While I wrote The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish, I constantly questioned myself whether a May-December romance could work between an older woman and a younger man. The book is more than a story of older an woman fantasizing about a young man. Moreover, it’s not erotica. It centers on an older woman coming to terms with her emotional scares, learning to trust her instincts, and recognizing love when it’s present in the soul of a man outside her comfort zone.
Tom Clancy is quoted as saying the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.
Even though my novel is based in fiction, it had to make sense. Had I been writing erotica, I believe readers would have accepted the age difference. What’s not to love about a romp with a younger man between the pages of a steamy book? However, a long-term relationship? Well, even Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher failed at that endeavor.
When I met older woman, I asked their thoughts on the topic. Many told me the relationship wouldn’t work because the younger man is unable to appreciate and understand the journey the woman has traveled. In other words, the younger man lacks maturity. An older man understands the woman’s intelligence and flaws. My response–if that were true, older women would be happily wrapped in the arms of their male counterparts.
Dating websites, such as Match or eHarmony, demonstrate just the opposite.
According to Susan Winter, co-author of Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance, younger men are looking for women who “…are stable and mature. They don’t want to be mothered. They want a woman who knows who she is.”
What can a younger man bring to the table? Aside from the obvious (wink, wink) he possesses a zest for life, a desire for wisdom—an urge to dance, laugh, eat, and love. No, it’s true that not all young men are this way just as it’s true that not all clothes fit the same body. A woman has to kiss a lot of tadpoles before she’ll find one with an old soul and young heart to complement her old heart and young soul. As Kathryn Elliott, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, explains, “The key to making older women/younger man relationships work is to match voltages. Choose someone who is your voltage type–has the same level of intensity about life.”
Social norms indicate the older man-younger woman scenario is accepted but not the flip-side. Hollywood glorifies this perception. When it comes to older women-younger-men, well, can you say cougar? Mrs. Robinson? Elliott goes on to say women “…are victims of inner-critic contradictions. We think we should only weigh 120. We should marry people within two years of our age. We pathologize anything that isn’t within those shoulds.”
The bottom line, as I see it, is the formula, or the lack of one. No one can say what makes a relationship work and what doesn’t. However, if a woman finds a younger man who shares her core values and outlook on life, someone who will embrace the hag that lives inside of her and watch her emotional back, she has found a rare gem. Why should she turn away just because he wasn’t born when JFK was assassinated?
“Eric, I can’t do this! For goodness’ sake, you weren’t even alive when JFK was shot!” The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish
Blessed be. :}