May December Romance is the term used to describe relationships where one partner is significantly older than the other. This type of romance is also called an age gap relationship.
Origins of the Term
The term “May December” romance refers to a relationship where a younger woman is involved with an older man. The “May” part of the term refers to the younger woman being in the height of her vibrance, or springtime. “December” refers to the man being closer to the end of his vitality, or wintertime.
It is thought that the term came from a story in The Canterbury Tales, a book by Geoffrey Chaucer, written in the Middle Ages. Over the years, the term May December romance has become part of the vernacular.
Age gap is also a term that describes a romantic couple that has a significant difference in years.
How Many Years is Significant?
While some people consider a 10-15 year difference to be significant, it really depends on the age of the couple. For instance, for a 18-year old who is dating a 23-year old, even that 5-year difference can be notable. On the other hand, if one partner is 75 years old and the other is 80 years old, then there are likely no real differences in the 5-year difference.
In general, adult May December couples can have a difference from 10 years to over 50 years or more.
There can be drawbacks to May December Romances, including negative criticism from friends and family, negative stereotyping from the public, and other issues arising from breaking societal norms.
Different countries and cultures can have varying levels of acceptance toward May December relationships. In Western countries, the average difference in age between married partners is generally around 3 years. In African countries, though, the average age difference between married people is often much larger.
Another issue that can come up in May December Romances is the difference in life stages. One example of this is if the younger partner is just starting his or her career. In this case, He or she may be very focused on working, while the older partner may be nearing retirement. Conflict can occur as each individual has different priorities.
In most cases, working with a professional therapist can help May December couples work out their differences.
May December romances and relationships can also have benefits to both partners. The younger partner may seek the stability and life wisdom from the older partner, and the older partner may enjoy the extra vitality and unique perspective from a younger partner.
With enough support, commitment, and understanding, a May December Romance can be equally if not more fulfilling than a traditional relationship.
The bottom line is that if two people have a strong connection and love each other, then it is possible to overcome the age difference between them. Many couples who have a large difference in years go on to have a long, happy, and fulfilling relationship.