By “intergenerational,” I’m talking about ADULT generations. I’m talking about CONSENTING ADULTS. I just wanted to get that out of the way. I’m not talking about adults preying on minors, pedophilia, etc.
Although not illegal, nonconsanguineous relationships between adults with a sizable age difference do face prejudice and discrimination. Stereotypical assumptions, expressed as though they are automatically negative, are made about both the younger and older people involved in such relationships.
The older person, depending on age/gender, is often said to be:
- In denial about aging
- Trying to relive their youth
- Taking advantage of” or “using” the younger person(s)
- Having a midlife crisis
- Incapable of relating to people their own age
- Looking for a nurse
- Avoiding “real” commitment
- Just looking for sex
- Trying to feel older or more mature
- Flattered by the attention of an older person
- Having mommy or daddy issues
- A gigolo or looking for a sugar daddy
- A gold digger
- “Taking advantage of” or “using” the older person(s)
- Looking to be controlled or taken care of
- Avoiding “real” commitment
- Just looking for sex
Regardless, there are people in these relationships who have a healthy relationship and are happy, fulfilled, and getting what they need and want. Some of these relationships last for the long term. Discriminating against people who are in these relationships often involves jealousy, envy, ageism, sexism, and sex-negativity. There is this idea that a relationship has to be monogamous, lead to marriage and baby-making, and last until death, and intergenerational relationships are not seen by people asserting this notion as ideal for that, even though it is possible for such relationships to be monogamous, lead to marriage and baby-making, and last until death. But that doesn’t stop the sex police, who also bash cohabitation without marriage, polyamory and other forms of ethical nonmonogamy, being childless by choice, gay and lesbian relationships, and often consanguineous and interracial relationships.
Although I don’t talk about myself a lot on this blog, I will say that I have had multiple long-term relationships with older women. I was not specifically seeking older women; it is just how things worked out, in part because I’ve always had friends of different generations. I do not regret these relationships. The first was when I was still a teenager (although of legal age) with a woman in her mid-40s. That started out as a friendship. It lasted as a sexual relationship for about a year and a half. In my 20s, I was with a woman in her 50s. There are other examples, but you get the idea.
In the past, especially with women being treated as property, incubators, domestic servants, and needing males to represent them in public life, it was somewhat socially acceptable for certain men to marry women much younger than them. Now women who freely choose to be with older men are seen by some as setting equality back. On the plus side is the increasing acceptability of relationships between older women and younger men.
Those who express their prejudice against such relationships will often say something along the lines of…
“She’s old enough to be your mother!”
“He’s old enough to be your father!”
“She’s young enough to be your daughter!”
“He’s young enough to be your son!”
But when asked, “So what?” the person objecting to this consensual relationship between adults will almost never have a rational answer. The real answer is usually either that they wouldn’t want such a relationship for themselves, or, conversely, that they wish they had a relationship like that and are envious. Neither of those should have any power over anyone else’s consensual relationships.
There are some advantages to intergenerational relationships, depending on whether people are looking for a deep and lasting relationship or something more casual.
The couple or polycule will have the perspective, experiences, and likely a circle of friends from at least two generations, instead of just one.
Younger participants may bring vigor, vitality, and fresh perspectives while older participants may bring experience, understanding, and stability.
Older participants may impart reassurance and guidance to younger participants, and the younger participants may provide the older participants with help getting out of a rut and a feeling of renewal.
Male and female libidos are often not at the same level at the same ages, and sometimes an intergenerational relationship brings together people who would not be happy if they were restricted to only being with people their age.
Male fertility generally lasts longer than female fertility. That means someone who wants a child can still have one with an older man, and someone who doesn’t want a child doesn’t risk unwanted pregnancies with an older woman.
If it makes them happy, isn't that good?
Considerations For Those Considering Such a Relationship
1. Recognize you are in different phases of life. That can have advantages and disadvantages. If you do pursue this relationship, make the most of the advantages and prepare for the disadvantages.
2. Be forewarned that you're going to get some judgmental, jealous, and envious people wagging their fingers at you.
3. These relationships are often entered into by someone who has one or more children. If so: a) The other parent(s) of your lover’s children, if alive, are likely to always be involved somehow in your lover’s life, and therefore your life; b) Any child and their parent might not like you (or your own children) or the idea of your lover having a new lover; c) Even if your lover’s child likes you, those feelings may change as they get older, especially if you and your lover have a child together; d) If your lover pays (or is liable for) child support, depending on the laws where you live, YOUR income can be figured into that if you get married, meaning that you could be legally required to help pay your lover’s child support.
4. Children of the older lover may have an attraction to or crush on the younger lover and may resent their parents because of it, or may be jealous of the affection their parents has for the lover. Parents of the younger lover may have an attraction to the older lover, causing certain tensions.
If you are younger:
1. Understand that because your lover has more life experience, your lover may have certain power advantages over you, but almost every relationship has power differences.
2. Understand that if you want to have (more) children and grow old with someone, you're not as likely to do it with a lover multiple decades older as you would with one your own age. (Even if you don't feel right now that you'll want those things, your feelings could easily change in the future.)
3. Be aware some people look for younger lovers for reasons with which you might not be comfortable, but that can be true of relationships of any age; as long as you look for warning signs and stand up for yourself, there shouldn't be a problem.
4. Understand you're still young and you've got a lot of life and personal growth ahead of you.
If you are older:
1. Be aware some people look for older lovers for reasons with which you might not be comfortable, but that can be true of relationships of any age; as long as you look for warning signs and stand up for yourself, there shouldn't be a problem.
2. Understand that your younger lover may not be as set in their ways as you are or know themselves as well as you know yourself. He or she still has much personal growth ahead of them and what they want could change more easily than what you want (especially in terms of getting married, having children, and long-term goals) making you no longer compatible. He or she make think they can be happy with an aging partner, but they’re less likely to truly understand that really means than someone your age or older than you.
3. You shouldn’t assume the younger person knows as much as you do, will relate to in-your-lifetime history like you do, or will get your cultural references. But nor should you assume they are ignorant.
As with any other relation that is subject to stigma and discrimination (casual, interracial, international, interfaith, gay/lesbian, polyamorous, open, consanguinamorous, D/s, etc.) intergenerational relationships shouldn’t be dismissed or discriminated against just because they aren’t what someone else sees as ideal. Consenting adults should be free to have the relationships they want with each other. It is up to them to decide if a relationship is right for them or not. Sure, there are some bad intergenerational relationships, just like there are bad relationships of any circumstance. The bad relationships should not mean that nobody should be supported by family and friends or discriminated against because of who they love and how they love them.
Those who object to these relationships because of a personal belief that lovers should die within a short time of each other are ignoring that fact that people who are about the same age could have very different longevity, and the surviving lover(s) can find new loves.
Whether they last for life or for a season, these relationships can be beneficial to all involved.
Should I date an older woman? Should I date an older man? Is it OK to date a younger man? It is OK to date a younger woman? What about intergenerational dating? What about intergenerational marriage? What about intergenerational sex? Is it OK to have a younger boyfriend? Is it OK to have a younger girlfriend?