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When it Comes to Love, Is Age Just a Number?

Keanu Reeves and Alexandra Grant on red carpet

The internet erupted with commentary as Keanu Reeves recently stepped out with new girlfriend, Alexandra Grant, and the reaction caused me to pause. Trolls spewed repulsion at her natural hair color, and apparent age. Some even assumed she was Helen Mirren! Others praised the actor for “dating someone his own age” or having an “age-appropriate girlfriend.”

The thing is, she is definitely not his age. She is almost a decade younger than him: Alexandra, 46 years and Keanu, 55. But since we’ve all been socialized to shame women for aging and fetishize youth, we have no idea what a woman actually looks like at age 46. I mean, Kylie Jenner went from 15 to mid-30s seemingly over night and I’m pretty certain she will remain frozen in that time for eternity.

Society romanticizing wide age gaps between heteronormative couples is nothing new. Y’all recall the 1958 Leslie Caron classic, Gigi, right? The film that birthed the eternally creepy tune, Thank Heaven for Little Girls.

It was one of my favorite films growing up and I considered it sophisticated. When I went on to date older men throughout my 20s, I aspired to the social status of being on the arm of an older man. While I loved these men very much, I did not trust myself. I realize now I was seeking things in them that I felt I lacked: money, power, and security. My relationships nursed a fear that I could not acquire these things on my own. This limiting belief fed irrational insecurities and stifled my growth for many years. When I finally took action to become fully independent of the men in my life, I soared.

It also woke me up to the dynamic at play when older men seek relationships exclusively with younger women. Following the Keanu headlines many of my fellow mujeres took to social media to recall the intimate partner dynamics from their youth. Poet Edyka Chilome reposted @spirtualword commenting, “When I was 16 dating a 23-year-old there were some real power dynamics but mostly the dude needed an ego boost by having a child lust after them.”

Couples with substantial age differences are not doomed to failure, but it’s important to understand what is drawing us to another person and examine honestly if that impulse is healthy.

I will be here every week to discuss topics surrounding love and relationships. I hope you will follow along and send me your thoughts. I’m a great listener.

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Jessica Hoppe

Jessica Hoppe is a New York-based writer and social media strategist who founded her blog, Nueva Yorka, in 2015. She has been featured in Vogue, Yahoo, HuffPost, PopSugar, Who What Wear, Ravishly and worked as Lifestyle Editor for StyleCaster. Jessica has been passionate about writing, diversity and Latin American culture from an early age. Having grown up in a Spanish speaking home, her father is Ecuadorian and her mother is from Honduras.

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