We often see it in certain Hollywood couples: older women dating (and marrying) younger men. Hugh Jackman has been married for over two decades to a woman thirteen years his senior. Carole Radziwill, an author and cast member of “the Real Housewives of New York City,” is dating a man 21 years younger than her.
But celebrity couples aren't the only ones with large age gaps: French President Emmanuel Macron's wife, for one, is 25 years his senior. Is this part of a larger trend of older women marrying younger men?
What the statistics say
According to an analysis of 2000-2012 data from American Community Survey, conducted by the Austin Institute, only about 20 percent of men married since 2000 have been younger than their wives compared to the 68 percent of men who have been older than their partners. As the age gaps widen, those percentages go down: Only about 8 percent of men were over 10 years older than their spouse, and only 2 percent of women were over 10 years older than their spouse, the Austin Institute writes.
Those numbers are relatively low, but they may be increasing: Debra Macleod, relationship coach and author of books including “Couples in Crisis: Overcoming Affairs & Opposite-Sex Friendships,” told Fox News that in her practice, she’s seen about a 20 percent increase in such relationships in just the past three years.
Of course, relationships between older women and younger men have always been around, Macleod said. “I think a lot of them just flew under the radar,” she explained. “Nowadays, because it’s becoming more commonplace, women don’t care as much … we’re losing that taboo.”
A new generation of daters
Not only is the stigma fading from such relationships, but new opportunities for women are creating an entirely new kind of relationship, Erika Boissiere, a couples and marriage licensed therapist in San Francisco, told Fox News. Women are making more money and have more independence, and thus, have more dating options.
“With options, come power,” Boissiere explained. She noted that women’s financial independence, new fertility options, and an ability to split caregiving have allowed them to have even more choice in partners — meaning they’ll often look for compatibility and connection over simply security.
Of course, as in any relationship with an age gap, there are some obstacles to overcome: People may be at different places in their lives, Boissiere said, or have different life perspectives that come with age. But both experts agreed that relationships between younger men and older women are on the rise — and not going away anytime soon.