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Thread: A thought on AGRs in general...

  1. #1
    MissMuffins's Avatar
    MissMuffins is offline Senior Member
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    A thought on AGRs in general...

    ...but posted in YW/OM because that's the type of AGR I'm presently in.

    Ageless Love regulars know that Lovey is 19 years my senior, and that I have also been in AGRs with men 10+ years my junior. Anyone who's in an AGR has encountered the biases about AGRs, whether the elder partner is male or female. Those of us who are female and who've been in relationships with men 10+ years younger have also been faced with the popular misconception that OW/YM AGRs are something new.

    Until Lovey got sick and we stopped going out (because he rarely has energy to; chemo does that to a person), there were women who had issue with us being together because I'm younger than they are. Not because I'm younger than he is, but because I'm younger than they are and apparently I'd violated the Rules of the Sisterhood by going out with someone in "their" age bracket. There are people who *think* they're being funny when they tease Lovey about me being 19 years younger than him, who don't realize what an epic fail they're achieving. And then there are people who *are* being funny, and expect me to give back as good as I get. But that's about the worst of what I deal with as a 40-something year old "younger" woman. What I dealt with as a 30-something year old "older" woman was...skeevier.

    Lovey and every single one of his peer-aged male friends (65, give or take 5 years or so), without exception, know of OW/YM AGRs going back 50 years (about the time in their lives when they were old enough to pay attention to such things as "she is older than he is"). We're not talking 2-5 years older; we're talking 20-30 years older and sometimes more. The way they talk about it now, they weren't shocked then and sure as heck aren't shocked now.

    Several people where I work are in AGRs, as are several of my friends. Most are YW/OM, but some are YM/OW. At work a group of us were talking about the topic of age-gap relationships in general the other day, and one of the women mentioned that even though she knows it isn't right, how uncomfortable she became when she was in a local restaurant and saw an age-gap couple in which "she looked old enough to be his grandmother."

    It quickly became apparent--even among a group of people who are *in* age-gap relationships--that with OW/YM couples, it's the visible difference in age that seems to "bother" people. Relationships where she appears to be "a little" older than he is were "okay", but not when "she's obviously old enough to be his mother." This made me think about how--even though YW/OM couples face biases, too--it seems that people in general seem to be much more accepting of age-gap couples in which the male partner appears to be significantly older than the female, than when the age difference is the other way 'round. I was kind of shocked by this, so I intentionally took the discussion where it'd make them uncomfortable. I talked about "breeding pairs."

    I think what people are truly uncomfortable with is not that the woman is "obviously" older than the man; it's that such couples represent women's freedom of choice and confront our paternalistic society with the fact that women don't "need" traditional relationships (i.e. peer aged marriage with children) like we used to. I think something that is their private choice is seen as an overt challenge to so-called traditional gender roles, and I believe that's what makes people uncomfortable.

    What causes me to think this are such things as when people see an age-gap couple in which the man is older than the woman, they can still pretend that the age-gap couple is potentially a "breeding pair", or he's her provider and she's his caretaker/sex toy. Although it's not entirely conventional, it's acceptable because traditional male/female roles are upheld.

    However, when faced with a couple wherein the woman is "obviously" older than the man and "obviously" past child-bearing age, all the women's issues that society struggles to deal with come to the forefront. (For what it's worth, I think this is also what lies at the root of a majority of the so-called issues people have with same-sex partnerships.)

    Rightly or wrongly, it is presumed that having and rearing children together aren't part of that couple's future; therefore, they're not a "breeding pair." We already know that people in general are uncomfortable with it when children are not part of any given couple's future; we see it in what people go through when experiencing infertility or remaining childless by choice.

    So, if children aren't part of the picture, what's left? People in general lack the emotional intelligence and maturity to be comfortable with the notion--much less the reality--of an independent woman who can take care of herself through full time employment outside the home and mechanisms like public and private retirement, who doesn't need a man or offspring in order to ensure her basic needs are met. So, they get mean-spirited and dirty-minded: he must be with her for the sex, or her money.

    The idea that such couples are together because they want to be, for no other reason than whatever attracted them to each other and drew them together in the first place: common interest, intellectual compatibility, etc., is just...too idealistic to handle. People in general can't accept that it's not like it was 50+ years ago (and still is, in undeveloped countries), when people were together mostly because he had a penis and she had a vagina and they shared a common need to have children together in order to ensure they'd be taken care of in their old age.

    Bottom line? There's still a whole lot of 1950's "the way we never were" BS out there, and it's still "their" problem.

    Your thoughts?

    MM
    "Our past is a story existing only in our minds. Look, analyze, understand, and forgive. Then, as quickly as possible, chuck it." ~ Marianne Williamson

  2. #2
    SheLikesKitties's Avatar
    SheLikesKitties is offline OW/YM 21YR GAP
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    My rough thoughts (meaning I did not go too deep into this analysis):
    I think that everyone knows that people, specially men are visual creatures, that is, they are expected to look for beauty, and if not fashion-model beauty, at least the beauty afforded by youth.

    So in the case of OW/YM, when the woman looks old enough to be his mother, people will wonder what's wrong with him. What's wrong with him that he could not have gotten a better looking catch? You will find the same reaction when the woman is grossly overweight, has a disability, or is of an "inferior" race*.

    When we have a case of OM/YM and the same question arises, "could she not have gotten a better catch instead of this old fart?" Then the obvious answer is "she is after his money"... ahhh that must be it!

    People love to find "explanations" to why people marry/date other people. If the couple is not matched age-wise, financially, racially, etc. people with come with explanations like "he/she is after her/his money", "he/she has mommy/daddy issues", "he/she wants a green-card".

    In my particular case with Nick, my friends thought I was having him as a boy toy, and even one gf asked me to pass him to her when I was done with him. On the other hand, some members of his family thought I was after a green card. In those situations I did not feel bad, or offended, I just hoped to last long enough to kick those "theories" into the dust. After 10 years I think we have.

    ___________
    * I am not racist, but I am aware of racism and I have been in the receiving end of racism.
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  3. #3
    fiorinda's Avatar
    fiorinda is offline Senior Member
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    MM, I said more or less all those things to the film crew when they asked me why I thought OW/YM AGRs were seen as so much more shocking than OM/YW. I think it's about where people perceive the power to be in a relationship, and the fact that it is still considered the norm for the power to lie with the man in a heterosexual relationship. So an older woman with a much younger man (also with a man who earns a lot less than her or is a stay at home partner or father) is perceived as having more power, and that seems unnnatural to many, even if they wouldn't care to admit it. It appears imasculating for the man in that relationship. Personally I prefer, and have always preferred, to be in a relationship where there IS no power imbalance. Despite the fact that I'm twice Lee's age and the breadwinner, we strive hard to be equals in our relationship - I would never deny him his equal share in all decision making just because he is younger or brings in less money. With my ex-husband, he earned twice what I earned but never believed this gave him a bigger right to make decisions (in fact he left most things up to me and just complained once it was all done, but that's because he's lazy!). So I guess those of us in OW/YM relationships are seen as having too much power as women, maybe in the same way as top female business women and executives are seen as b1tches and ball-breakers.

    I also think it is to do with female sexuality. Society as a whole can tolerate this to an extent as long as we are young (and presumed fertile) but we're not supposed to be sexual creatures in our own rights. A 50 year old woman dating/married to a 25 year old man is almost certainly getting plenty!! And, like you say, probably purely for pleasure!! I think you are quite right when you talk about the 'breeding pair', considering men can father children for as long as they can get it up, but we women stop being able to conceive much earlier.

    We're lucky that we don't get much negative feedback, I think because we don't look like we have as large an age gap as we do. It'll be interesting to see if that changes as I get older. After all, when I'm 70, Lee will only be 45, and plenty of men are only just starting their families at that age!
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  4. #4
    Slow Worm's Avatar
    Slow Worm is offline Senior Member
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  5. #5
    SummerBob is offline Super Moderator
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    The bottom line is, it's none of anybody's business. Whether the man or woman is older or how big the difference is, is between you and your partner. Period.

    For some reason, there are people out there who think it's their job to "police" the world and make sure everyone "conforms" to their image of what is "acceptable". I never understood this thinking, because I've always delighted in seeing people who dare to be different.

    I think a part of the problem is that people are bored and just need something to occupy their time, and all this relationship drama gives them something to talk about in their otherwise boring lives.
    Like Abraham Lincoln once said, "You can't believe everything you read on the Internet."

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