K latsch is the opposite of liberal. He is like a snake hissing around the celebrities. And where it misses the observance of a norm, there it bites. When actor Sky du Mont and Mirja Becker got together, she rattled out loud: "29 years of age difference? This can not go well. What does he want to compensate? And does the woman have a father complex?"
Supposedly worried, the snake coiled around the couple and lurked, but it did not stop looking oh so happy. 16 years later, Becker is 40, du Mont 69, the couple has announced their separation. "I knew it," the snake triumphs, "age is to blame." As if 16 years is not a long time for a relationship.
The greater the age difference between two partners, the greater the excitement. Even more so when they are in public. No matter whether they are Franz Muntefering and Michelle Schumann (40 years age difference), Maike Richter and Helmut Kohl (34 years) or Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn (34 years).
There is a rule of thumb for how much younger a relationship partner can be for it to be socially acceptable: one’s own age divided by two plus seven. A study carried out in the Netherlands in 2000 showed that this formula is still far too generous. In reality, both sexes indicate that partners should be much closer to their own age than would be "allowed" by the formula. Only when it comes to dreaming do at least the men admit to a larger age jump: the 60-year-olds stated that it was okay to dream of a 20-year-old, because in their minds public opinion apparently does not sway them.
He is more self-confident than ever, she is almost 16 years younger
All this may sound old-fashioned to an enlightened society. But statistics also say most people who get married only diverge by two to three years on average. In only about six percent of all couples, one is more than ten years older. But does age play a role in romantic love at all?? And if so, why?
Martin is 36. He notices his age mainly on his head. There is less hair than ten years ago, and when he laughs, his face wrinkles. Martin’s athletic stamina has declined, he himself has gained weight. His brain has become biologically lighter, nevertheless his mental performance is now at its peak. He says he doesn’t notice that his testosterone levels have dropped. For today he has many more opportunities with women than when he was 20.
His girlfriend is almost 16 years younger than him. At their age, around 20, women have reached their maximum height. Heart, kidneys, nose, eyes, all organs function optimally. Martin’s girlfriend weighs half as much as he does.
Evolutionary psychology says men find women of childbearing age particularly attractive, while women looked to older men for long-term security.
The financial gap, a power gap
Martin feels more self-confident today than he did in his 20s. He is now someone, can offer something. He earns enough money, has settled well in life. His girlfriend studies. He says it’s not a cliche, it just happens that you pay your younger girlfriend a lot, not because she’s counting on it, but out of self-interest. He doesn’t want to live at the level of a freshman. In the argument, the financial gap is sometimes an issue, because it’s a power gap. But all this has nothing to do with age, he says. Rather with the life situation. At 20, he was already working.
In a relationship, partners don’t change, says psychological research. In a stable relationship, you change your idea of the ideal, adapt it to your partner.
During the semester break, Martin’s girlfriend lives with him, watches series, surfs the Internet, and in the evening, when he comes home from work and wants to turn on the washing machine and the TV, she wants to do something. He says: "Why haven’t you shopped before??"She says: "I’m not your housewife."
A woman who throws herself completely into his world
Martin has tried it with women his age, but it never worked out. He believes that if women are single at 35, it is for a reason. They didn’t want to admit it, but they couldn’t adjust to anyone anymore. But he needs a woman who will throw herself completely into his world.
He says women friends claim he has a "trauma": because he failed at love in his twenties, that’s exactly where he continues today. His male friends don’t say that. 36, that’s a good, a desirable age for a man, Martin says. From then on, they’re considered attractive, reliable, finally out of the woods.
Gossip sees it similarly. An older man, the 55 year old George Clooney for example, is admired for his 17 years younger wife Amal. If the woman is older than her partner, such as 43-year-old Heidi Klum and her boyfriend Vito Schnabel, who is 13 years younger, she is viewed critically: "She can’t keep him," hisses gossip, and has been eagerly writing about the breakup for the past two years. The partner who is older is perceived as stronger. That the woman is stronger than the man – that’s a provocation. Still.
Even for many women, says psychology. Although financially independent, most still wanted the man who is the same age or older than them, who is at least equal, better yet superior, in terms of education and wealth.
"He could be your father"
Silvia is 29 when it starts with him. He is her colleague for a project and 57. In meetings they often agree, he catches her eye. Although she thinks she doesn’t mean it, she suddenly hears herself talking about children a lot. He tells a lot. Knows a lot. Silvia says he is much more relaxed than her ex-boyfriends. He doesn’t read work emails when they’re on vacation, and when they go biking, he doesn’t ride in front of them.
She says, however, she doesn’t relate all this to his age, she relates it to his personality. You do not mind much about him, maybe that he snores, very loudly. When her friends tell her "he could be your father", she says "my father couldn’t even be his friend". Is it different in bed? ask her. She says that any comparison is nonsense.
She also had a thing with a younger man, years ago. He was 19, she 25. She was uncomfortable. She felt old. With the older colleague, she feels like an adventurer. She wants to stay that way for now, doesn’t want two colleagues sleeping together to turn into a relationship. But they see each other every day, they have the same job, they have enough to talk about. He is divorced and has a son.
Each 20. Newborn in Germany has a father over 50
Couples therapists say it’s classic. Most relationships with generational jumps occur after a divorce. With the new beginning after the separation, one would like to rejuvenate oneself, to try everything again. The second chance in the second half of life. Every 20. Newborn in Germany has a father over 50.
After almost a year, the affair no longer feels like an affair. He offers her everything, to move in together, to have children, even two. But Silvia is afraid. She knows before she is 40, he would retire. She knows that before she’s 60, he may already be dead. She says she doesn’t want that vocabulary in her life yet.
Retirement age becomes a critical time
She feels like the relationship is pulling her leg, with one foot she is in a different time zone. She says it is not the opinion of the others, they will get used to it. What she’s really afraid of is finiteness: "Age doesn’t affect love, but it does affect the time you have left together."She separates.
Couple therapists say there is a phase when a relationship with a large age difference works out. But as soon as the older person reaches retirement age, the separations become more frequent. At that age the personality changes once again. Some turn up, others turn down. And the younger partner, who is only in the middle of his life, takes stock. Often he regrets not having lived in sync with the times, supposedly having wasted time. Yet most other relationships don’t last to the end of life either.
Mirja du Mont said after the breakup that she was now 40 years old, had two wonderful children and now finally wanted to get going again. Thinking only about herself, about her life – after all, it was so frighteningly short.