Wedding cake

The Age-Gap Rap

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out what people think when they see Janet and I together in public. Now first of all I have to say, that most people have been very nice and respectful to us. We haven’t had some of the big troubles that many Fil-Am couples living in the U.S. with large age gaps report.

OK, there was the one incident we had at a resort. Eating dinner, a 30ish woman sitting with her husband kept turning around to look at us. Apparently she thought if she looked our way often enough I would get younger or Janet would get older. Janet and I were giggling about it. Finally the woman turned around one more time, Janet gave her a little wave and mouthed “hi.” That ended that with me cracking up!

Then there was the grizzled 80+ guy who looked at us, snarling in disgust, though it’s possible that the look he gave us had more to do with his recollection of who he had to go home to than anything Janet and I were doing. It’s also possible that he no longer could remember what Janet and I were doing – and how often.

But other than that, it’s been good. When we go to the mall, sales clerks are very helpful, no doubt thinking that the old husband is gonna spend big time on the young wife. They go away a bit disappointed.

If you’re interested in an excellent article on the whys and wherefores of the May-December relationship, this won’t be it. My friend, Henry Velez, has published a really good one @ May-December Relationship. Check it out – I’ll wait.

I don’t like the May-December stereotype. While I might accept that the bloom on Janet is comparable to the month of May, I refuse to accept that I am a cold, frigid December. At the worst I am November; ok, maybe late November – Thanksgiving time – turkey and pumpkin pie – that’s me. But anyone claiming I am a December is gonna have problems with me. I’ll likely kick his ass, once I’ve taken my medication.

I don’t like the May-December stereotype. While I might accept that the bloom on Janet is comparable to the month of May, I refuse to accept that I am a cold, frigid December. At the worst I am November; ok, maybe late November – Thanksgiving time – turkey and pumpkin pie – that’s me.

Looking at it honestly, why should I be offended? If someones thinks I am interested in Janet because she is young, beautiful, vibrant and sexy, what should I say? “Thank you, she is.” OK, I’ll throw in a wink just to be really annoying.

It’s what they are thinking about Janet that is more egregious. I suppose if someone said something nasty to her I would be offended and have a few choice words. But Janet is a self-assured woman and knows who she is. She’s told me all along about money and marriage, “Money is important, but I would never marry without love.”

And here’s where this whole age-gap thing perplexes me. My grandfather was married to a woman 25 years younger than him and it seemed to be the most natural thing. They were a strikingly attractive couple since not only was there the considerable age gap, there was also a considerable height gap, as my grandfather was no more than 5’4” and my Aunt Ruth loved high heels and towered over him. I don’t think many people asked Aunt Ruth why she was married to my grandfather; it was obvious. He was a powerful, attractive and successful man. His hair was nicely kept and he had most of it. He wore cologne. He drove a Cadillac for God’s sake! And no one would have asked him why he was married to her; that was equally obvious. They were married over 20 years until his death. Contrary to current opinion, for most of history the age-gap in marriage has been a common thing.

Perhaps the age-gap thing is genetic. My cousin, two years older than me, always admired my grandfather. He built an even more successful business and married even more often than my grandfather. I used to tease him that he got older but the age of his wives stayed the same. His current wife is 30 years younger and they have a lovely young child and from what everyone says they are all happy as can be. I doubt anyone wonders what they see in each other; she’s hot and he can buy and sell you.

Let’s face it, the real reason modern Americans are put off by the age-gap is our refusal to admit that in this modern, enlightened, 21st century – men are still shallow. We unabashedly love younger, attractive women. Their youth, their energy, their excitement, their beauty; it’s all good. American women want us all to grow up and mature. For what? I’m just like my grandfather, except the Caddy has turned into a Bimmer.

Jack Nicholson said it best, “If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women.”

Filipina women, like their American counterparts a generation or two ago, want a man who is mature, worldly, knows how to get things done, knows how to deal with emotional ups and downs, and has enough cash to pay for a decent, if not luxurious, life with the aforementioned Bimmer or Caddy. (OK, the Caddy and Bimmer line’s a joke!) What’s wrong with that? I have heard many people say, “Filipina women want to marry older Western men for a better life.” Gee that sounds terrible. What woman in her right mind wants to marry a man to produce a worse life? For that matter what man wants to marry a woman for a worse life, although those of us who are divorced feel like we did.

So what’s the real reason some people object to age-gap relations between an American and a foreign woman? It’s the same reason that not too long ago many objected to inter-racial marriages. It’s the same reason until very recently many people objected to homosexual relationships and marriage. It’s not political, it’s not social, and it’s not religious. It’s completely about sex. Most of us (certainly most Americans) are more than a little bit squeamish about where and who a man puts his thing into. For some bizarre reason we feel absolutely justified in judging “you can’t put that in there.” Really and truly – I am not joking here. Humans are very judgmental about who and where you put your goodies.

I remember being 19 years old; a mature college man. I came home for spring break and somehow my younger sister and I got into a serious discussion with our mother about sex. My mother, who at the time must have been all of 39, was telling us that she and our father still had a very active sex life, thank you very much. I was nearly made apoplectic by the image. Despite what I realize now (that they were still quite young) they were my parents and I didn’t want to know what they were doing to each other. Moreover, like most young people, I didn’t want to know that older people still had sex. How dare they? Their job was to get old and set up the rocking chair, not get old and get busy!

The biggest problem I had when I first went to the Philippines and realized that younger women might be interested in me was my own attitude. I had to convince myself that it was OK. I had had a couple years already to deal with the issue. Like most divorced men today I sought my next partner through technology. I joined and began a year of intense self-reflection and frustration. By the end of the first year I estimated I’d gone on 70 first/coffee dates. I’d had less than ten second dates and only a handful of 3rd or 4th dates. But I was drinking a lot of coffee. All the women were close to my age. I was getting nowhere and I was surprised. Here I had finally grown up; great job, a bit of money, nice house, good kids, a working car; and very little interest. Truth be told, I wasn’t interested in the women either. Oh, I tried to be but mostly I was bored.

I then made the fortuitous and desperate decision to contact a woman 20 years younger than me. Blond with tattoos (full sleeves I later learned they were called). We began talking and then dating and then – well, you know. I was enthralled to connect with anyone, let alone someone younger. She had energy and enthusiasm for life and for me. But I felt guilty. Something must be wrong with me I assumed. I couldn’t connect with women my own age yet was having a blast with the young hottie. What was wrong with that picture? Unfortunately it became her job to remind me that I was OK and we were OK and that she preferred me. Foolishly, it took a long time for me to accept.

I spent that year finally allowing myself to enjoy being a man with a younger woman. Once I realized that I was following in the footsteps of my grandfather and cousin, then I was ready for the Philippines, where the women have no idea why a May-December (or November) relationship is supposed to be so bad.

So guys – get over it. Don’t worry about what others say. Despite appearances to the contrary, no one really wants to know where and who you’re sticking your thing into anyway.

7 thoughts on “The Age-Gap Rap”

  1. Great article Dave. I’ve read and watched Henry’s stuff. One week from today I head to Manila to see my girl who is all of 19 years old. I’ve been struggling with the age gap thing myself. I was just talking with a good friend and telling him about my girl and my upcoming trip. His response, “go for it!” He was so incredibly supportive and positive about the whole thing.

    I’ve finally decided that if people have problems about the fact that she is 19 and I’m 51 then it’s their problem, not ours.

    7 days and counting! I’m so excited I can’t sleep!!

  2. We are totally excited for you, Robert. It would be a wonderful experience that may change the pages of your life’s chapter. Good luck ! :))

  3. Dave, I think you might have left out the reason of “jealousy” or “envy” as one reason for many peoples disgust in young-old relationship, whether it be a man or woman. They only know how to hide it one way and that is by bashing the relationship. Even though my wife and I are only 5 years apart, it sure didn’t look that way when I was 30 and she was 25 and first brought her to the U.S. (1986), We definitely felt the cold stares of many and like Janet, my wife used to just stare back and it would end there.

    1. Definitely so, Randy. A woman might be motivated by jealousy, but so can a man. It’s a sticky subject since none of us want to admit that we are jealous. A woman who is aging may just get annoyed, not because she is interested in me, but because it reminds her of what she now is compared to her past. A man too might feel a similar jealousy seeing me with Janet.

      But I think of it this way. If I told a friend that my best friend was a 26 year old from the Philippines, they would no doubt commend me for my open-mindedness in choosing friends. If I say I am having sex with a 26 year old from the Philippines, the reaction will be very different. There is something about the sexual component, especially in a puritanical culture, that changes everything.

  4. I really can’t agree with the ‘sexual component’ thing. Maybe the US is different. I certainly agree with the ‘jealousy’ or ‘envy’ aspect. Also, most Western cultures are agist..that is, they establish certain expectations regarding age. You date/marry someone close to your age..if you are an older man and look at a younger woman, you are a ‘dirty old man.’…however in many non-Western cultures age is inconsequential…eg: the Middle East and India, and then there is the Muslim religion that allows men to marry children….so it’s about cultural norms – if you have a woman who is the age of your daughter or even younger, you confront so many people’s value systems and they react accordingly.

    1. I agree with most of this Chris, but still think there is a strong sexual component. We’re a puritanical nation. No one cares that two men are close friends, but some people sure care about what one gay man does to the other, sexually.

      I was previously married to an African-American woman of similar age to me. The questions, comments and raised eyebrows we got were very similar to what Janet and I get.

      As I mentioned in the piece, this has changed; even a couple generations ago it was not uncommon for an older man to marry a younger woman in the U.S., due to divorce (which was still rare) or his being a widower. No one considered my grandfather a dirty old man – a smart old man maybe; ok, maybe a horny old man.

      So I still maintain that many of people’s judgments aren’t just about cultural norms; they’re about who is doing what to whom.

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