Why, When It Comes To Relationships, We Totally Need To Embrace The Age Gap
The Debrief: Stephen Fry announced today that he's marrying his boyfriend - who's 30 years younger than he is. But as fellow twinkie Daisy Buchanan explains, it's time we all got a bit less judgy about age-gap relationships
I still remember the day I met my best mate Betty’s boyfriend. ‘You’ll really, really like him – I promise – but there’s something a bit different about him. And I don’t want you to be surprised, because it isn’t a big deal, but it might seem a bit weird at first.’
I was agog. Did he have many penises, and specially modulated trousers? Or perhaps he could only ever leave the house with a face full of green paint! Maybe he was a celebrity! Maybe he was a really niche celebrity, like Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs. Hurrah!
Betty’s boyfriend – well, five years later, Betty’s husband – was not Kevin McCloud. He’s a lovely man called Andrew. And he’s 25 years older than Betty.
Age gap relationships often seem a little skeevy. I realised I was still a little prejudiced about them when I learned that couple Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse both celebrated their birthday yesterday. He’s just hit the big 4-0, and she’s reached the relatively tiny 2-3.
But when Stephen Fry announced he’s marrying Elliott Spencer, a man 30 years younger than him, I simply thought, ‘Hurrah for love!’ (Then ‘I hope he can get enough time off from filming QI to go to his own wedding.’)
My own age gap relationship is relatively conservative. My boyfriend is 14 years older than me – we’re closer to the Cooper-Waterhouses than the Spencer-Frys. But before I met him, I was a little suspicious of men who, erm, went out of their way to seek out young flesh, like horny vampires who disguised themselves in Paul Smith jumpers because the capes looked a bit obvious.
And I was suspicious of the young flesh too. Why would you want to date someone that, had you met them 10 years ago, would have been labelled ‘a grown up’? Once they’ve told you what they watched on telly the day you were born, where is the attraction?
I kept thinking about the part in Friends when Monica’s mother is gossiping about her older boyfriend Richard’s ‘Twinkie in the city’ – and the moment Monica has to take a deep breath and own up to being the ‘Twinkie’.
When I signed up for online dating, I decided I wasn’t going to go out with anyone over 35 – and that seemed pretty ancient. Then I met my boyfriend on Twitter and realised I had been a massive, ageist knob.
In 2015, there’s not a lot of difference between a 20-something and a 50-something. Admittedly, a gap in life experience and circumstances means you won’t have everything in common – but there’s a strong chance that you’ll read the same books, love the same TV shows and misguidedly queue for hours to get into the same pop-up restaurants.
You might even wear the same clothes. The other day, I went for a walk in the park with my boyfriend and realised we were basically dressed the same – narrow leg indigo jeans, red Converse, grey crew neck jumpers.
Spending a lot of time on Twitter helps – you meet and exchange views with hundreds of internet friends, and you don’t care how old they are, just how funny they are, and whether they know any good mac’n’cheese recipes. As I’ve become more confident throughout my twenties, I’ve realised that older people aren’t ‘grown ups’ looking to laugh at me or talk over me. They’re mature enough to know that life is best when you share it with people who have a broad range of ideas and experiences – and they like young people for the perspective they bring, not just their smooth skin and lack of cynicism.
So what’s in it for the twinkies? Well, older men and women are, in most cases, thrillingly, properly confident. It’s not arrogance – it’s more of a sense that they have been around for long enough to know how the world works, and they know that the worst worries of one’s twenties usually never come true.
In my experience, they’re better in bed than their younger counterparts, because they have spent enough time in their own bodies to know them brilliantly, they realise hang-ups hold them back and they’re clear communicators. They also know how to tip, and that life is too short not to get the taxi.
Ultimately, love will never fit neatly into a demographic box, and I think that if you’re single and looking, the best thing you can do is open your eyes to the fact that The One might have a couple of decades on you. I’m not saying you should go to the Post Office in your push-up bra on pension day… but don’t rule it out, either.
And you never know where you’ll be when you bump into TV’s Kevin McCloud.
Liked this? You Might Also Be Interested in:
Follow Daisy on Twitter @NotRollerGirl. Her new book Meeting Your Match is available to buy from Thursday 8 January on Amazon
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating