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?
The comment field is now open!