Age Gap Relationships; Are You Dating From Your Father’s Generation?

Some time last year, I spoke about cougar relationships and what I thought about them. Today I want to talk about the opposite, where the man is significantly older than the woman.

Age gap relationships, to be precise.

Celine Dion and her recently, deceased husband, Rene Angelil come into mind in regards to this. Rene was 38 years old when he first met a then 12 year old Celine, who would blow him away with her talent so much, that he  mortgaged his house when he couldn’t seem to find a record company for her, to have her first album released.

It was a couple of years later, when they would both fall in love and begin a relationship, that they at first kept secret from the public for fear of castigation. Celine has in the past, spoken about how her mother was against her relationship with Rene when Celine eventually confided in her. She was worried for her daughter that she had fallen in love with a man who had already been married twice before. But eventually, the family would warm up to him and be welcoming of the relationship.

Truly a match made in heaven, Celine and Rene got married in 1994 in a lavish wedding in Canada. Rene would go on to manage her career for years until poor health rendered him incapable of doing it any longer. At the time of his death early this year, Rene had been married to Celine for a total 21 years with 3 children to complete their close knit family.

Celine and her husband Rene. Photo courtesy of Google images.

Celine and her husband Rene. Photo courtesy of Google images.

Indeed with such a powerful love story in Celebville, which is synonymous for its short lived marriages and relationships between celebrity couples, I couldn’t help really feeling it for Celine when Rene passed away. This is a man she has known all her life and I’m sure she will really miss his presence in her life and career.

Celine and Rene’s relationship is an example of age gap relationships that worked pretty well despite what society has always thought of them in the past. In my country, when a young lass decides to settle for a significantly older guy of probably her father’s age, then the man in question is referred to as her sponsor.

We call them sponsors because in recent times, young campus going women have been known to get into relationships with older married men, only for the financial benefits that come with it. This phenomenon does not only happen in Kenya, per se. I once watched a show on DSTV’s TLC channel, where young women of European origin had settled for really old, wrinkly guys just because of the financial status of these men. I forget the name of that show.

I was thoroughly tickled quite recently, when I read in some newspaper the different names accorded to these older men, who are nowadays a preferred choice for women from their daughters’ generation, because of how heavy their pockets have since been ascertained to be. With the age range clearly outlined, I read of names such as ancestor and fossil in addition to the sponsor tag we have already gotten used to.

Anyone reading this from a different country, can already tell the amount of disgust associated with age gap relationships in my country, just from the monikers we have taken to christening such men in such relationships with. If a young woman in her 20s still decides to date that already balding 50 something year old, approaching retirement with grown up children working somewhere abroad, then she must be too ratchet to care what people will think.

After all, the idea behind it is for the monetary benefits which our young unestablished men understandably fail to deliver. If this young woman expects an equally young man in campus in his early 20s to get her a house to live in, a good car to drive and a sizeable amount of monthly allowance in her account just for her flimsy expenditures, then she is thoroughly misplaced.

No wonder the preference for older established men who have quite some disposable income to spend on such “ambitious” young women. In return, he gets the attention his wife of many years, may nowadays seem not to be in a position to give.This thoroughly misguided idea behind age gap relationships, is what has made many people in my country to view them with disgust.

However, there is a possibility of two people with a significant age gap between them, truly falling in love without any sly motives behind it. How this is going to be received by society, is what makes many people shy away from pursuing their real feelings. Human beings have over time been known to hate such kinds of surprises. We love sticking to the familiar and may give elaborate reasons as to why this is so.

If such a scenario indeed happened, where two people who are both unmarried but with that large age gap between them got into a relationship, many of their close friends and relatives, would be quick to point out the reasons why they shouldn’t be together. I’m sure they will hear of reasons ranging from their respective generations do not match, to reasons such as a failure on their part in future to fully understand each other’s needs, to reasons such as they can always get other people closer in age to each other. Many would be quick to dismiss it as a misplaced fling that needs some snapping out of.

In African societies, the only times we tend to be a little forgiving of age gap relationships and marriages is when this man decided to add an additional wife. In some cases, the younger wife might still be in her 20s with the older wife in her 50s. Then, we may attribute it to culture, religious belief or this man’s reasoning or the fact that men “are prone to having many women.” Though slightly disconcerting, we may not be that keen to keep on pointing fingers in such a scenario.

I tend to attribute the motive behind age gap relationships as the contributing factor to the overall outcome. If this relationship was in itself pure, then a marriage will happen and the critics shall of course be silenced for good. If this relationship was for individual selfish reasons, then the critics will eventually be proven right in their assessment of it. As much as love is a thing between two people, relationships considered out of the ordinary by societies shall always be subject to speculations. The parties involved only need a thick skin to survive.

What do you think?

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