May-December Relationships

Wide Age Gap


First the definition: A May-December romance has nothing to do with the month a couple meets or marries. It describes an intimate involvement of two people with a considerable age difference. Very wealthy men average remarrying brides that are 22.3 years younger.

A woman, typically 35–50, who is more than 8 years older is considered a “cougar.” This term can be either offensive or empowering, depending on the person. In the United States, a “puma” is a woman in her 30s who prefers dating younger men.

An older male is called a “sugar daddy” if he finances a young woman’s lifestyle. The bride of a much older male is often called a “trophy wife.” When either the younger male or female is a minor, the relationship is child molestation—regardless of consent.

Classic May-December Acting Roles

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn
Actors Cary Grant (b. Archibald Alec Leach, 1904) and Audrey Hepburn (b. Audrey Kathleen Ruston, 1929) in Charade, 1963.

Movies often portray an older debonair leading male in dramas and comedies. Without recommending any of the following, plot endings are often, but not always, blissful.

  1. The Age of Adaline (2015): Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman
  2. The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947): Cary Grant + Shirley Temple
  3. Charade (1963): Cary Grant + Audrey Hepburn
  4. The Graduate (1967): Anne Bancroft + Dustin Hoffman
  5. Jurassic Park (1993): Sam Neill + Laura Dern
  6. Love in the Afternoon (1957): Gary Cooper + Audrey Hepburn
  7. In a Lonely Place (1950): Humphrey Bogart + Gloria Grahame
  8. Obsession (1980): Richard Burton + Tatum O’Neal
  9. Rear Window (1954): James Stewart + Grace Kelly
  10. Rebecca (1940): Laurence Olivier + Joan Fontaine
  11. Roman Holiday (1953): Gregory Peck + Audrey Hepburn
  12. Sabrina (1995): Harrison Ford + Julia Ormond
  13. Sabrina (1954): Humphrey Bogart + Audrey Hepburn
  14. Sunset Boulevard (1950): Gloria Swanson + William Holden

Actual May-December Actor Relationships

Catherine Zeta-Jones Michael Douglas
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (b. 1969) with husband Michael Kirk Douglas (b. 1944) at 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Among Hollywood marriages, significant age differences sometimes extend beyond the movie set.

  1. George Clooney + Amal Alamuddin: Age gap: 16 years
  2. Warren Beatty + Annette Bening: Age gap: 21 years
  3. Harrison Ford + Calista Flockhart: Age gap: 22 years
  4. Bruce Willis + Emma Heming: Age gap: 23 years
  5. Sylvester Stallone + Jennifer Flavin: Age gap: 22 years
  6. Solange Knowles + Alan Ferguson: Age gap: 23 years
  7. Leonardo DiCaprio + Camila Morrone: Age gap: 23 years
  8. Donald + Melania Trump: Age gap: 24 years
  9. Michael Douglas + Catherine Zeta-Jones: Age gap: 25 years
  10. Alec Baldwin + Hilaria Thomas: Age gap: 26 years
  11. Kelsey Grammer + Kayte Walsh: Age gap: 26 years
  12. Rod Stewart + Penny Lancaster: Age gap: 26 years
  13. Steve Martin + Anne Stringfield: Age gap: 26 years
  14. Edward James Olmos + Lymari Nadal: Age gap: 31 years
  15. Jeff Goldblum + Emilie Livingston: Age gap: 31 years
  16. Joan Collins + Percy Gibson: Age gap: 32 years
  17. David Foster + Katharine McPhee: Age gap: 35 years
  18. Madonna + Ahlamalik Williams: Age gap: 36 years
  19. Patrick Stewart + Sunny Ozell: Age gap: 38 years
  20. Robert Duval + Luciana Pedraza: Age gap: 41 years
  21. Woody Allen + Soon-Yi Previn: Age gap: 48 years

Biblical May-December Relationships

People may look in the Bible, focusing on a reference to the “wife of your youth” at Proverbs 5:18. The context is not a prohibition. Rather, it draws a contrast between a man’s wife and a strange woman. Other scriptures describe intimate relationships with significant age differences.

  1. Abram + Hagar: Genesis 6:1–4
  2. Boaz + Ruth: Ruth 4:13
  3. David + Abigail: 1 Samuel 25:42
  4. David + Abishag: 1 Kings 1:1–4
  5. Soloman’s wives and concubines: 1 Kings 11:1–3

Negative Consequences

There are more cons than pros to May-December relation­ships. Expect many opportunities to become offended by the remarks of onlookers. The topic of age will be in the forefront of many discus­sions. Most parents have some choice words for someone “robbing the cradle,” especially when that person is near their age.

In social settings, people like to reminisce about youthful memories. These conversa­tions can alienate a mate born decades later. If you can’t handle people talking about you behind (or in front of) your back, you are not ready for this type of relation­ship.

Expect many awkward assumptions of your older mate being your parent or a younger mate being your child. Be quick to introduce yourself as the spouse before someone puts their foot in their mouth (or you have the inclination to put your foot in someone’s mouth).

Hungry for juicy gossip, the common followup question is: “How did you two meet?” If you met under question­able circum­stances, you can change the subject.

Fighting Flaws

May-December Romance
Age gap can become more apparent in the older partner as decades progress.

Some people believe that their soul mate cannot be confined to a specific age. Typically, someone in their 20s is attracted to someone else in their 30s or 40s who looks good for their age. They may be dying their gray hairs and be reasonably fit. At a glance, people can assume an age difference of half a dozen years. Eventually, that age gap becomes more evident.

In a close relationship, you will also be privy to views of the older mate without makeup. The bond must be built on more than physical appearance. Are you prepared for frequent criticism and innu­endos? If not, your initial attraction may change to resentment.

“There was never one day that I ever doubted my decision to be with [David].” —Katherine McPhee-Foster

Do you dream of raising a family and growing old together with your mate. A significant age gap can hinder childbirth and accelerate retirement for half of the partnership. Unexpected illness can occur at any age. But old age brings about aches and pains. So the younger mate is more likely to become an earlier caregiver.

An older woman may experience menopause soon after marriage (if she has not already done so). A man’s testosterone and virility diminishes in propor­tion to a growing prostate gland after 50 or 60 years of age. You could be shaving decades off of your marriage with a significant age difference.

Positive Benefits

A mature man without offspring might marry a youthful woman to carry on his progeny. With more financial stability, a mature partner can impart insight and wisdom. The youthful partner has more strength and vitality. In a complemen­tary manner, they can complete each other. Many younger mates are drawn to the financial stability of the older one. This should not be the sole motivation.

Weigh the pros and cons. If you are truly in love and able to deal with obstacles, cherish the time you have together.

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Updated: Sep 15, 2022

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