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In occidental societies, it was common to find arranged marriages between really young girls and older guys in earlier times. However, nowadays, opinions about these age differences probably diverge more than ever. So the question is, where exactly does our society draw the moral line when the topic is age gap relationships?
Most people answer the question of whether everyone can love everyone, especially in the context of same-sex partnerships, very positively. But if you just rewrite the question and ask; for example, what would happen if a 26-year-old man had a relationship with a 15-year-old girl? The understanding of ‘love knows no age’ seems to change rapidly in this case. In this case, the reason is simple; an adolescent may not be able yet to differentiate between romantic love and emotional abuse. But what about age gap relationships where both partners are adults? How do we set the standards for the morally accepted and morally rejected?
For many, the legislation on this border seems to be a good starting point. For example, in many countries children under the age of 14 are protected by law. Any romantic relationship with them is considered abuse. At this point, the general public is very much in agreement and there is no need to question this regulation. Most discussions deal with the 14-18 age range. Sex with teenagers aged 14-15 is only allowed if the partner is 21 years or younger. The fact that such legal handling is difficult to control makes the question of social acceptance important. This is undoubtedly a difficult issue and that there is no correct answer to the critical questions.
We live in a society that values freedom more than ever before, and the idea of free love is certainly one of the most important of our time.
Nevertheless, there is a legitimate doubt whether young people can really evaluate the whole situation well enough to legitimize and successfully manage a relationship with a much older partner. At this point, the law makes a clear distinction once again. It is forbidden to have sex with a person between the ages of 14 and 17 if that person is entrusted with education, training or care. This regulation prohibits, for example, teachers from having sex with a child.
Basically, we can say one thing above all: talking helps. Trusting a friend, one of your siblings or even your own parents when you are unsure about a relationship with an older partner seems to be the best solution for most situations. Talking about one’s concerns and asking for advice within the framework of open communication is certainly strange to some of us. But yet, it is usually the people who are closest to you who know best whether you are actually making the right decision to be happy in the long run.
People are not the same and it also applies to romantic relationships. Accordingly, for none of the questions mentioned above a universal solution can be formulated. Everyone deals differently with such things and everyone is, of course, free to express his or her opinion.
Now let’s leave the legally controversial framework and look at relationships between two adults. Despite the continuously increasing tolerance in our society, such relationships are still viewed with suspicion, especially when the woman (in a heterosexual partnership) is older than the man. Although the percentage of older women in a relationship is rising steadily, in the majority of cases the man is still older than his partner. However, this kind of openness about age differences shows that the idea of ‘love knows no age’ actually seems to be spreading and that some people can certainly develop a tolerance for it.
Related article: Advantages of dating older men
In summary, we can say that age gaps in relationships, despite our quite open attitude, remain a controversial topic. And probably it will remain so in the near future. But most important is that such a difficult topic continues to be discussed in our societies.
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