Have you ever been judged for dating older men? When I was little I heard some family members joke about our neighbor being a sugar daddy. At the time I thought they were talking about the candy and was more than excited. I’d pictured a man made of yummy caramel, but I soon learned that was not what they’d meant. It took a teenager to explain to me that a younger woman and older man meant he was her sugar daddy and that the woman was likely using him for his money.
Even as a child I realized how critical some people could be of these vast age gaps.
As I grew, this wasn’t something I cared much about. Several of my friends dated older men and they were in great relationships. No one was taken advantage of, whether it was my young friend or the older gentleman that (rarely) had money. They were simply dating and age didn’t factor in.
When I began attending writing conferences and fandom conventions I saw how common older men and younger women were. I’ve never seen so many large age gaps as I do in my current line of work. This applies to the kink community as well. Often times the man is in his fifties and the woman, in her early twenties. While a few I know have issues with this, most are accepting.
While my husband is only two years my senior, all of my poly partners have been no less than ten years older. The healthiest of all my relationships has a fourteen-year age difference. Despite the many critical comments I’d heard growing up, not once has my partner tried to take advantage of me or manipulate me, nor have I taken advantage of him or tried to manipulate him. My relationship has instead offered me a great deal of growth. The awful notions that were so ingrained into my head as a child are something I have yet to see. I’ve only seen healthy relationships with these age gaps.
This is not to say that in some circumstances there won’t be abuse. While all relationships have that potential, when an older partner—with more experience and/or financial means—begins abusing a younger partner, the dangers can be more severe. This rule applies no matter which gender is the older party. Personally, I feel any relationship where one person is taking advantage of another is unacceptable.
In a time when feminism and equality are spoken about regularly, our right to choose the partner that makes us happy is an integral part of that. Maybe that means our partner(s) are the same gender, or transgender, or maybe twenty years our senior. No matter what type of relationship we seek, we all have the right to do what’s best for us and not be judged or labeled for it.
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