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Tackling age-gap double standard in relationships

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INTERESTING new dance production Mehek revolves around the love story between a mature older woman and a younger man. The taboo-busting show, headlined by world-renowned dancers Aditi Mangaldas and Aakash Odedra, embarks on a UK tour in April, offering plenty of food for thought.

The passion-filled dance production shines the spotlight on an issue that has been present for generations, but one we rarely discuss: it is okay for a man to have a relationship with a much younger woman, but still not fully accepted for a woman to do the same.

No one has criticised 50-year-old Hrithik Roshan for dating 38-year-old Saba Azad. Meanwhile, Malaika Arora was unfairly constantly trolled on social media for her relationship with actor Arjun Kapoor, who is also 12 years younger. Despite having a child with her husband and being happy, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has faced constant debate and criticism for being married to singer Nick Jonas, who is 10 years younger.

But when older male celebrities have married much younger women, no one has spoken about the age gap. For example, Saif Ali Khan is married to Kareena Kapoor Khan who is 10 years younger, but it was a completely different issue when he was married to his first wife, Amrita Singh, who is 13 years older than him.

I was recently on a dating app and got into a conversation with a man who only dates older women. He said, ‘In my 20s I dated women in their late 40s. I never wanted kids and was always more mature for my age, so I just connected with them better. Plus, they were in their prime and knew what they wanted, so it just naturally worked better for me.’

As a woman, being on dating apps in your forties gives an option to date older men in their 50s, or younger potential partners in their thirties. But both come with respective challenges. The older men usually have baggage like grown-up kids, ex-wives, and demanding work schedules. Younger men usually want someone who is going to give them children, have the big wedding, and fit in with their family. Younger men usually don’t understand that older women sometimes don’t want children, that it may not be possible or too much of a strain on their body. On the flip side, an older woman who has been single for a while can enjoy the ‘fun’ aspect of dating someone younger.

Dating a younger man as a woman can work if you are on the same page, and there are many examples of it working, with Priyanka being a good case in point.

Ultimately, just like men are free to dip into a younger dating pool, women should be allowed to do the same and not be judged. Before taking that deep dive, both parties should have clarity and not care about what others may think.

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