A couple with a 33-year age gap has been the topic of much internet debate over the last couple of days. Amanda Harper, 25, and Jay Horsky, 58, from Huntington Beach, California, met on dating website, Plenty Of Fish, and are a very happy couple. They bonded over their passion for making Halloween props, and they've started up their own haunted house business.
But, they’ve definitely had their fair share of negative comments over the past three years they’ve been together.
Amanda says, "I don’t understand why I get called nasty things for being in a happy and healthy relationship, it just blows my mind." She adds, "Normally people who work up the courage ask, 'Is he your dad?' which is a conversation starter. I then proudly say, 'He’s my boyfriend.'"
We’re used to seeing big age gaps between celebrity couples — George Clooney’s wife, Amal Alamuddin, is 17 years younger than him, and French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, are 25 years apart. Defending his relationship, Macron told Le Parisien, "If I was 20 years older than my wife, nobody would think for a single second that we couldn’t be legitimately together." Yet, when it's a couple in real life, we seem to get perturbed by the whole thing.
It's a tricky one. We make a lot of assumptions about the motives behind the couple’s decision to be together when there’s a significant age gap, and when it comes to people we know, we just can't help but feel it's a little weird. As much as we want to be cool with it, it can be hard.
There are all sorts of preconceptions surrounding the whole thing. For example, there’s the "rule" that an appropriate age gap is a fifth of your age, so a 20-year-old could, according to whoever made up this theory, date someone between 16 and 24 years old. Other people believe the classic cliché that "age is just a number," and that maturity is really what matters in relationships.
The average age gap between couples in the U.S. is 2.3 years when the man is older than the woman, according to a 2014 Current Population Survey. This data also found that 64 percent of the time, the man is older than the woman.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
But what is it about age gaps that offend people so much? If you think about it, we could be limiting the pool we have to choose from drastically by only ever going for people roughly our own age.
I think it comes down to a mistrust, a sense that there must be something suspicious going on for "her" to go for "him." As exemplified by the Monica and Richard phase in Friends, it's not something we've always been totally comfortable with, and it's very easy to jump to conclusions.
Psychotherapist and agony aunt, Trish Murphy says, "While any parent would be justified in expressing concern about a 20-year age gap, having a good relationship at any stage of your life is worthwhile, and it would be good to cherish and value that relationship for as long as it makes sense."
A gap in life experience means you definitely won't have everything in common, but as long as "big" things such as children, marriage, and so on are talked about early on, I tend to think we should just live and let live.
This post was written by Millie Hurst. For more, check out our sister site The Debrief.