How to Pick a Lover

Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than he can say.
—Paul Simon, “Mrs. Robinson”

When thinking of a possible lover, a woman often considers a younger man. This does not involve a woman of eighteen with a young man of sixteen. Rather, it includes those scenarios where the woman is old enough to be considered an adult by any standard, and the man is young enough still to be considered boy-like.

When a woman is in her twenties, this might involve a difference of as little as five years; later, it might be more like ten or fifteen. There is considerably more difference in social position and experience between a woman of forty and a young man of twenty-five than between a woman of twenty-seven and a young man of twenty-two.

The “older-woman, younger-man” combination meets with much more social disapproval than does the association of an older man with a younger woman. It is a less likely combination in terms of marriages and probably is also less common in terms of love affairs.

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at the 2010 Time...

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore Wikipedia

The media image of such involvements has not been very positive. One such example that immediately comes to mind is the relationship between actress Demi Moore and actor Ashton Kutcher. The media has, for the most part, treated their relationship as an aberrant and questionable pairing. And now that they have split, many believe that the primary reason  for the breakup was due to the age gap between them. On the other hand, the pairing of actress Catherine

Cover of "In Praise of Older Women"

Zeta-Jones and actor Michael Douglas, an older man and a younger woman, has not received the same negative press, nor has its legitimacy been publicly questioned to the same degree. Another example is the affair in Dustin Hoffman’s hit movie The Graduate in which the older woman, Mrs. Robinson, was not exactly a heroine. Stephen Vizinczey’s novel In Praise of Older Women conveys a more positive attitude. Unfortunately, although the book sold well, attitudes change slowly; and outside the world of Hollywood, many people still consider such pairings to be morally unacceptable or, at the very least, subject to ridicule.

When thinking about a possible lover, there is sometimes an undeniable appeal in a beautiful boy-child in his late teens or early twenties who has finally finished growing and is just beginning to find his place in the world. For one thing, his body is still strong and straight. Being strong is not really important most of the time; it is certainly not necessary in order to make love well, but it is a nice plus. The boy-child’s skin is smoother, the breath is fresher, and the eyes somehow seem to be bigger and softer.

He is more likely to have the charm of enthusiasm. He can still be impressed by many things and is willing to show it. And he is, of course, more potent than he will be later in life. He may not make love very well, but he will make love and make it often. He can, perhaps, also be taught to make love well; and then his boundless enthusiasm and virility can be a source of great enjoyment.

Sex roles do not change very quickly, but they do change somewhat with each new generation. Today’s generation of young men has escaped some of the rigidity of sex roles that their fathers learned. They are more able to express a range of emotions beyond the traditional ones of lust and rage.  Younger men have the gift of tears as well as laughter, and that makes them more sensitive as well as more fun.

A young man also helps to keep you young. He is into a different style of dress, a different music and dance, a different language. By osmosis, you absorb more of the current trends in popular culture than you would otherwise. It is somewhat the same function that children have in keeping their parents in touch with the latest fads and fashion—except that the young man is bringing you the more relevant components of adult culture albeit that of the very young adult.

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