Age Disparity in Relationships: Does It Really Matter?


Recently, the 62-year-old cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan married 42-year-old television weathergirl, Reham Khan in Pakistan. The couple became the focus of media attention due to the wide age gap of two decades. The trend of May-December romances seems to be getting social acceptance these days. According to a research, women place greater emphasis on whether a man can provide for a family, while men place more importance on good looks.

Traditional economic models of marriage have argued that men who have high earning potential are more likely to marry at an older age so that they can “reveal” their high potential. In Bollywood, Hollywood and corporate circles, especially among financially successful men, indulging in May-December romance is prevalent. The younger women, usually second wives, have disparagingly been nicknamed as “trophy wives”.

George Clooney, the 52-year-old Hollywood actor tied the knot with the 36-year-old Alamuddin after a short seven-month relationship. The “tragedy king” of Hindi cinema, Dilip Kumar fell in love with Saira Banu and married her in 1966. The ace actor was 45 and she was just 22 at the time of their wedding. Dharmendra and Hema Malini have an age difference of 13 years. Sanjay Dutt is 19 years older than Manyata. Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor share an age gap of 11 years. Saif in fact, has been on both sides of the age gap in his relationships. He married Amrita Singh, who was 12 years older to him.

Medical advancements have bolstered this merger of different generations. Erectile enhancing drugs have enabled many old men to continue with an active sex life. At the same time, fertility treatments such as In vitro fertilisation (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI) have extended childbearing years in women.

Not just older men and younger women, but the wide age gap relationships are gaining momentum the other way round as well. Actors, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness have an age gap of 13 years. Singer Mariah Carey married comedian Nick Canon who is 11 years younger to her.
According to a relationship counsellor, Julia Cole, men and women do have very different motivation in these kind of situations. “A man who has a much younger, very attractive partner will see it as a vindication of his masculinity, whereas a woman with a younger partner is less likely to take it too seriously. She’ll recognise the relationship primarily as a great ego boost, but won’t expect too much of it,” says Julia.

While these pairings can bring great joy, they often carry unique challenges. An age difference of 15, 20 or even 35 years early in life may seem insignificant, but over time, age gap can become a substantial issue.

If the couple accept that part of the deal of belonging to different generations is caring for each other, come what may then, only they can rise to the challenge and experience new intimacy.

Ratanpriya Sharma

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