May-December Romances: Fiction or Nonfiction?

May-December Romances: Fiction or Nonfiction?

Harold and Maude. Ashton and Demi. Hugh Hefner and, well, just about anybody. Ah, the May-December romance, that fervent dance between spring chicken and old crow. But when does an age gap become a chasm?

Here’s one theory: “In May-December romances, age gaps are okay, but generation gaps are a really bad idea.” (That’s from Oprah’s website, so it may as well be chiseled into a stone tablet, no? I should just stop right here and be done.)

But seriously, you guys, I’m waist-deep in my second novel, which, among other things, is an examination of love between two people who, based on our societal views of the subject, shouldn’t be together. These characters are of the same gender, but that’s not what I’m referring to. This is an exploration of love between two people whose age gap is, as said earlier, more like a chasm.

I’m a little secretive about plot at this stage in the game, so I won’t go into detail. But I’ll tell you that one of my two protagonists is rather young. It has brought up some interesting conversation with friends about the point in one’s evolution when being able to identify and commit to “true love” is feasible. So I really want to handle the subject justly. For now, I'm not going to delve into why someone past 30 would become linked with someone whose age still ends in the word "teen."

Let’s remove the older person for now, and focus on the young half of the equation. Am I alone in thinking that society tends to consider a young person’s view of love just passing fancy? It’s as if our twenties have become the era for playing the field romantically, growing, learning, making mistakes, focusing on our own ambition with no thought of settling down until at least the upper end of the decade. For instance, this post states “age gaps of five to eight years may not prove to be too big to have a successful relationship, especially for those over the age of 30.” But why 30? And says who? I mean, besides that lady I just quoted.

Making a commitment at a young age wasn’t always so shocking, although maybe it’s generational and times have changed. My mother was 18 when she married my father. They’re still together and in their sixties. My sister got married a month after graduating high school and will celebrate her 25th anniversary this summer. Of course, there’s also a geographic aspect here. I come from a region where getting married after high school, getting a job and starting a family is often the rule of thumb – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We could get all sciency and toss in the argument that the prefrontal cortex of the brain isn’t fully developed until around age 25. It’s the part responsible for understanding consequence, considering the future and inhibiting inappropriate behavior. So do we really understand love when our brain hasn’t even fully developed?

I’m rambling, tossing around notions like tissues. I should probably get around to a point here, or at least a question for you. I suppose, in its simplest terms and getting back to the original subject, that question would be: Can a young person (say, less than 20) actually have a lasting relationship with someone past 30?

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14 thoughts on “May-December Romances: Fiction or Nonfiction?

  1. I've never heard of that phrase before! Hmm. Well I think my answer would lie in the way our society likes to make childhood last a lot longer. Young people have far less responsibility and, to be honest, expectations are far lower for them these days. In turn, these young people, with low-expectations set for them by their elders, continue to be more immature than their counterparts of yesteryear. They are taken less seriously in the relationship world. Personally, Rob and I have been together since we were 15. We did face a lot of maturity issues, but it made us very strong. I would imagine an age gap would be difficult but I guess someone could say the same about our relationship!

    1. Nicely said. Here's an article you might find interesting then. In response to another writer's post about the benefits of marrying late in life, the columnist offers up four benefits to marrying young. (In it, she quotes a book by Beth Bailey that echoes what you've said.) It's not written in relation to age differences, and definitely not in a gay context by any stretch, but it is a nice discussion of maturity in relationships. There are also some current marriage-age stats in there: 28 for men, 26 for women.

  2. Consider me more educated!  I thought a May-December romance referred to a short-term fling that just naturally came to an end. I had never associated it with the ages of those involved. 

    It seems like everyone goes thought the phase of dating someone older, at least everyone I know. I don't know that I'm old enough to see the reverse of dating someone significantly younger…yet. But soon, I'm sure. 

    1. I suppose that would depend on your definition of "significantly younger." What would that be for you? I've always envisioned my own reasonable dating range to be five years either direction. Not a hard and fast rule, necessarily. Just a personal preference.

  3. So, I've totally been thinking about this issue over the past couple days because I've been reading a book you'd mentioned in a previous post (Where You Are). It's great, by the way. The age difference in the book is 7 years old and I keep comparing it to a relationship I had that had a 6 year age difference.

    The 6 year age difference really didn't come into play as much as where I was in life at the time. I was 22 and still in school. I didn't really know a lot about life at the time and he'd already graduated. I'm 25 now and consider myself a pretty constant person but looking back on the past couple of years my priorities have shifted and are WAY different than they were then. At the time I was actively looking for a relationship that failed very quickly and wasn't very happy with my life. Now I'm not really looking for one and just trying to enjoy my life. If a relationship were to come along, I'd be open to it but I'm not actively putting myself out there.

    I know there have to be a lot of factors that play into it, but the biggest that impacted me was how comfortable I was with myself.

    1. This statement says a lot: "The 6 year age difference really didn't come into play as much as where I was in life at the time." A 10-yr difference from, say, 18 to 28, sounds destined for failure. But the same gap at 40 to 50, would anyone bat an eye? Not really, because we consider people to be pretty in tune with themselves at such ages. Maybe it tracks back to what Jes said in her comment above about the maturity level of young people in today's world. We just assume an 18 year old will need to spend time finding himself before he is ready to settle down.

      (So glad you're liking Where You Are. I can't wait to get back into it. Now you can see why I said in that post that I'm hesitant to dive straight in!)

  4. Hi, I found your website while I was searching for gay May-december romance novels. I'm 18, and for some goddam reason, my hormones decided that the guys my age just aren't hot…at all. I can understand why society would think that a 10+ age gap would be innappropriate, if the younger partner ends with a 'teen'. I've noticed that age gap becomes less of a concern as people grow older. For example, no one would care if a 30 year old was dating a 45 year old, but if a 18 year old was dating a  33 year old, people would ususally look down upon that even though the age gap between the two are the same. I believe it's because youngster like myself aren't fully developed, and we tend to think with lust rather then love. ( even though…most love starts with lust….) Also, the life experiences of a 33 year old and a 18 year old just doesn't match up…unless one of them gives in. Typically, an 18 year old would be 'experencing' life and having fun, while the older one ususally wants to 'start settling down' or 'stay indoors and read'.   I do believe that May-Decemember romances are possible and it's not fiction. Even if it was a silly high school crush or whatever, the youngster still feels pain and disappointment, and if we weren't really in love,  we wouldn't have felt those suffering moments.  I think the whole idea of May-December romances really depends on the two partner, rather then the idea itself.

    1. Hi, Ken, and thanks for the comment. You made some great points. So as a younger person, do you think you'd be ready to 'start settling down' if you did become involved with someone a little older? 

      If you find any good gay May-December novels, please share! (And watch my site to see when I finish the one I'm working on!) In the meantime, you might want to try Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

      1. Honestly, I think it would depend on how long I've met this partner.  When you say settling down, I'm assuming  to getting married or moving in. I mean that's a big change, and it would take alot of trust to make such a bold move so I would be slightly hesistant on that matter. If you mean settling down as in 'only seeing him' as in a long-term relationship, I do believe I would be ready. I mean that's what love is about right?  Knowing the other half would always be there for you, through hard times and the bad. Love is taking comfort to the idea of waking up beside him everyday in his arms or him being your first thought when you wake up and being your last when you go to sleep. I do believe I would be ready, even knowing that there's bound to be problems.

        There's a couple that I absoloutely loved.
        The Rogue and The Gentlmen by Summer Devon( loved it.)
        A matter of time Series by Mary Calmes(tho series got stretched too long)
        Not His kiss to take by Finn Marlowe
        and I've just finished 'My fair captain' by J.L. Langley

        Most of them are pretty light read, other then the one by Mary and J.L Langley.

  5. Celine Dione and her husband, a much older man who discovered her as a singing twelve year old, then waited for her to be of legal age, married her. Still married, I believe. If that's not May/December, what is?

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