Romantic relationships involving older women and younger men

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/12 18:58:39

Age ain’t nothing but a number

Love can be both simple and complicated. Sometimes it is probably the dominant - but not the only factor that makes two people decide to stay together. In China, however, practical factors like social background, financial status, career development and even education are important indicators that Chinese people think about before getting involved romantically. Age difference is also an indicator that probably has an influence on prospective couples here.

In a traditional Chinese relationship, men are usually older than women. The man is more like a big brother and the woman his younger sister. But this is changing as Chinese people are holding a more open concept toward relationships and marriage.

Jiedilian, a relationship in which the woman is older than the man, has become widely accepted in urban China. A researcher named Li Chunling mentioned in a 2017 news report that, in 1990, marriages between an older man and a younger woman accounted for around 70 percent of all surveyed marriages, while those between an older woman and a younger man were only about 13 percent. But in 2010, the numbers changed to 43 percent and 40 percent respectively, reported in September 2017.

According to a May report by China Women's News, around 60 percent of male respondents and 50 percent of female respondents said in a survey released by a Chinese match-making website that they can accept a five-year age difference in a jiedilian relationship. Nearly 90 percent of single people surveyed said that they accept jiedilian.

Rachel Miao, 34, is four years older than her husband. The two met at an alumni gathering in 2015. He started to pursue her, but Miao did not accept him in the beginning due to his young age."I was not able to make up my mind, considering that he is younger than me,"

Miao told the Global Times. She worried that they probably did not match in appearance and would be judged by others.

"But later I decided not to care about what others say and decided to have a try," she said. "All my female friends were encouraging me to try as well." Some argue that men are less mentally and emotionally mature than women of the same age and thus are not responsible enough for a stable relationship or marriage. Therefore, it would be better for a woman to meet a man who is older and more responsible.

Miao does not agree. "Responsible or not, it depends on the individual personality," she said. "I don't think age difference is a problem as long as the two parties love each other and have common interests."

She supports jiedilian relationships and believes that, as women are becoming more financially capable, such relationships are becoming the new normal in China. "An important thing about jiedilian is that you are capable and brave enough to say 'I can not only afford myself but also afford you'."

Mutual efforts

Chen Qi, 23, used to date a girl who was one year older than him. Even though they broke up later, he said the age difference did not matter to either of them.

"She spoke out whenever there was a problem between us, and she took initiative to find solutions," he said. "I think it was a good thing and she helped me grow a lot."

Chen does not know whether it was because of the age difference, "but she was more psychologically mature than me," he said. For Chen, an age difference within three to five years is acceptable. "But if she is too mature, we would probably not get along with each other," he said.Chen believes that balance is very important and relationships require mutual efforts. "Both of us should be independent yet willing to take care of each other. Sometimes, independence is brought along by age, but not necessarily," he said.

Depends on character

Guo Liang, 36, is seven years younger than her husband. She had bad experiences dating men younger than her and found that jiedilian was not for her."He was so naive and I never knew what he was thinking about. Every time I visited him at his home, he just played computer games," Guo said. "After that, I told myself to find a person who is older than me, more mature and prudent, and more independent financially and psychologically."

But she still shows support toward jiedilian relationships. "I think it depends on personal character, there are many good examples that jiedilian relationships work very well," she added.

Ji Minglü, a Shanghai-based senior psychologist, said that mental maturity is not necessarily related to age. "But generally speaking, people gain more experiences and become more mature with age," he said.

He explained that women mature earlier than men, which makes them feel that men of the same age are immature. Ji thinks that Chinese society is now more open and diverse and tolerant than decades ago, and this is one of the reasons that jiedilian relationships have become so popular.

"But actually, jiedilian relationships have existed in China since olden times. For instance, in some suburban areas of Shanghai, there is an ancient tradition of men marrying women who are older."

Photos: VCG

Photos: VCG



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