It’s a happy circumstance than finding a wife doesn’t depend on my social group alone because many of the eligible females in the swing dancing world are at least a decade younger than I am. Once such an age gap was not worth mentioning – a couple of hundred years ago a man might arrange the marriage of his daughter to a work colleague for example – but today it is rare. I’d have had a better chance of surviving the first hour of the D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach in 1944: there was about a 60% casualty rate.

People’s reactions to an age gap depend on the stage of life the couple is in. The younger they are, the greater reaction an age difference evokes. So if a girl is, say, eight years my junior, there might be a couple of “Mmh?”s. But if she were 13 years younger, “cradlesnatcher” would be on everyone’s lips. But add 30 years to both of us, and then the difference would only receive a raised eyebrow; probably congratulations that we’ve found someone after so long, and possibly even envy from the guys that I managed to score someone so young.

The basis of this seems to be related more to maturity than to age. Once someone is in their mid-twenties or early thirties, we suppose they’ve grown up enough to know what a relationship entails; whereas before this, we view it as taking advantage of someone. Yet if both couples are young, say 23, there may be a few questions about their maturity, yet no one seems to question whether one is taking advantage of the other’s naïveté. Unless, as we’ve seen, one partner is older than the other by a significant amount.

The oddest part is that maturity isn’t always connected to age.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2008.

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