I recently took a tally of my friends and the relationships that they are in and found that majority of them are dating younger men and all my male friends are dating older women.
I am not talking about small gaps of three months or even two years, but rather significant six-year, nine-year and even 15-year gaps. It got me wondering why.
It is tempting to dismiss these unions as temporary or money based but that would be an over simplification and frankly it wouldn’t fit as these couples have been together for years and some are married with children.
To argue that the sexually-ravenous older woman can only find her match in a young man would again be an over simplification. Anyone whose dating career is over a year long will tell you that great sex can entertain you for a few months but it will not keep you with someone for years and it definitely will not breed commitment.
From the women’s side, I think the appeal is the same as it is for men who date younger women – being with someone who is not too jaded or cynical and is still excited about life. Younger people are generally more optimistic and they tend to think that the world is filled with possibilities.
There is an age-old argument that the only reason men work is so that they can have access to resources and those resources give them sexual access to the most physically attractive and fertile women.
Now that women are successfully acquiring the same resources, they too get their pick of physically-attractive and virile men. While poor women have to heavily consider financial security of mates in order to cater for their offspring, financially independent women do not have to and they can reproduce with whomever because they can provide for their own children.
Rich men get to bed whomever they please, and so do rich women. As the women of Kenya get more and more emancipated, we will see more and more of these unions.
The stress of being the primary bread winner has led many a heart to attack its owner. Constantly making financial choices that place your family first bears a very specific fatigue.
I think younger men are attracted to strong high-achieving women who can shoulder some of the financial burden, and the freedom that that allows them in their career and business choices.
When your partner already has a certain level of financial freedom, you can for example, quit your job to start a business, knowing that the bills will get paid.
As an outspoken and liberal 36-year-old woman in media, I find that the men in my age group have a traditional dynamic in mind as they pursue relationships – the silent woman who supports her husband and lets him shine while he is clearly in the foreground and seemingly making most of the money.
Younger men with their optimism and big dreams have no reason to think they will not be successful and their generation has an easier time bending and breaking social norms. They think it’s ‘cool’ to date older women.