Older men/younger women and the "ick factor"

In this thread – “Movie Romances You Found Extremely Disturbing (though they weren’t supposed to be)” – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=364623 – the most frequently cited kind of “disturbing” story is any where the man is significantly older than the woman. Implying that most of the posters would be equally disturbed by such a thing IRL. What’s wrong with a May/December romance anyway? (I definitely have an axe to grind here, I’m 42 with a preference for chasing women in their 20s – not that I ever actually catch them, but that’s another story.) How is a woman who chooses such a thing harmed by it? Is it presumed to be ipso facto exploitative because he can use his maturity to dominate or manipulate her? Or is everyone thinking of the poor First Wife he presumably threw over for a newer model? (Not every straight older man has or has ever had a First Wife, you know.) Or is it just a matter of esthetic disgust at imagining an old and a young person in bed together? Or what?

Could be also thoughts of “he must be a father-figure to her, so that means …” and all the incest-taboo thoughts start erupting.

Dunno. I’ve yet to feel “ick” at seeing such relationships.

I’m a 21-year-old female, and I definitely find it icky when a guy significantly older than me tries to hit on me. By “significantly older” I mean I probably wouldn’t consider dating anyone more than about eight or nine years my senior, and forty and fifty-year-olds are way outside that age range. What the hell would we have to talk about? The Vietnam War?

If you want to chase 20-somethings, that’s your decision.

Well, personally I think that a woman should be older than a man (up to about five years) since women live longer (unless one gets the impression that they are particularly looking forward to their late-life widowhood.)

But that disclaimer aside, I really don’t feel any ick towards two people who honestly seem to get along together despite whatever their age difference. For instance, I had no issue with the age difference between Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good as it Gets since it seemed like a real relationship. (Of course it still didn’t seem like a wise relationship given his age and disorder, just an honest one.)

Where age differences does bother me is when it seems like people are basing their relationship on that age, and very little else about the other person. If he only likes her because she is pert, and she only likes him because she has some sort of complex (needing to feel like she is being dolled?)–then that seems a bit squicky. Just the same as I would feel a bit uncomfortable about a woman who only dated men who were crippled, a man who only dated women with children, or other things where you look at it and think, “This is a relationship that has a timeclock.”

You know, at 48, I don’t go around hitting on young women. What I do get is young women flirting with me. It may be because they feel safe flirting with a guy old enough to be their father, but it is flattering in a way.

There’s an aesthetic consideration. I’m a 27-year-old woman, and, frankly, I don’t find most men in their 40s and 50s attractive. But more than that, I would assume that any man in his 40s or 50s who was interested in me is doing so because for whatever reason he doesn’t want to deal with women who have the same amount of life experience as he does. I might find an 18-year-old guy attractive, but I don’t want to date him.

IMO, older guys like younger women for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with that. Physical-esthetic reasons, mainly. Also, if you buy the “sociobiology” theory, men of all ages are hard-wired to see women in their prime breeding years as the most attractive, even if they are not consciously thinking about having children with them.

In my case, believe me, if by some miracle out of a bad comedy film I could find a 25-year-old woman with the mind of a 50-year-old, I’d want her. Urgently.

There’s an old adage – Chinese, I think – that the ideal age for a bride is “half the man’s age, plus seven years.” Not sure what the thinking is behind that.

As it happens, I’m 44. Why would we talk about the Vietnam war? I was 12 when the last troops were withdrawn. I think you’re right. We obviously wouldn’t have much to talk about. This is mainly why I don’t chase 20-somethings. Too many of them seem to think anything that happened more than a day or two ago is ancient history. Trying to talk with one is too much like trying to talk with the high school kids I teach.

But, there are innumerable things two people can talk about which have nothing to do with the times through which they have lived. Especially well-educated people, which many young people are.

I recall a scene from Powertown, Michael Lind’s 1996 novel about life in Washington, D.C. One of the characters, a rising political aide in his '20s, is in bed with his girlfriend of the same age, musing about his plans in life – including, at what age he will be successful enough to divorce the girl next to him and bag a younger trophy wife. And he hasn’t even popped the question to her yet.

I don’t know if any guy is that cynical IRL, but it does shed some light on how guys of any age think.

I started a thread not too long ago about a 60 YO man hitting on me. That was twice my age, and as such, too much. But I’d date a man 10-15 years older than me. What’s wrong with that? I am with a man almost my age, but if he weren’t around, I’d probably be dating someone in his late 30’s (I’m 30) myself.

And I don’t think it’s always a trophy wife. Sometimes you’re with a much younger person because they make you feel younger. Besides being compatible in other ways, of course.

You can spend only so much time discussing the works of Proust. Also, that whole “you’re just icky old men for hitting on me” attitude just irks me. Even if I am, in fact, old. I am educated have experienced much that was both good and bad. I guarangoddamntee that I have been places and done things that any Miss 20-something would find interesting, if not outright fascinating. But no, she’ll never find out because I’m an icky old man. You know what? A set of tits that are perky (for now) isn’t enough incentive to make me want to deal with that attitude. So I don’t chase 20-somethings.

I think part of it comes from the question of “what if we had met earlier.” Whenever I’ve been in a dating relationship, I’ve wondered about where we’ve each been during our lives and how many times did we nearly meet. I often picture a map in my head with the “paths” we’ve both taken and how those lines eventually came together. The “ick” factor comes in when you think about when the girl was about 12 years old or younger and how old the guy was at that time. Even if there’s a 20 year age difference and he’s 80 and she’s 60, I would still think about that at some point (that she was an infant when he was 20 and, by comparison, my future spouse would be an 11 year old today). It’s the thought that “one day she’ll marry her babysitter.” I bet that thought just sent a little chill down your spine.

Bingo. Now, it so happens that my boyfriend is twelve years older than me, and we have lots in common and a completely equal relationship. However, when I was in my twenties, I met lots of guys in their forties who were clearly specifically looking for someone they felt was **not ** their equal. People are attracted to each other for all sorts of reasons, and there are no hard and fast rules. But I’m suspicious of any guy in his forties who is **only ** interested in women in their twenties. To me, it reeks of insecurity and power issues.

BrainGlutton, are *you * aesthetically pleasing enough to be worthy of these young beauties? Keeping up that hard body at your advanced age?

In the context of movies, what I find icky is the whole concept that “a 60yr old man can be sexy but a woman must be under 30 to be sexy”. Often when you see those couples in movies it’s a case where both are supposed to be very sexy, but he is 60 (playing 50sh) and she is 20sh (playing 30), and she is the only supposedly-attractive woman in the whole movie (sometimes the only one).

The whole age-miscast gives me a bad case of the rolleyes. Yes, you can look 10-12 years younger than your actual age (myself). But there are too many “teen films” and “teen series” where one or more of the lead characters have horizontal lines in their foreheads :stuck_out_tongue:

IRL age-difference couples only make me wonder when we’re talking about a 40yr or more difference. But heck, they’re adults: so long as they’re happy together, why they got together is none of my business. It “makes me wonder”, but doesn’t “bother me”.

I kinda addressed this topic here. Oddly, most people seemed to think it was OK for me to hit on younger women.

How else am I supposed to attract educated, experienced, mature men? With my mind? As if. Like, I am so sure! Whatever.

Dung Beetle, fan of older men

My body is by no means hard, but I look young enough that I still get carded sometimes, true story. I’ve always looked younger than my age. If I dyed the incipient gray out of my hair (which I’m just a little too honest/uptight to do), I could probably convince anyone I’m 30.

So, you like Indian food? :slight_smile:

Well, mine is. Thus, it is that much more insulting that I am icky while some pudgewad 20-something who looks like he combs his hair with a pencil and doesn’t own a single logo-free item of clothing is hawt.