‘I get dirty looks when I'm with my boyfriend who's 21 years older’ - how age-gap love is undermined

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Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
  • Age-gap relationships have become common and are accepted in many societies.
  • However, in some circles there is still negativity and judgement that comes with being a young woman dating an older man, more so if it's across racial lines.
  • Here, a W24 reader shares how she gets judging looks whenever she is with her older boyfriend.

He looked at me like I was the only woman in the world. It was slightly awkward at first with first date nerves, but we got over that very quickly and then just sat there and talked like we'd known each other for ages. 

We were so wrapped up in each other, and we stayed until they called the last round. 

But I kept noticing the looks we were getting. Especially the looks *I* was getting.  

READ MORE: 'I was dating a pilot 20 years older in Hong Kong and would do it all over again'

When an attractive 30-year-old coloured woman is on a date with a 51-year-old white man, I guess for some, it might look weird. While he didn't notice, I did. After all, being brown, you're always hyper-aware in some spaces.

Even the couple next to us who were all over each other (the man's girlfriend was on his lap and making out with him openly), but were of an "appropriate" age, kept looking at us weird.

At the time, I tried not to let it bother me. Even when I went to the bathroom, one of the women sitting at the bar staring at us came in and gave me a dirty look. I asked her, "Can I help you?" and she just smiled and walked away. 

READ MORE: 27-year-old businesswoman dating man who's 54 earns R72 000 a week counselling other age-gap couples

Whatever space we're in together, people look at him first, then at me, and then back at him. It's like some sort of connection is made and you can see how the opinion forms in their brain. "Oh, she must be the mistress" or "she's probably his sugar baby."

We don't really do PDAs because he doesn't like them but will touch each other affectionately. One day we went to a viewing point in Gordon's Bay for the afternoon and from the moment we got out of the car, there were looks.

So I put my hand on his thigh as we sat down because I'm nothing if not a rebel. Give the people what they want, mos. When he touched my back as he opened the car door for me? I thought these aunties were going to pass out. 

READ MORE: Meet the couple with a 46-year age-gap: the 23-year-old businesswoman and care worker says it was love at first swipe

But I'm not his sugar baby. Not that there's any shame in that, either. Those who choose to have an intimate relationship with another person with the addition of knowing they're being taken care of financially should not be shamed. It's no one else's business anyway. 

In my case, I'm genuinely in love with this man. He is kind and sweet. He's supportive and cares about me. He gives me space when I need it and when we're together, it feels like the rest of the world doesn't exist. I don't need him, not for money, not for validation, not for anything. But I want him. 

READ MORE: Here’s why older women dating younger men is still seen as taboo, plus what leads to breakups in such relationships

I never thought I would be with someone who was legally able to drink before I was even born; it caught me entirely by surprise, but I'm enjoying every minute of it. 

I just wish that people didn't think it was any of their business. 

Are you in an unconventional relationship? Tell us about it here.

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