The Age Debate: Are Couples Ever ‘Too Young’ or ‘Too Old’?

Stephen Fry with his husband
Image source: huffpost.com

In January of this year, 57 year-old writer and comedian Stephen Fry married his partner Elliot Spencer, aged 27. There were many messages of support, love and adoration pouring in from all sides, but also a lot of negativity. People claimed that Spencer was too young, Fry too old, that Spencer was using Fry as a means of financial security or getting by on his fame. And all this without anyone actually knowing about the foundations of the relationship.

Spencer has since spoken out against the comments, stating that he ‘[doesn’t] care what people think’. Fry even joked about the age gap on an appearance of The Jonathan Ross Show – ‘He’s got more life to go than me! There’s an age difference and I keep forgetting which way around it is but I think he’s younger than me. I don’t mind.’ But through all of the giggles and self-deprecation, there is a serious issue on age gaps in relationships, and more importantly, why people are so fascinated by the concept of it.

There are many people in the public eye who have a noticeable age gap in their relationship – Charlize Theron and Sean Penn have fifteen years between them, Beyonce and Jay Z have twelve – but the one that most people instantly think of is Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, who have twenty five years between them, Jones being 46 while Michael is 71. Two days ago, the couple celebrated fifteen years of marriage despite a brief split in 2013. If you may recall, Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humpries lasted 72 days. How old were they? 31 and 26, respectively.

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So what exactly is the big deal?

People come up with several points, not that any of them stand up particularly well. One wasn’t even born when the other was in their twenties? Well they’re not now, so that’s not a problem. But won’t they have different interests, having grown up in different times and eras? Not necessarily. I once dated a man over twenty years my senior, and I have had better conversations with him than I have with some people my own age. And what about their sex lives? Surely an older man or an older woman couldn’t keep up with their younger partner? Firstly, that’s not really your business to speculate, and that’s all it is: speculation. Take what I just said about conversation, and replace ‘conversation’ with ‘sex’. Yes. That’s right. You should try it sometime.

The most important thing in any relationship is love. Love, contentment, and happiness. And personally, I don’t think it’s anyone’s right to base an assumption on a relationship based on how much of an age gap there is. Or better yet, don’t base an assumption on a relationship. Full stop.

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