Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas, Malaika Arora-Arjun Kapoor, Sushmita Sen-Rohman Shawl, Neha Kakkar-Rohanpreet Singh, and more recently, Gauahar Khan-Zaid Darbar – many celebrity couples have broken the age-gap stereotype and have not let the years come in the way of love. While the traditional societal set-up expects the woman to be younger than the man in a relationship, many among us, much like our celebrities, have found love in a much younger or older partner. All said and done, the equation tends to be seen in a newer light when the woman in such relationships is older than the man.
So, does age bring maturity or it boils down to “baby-sitting” your man? Quashing rumours that she has a 12-year age gap with Zaid, Gauahar, who is all set to tie the knot on December 25, told a news portal that “judging and passing comments that the age gap can act as a barrier in a relationship is very easy, but for Zaid and I, we have a similar kind of understanding and maturity. So, age never matters or hinders in our relationship.”
Sharing a similar sentiment, 53-year-old Sunita Chauhan, who has been married for 31 years to 50-year-old Kaushalendra Singh, said “an older woman is considered wiser”. “I remember, when our alliance was being arranged, the thought was that an older girl meant she was wiser (samajhdaar) and intelligent. In fact, till today, my husband makes sure that he consults me for each and every decision. I don’t think age has affected us negatively. On the contrary, it has contributed to our compatibility,” Sunita, based in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, told indianexpress.com.
“We were clear from the start that our age difference was nothing more than a mere number. I don’t think there is any need to lie about one’s age and create unnecessary issues later. That was the thought back then and it stays the same. If people have a problem, that is not our problem,” she added.
Thirty-year-old Krithika Mohan met her husband Kashish Dua, who is three years younger, in school. While Krithika had her inhibitions of “getting into a relationship with a younger guy”, it was Kashish’s “mature behaviour and genuine nature” that drew Krithika towards him. “I never thought of getting into a relationship with someone younger than me because I had a feeling that it wouldn’t last long, or people might judge my choices. He tried to persuade me with funny examples of celebrity age differences, doing all the right things to woo a girl. I liked his gestures and innocence in his behaviour. I started to change my views with passing days and my behaviour towards him became friendlier and the relationship we developed felt more than friendship,” described Canada-based Krithika in an emailer to indianexpress.com.
While it is usual to see boys dating younger girls, or men marrying younger women, why does the “mentality differ” or is “abnormal” if a woman is older? After her divorce in 2017, Malaika Arora found love in Arjun Kapoor, who is nine years her junior. The couple received flak on social media for their unconventional relationship, to which Malaika was quoted as saying, “You have a problem that my partner happens to be younger than me…I am not here to please anybody.”
“If I am mature at certain things, he is good at making certain decisions. We have our flaws and great qualities and have been able to balance it very well for all these years. I am older but still act like a 2-year-old and that’s the time he acts mature in handling me and there are also times when I guide him through his professional choices or counsel him on certain issues,” said Krithika, narrating her ‘2 States’-like love story. Kashish is a Punjabi, while Krithika is a Tamil Brahmin.
The elder woman tends to be “more mature and not as reactive as a younger woman would be”, mentioned Dr Sonal Sheth, counselling psychotherapist, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai. “She is more accepting of him and his flaws and can be more of a giver in the relationship. She is more tolerant and is able to sustain the relationship better, perhaps with more wise able experience,” Dr Sheth said.
For a Ranchi-based civil servant, who is 11 years older than her 29-year-old husband and is happily married for the last three years, it was about compatibility combined with a “well-settled job profile that offered financial security” to her husband who is employed in a private firm. “My husband is mature and progressive for his age but when compared to me, he is still not so much. He has changed three jobs in the past three years, so I guess, it is love, care and as much financial security that I bring to the equation,” the 41-year-old, who wished to not be named, told indianexpress.com.
The woman, a divorcee and a mother to an 8-year-old girl, met her man on Tinder and dated him for a year before tying the knot against the wishes of his family. “He fought a lot with his family for me. A younger person needs a lot more maturity in such situations and he did that for our relationship. So, when people tell me that he might fall for younger women, I know for a fact that he would stay by my side because of how he has been to me and my daughter from a previous marriage,” said the woman, who also has a child with her present husband.
On the flip side, such relationships do come with their share of baggage, as one tends to “baby-sit” a younger man, especially when they “expect the woman to understand more as she is older”, said a 28-year-old, who asked not to be named and is two years older than her fiance. “They expect us to be understanding in everything, be it financial matters or day-to-day arguments,” said the Bhubaneswar resident, adding that it stems from a man’s “classic negligence mentality of expecting to be mothered all the time”.
On her relationship of three years, she said that she feels a “little insecurity” creeping in her partner’s mind every time she even “interacts with an older man”. “I can sense a change in his demeanour and he becomes possessive. I think that has a lot to do with age,” said the Bhubaneshwar resident.
It manifests the other way round as well, pointed out Dr Sheth. “The most common issue in these kinds of relationships is that an older woman has a lot of insecurity thinking that her husband might be attracted to a younger woman. She also feels the need to look slim, young and attractive. After a certain time, sexual issues are also there, especially post-menopause. The partner still has desires but the woman, due to hormonal changes, loses the sex drive. Very often, the basic attitude and priorities in life also change. Like for example, the woman, due to her age and energy level, would want to slow down but he still wants to go out pubbing, partying, trekking etc,” said Dr Sheth.
However, a younger partner’s “vibrancy and child-like innocence” is a slayer, confess many. “He always carries a good vibe, a child-like innocence that also leaves scope for improvement and evolving together in a relationship (which also includes enjoying precious moments like childbirth and parenting), unlike older men who tend to be adamant and not willing to change much,” said the Bhubaneshwar resident, who has dated older men before.
However, it does boil down to the couple’s “intentions and choices” more than the age difference, said Krithika. “From our story, what I have realised is that it’s your individual choice first, your intentions, understanding your partner, your relationship with parents and the interaction patterns with them. These are equally important factors to consider other than love to help understand the possible implications which can be challenging later,” she said.