Voices: Leonardo DiCaprio keeps getting older, but his girlfriends stay the same age
Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to be dating a 19-year-old model named Eden Polani, proving once again that this infamous Reddit graph charting the age progression of his previous girlfriends reigns true.
In case you missed it, DiCaprio was recently spotted with the French-Israeli model at singer Ebony Riley’s release party for her new EP – you know, where all modern romances begin these days. The internet instantly erupted in flames as people pointed out once again that DiCaprio is seemingly afraid of dating women over the age of 25.
For the lucky ones who are unaware of DiCaprio’s relationship history, grab a pen and paper because it’s time for a lesson. The 48-year-old actor, who was once considered the “sexiest man alive”, has formed an interesting habit of dating women in their early 20s for a short period of time, before popping back up on the singles market once they turn 25.
From 1999 to 2004, DiCaprio dated model Gisele Bündchen beginning when she was 18 years old and he was age 24, the smallest of his subsequent age gaps. Perhaps the former couple will pull a Bennifer 2.0 and reignite their flame now that Bündchen is recently single. One can only dream.
DiCaprio has also been linked to Blake Lively, Kate Moss, Nina Agdal, Bar Refaeli, and most recently, Camila Morrone – all of whom were 25 or under during their relationship. Then there’s model Gigi Hadid, who broke the glass ceiling when she stepped out with DiCaprio as someone who’s both a mother and a 27-year-old.
For years, the internet has made the same joke about DiCaprio’s pattern of dumping women once their frontal lobe has fully developed. Others have pointed out that his alleged 29-year age gap with Polani is nearly the same as the fictionalised relationship between Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey’s characters in The Last of Us.
But why does this pattern exist? Is it because he feeds off a power imbalance in his relationships? Who can really say. Is it because younger models are hotter than older women? The MILF-lovers of the world would disagree on that one. No, it’s actually far more simple.
“Well, because he can,” Susan Winter – relationship expert and author of Older Women/Younger Men – tells The Independent. “If you knew you could hit the lotto every time, wouldn’t you do it?”
Of course, the power dynamic between an A-list millionaire approaching 50 and a young model just starting out in her career must be called into question. It goes without saying that someone in their early 20s is probably far less financially stable than someone 25 years their senior, and has yet to possess the wisdom that comes as a rite of passage from a number of failed relationships (not including myself, obviously).
“It’s a pattern for a reason,” says Winter. “A younger person offers a sense of purity and less baggage. They’re not jaded, they haven’t been brokenhearted, dumped, ghosted, conned, lied to, lost half their income because of a divorce. They come with much more excitement. So, the benefit of a younger partner is that it allows the older partner to experience life through fresh eyes.”
In fact, when news of DiCaprio’s newest rumored relationship broke on Twitter, that same argument about power dynamics flooded timelines. So much so, that even a meta-discourse erupted from chronically-online men giving themselves away as knowing a bit too much about age of consent laws, like one person who tweeted: “Leonardo DiCaprio is dating an adult woman. She’s young yeah but she’s 19 guys come on.”
As a rebuttal, here’s a list of very “adult” things 19-year-olds can’t do: Buy alcohol, rent a car, say they watched Titanic when it first came out. For more perspective, here’s a list of inventions that were made in or before 2004: Facebook, the iPod, Bluetooth, Blu-ray discs, Silly Bandz.
Sure, it’s tough out there for singles, and maybe DiCaprio is just trying to find love like the rest of us. I mean, the Covid-19 pandemic practically transformed dating from meeting people in real life to having short-lived situationship begin on a dating app. Or, if you’re like DiCaprio’s rumoured girlfriend, you’re really bummed that the pandemic forced your high school to hold your senior prom over Zoom.
It’s important to note that DiCaprio isn’t the only serial age-gap monogamist in Hollywood. Long before him, the entertainment industry often depicted age gaps in movies as innocent, quirky, and often inconsequential to the dynamic of their relationship; Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck shared a 13-year age gap in the beloved romantic comedy Roman Holiday, and Humphrey Bogart was 30 years older than her in the 1954 film, Sabrina.
Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs have also had real-life relationships with women much younger than them. George Clooney was praised as Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor before settling down with his “age-appropriate” wife (they’re still 17 years apart).
Actor Michael Douglas, 78, married Catherine Zeta Jones, 53, in 2000. Comedian Dane Cook, 50, recently proposed to his 23-year-old girlfriend, and Zach Braff has received flack for dating Florence Pugh, who’s 21 years his junior.
For a long time, a pattern of Hollywood bachelors dating younger women was praised by fellow men and the media alike. But the tides are turning on people like DiCaprio with every woman he dates (and dumps) before they turn 25, and people are taking notice.
Could it be that Leonardo DiCaprio is the star that makes dating younger women no longer cool?