She’s how old? And he’s what?

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to consider age differences in sexual relationships, both in the novel I am writing now and in my personal life. Largely, I haven’t seen extended age gaps in the relationships in my family and the friends of my family. Most of my friends from college are still unmarried. My husband and I were some of the first in our set to marry. Our generation is definitely waiting longer and longer to tie the knot. 

Three different instances have brought the scenario in focus for me. The first instance happened when a close friend of mine introduced me to their significant other, with a large age difference. When I met the two of them together, I was impressed with how well they worked together and how much they cared for each other. I am very happy for them and wish them the best. 

The second instance came while watching an wonderful film called “Fabulous Fashionistas”. One of the six women in the film, a dance choreographer who was well over eighty, allowed the documentary to catch a glimpse of her life with her husband and even interviewed the two of them on the subject. They married when she was in her fifties and he was in his twenties. It was a beautiful relationship. If you can get your hands on the film, I heartily recommend it to everyone, whether or not you like fashion. It’s a clarion call to living, loving and defining life on your own terms, no matter your age or role in society. 

My third instance of wrestling with age difference in sexual relationships came in the form of the plot of my current novel, as I mentioned earlier. I struggle, occasionally, with my responsibility as a writer to represent the human experience and in the end, I followed my muse and kept the original plot line. But it also got me thinking. Where else in science fiction and fantasy do we have relationships with large age gaps? 

Here’s a few that came to mind. Feel free to comment with any others you know of. 

Arwen and Aragon from Lord of the Rings.

The age gap here is considerable. Arwen is an immortal elf but Aragon is only about eighty at the start of the story, though it seems that their relationship has been in development for a while. 

Beauty and the Beast. 

Depending on which rendition of the story you read or watch, the Beast has been waiting for someone to release him from the spell for several years or possibly decades. It’s never very clear. Considering that the castle has been largely forgotten by surrounding villagers, it’s probably been at least several decades. Seeing as Beauty is a teenager, that’s a definite age gap. Of course, its looks and the Beast’s temper that gets in the way of that romance, not the age difference. 

Doctor Who and River. 

The physical age gap here is negotiable. The Doctor is over nine hundred years old, but physically, during the time they know each other, they both physical age along different time lines. Even their experience in the relationship is backwards. In a twisted way, they switch roles in the middle, with one of them being older than the other, depending on when they meet in Time. And they bring some seriously messed up history to the table. But it works. Somehow, it works. With a little jail time, a murder here and there, some battered diaries to keep track of the spoilers and a lot of world endings. 


Enough said. You all know about it. I am not getting involved in discussions on whether or not its the best love story every or the worst. 

Daenerys and Khal Drogo from A Game of Thrones. 

So you all now have an idea how far I’ve gotten in A Game of Thrones. I’m not sure of Khal Drogo’s age, but considering his standing and his physic, he is likely ten to thirty years older than her. She meets him at fourteen. 

Other favorite examples of romantic relationships with age gaps or significant differences to over come in fiction and literature? I’d love to collect them. Thanks! 

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4 Responses to She’s how old? And he’s what?

  1. Ciara Darren says:

    What you said in your last comment hit the nail on the head for me, concerning Buffy’s maturity. You’re right. She was immature and Angel should have known better. I didn’t watch those episodes, but I read enough about it to get an idea of what happened.

    Age difference and power difference can be two sides of the same coin, especially in real life when power might relate to money and education levels, which create potentially abusive situations. I still think that there are relationships out there that can overcome the differences, but it requires at least two self aware and self examining individuals who are willing to do their homework and communicate honestly. That can be rare.

  2. Lucy Gable says:

    In almost every vampire love story I’ve read or watched, couples had an impressive age difference. Let’s think of Anita Blake and Jean Claude (Anita Blake series), or Sookie and Bill/Eric (Southern Vampire Mysteries). Cat and Bones (Night Huntress Series); Betsy and Eric Sinclair (Undead series); Buffy and Angel/Spike (Buffy The Vampire Slayer). All the women were young, all the vampires definitely old.

    Only Buffy was actually underage when she met Angel, though. Back then I was sixteen and it looked like the most romantic thing ever, but now that I’m older it creeps me out.

    • Ciara Darren says:

      I hadn’t thought about Anita Blake and Jeane Claude, or Buffy and Angel. You’re very right. The other two examples I haven’t read yet. I’ll have to keep them in mind. Since vampires stop aging or slow down aging in most stories, do you feel that the age difference is as significant in those cases? When it comes to Buffy and Angel, is it the underage that creeps you out or the age difference?

      Thank you for your comment!

      • Lucy Gable says:

        I had to think it over before answering. They irk me on different levels, but the reason why I’m bothered by Buffy/Angel is Buffy’s immaturity. She’s a kid and acts like a kid, that’s it. He should know better, also given that he loves playing the knight in shining armor.

        In the vampire/human relationships I’ve read, I think power struggle was an issue more than age difference, but I feel they’re two sides of the same coin, somehow.

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