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The May-December Romance


The May-December Romance

When someone speaks about the "May-December Romance", they're referring to a romantic relationship in which one partner is considerably older than the other partner. This is no specific age gap which meets the requirements of the May-December Romance. It's merely a general term which applies to relationships which have a wide enough age gap to cause people in a society to raise their eyebrows at the relationship. This can vary significantly from culture to culture so there's no cut-and-dry rule when it comes to defining this kind of relationship.

Gender in the May-December Romance

Traditionally, the term referred to the situation of a man being much older than his female lover. However, there is no longer any gender rule applied to the term. It can refer to a situation in which the female is much older than the male. It can also refer to gay and lesbian relationships in which one partner is significantly older than the other.

Pros and cons of the May-December Romance

It's important to remember that the nature of any couple's relationship depends upon a number of different factors including their personal histories and personalities, their views on relationships and the way that they interact and communicate with one another. For that reason, it is impossible to say definitively if a May-December Romance is a "good thing" or a "bad thing". It's also as impossible to say if one of these relationships will work out as it is to say that about any relationship.

However, there are some basic pros and cons that you can consider when you are assessing this type of relationship in your own life. They are general and should be looked at with a wary eye as you consider whether or not you want to engage in a May-December Romance yourself. They should also be considered cautiously whenever you are making judgments on this type of relationship when faced with a friend or family member engaging in it.

In general, the pros of the relationship include stability, learning from one another and lust. The latter is what tends to drive these relationships initially but that can be said of most relationships. It tends to merge into a sort of infatuation/appreciation that works for many couples over time. In general, these relationships tend to be more stable than other relationships because the older party tends to be patient and forgiving in a way that isn't true when dealing with your peers. The age difference tends to create a learning environment because each partner is in a different stage of life (and perhaps comes from different generational beliefs) which means that they are regularly faced with the opportunity to educate and inspire one another. These are all things that contribute to the positive end of the relationship.

On the flip side, there tend to be some power imbalances in these types of relationships. That stability can turn into a patronizing attitude that leads to resentment in the relationship. Additionally, there are a myriad of problems that being in different life stages can present. The biggest is whether and when to have children together. There are also problems with being in different career stages and having different priorities in life because of age. These are certainly problems that can be overcome but are challenges that tend to be present in the May-December romance.

Celebrity May-December Romances

One of the ways that we get exposed to relationships such as these is that we see celebrities going through them. There have been many famous May-December romances over the course of history. Just a few of these famous couples (whether or not they are together now) include:

  • Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. She's fifteen years older than he is which many say qualifies as a May-December relationship.
  • Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart. He has more than twenty years on her.
  • Christopher Knight and Adrienne Curry. She's a full quarter century younger than he is.
  • Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. He's got a quarter century on her as well, exactly so since they share a birthday.
  • Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. There's a dozen years in between these two.
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. There's more than fifteen years separating these two.

The Intrigue of May-December Romances

There are a number of reasons that we as a society are interested in May-December romances. (We're so interested, in fact, that there are quite a few movies that feature this kind of relationship. See the list of such films at Wikipedia in the links below.) For one thing, this kind of relationship used to be highly taboo and there's still an air of that about it; taboo always gets our hearts racing and our noses prying just a little bit. Additionally, this type of relationship isn't the norm (although it's becoming increasingly common) so we're curious about what it's all about.

Perhaps the most important reason that we have a tendency to be intrigued about this kind of a relationship is because we judge the quality of our own relationships on the standards of other relationships around us. People who are seeking validation in their own relationship may turn to relationships such as these to help define themselves as "normal" (either because they're in a May-December relationship and want to find the pros of being in one or because they're not and want to confirm that their way is the "right way").

Successfully experiencing a May-December Romance

Like with any other relationship, this kind of relationship may thrive or it may fizzle. Which way it goes is really dependent on the two people in the relationship and the work that they are willing to put in to make it work out. To be successful in this kind of relationship over the long term, you need to be open in communicating about the concerns that you have about the age factor in your relationship. There are going to be unique challenges that present themselves because of this factor and they're not going to go away just because you don't want to talk about them.

In addition to dealing with your feelings on your own and with your partner, you need to address the fact that there are going to be people in your life who don't agree with the May-December romance that you're having. You need to figure out how you want to deal with those people so that they don't mar your relationship with their judgments. In the end, whether or not this kind of relationship is right for you is solely up to you to decide.

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Catt on August 18, 2013:

Who in the world cannot understand that I, Catt the Cougar 67, can possibly have a fun filed, exciting, sexual friendship with my mature 21 year old male? He has love, appreciation and respect for me. (one year now) His answer to that is, "this story to be continued".

ditzy on November 02, 2012:

I'm dating a 19yr-old guy and I'm 32. It's fun and I have no brain so we get along well.

Karen Hellier from Georgia on September 22, 2012:

I married the love of my life 2 years ago when I was 50 and he was 75. We are very happy together and it is true that people have always said I am mature for my age, and he has a very young and adventurous personality. We are extremely committed to each other and realize that we will never hit our 50 year anniversary so cherish every day we are given. I do think that's a key thing to remember...not to get upset over petty things that won't really matter because time is not on our side. We don't want to waste any of our time together in anger. Great hub. Voted up and interesting.

elma kf on June 12, 2012:

We met 13 years ago but i didn't know that he (my boyfriend now) fell in love with me at the first sight. Over the 13 years he contacted me by phone and came to visit me but I didn't know that he has feelings for me. I have been married and divorced twice when we first met and got married for the third time 11 years ago (divorced after a year) and to my surprised he told me he was devastated when he found out about it. He contacted me again 6 months ago and confessed that he has been waiting for me for 13 years and I was shocked and somehow after few dates I fell for him. We have been together since then and I find our love blooms and we miss each other a lot when we are apart. I'll be 59 in November and he'll be 35 next January. We do get weird stares by people but who cares.

Grace on June 12, 2012:

I am 52 and have been seeing a man who is 82 now. We met when I was 35 and he was 65. That is 18 years of a love that I can not explain. What a relationship it has been. The attraction is still just as strong now as it was when we first met. It is a connection of the heart and soul. I dont feel we would ever be excepted by society in our small town expecially when he has sons my age.

edna salazar on June 05, 2012:

im madly in love w/a guy 40 yrs my junior ...i meet him on the first i consider him as my son but he insisted to be my boyfriend...eventually i fall in love w/him...with

our big age gap my conscience is bothering i doing the right thing...a unique may december affair...

Chander on March 27, 2012:

I am very big fan of Philippens girls i like them most. i wanna be date any girl frm philippens.

Wednesday on December 19, 2011:

Im a 47yr. old women in a relationship with a 23 year old bi sexual man. He is an old soul and I'm quite young at heart. We love and care for each other great deal. We met when he was 18and I. Was43. we're going on five years. The love that I have for him is mOre patient,Iesrn from him everyday and he from me. We are happy with how things are.

ednafaith on September 22, 2011:

age doesn't matter as long as u understand each other compatible in any topic under the sun, comparing notes and most of all "Love Reigns".

Samara Dawes on September 15, 2011:

It's really great when May-December romance works out well. People are just people despite age. However, there can be some pitfalls to look out for-

lovelyme29 on August 17, 2011:

I turned 31 in July, and am in love with a man who is 60. The thing is he seems to be more self-assured in our relationship than I am! He's articulate, very intelligent, loving, sweet, educated, great in bed, etc. He is healthy and has a full head of hair! LOL! I see myself with him for the long haul. Even though I do think about how much time we would have together, but young people die too, so...

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 13, 2011:

Also, the sexual relationship, although it can be great, can be something that both may not be on the same page hormonally (desire-wise) if there's a big age gap. That CAN be a problem, too. Still, there are successful May-December romances. Interesting hub. Enjoyed it.

Jukai888 on August 06, 2011:

I will be 47 this month and she will be 20 in September and we are very much in love. Thank you for such an amazing hub -- truly insightful.

RalphGreene on July 29, 2011:

Absolutely interesting hub! Thanks for sharing.

Shadow of Me from Pennsylvania on July 27, 2011:

I just wrote a story of my own on this subject. I am glad I found your hub and read the comments. They have been helpful. I have never liked anyone more than 7 years older. The guy in my hub is 23 years older and a good friend.

sbh on May 25, 2011:

wow! i am 43 years old and my boyfriend is 33 years. this is may-december love affair and age is not a matter if you love each other.

Angie on March 10, 2011:

I recently started seeing a guy who is 15 years my senior, the oldest I have ever dated. I'll be 25 next month (he's 40) and while this is new for me, it feels so right. Since high school, I have never liked dealing with guys my age mainly because of maturity issues. With both of my last two boyfriends, we were together for quite some time (2 1/2 years and 3 years) and they were both four years older. I have always been told that I am mature beyond my years mentality-wise, although I am the average 24-year-old. Anywho, my new beau is so handsome and sweet and a great listener. When dealing with younger guys I always find myself teaching them something (I'm a history and social science buff, and an avid reader) and finally I am the pupil. Although he has a 10-year-old son, I still want to get to know him. This article really helped. Thank you! :)

Autumn Conley on February 20, 2011:

I am 40, and my husband of almost five years is 25, so we are definitely May-December... it is not always easy, and during our relationship there have been times when we have had to really work out some differences, but I love him dearly, and I believe he loves me, and this article really strikes a cord with me because it hits the nail on the head in so many ways. Nothing about May-December romances is really easy, and there are internal and external hurdles to overcome, but you've made a lot of excellent points here and given some hope and encouragement, and for that I thank you!

Olive Ellis on February 20, 2011:

Interesting hub. My spouse is 18 years my senior, so I guess we qualify. This type of romance is okay up to a certain age, but when the male (especially) gets older and starts having erectile dysfunction and other ailments that come with old age....... I will be following your hubs and please follow mine.

Ingenira on January 12, 2011:

I often wonder how Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones could stay together for so long. There must be some special bond between them.

Interesting hub. :)

gwiebler on January 10, 2011:

I have been involved in Two Long Term Relationships. When I was 20 Years Old, I met a Women 64. We were together 20 Plus Years. She was a Beautiful Classy Lady, On the Inside & Out. My Wife Now is 20 Years older Than me. Were going on 15 Years together. No one can Tell Me is Isn't Love. I"ve Been Very Happy With Older Women All My Life!!! I Can Remember since I was About 5 years Old, Admiring Older Women. And YES My Mom & I have a Great Relationship. These Wonderful Older Women Have Shown me what Love & Life are ALL About.

GlstngRosePetals from Wouldn't You Like To Know on December 15, 2010:

I enjoyed reading your hub a lot of info. I feel that age is just a number if your in love that's what matters.

uarichm on November 29, 2010:

Wow!! Good to know!!

angela on September 09, 2010:

i'm so interested in this kind of romance.i'm just as curious if the love of my life now who is 20 years my junior would have a future together someday.i wish to read an article,read a book or view a movie in which i can relate.i want no other but him.

Emma on August 12, 2010:

When I was 18, I was involved in a May/December romance with a 56 year old man, and he was the first (and, so far, only) person I've ever been in love with. Even though the relationship didn't work out in the long run, I'm still grateful for the experience, and am glad he was my first love, as he was just an all-around great person. Thank you for such an excellent article on the subject!

FirstStepsFitness on July 25, 2010:

Amazing Hub ! I am not familiar with the term but I like it . You bring up some very valid points in a very informative way . Thank you

ftch911 on April 27, 2010:

As someone that has experienced a May-December Romance first hand; I must say that your hub did hit a lot of accurate points. Kudos for writing such an informative hub.

Kimmy.Lowe on April 23, 2010:

This is such an informative hub. You did an excellent job of knocking down the walls that some people might perceive when looking at the age difference. Well done. I have a few hubs about romance and how to enhance a better bound with your lover, and I would love to put your link up for some of my readers who are having problems with their May-December Romance.

antonrosa from USA on March 28, 2010:

Romance still does exist! Thanks for sharing!

Darryl on January 29, 2010:

Great article! You are quite an excellent writer, I'm anxious

to read more of your work!

Rachel on January 11, 2010:

When I was 18 I married my "boy"friend, who was 54.

I'm 23 now (he's 59 if you can't do the math) and we couldn't be happier. I had a child at 21 and am pregnant now with another, and hope to have maybe one more if all goes as planned. Things are swell. We're very committed, very happy, and lead a pretty dull and convetional life, despite being outwardly a little different. Older men are gentle, wise, and good providers. What more could a woman want?

I hope to finish a book of short stories (thinly veiled anecdotes about my life, May-December relationships, and living unconventionally!) in the next year or so and publish it... perhaps (!) it will make a list like this one some day.

dejajolie from New Jersey/New York on November 20, 2009:

Wow, I was compelled to write an article about this, from my beat me to Great Article

anderbee on October 21, 2009:

what a thorough article. great job!

Everwander on February 24, 2009:

I enjoyed reading this a lot. I'm in my late twenties and am falling for a guy who's just turned fifty. He's not my first, but he's the first one I've ever felt...serious about. Thing is, he's hung up on the age difference. I don't get it. Due to health issues, we'll probably be visited by the reaper around the same time, though I think he has a decent chance of outliving me. So our ages shouldn't matter since the remainder of our journeys are essentially the same. We'd have a good fifteen-twenty together, if everything worked out. I'd probably even take better care of myself with him around. Just being practical here. Ah, well, great page! Especially the famous couples list!

Online Dating Advice on February 13, 2009:

Good points both for and against were brought up in this post. In my view, the younger party must be more mature than their years would indicate and the older party must be more fun-loving and adventurous.

Ideally, both people in such a relationship should feel comfortable and get something out of the relationship, as well. I think it would be difficult if the younger party were very immature or the older party were too much of a 'stick in the mud'.

Sometimes when such a relationship is built only on lust, it does not last very long so there must be more that each individual sees in the other to continue this type of relationship past the initial phase.

LoveGuruLady on January 27, 2009:

Very Informative and must read hub.


Dr. Valarie on August 17, 2008:

I'm personally glad to see a trend toward a more tolerant view of these relationships. If both are "consenting adults," the chronological age should be just a demographic, rather than an overwhelming factor bearing down on the couple. May I recommend a clear, practical book for this issue: Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance by Felicia Brings and Susan Winter. Someone in this forum mentioned power, and I think that's a big part of the intolerance of such "May-December" romances. Especially with the older woman--the "older" person is usually presumed to be "wiser," and therefore is questioned as to why she would be attracted to a younger partner. Also, there is STILL in 2008 a lingering idea that a woman should be cared for by someone, and that someone is only capable of doing so if he is older.

Also, as I write this, I would be interested in a discussion about the "May-December" dynamic in same-sex couples. Thoughts?

Ann Martin on May 29, 2008:

Never heard the term before, but loved the movie The Graduate and anjoyed reading your hub. Thanks!

Woody Marx from Ontario, Canada on March 16, 2008:

Beautifully written hub. Lots of insight.

Your Buddy on March 07, 2008:

May-December romance is a matured love. There were many such couples in the history of many countries and they were successful too.

It's a matter of understanding each other, then the age difference would not be an issue.

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