The perks of marrying a much older man soon disappear: why do women still do it?

·3-min read
 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

All my friends could talk about this week was Boris and Carrie’s wedding — the fact that she’s 33 and he’s 56. Mostly, the young women I know are peeved because it proves to those misguided, middle-aged blokes that it may in fact be worth a wink — that they stand a chance.

Having said that, I am frequently advised to date older guys because, as Scarlett Johansson once observed, “Men never really come good until their thirties.” There’s a sentiment that older men have their shit together, can locate the vague postal code of female pleasure — and take the initiative to plan a date rather than expecting a gold star for turning up, wondering what to do next like the kid on work experience.

But I suspect it’s not Boris’s ability to Filofax that’s marked him out. There’s a reason why almost everywhere I’ve worked there was a smirking silver fox the female grads eyeballed — the allure we struggle to put our finger on. I’m not sure it’s even money or power — more that it’s easy to pass off years of experience as a sort of inscrutable inner poise.

Which would be fine — except that older women’s crinkly crow’s feet and assuredness don’t get fetishised. French president Emmanuel Macron — whose wife Brigitte is 25 years his senior — is the exception that proves the rule. Even if applauded, it’s eyebrow-raising when a younger man dates an older woman.

Worse, to speak out about the double standard only makes you look jealous of wide-eyed young women. The concept of women having a “Last F***able Day” is singed into my synapses, as is the OKCupid stat that the average 30-year-old guy spends as much time messaging teenagers as women his own age.

But hitching yourself to an older man is full of disadvantages. First, the age gap creates a wage gap — dating an older man means there is financial pressure on the woman to make career sacrifices if she has children.

The chasms only widen as you get older, and many of the perks of dating a poised older bloke disappear as you reach your thirties yourself and he suddenly just looks old.

Women’s sex drives peak in their late thirties, by which time older partners may be past it altogether. Then there’s money, which could be used up on his retirement before you get there; meanwhile you take care of him in old age and there’s likely no-one left to take care of you. Even practically speaking, it’s a poor investment. I don’t understand why we still do it.

In any case, in my experience a man’s age doesn’t always equal maturity — the bubble of enigmatic, older man ways will burst just as soon as you meet his mum.

Keir Starmer’s middle name is cause for civil litigation

KEIR STARMER has said “almost everyone hates” their middle name, and there is undoubtedly a pressing case for civil litigation if — like him — yours is Rodney. I’ve always found middle names to be revealing — they’re usually one parent’s worst instincts, which the other has taken great pains to stifle, or at least to ensure don’t enter the names other people find out about.

Take my friend who has a seemingly uncontroversial name, but only recently disclosed that her middle name is “Brigid” (it rhymes with only one thing). My favourite, however, remains Hugh Mungo Grant.

What do you think about marrying older men? Let us know in the comments below.

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