‘I’m 10 Years Older Than My Boyfriend And People Find That Selfish’
When it comes to age gap relationships, no-one bats an eye if the man is older. But switch that man out for a woman, and everyone has an opinion.
Nothing piques a reader’s interest quicker than a celebrity cougar. From Demi and Ashton to Madonna and Guy (or Carlos, or Brahim), people just can’t get enough when it comes to the older woman. “Oh that’s so sad,” they say. “She’s so desperate,” wail others. She’s clinging to her youth, it’s inappropriate, that poor guy will never have a family… we’ve heard it all before.
Yet what you never hear is the opposite. Has George Clooney ever been described as desperate? Is Jason Statham clinging to his youth? Has Ryan Reynolds’ date of birth stopped Blake Lively from having the family she always wanted?
No, of course not, because it’s ridiculous.
As a 37-year-old woman dating a 26-year-old man, I can confirm the fascination extends beyond the celebrity realm.
When I first told people I’d found the one, I was met with a metric sh*t tonne of resistance. Some asked me to seriously think about what I was throwing away, while others told me to play it safe, just in case he was using me (for my yachts and diamonds, no doubt). Our love has been branded ‘temporary’, a ‘phase’ and a ‘mistake’ – and even the positive comments came in a thinly-veiled ‘cougar’ package. Yes, good on me, at my decrepit old age I can still get it.
I used to think the issue was the younger man, but after almost four years together, I can confirm that the problem people have with our relationship – is me.
No-one is asking my partner when we’re going to get married. No-one is mentioning the fact that me being older means I’ll be a burden to him in old age. No-one is telling him that staying with me ruins his chance for children.
On the flip side, I am almost constantly asked about when we’ll be moving forward. When does my old divorced ass expect another wedding? Do I feel the pressure to get botox to stay in line with his youthful visage? Why haven’t we started a family before I run out of time?
The uncomfortable subtext behind all this?
How can I, a woman past her prime, take a smart, kind, and quite frankly wonderful man, from the hands of a woman more deserving?
The constant scrutiny of our relationship does nothing but reinforce that society, first and foremost, views women as baby makers. Tipping over to the “wrong” side of 35 has seen me asked, ad nauseum, why I don’t have children. Not by a stereotypical pushy mother-in-law or an overstepping uncle, but by near-strangers who think they know what’s best.
By medical professionals who “just want me to be clear” on the choices I’m making.
By old, married friends I haven’t seen in years, wondering why I’ve been “wasting” my time.
By new acquaintances making small talk.
Having spent many years as a single gal, I’m well-versed in brushing off the baby talk… but once people hear I’m in a happy relationship, the focus switches over to my poor, naive, hoodwinked boyfriend.
“Is he aware of female fertility decline?”
“I’m sure you’ll talk about it if things ever start to get serious.”
“Wow, that’s pretty selfish, have you asked him what he wants?”
Believe it or not, I have asked him what he wants. Things are serious. And yes, he is completely aware I have a working reproductive system.
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Right now, today, as I sit here, my boyfriend and I have no intention of starting a family of our own.
Family, despite what the fools in the peanut gallery would have you believe, comes in many forms. Yes, a couple can be a complete family. Biology aside, adoption, fostering, mentoring and the children of your extended family, are all valid ways of bringing a child into your life. And may we never dismiss the love that comes from wonderfully fulfilling adult friendships.
To place such emphasis on childbearing can be incredibly damaging for those who long for, but are unable to have, a family of their own. It strips us of how amazingly special we all are in our own right. Women, just like men, are independent humans with their own brains, hopes, dreams, and expectations.
So let me be clear when I say no-one on this earth is more aware of my age than me. I’ve lived, breathed, walked, danced and loved in this body for over 37 years. My boyfriend? He’s also aware of my age. And I’m sorry to make you uncomfortable, but he couldn’t care less.