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The Romeo and Juliet Effect

When the movie "Titanic" came out, I was eight and, like every girl in my elementary school class, I was madly in love with its then 23-year-old main character.

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The Romeo and Juliet Effect

When the movie "Titanic" came out, I was eight and, like every girl in my elementary school class, I was madly in love with its then 23-year-old main character. By law, this romance could never have come to fruition, I was just a kid! Today I consider an age difference of fifteen years to be acceptable.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a special case. A chart by a person named dataisbeautiful has been circulating on the internet for some time, proving that none of Leo's partners were older than 25. As if that wasn't enough, they were systematically swapped out for younger ones once they exceeded that age limit.

At least that is the accusation of those who do not allow women to have their own will. After all, it could just as well have been the other way around, namely that Gisele Bundchen, Blake Lively

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the age difference in 2019 was less than four years for 44 percent of all couples living in Germany. Every tenth couple was exactly the same age, and only 6 percent differed by more than ten years. Unsurprisingly, in almost three out of four married couples, the man was older than the woman. The situation is different for unmarried people, where almost every fourth woman was older than her partner. My parents are exactly the same year, but it still didn't last.

After the "Titanic" came the bunny phase for me. It's hard to believe that in the 90s it was cool to carry the Playboy bunny, preferably in a glittery version, on mini handbags. What would my girlfriends and I have given for an inspection of the Playboy villa, not for libidinal motives, but because we absolutely wanted to bathe in the pink-lit grotto, mind you with a bikini.

On the other hand, we dreaded Hugh Hefner, who was already of biblical age. Did all the villa dwellers really have to go to bed with him? In this context, we may have heard for the first time about a lifestyle product called Viagra, without which it doesn't work for men like him (but it could also have been with "Geld oder Liebe" presenter Jürgen von der Lippe). God we were so young.

Sad truth: Statistically, a woman in her mid-20s is most attractive to a man. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense because fertility goes downhill from there. The idolization of eternal youth has taken the place of religion in our society, botox injections, hyaluronic acid baths, anti-wrinkle creams worth a small car, all for the illusion of eternal motherhood.

At the same time, even the WHO knows the term ageism, in German age discrimination. Women are hit much harder because men have a good chance of gaining something over the years, the George Clooney effect, even without a house on Lake Como. Incidentally, his wife, who works as a human rights lawyer, is seventeen years younger. A study by Stockholm University agrees with Clooney-Wannabes: a young wife prolongs life for men, while the effect does not apply to women with younger husbands.

Same-sex relationships are different. According to a statistic collected by Facebook, the age differences are greater than for heterosexuals. The "Vogue" journalist Tom Rasmussen did well with a man in his sixties when he was seventeen himself, "one of the most respectful and tender relationships of my life". Age-gap constellations do not necessarily go hand in hand with power imbalances and emotional abuse, as some assume.

Suppose you have such a relationship: how to deal with the skeptics? Eventually, what psychology calls the "Romeo and Juliet effect" comes into play, according to which a socially sanctioned connection intensifies more or less by itself. The AOK also has a few concrete tips ready: "For example, couples could answer the saying: 'That can't go well with you': 'Doochhh' and then put on a big smile. That usually spoils the fun for critics.” Also having fun was 21-year-old Billie Eilish, who dressed up as a baby for Halloween, her partner ten years older than her grandfather. The internet wasn't quite so amused.

Overall, beware of generalizations. Not every woman in her 20s who is dating two decades up has daddy issues or, for older people, a father complex. Some just like it when men understand something about investment interest and orchid care and have already seen a bit of the world without having to mansplain this world, a bad habit that, by the way, has nothing to do with age.

What else do young women find attractive in older men? Admittedly status, that's proven by studies, and with it comes money. The accusation of sugar daddies coming up for designer handbags and visits to starred restaurants is quickly at hand, although of course there are also sugar mommies – and dating platforms such as SeekingArrangement and Mysugardaddy that aim precisely at this.

Reasons that speak against a too large age difference mainly relate to the future. With a Silver Surfer you can still ride a few big waves, but when one is approaching retirement age and the other is still in the middle of working life, this can lead to complications, and not just in terms of timing. In the worst case, someone will need nursing care, like Jörg Immendorff, whose wife Oda Jaune, who is 34 years his junior, became a widow before she was 30. Not so nice.

Although many don't let it get that far. A study by Emory University Atlanta found that 95 percent of couples with a 20-year age difference separate, compared to 39 percent with a 10-year age difference – and only 3 percent with a one-year age difference.

The Age Gap was also repeatedly discussed in my former favorite series “Sex and the City”. Most effectively in the guise of Samantha and the toyboy-esque Smith, the only man who can persuade the 35-year-old – her real age is kept secret – to monogamy in the long term (although she doesn't want to hold hands in public). Nowadays, in this context, we would be talking about a cougar, a term that is often meant to be derogatory.

According to couples therapist Bettina Brockmann, this model is extremely promising: "Especially in the constellation 'older woman - young man', a partnership can benefit from the age difference. Because the need for sex decreases in men from their mid-20s, but in women this need tends to increase from the age of 40. So young men go very well with more mature women.” A prime example is Brigitte Trogneux, who, aged 39, tutored current President Emmanuel Macron to acting when he was 15. When he was 17, he promised to marry her and kept his intention. Oui, pourquoi pas?

According to dating site Ok Cupid, the 65 percent response rate is nowhere higher than for a 50-year-old woman texting a 25-year-old man. In the opposite case, the value is only 18 percent. Dare women! There are enough examples of success. Film buffs think of “Mrs. Robinson", another such student-teacher constellation, writers on Annie Ernaux' "The Young Man", in which the author comes to terms with her relationship with a thirty-year-old man. It can't hurt to use the wisdom of a Nobel Prize winner.

This is how she describes the barter on which this unequal relationship is based in clear terms: “He gave me pleasure and thanks to him I experienced things that I never thought I would experience again. The fact that I invited him to travel and that he didn't have to look for a job because of me because he would have had less time for me seemed fair trade, a good deal, especially since I was the one making the rules.”

Elsewhere she talks about the reaction of those around her: “My body was no longer old. Only the deeply disapproving look of the guests at the next table in the restaurant brought it back to my memory. A look that didn't exactly embarrass me, but encouraged me not to hide my relationship with a man who 'could have been my son' when any mid-fifties year old could have a young woman by his side who obviously wasn't his daughter was without arousing disapproval."

In a feminist reading it is completely logical that either both sexes have to be discriminated against for a supposedly too big age difference, or nobody. Best of all nobody. I can think of an example from my youth. After I had finally digested the blue-lipped drowning Jack Dawson alias Leonardo diCaprio, I bought "American Pie" on videocassette from Schlecker. In addition to the flute scene, I especially remember Stifler's mom. A woman in her prime that pretty much the whole high school wants, or to put it more bluntly, a MILF, short for Mother I'd like to fuck.

In a recent interview, actress Jennifer Coolidge revealed: "I had a lot of fun being a MILF and I got a lot of sex through American Pie." Unfortunately, nothing is known about how old her "around 200 partners" were .

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