Help me put down more of my baggage RE age & romance
February 26, 2015 2:01 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for three things here: Positive depictions of older men as objects of romantic interest, positive depictions of older women as objects of romantic interest and positive depictions of relationships with a significant age difference, especially in songs and movies, though other media are welcome.

You don't have to read the backstory to answer the question, but the following several paragraphs is the short version:

Because I was molested as a child, it tends to bother me if I am attracted to someone who is older than me or younger than me by more than a few months. The first three guys I slept with were all born the same summer as me and were all within about 10 weeks of my exact age. That includes the ex-husband, whom I was with for 20-22 years -- so the vast majority of the sex I have had has been with someone very close to my exact age. During my divorce, I had romantic relationships with men who were as much as ~17 years older or ~13 years younger and I did manage to put down a lot of my baggage, but not all of it.

This is about how I feel about my own feelings, not about how men behave towards me. I do not bat an eyelash at an older man finding me attractive. A man has to be like 30 or 35 years older than me before I get all judge-y and start going "Dude, what is wrong with you? You are old enough to be my father!" I honestly don't see anything wrong with a man who is, say, up to 20 years older than me hitting on me. But I still feel like I am doing something vaguely skeevy to think something like "Hubba hubba, silver fox!"

However, the past few days, I have been thinking about older men that I have found attractive in the past and I have concluded that I am usually attracted because they are just very well-mannered and do a better job of treating me like a whole human being. In a nutshell, the older men who turn my head do so because they have savoir faire, not because they have gray hair. So I would really like to be able to put down the rest of that baggage and just enjoy feeling like "Wow -- sexy older man over there! Woot!" In support of that process, I am looking for positive depictions of older men as objects of romantic interest (regardless of the age of the partner/admirer).

Also, I will be 50 in June. Although I am somewhat thick-skinned about the general societal messages that a woman past age 40 might as well join a nunnery because no one will ever want her again, unfortunately, I am acquainted with a man who is really talented at hurting my feelings and screwing with my head and one of the uglier things he has done is make me feel really shitty about my age. In this case, my usual position of "assholes gonna asshole" is not working as an antidote. Just realizing that a snake has bitten me (and having the occasional cry about it) is failing to adequately draw the venom from the wound. So I am also wanting positive depictions of older women as objects of romantic interest (again, regardless of the age of the partner/admirer).

Last, I am old enough that it should be innocent good clean fun in most cases for me to feel like a pretty young thing because a man is older than me and giving me the once over. But, also, really, if a man is, call it, 30 years old, he's a grown-assed man and should be able to decide for himself if he really wants to pursue a woman however-many-years his senior. It shouldn't leave me feeling vaguely like I am doing something bad and wrong to accept the attentions of someone younger than me, just because they are younger. So I would like to put down more of that baggage too. Thus, I am also looking for positive depictions of relationships with a significant age difference, regardless of which person is older/younger, because this +/- 6 months emotional comfort zone is kind of on the narrow side.

Some examples of things I like:

The song "My Sharona" by The Knack . Sharona was 17, but I have seen an interview with her and I feel like her relationship to the 25 year old musician who wrote the tribute to her was not skeevy .

The role Kim Basinger played in the movie "The Door in the Floor' in which having a relationship to a much younger man helps her move on from her kind of icky husband and their very dysfunctional marriage. Also, it depicts her as still looking good and as the one who was pursued and that they are basically both decent human being who are nice to each other (unlike, say, the song "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart which paints a picture of a neurotic older woman, desperate for attention and not all that pretty anymore, who goes after a younger man in a vain bid for validation and then is manipulative and toxic to him).

Also, in "Waking Ned Devine," there is a really short scene in which a very pretty young woman admits that the recently deceased Ned Devine, who was quite old, was the father of her small child and that she slept with him because he just treated her so much better than most of the men who hit on her. It's really short and just a conversation, but it is something I really appreciated about the movie. Plus, I really liked the movie "Six Days, Seven Nights." (But, then, I think Harrison Ford is hot anyway.)

Thank you!
posted by Michele in California to Human Relations (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Shadowlands.
posted by michaelh at 2:09 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: harold and maude
posted by monologish at 2:14 PM on February 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I immediately thought of the book "The One and Only" by Emily Giffin.
posted by toby_ann at 2:16 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: The age-disparity element isn't in this, but how about the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:16 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: Shirley Valentine might be another option.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:19 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One very positive thing you can do is cut the person who is making you feel shitty out of your life forever and never talk to him again. Is it possible to do so immediately?

I will tell you that from my own personal life experience, I've been attracted to men who are plus or minus twelve years or so to me, and it's only skeevy if the age thing is a big deal to either of you. I have been fetishized by men because of my age (or lack thereof, depending on theirs). It should be a nonissue, not something perceived as a bragging right.

As far as positive depictions go, isn't there a movie called How Stella Got Her Groove Back about a woman who fell in love with a younger guy and well, got her groove back?
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 2:38 PM on February 26, 2015

Response by poster: If you aren't being best answered, I probably have no idea what the movie/song is that you are suggesting. This may be a good thing in that it gives me new material to look for over time. So thank you! If you are being best answered, I have probably seen it and liked it or have quickly found something online (like the Wikipedia page) that gives me a really good impression and makes me want to see it. Again, thank you!

One very positive thing you can do is cut the person who is making you feel shitty out of your life forever and never talk to him again. Is it possible to do so immediately?

This is not possible (best anwered for "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" -- great movie!). I am doing everything I can to protect myself from this person (in his favor, there are ways in which he is a decent human being and is trying hard to be less of an ass -- it's just a difficult situation for both of us). So I am only responding to it to ask future respondents to please skip telling me how to manage this relationship and stick to just suggesting songs, movies and other media, per the actual question.

posted by Michele in California at 2:49 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's a Wikipedia link to a list of May/September romance movies . You may find "may september romance" a useful search term as well.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: Are you familiar with Aimee Mann's Mr. Harris? The link includes the lyrics, too; the song's not exactly rockin' but very sweet and has one of the messages message you're looking for, if I understood correctly. Good luck with your goal!
posted by smorgasbord at 3:35 PM on February 26, 2015

"My First Mister" is a practically invisible movie (I don't know anyone else who's seen it, but I bought a copy I was so moved). There isn't a May/September romance per se, but a rich supportive relationship.
posted by kestralwing at 3:38 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: In Seasons 2 and 4 of Dexter, Special Agent Lundy has a romance with Debra. I'm not sure what the age gap was supposed to be in terms of characters, but the actors are 30 years apart. It never came off like "sleazy older man pervs over young hottie". Instead it was clearly a meeting of minds with a shared passion (police work) who also had strong chemistry together.

Fwiw my partner is 20 years older and at one point I wondered if I had some Daddy issues. Then I realised fuck it - if he was a different race, religion, gender or of differing physical ability I'd still love him. I love the person inside and he makes me happy. Why should I be ageist when I wouldn't be anything else-ist? Good luck on your quest.
posted by billiebee at 3:51 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: I came in to say Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and since it seems you haven't seen it, just let me second that.
posted by penguin pie at 4:07 PM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Red was a really fun comedy-action movie and there's a 9yr age gap between Bruce Willis and Mary Louise Parker (who's your age!). Helen Mirren also has a sexy side story (she's 69). There's a sequel too.
posted by jrobin276 at 5:27 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For what it's worth, my partner and I have a 19 year age gap (we're both men). We met when I was 27 and he was 46. We took/take a lot of shit about it--some of it even well-meaning, I think, or even funny (e.g. the barber saying, "you and your dad look so much alike")--and at some point one has to let go of the need for societal approval. Chart your own course, look at your own interests and not the ones others expect to bring you comfort.

One of my favorite cultural touchstones, though, is the lives of two fascinating people as summed up in the excellent documentary Chris & Don, a love story.

Chris & Don tells the story of a romance that began on the beaches of Santa Monica in the 1950s, when Christopher Isherwood at age 48 met Don Bachardy who then was eighteen years old. Isherwood, an established author with works such as The Berlin Stories, which helped inspire much of Cabaret, helped Bachardy discover and develop his affinity for drawing and painting as he became a renowned portrait painter during the second half of the 20th century to the present. The documentary includes insight from friends, including Liza Minnelli and John Boorman, who tell of the countless struggles the two faced as one of the first openly gay couples in Hollywood. Despite the age difference, the couple endured until Isherwood succumbed to prostate cancer in 1986.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:30 PM on February 26, 2015

Fwiw, I'm only 32 and I think Bruce is pretty hot. George Clooney too. I do not feel weird about it. It's a manly man thing... The younger metrosexual Justin Bieber types just don't do it for me.

I also had a thing for one of my professors, who I eventually found out was old enough to be my father. He was very good looking, but mostly just a really great, really gentle person. No qualms there either. ;)
posted by jrobin276 at 5:32 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: I am also wanting positive depictions of older women as objects of romantic interest (again, regardless of the age of the partner/admirer).

Monica Belluci, the new Bond girl woman is 50. (And in fact, she's actually a few years older than Daniel Craig IRL.)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:33 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: Might be problematic for other reasons, but the last seasons and films of Sex and the City have the relationship between Samantha Jones, who turns 50 in the first film, and Smith Jerrod, who is 20 years younger.
posted by gingerest at 8:39 PM on February 26, 2015

Best answer: You'll get plenty of media recommendations, and a 'May/December Romance' search will provide plenty of others. But I overheard two women of a certain age the other day:
"If you want to be impressed with him, go for an older man; if you want him to be impressed by you, go younger." That may or may not be of use.
posted by bartleby at 11:06 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Time-Traveler's Wife is an interesting take on this, as the same couple has different age gaps throughout the story, sometimes very significant ones.
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 7:31 AM on February 27, 2015

Best answer: Any movie with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (and their real-life romance). Despite their significant age difference, they come across as equally matched.

Maybe not exactly what you're looking for, and my memory of Only Lovers Left Alive might be faulty, but I think it was implied that Eve was significantly older than Adam (if not outright stated), although since they were centuries-old vampires, it really didn't matter. (Worth noting, too, Tilda Swinton is 20 years older than Tom Hiddleston.)
posted by darksong at 8:47 AM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thomas Crowne Affair
posted by Jacqueline at 12:06 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have gone ahead and best answered anything that suggested a resource. I look forward to exploring any of those I am not already familiar with. Props to the suggestion Red. I had not heard of it before and I am a huge Bruce Willis fan. Yay! Yesterday, I also had best answered a couple of other things due to good explanations or whatever, even without prior familiarity. So, today: whatevs. I am really feeling effusive and happy with this ask, so "candy" for pretty much everyone!

I have already gotten a great deal out of doing this ask. I actually wrote a draft when MeFi was telling me I couldn't post an Ask for another two hours, then went to lunch -- i.e. let it simmer on the mental back burner -- and then rewrote a good portion of it, making it a far better question.

In the process, I kind of had the epiphany that I got married at 19 to another 19 year old and then slept with him for another couple of decades-ish -- and I have been celibate since the day he physically moved out, closing in on ten years ago. At the time that I got married, had I been interested in someone 10 years younger than me, that would have made me a pedophile. And had I been involved with someone 10 years older than me, that would have made their behavior kind of suspect, at a minimum. In spite of the emotional entanglements I have had, given my long period of abstinence, I haven't really had good opportunity to move on mentally from that assumption that "a lover is someone my age."

So just writing the question out to try to make it say what I wanted it to say helped make me feel less like I am broken and twisted and more like I am kind of stuck in a mental rut. That feels like a much, much less challenging problem to have and I already feel better about myself.

Thank you everyone!
posted by Michele in California at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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