For most people, having a sexual or romantic relationship with someone way older or younger than you is awkward.
To learn more about the stigma and reality of age-gap relationships, I talked to some women and men who had lived them: Phil, an older man in a long-distance relationship with a 22-year-old; Dina, a kinky, polyamorous 20-year-old who goes to her older partner for life advice; Fiona, a 70-year-old who outlived her young husbands and dates men who will help her with the internet; and Brad, a 31-year-old who says older women are appealing because they get straight to the point. VICE: Will you tell me a little bit about yourself? I have an ongoing relationship with a 22-year-old woman in North Carolina. I'm a second-year university student, love school and academia, love to read, love to paint, and have an inner goth side to me. I've been kink-aware since I was ten, and actively kinky when I started dating at 16. It was a few months before I turned 19 that I met my first older man who I came to love and have a relationship with, and that's what made me understand age is a number and should not be an inherent barrier as the age gap widens. [then] discussed becoming play partners so we could both explore and gain experience with kinks we share, and it eventually turned into a romantic relationship, not just a friendship. It was a trip to Old Sac (Old Sacramento) one night just for the hell of it.
I spent two weeks with her last year, and we had a lot of sex. We parked the bike and we went strolling around hand-in-hand, just enjoying the night air and the lights and sound.
At one point we popped into one of the candy shops and he cracked up laughing because I was a total "kid in the candy store." I was grinning as he found sweets he grew up with when he was a kid.
Another stereotype is that young women who date older men have daddy issues, or that these May-December romances involve an icky Oedipal component.
"It's hard not to use our parents as barometers for measuring our adult relationships," says Marin. The only problem is that I can't get nearly as hard as I used to, but I have a very well-trained tongue that she seems to love.
"If you never had a solid mother or father figure, you could consciously or subconsciously seek out an older partner to fill that role. VICE: Will you tell me a little bit about yourself? He's a retired member of the medical field, and I have a condition he was talking about in a forum thread there.
If your childhood was full of chaos, you might desire the stability of someone in a later stage in life." But people connect for all kinds of reasons, both sexual and emotional, and relationships can look a lot different from the outside than the inside. I visited her for about two weeks and she visited me for about a week. She sings opera; she writes poetry; she paints; she takes classes in Spanish and German. Her biggest quirk is that she sounds just like Marilyn Monroe—very young and "cute." I love listening to her. Dina: I'm a 20-year-old California-born Persian-American girl. We realized we had a good bit in common, met up one day for brunch at a restaurant...
"Like any other relationship, some age-gap relationships can be healthy and some can be unhealthy, and there are plenty of shades of gray," cautions professional sex therapist Vanessa Marin.
"Of course, these can be tricky relationships since the partners are in such different life stages.
One might be getting out of grad school, while the other is preparing for retirement.
It can be hard to find enough to connect over, or shared goals to work towards." "You certainly do see a lot of powerful, wealthy, older men with young women on their arms, but that's not to say that money is the sole motivation in all of these types of relationships," she adds.