By Alaina Mancini

Why do we STILL judge women harshly who date younger men? Why is it so hard to believe that older women are worthy and desirable? My interview with explains this double standard hangover.

Alaina writes,

“Do you bat an eye when the roles are reversed?”

“Over the last decade, we’ve made monumental, even historic, strides toward celebrating relationships in all different shapes and forms: Gay marriage is legal, dating apps now offer options for non-monogamous or open relationships, and there’s more representation of LGBTQ couples in the mediathan ever before. But we still have a long road in front of us when it comes to embracing older women who date younger men, even though it’s a growing trend. According to a Singles in America survey, more than 80 percent of women say they’re interested in dating someone 10 years their junior. And nearly 90 percent of men are interested in dating someone 10 years their senior.

When a man couples up with a much younger woman (think George and Amal Clooney or Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones), society either shrugs its shoulders or gives him a hand. But recall how, in the early 2000s, when Demi Moore started dating Ashton Kutcher  — who’s 15 years her junior — the media swiftly branded her a “cougar.” What was the male version of this inherently predatory term? There wasn’t one — and still isn’t.

This relationship double standard remains today, despite the trend of older women dating younger men making its way into the mainstream. (Even our very own Katie is married to Molner, who’s six years younger, if you want to be exact.) So why are so many, especially other women, quick to judge those who want to date younger pool men? Shouldn’t consenting adults, men or women, be free to love whoever they want? Isn’t age just a number?

Are age-gap relationships still taboo?

Relationship expert and best-selling author Susan Winter wrote a book about age-gap dating called Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance. She recalls the cruel judgment (and even hate mail) she received while dating a man 16 years her junior than her back in the nineties. “My boyfriend’s mother got people in my community to say I was a detriment to society,” says Winter. “I couldn’t buy eggs or food at my local grocery store because the cashiers were told I was a witch.”

More than 20 years later, Winter says age-gap relationships are still taboo. “We’re so used to cutting off women from the fullness of their power,” says Winter. “We’ve come so far, but we’ve got so much further to go. Until it’s not even a discussion or something we notice, we’re not there.”

Why women are the quickest to judge other women for dating younger men

Twenty years ago, when cougars entered the cultural discourse, some people thought they were “dirty” or “wrong,” says Winter. “She’s a manipulator. He’s an opportunist. She’s paying him. They never saw it as being love,” says Winter. “Women were very harsh critics of other women. Now we’ve evolved enough as a society to understand that there are many different valid aspects of love.” But women today can still be quick to raise their eyebrows at other women for dipping their toes into a younger dating pool. “I don’t feel the judgment comes from anything other than being jealous and threatened.”

Why women sometimes judge themselves for dating younger 

Women who do date younger often criticize and question themselves, too, says Winter. “Why would he want me? My body’s older. I have wrinkles. What if I don’t look good naked? What if he looks at me one day and thinks, Why am I not with somebody younger?” says Winter. “God forbid a woman age. Then you can’t be sexual or you’re not desirable. But younger guys don’t have a problem being with an older woman. People assume it’s for sex, but they never assume that maybe I could be loved.”

Why younger men want to date older women

The trope of “the older seductress” has been around for thousands of years, and men are still fascinated by older women. “An older woman knows what she wants, how to express her needs and expectations, and she’s got too much going on to be toying with you,” says Winter. “Certain younger men admire strength, power, and authority. They’re not in competition with it.” ”

Continue Reading the full article, Why It’s Time to Stop Judging Women Who Date Younger Men, on Katie