Once I was old enough to understand the implications of the age difference, I remember being shocked and utterly disgusted at her. She was old enough to be his mother; comprehending what she must have been thinking, and how she could possibly hook up with a man so much younger than her was just not something I was able unable to fathom. As I've said, they lasted the test-of-time so it was obviously the right decision for them both.
To me, boyfriends were meant to be older - once old enough to embark on relationships I averaged a 4 year gap with mine (them being the higher end of age, and not the lower). This to me was the "right" way it should be. Anything else was just..... wrong. Then I met Louis!
I was 24 when I met him and believed him to be 22 (I got this info from friends and his own mother). He was a beautiful soul; inside-and-out. I know "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and so to some he would have appeared as plain, and not at all good-looking, but to me, I thought him very pleasing on the eye (when I first knew him he had long black hair, and the most gorgeous tan - I do like a man with long hair (as long as it's nice hair!)). By the time we hooked up he'd had it all cut, but this just emphasised his features even more. For 7 years we had the weirdest relationship I have ever had, will most likely ever had, and it was perfect-in-every-way for us both. He had the kindest, most honest heart of anyone I have ever known. My life changed forever the day he died. However, this isn't about sadness and heartbreak, this is about "Toyboys" for you see, I had a slight issue with him being 2 years younger than me, just not enough for it to stop me from spending my time with him. He knew, everyone who knew me knew, how I felt about older women dating younger men; this would be why nobody told me, that in fact the age gap between us was 6 years. He was just 18 when we met, 19 when we finally became a couple. I was mortified, but there was no way I was going to allow it to stop me from seeing him, and so I became "one-of-those" women. Patted on the back by some for hooking up with a 'youngling', scorned by others who felt the way I had always done before he came into my life.
I still didn't get my Nan though. 25 years difference! That was just plain wrong, and it still shocked me when I read about older women getting with younger men. Madonna being 10 years older than Guy Ritchie (although with Madonna you really do expect anything - she's since had a boyfriend 30 odd years younger (I definitely wasn't comfortable with that difference)). The film director Sam Taylor Wood was 41 when she started dating her husband, Aaron Johnson; he was 18. I had an issue with that too (had they both been 10 years older it would have been slightly different but I couldn't (still don't) understand why/how a woman over 40 could want to be with a teenage boy). They've been together 10 years and have several children though, so what do I know?. Both Sharon Stone and Susan Sarandon have dated men 30 years (and more) younger than them. I didn't get it. Until.......
Over Christmas I watched The Greatest Showman, saw Zac Efron for the first time, and thought to myself "well now, I'd let you make me breakfast in the morning. Turns out he's 17 years younger than me. I also rewatched the movie Dunkirk, really looked at Harry Styles for the first time, and thought "yeah, I get it; I can see what the young girls see in him". He's half my current age (24 years younger than me, and does very much remind me of Louis too, which is probably why I can see it). Now, I'm not saying I'd want him to make me breakfast in the morning, but a small part of me now gets these "Cougars" who hook up with younger men, and it's not because they are some sick paedo type female at all, and I don't think it is because they are trying to keep their youth, or make themselves feel younger.
I think the trouble is, that while our bodies age and our hair becomes greyer (way too quickly for me - I've had to give up on dyeing mine or I'd been doing it every-other-day (Embrace the grey)) our minds don't. I feel no different in my own mind now, to how I felt back when I first met Louis. I think we reach a point in our lives when we become 'fully grown' in our own minds, and once at that point we do not advance at the same rate as time. Let's face it, humans created time to help make life easier, and that's fine, it works well and keeps a certain order, but maybe that's not how it's meant to be. Maybe, I reached my point at the age of 25/26 and as such (in my mind, at least) haven't advanced past that age (except for the calendar and change of year tells me different).
It's similar to people who can't remember their age; I never understood that. How could you not know how old you are? I'd ask people and see them counting on their fingers, or asking what year it is so they could work it out. I assumed that was just because their minds were going a little bit. I know now, that's not true at all. Someone asked me for my age last year, and without thinking I came straight out with 33. I watched them write 33 down on their form and it was only when I saw the numbers I realised that wasn't correct. I then stood there (and just like the older people I'd seen as a youngling) used my fingers to count out my real age. My brain could not comprehend that 15 years had passed since I was last that age. Maybe that's the real age I reached my point, and not 25/25. Who knows? What I do know, is that I will never again judge someone (which was wrong of me in the first place) on any age gap they have between themselves and their spouse. As long as they are 2 consenting adults, then who am I (or is anyone else) to say whether it's right, or wrong?. As long as they make each other happy and hurt nobody else in the process what right have any of us to pass comment, or judge?. I certainly never thought I'd look at a man 17 years younger than me, and think "hmmm... yes please". The whole idea of that would make my stomach churn. I would put/twist it into a different context, and imagine being a 27 year old woman with a crush on a 10 year old. Sick on so many levels, but I wasn't a 27 year old looking at a 10 year old in that way, I was a 48 year old looking at a 31 year old.
Maybe my brother is right (he says it to wind me up for he knows too well there was no-love-lost between me and our Nan - I despised the woman) but maybe, just maybe, I really am more like my Nan that I thought.
I'm off to get myself a date with a 55 year old now, just to put some balance, and restore some order back into my life - or will I? :) :)
I couldn't find a 'copyright free' photo of a cougar, so here's one of a tiger I took a few years ago :)