out playing sports and attending concerts, which she had not done for years. They are having a blast.      

In the United States, the average life expectancy for women is 81 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although women in their 80s and 90s are among the fastest-growing segments of the aging population. 

So it may make sense for widows and divorcees to shift the partnership paradigm and continue to normalize partnering romantically with younger men — as women statistically live several years longer than their male counterparts. “In the first year following my divorce, I was pleasantly surprised to find that younger men found me attractive,” says Jodi Kraemer, 57, a Los Angeles resident. “I had a lot of fun and abundant sex that absolutely healed my vulnerable ego and soul.”

Kraemer was 54 when she divorced. She dated men who were 35, 36 and 40 years old. “These men turned out to be some of the smartest I've ever met,” Kraemer maintains. “First of all, they were truly feminists, which I almost never find in my age group … the younger generations are more open.”

In her dating experiences, Kraemer found the top reasons younger men enjoy women in our demographic is that we are more confident in all areas — including in bed — and more comfortable with our bodies and with sharing the bill.

We know what we want and do not want. And confidence is a very attractive trait.

“Many women find that as they get older, they care less and less what others think of them and truly learn to love and accept themselves,” Cutts says. “When you do this you are far more likely to make decisions that are right for you.”      

Libby Zurkow, 97, a Realtor and lifelong learning instructor in Wilmington, Delaware, is a prime example of breaking barriers — she is coupled with an 85-year-old man. 

She met him through mutual friends a decade after the death of her husband of 58 years.

“I continue to be a very sexy lady, even at this age,” Zurkow proclaims. She related a story to me about greeting her new beau at the door in her sexiest lingerie the day after he surprised her by proposing some intimate activity with her on one of their first dates.      

Some of Zurkow’s racy sex life stories she shared echo those of my own grandmother. My beloved Nana almost caused me to crash my car when she announced that she married her second husband in her 70s “for sex and sex only!” I was then in my 20s and shocked to learn that senior citizens still had sex. Little did I know.

In fact, according to the CDC, sexually transmitted diseases have more than doubled in the past 10 years among adults 65 and older in the United States.

Zurkow says her romance with a younger man was “the talk of [her] building.” Her widowed clients seem to be uncomfortable with her romantic situation, she says, but at least one of them is trying to move in on her territory by relentlessly flirting with her man.      

She admits she is at times “psychologically bothered” by her boyfriend being younger only because she wonders if she will measure up to his two prior wives, whom Paul outlived. Zurkow claims her partner has never been bothered by the age difference.      

Perhaps celebrities will help to ease the stigma. The French president's wife, Brigitte Macron, is almost 25 years older than her husband. They met when he was 15, and she was his high school teacher.

In his book, Revolution, Emmanuel Macron described their affair as "a love often clandestine, often hidden, misunderstood by many before imposing itself."

Cher, 76, is dating a man 40 years her junior. Former supermodel Heidi Klum, 49, is married to a musician who is 16 years her junior. Mariah Carey, 53, is partnered with a 39-year-old choreographer. Married country music icons Connie Smith, 81, and Marty Stewart are 17 years apart.

Maybe these high-profile women will help shatter the stigma and normalize the benefits of widening our options when seeking romantic partnerships. After all, at every age, we deserve what our hearts desire.

What do you think about older women partnering with younger men? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Relationships
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