Term Paper: Older Woman Younger Man Relationships

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Older Woman Younger Man Relationships

The relationship between older women and younger men and its effects

Since the dawn of men, people have shown a natural tendency towards forming groups, sharing their experiences and facing challenges together with others of their kind, as members of the human society. The most intimate, most simple and yet most complex form of human grouping is the couple. Whether it's a man or a woman, two men or two women, the pair represents the supreme symbol of social behavior, of human symbiosis.

Relationships between men and women are the most common type of sexual unions, the building blocks of families, small (him and her) or extended (plus children and any other blood relatives).

A heterosexual union can be established between: a younger woman and an older man, a man and a woman on the same level of age (within two years of difference), or an older woman and a younger man. Concentrating on the difference of age between the two partners, we find ourselves facing the subject of age-discrepant relationships (Boyd&Li, 2003).

If older men / younger women unions are widely accepted and tacitly encouraged by society standards, on the essential condition that men shouldn't be too old and women shouldn't be too young, the other way around things get a little bit complicated. The relationship between a younger man and an older woman is a subject with great potential for controversy, of which society mainly disapproves but loves to talk about. In other words, men are not only allowed to engage in relationships with younger women, but also encouraged to do so by social expectations; women on the other hand, are expected to engage in relationships with older or same age partners (Boyd&Li, 2003), to have a family and stay true to its values. Over the years, the older man / younger woman couple became a standard due to habits and practices of earlier times, when first men had to gain a social respectable status, by working hard, before getting married, so he would be able to build and support a family (Boyd&Li, 2003).

It was believed that man should be the one who has to support the family, that includes his spouse, he is the one who has to work and has to struggle to ensure the economical welfare of the couple plus children. All this effort would be rewarded by society with a visible tolerance and approval of any dominant and somewhat aggressive/possessive manly behavior towards women. In other words, they've earned their right to a superior position and to a greater social status than women. That also gave them the right to shape the moral standards of early human society. The sexual display of power is first found in the younger woman/older man unions. A relationship refers to exchanging influence and consolidating positions, letting the other one know where thing stand in terms of power (sexual power, dominance).

Age-discrepant couples, when the man is much younger than the woman (more than ten years apart), are not common. This is a rather rare form of heterosexual union, for example nearly 1% of the Canadians taking part in the 2001 Census of Population (Boyd&Li, 2003). The explanation may lay in the fact that women past a certain age are more unlikely to find a suitable partner. Because on one hand, they are considered to be less attractive as a mate (primarily, sexual male instincts respond to young mates, considered to be more healthy and thus more fertile, more capable of bearing offspring) by men their age who look upon younger females as better sexual companions. On the other hand, older women themselves are beginning to have certain claims and they refuse to settle for anything less: they too are interested in younger, more lively and sexually active partners.

Studies such as the Canadian Census in 2001, show that older companions in an age-discrepant relationship have often been married before (Boyd&Li, 2003). Therefore they are more careful when it comes to commitments and long-time partnerships. According to the same Census (2001), couples with age gaps are engaged in common-law unions, particularly in the case of older women/younger men (Boyd&Li, 2003). That could be justified by the fact that women are more available for commitment than men, and they are reaching for safety in a relationship, they need stability. Older women in an age-discrepant relationship have usually been married before, according to the Canadian Census (Boyd&Li, 2003); nevertheless they will stay true to their nature and ask for stability and commitment from their younger partners, but cautiously, they will rarely wed again.

In modern times, women are tipping the balance of power in their favor. That is because society becomes more aware of their potential, not only as mothers and housewives, but as business women and enterprisers. The battle of the sexes continues, women are becoming more and more independent and more and more preoccupied with their careers. That is why they are less dependent of men and their financial support, and less willing to start a family for reasons concerning only economical safety. The emancipation of women, which began decades ago, led to a more active and influential presence in the business world, also known as "the men's world." The time to be an obedient housewife and a dedicated mother has grown short, while the time for education and profession increased. Women are becoming too busy for enlarged families they have to take care of all of their youth.

According to the 2001 Census of Population (Boyd&Li, 2003), in a younger man/older woman couple children are often not in the picture, only 34% of couples reporting the presence of at least one child (Boyd&Li, 2003). Many of the women in age-discrepant unions are not interested in having a (another) child, either because they can't (in couples with 10+ age difference the woman is near the end of her reproductive period)(Boyd&Li, 2003) or just because they simply won't.

What about tradition?," some might say. Tradition plays an important part in defining a nation or preserving culture. The tradition concerning love and sex says men and women should get married and have children. Most older women dating younger men are not interested in getting married or having children with their younger partner (Boyd&Li, 2003). Tradition refers to customs and rituals, legacies of social conduct that pass from one generation to another. Therefore, it seems like, even though old habits die hard, they eventually die, when forced to do so by new practice and new behavioral patterns. In the near future, we might discover that what we proudly call "tradition" concerning love, sex and relationships is obsolete, and needs an update in accordance with the reality unfolding, keeping in mind that one has the right to love whomever and in any way one chooses.

Another aspect of an age-discrepant couple is the financial aspect. Popular beliefs say that the younger partner is mostly interested in the older one's wealth, which usually is great. Thus the only reason for which a younger man engages in an intimate relationship with a (much) older woman would be her money. This implies that women who date younger men can afford it, being very rich and, if possible, generous.

The 2001 Canadian Census data shows otherwise: age-discrepant pairs have lower combined incomes than same-age couples. And that's not all! Couples in which the woman is older than the man have, according to the Census (2001), a lower combined income than the younger woman/older man unions (Boyd&Li, 2003). So it seems that in reality younger man usually date older women not primarily for financial benefits. This obsession with rich old lonely women who find comfort in the arms of an attractive but not so wealthy young man comes from our ever growing appetite for out of the ordinary and intriguing stories, made in Hollywood and sold across the world. In reality young men seem to find other qualities in an older women than money (according to 2001 Canadian Census).

Another question that rises from the younger man/older woman issue is the emotional and sexual satisfaction aspect. Are women in it just for the sex? Or is it something more? Recent researches concentrate their attention on sending the right message regarding the fact that "older wives means better lives"(Boyd&Li, 2003), meaning that an older woman can bring balance and maturity to a relationship, thus avoiding violent fights or irrational behaviors, commonly seen in young couples. That doesn't mean that an older woman is too tired to fight or too old to be jealous. Her passion may be greater because it's more focused and more experienced. It this experience and maturity that makes her handle a relationship and its problems better, more wisely. Is it just sex? The answer can be found in the data of the Canadian Census from 2001, confirming that older women are more likely to live in a common-law union with a younger men (39%) than older men with younger… [END OF PREVIEW]

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