Opinion

People are obsessed with relationship age gaps - but only when the woman is older

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Almara Abgarian
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Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas at the 72nd annual Cannes festival

Priyanka Chopra says she still gets “shit” for being older than her husband Nick Jonas but wouldn’t if it was the other way around.

Sliding into someone’s DMs can pay off.

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra can attest to the fact; that’s how the couple, who got married in December last year, first got together. However, despite being in a happy, committed marriage, they still face prejudice from other people.

Why? Because Priyanka is 11 years older than Nick. 

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In a candid interview with InStyle, Priyanka, now 36, revealed that people seem adamant in pointing out the age difference between her and her husband, and said they “gave us a lot of shit about that and still do”.

The actress also explained that this is due to a gender double standard, as “when you flip it and the guy is older, no one cares”. She’s not wrong.

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got together, people took it upon themselves to not only mention that she is three years older, but also questioned how her age would affect her ability to have children (which wrongly implies that a woman is only worthy of marriage if she can produce offspring).

Yet somehow no one batted an eyelid when actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds started dating, despite there being an 11-year age difference. Why? Because Blake was the younger one.

First things first, unless there is an illegal age difference (such as a child or teenager dating an adult), no one has the right to judge a relationship. If you’re not part of it, it’s none of your business.

What’s more, the issue with gender double standard goes much deeper than ageism in dating. It stems from an ingrained culture that goes back hundreds of years, when women were seen as a commodity to be traded or sold, and told their sole purpose in life was to keep their husbands satisfied. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pose for photographers on the day they got engaged

More often than not, men could pick and choose when it came to finding a wife, as women were financially dependable on them. And so, they were given an expiration date, which, if passed, meant they were to remain spinsters forever.

Author Jane Austen depicted this perfectly in her classic novel, Pride and Prejudice (published in 1813) where Elizabeth Bennet’s best friend Charlotte decides to wed the insufferable Mr Collins simply because she’s afraid of ending up poor and alone, due to being older than the average single woman.

Unfortunately, it takes a long time to undo this level of misogynistic thinking, and the expiration date obsession has remained. According to society, we were doomed from birth because men age better and if we’re not pretty, we are of no value.

As someone who is turning 30 in a month, I’ve been told I’m “past my prime”, “only have a few years left to find a husband” and that men “won’t date women over 30”. Not only is this offensive and completely ridiculous, but it also reinforces the age-old assumption that the man will choose me, not that we will choose each other, and that I should be happy with whoever comes my way because apparently he’s doing me a favour.

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Meanwhile, men are encouraged to date women younger than them or at the very least trade out their older model (first wife) to a newer one, preferably under 30. It’s a well-known joke that reduces women to the equivalent of arm candy.

On the other end of the stick, if a woman dates a man who is younger than her, she’s called a cougar. It’s also often insinuated that she wants this man purely for sexual reasons, because surely younger men have nothing else to give compared to older men?

Personally, I’ve always preferred dating older men – my ex boyfriend is 39 this year – purely because I find that they’re more settled in life and want similar things as me. But if my next boyfriend is 20 or 40, it shouldn’t matter to anyone but me.

Priyanka Chopra is 11 years older than her husband. So what? 

Image: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

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Almara Abgarian

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