Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Young Men Will Kill You!

Apparently if you’re a woman and you marry a younger man, you’re going to die immediately.

Okay, so you probably won’t die immediately. Sorry for saying that. I’ve been having trouble gauging my hyperbole today. I can’t seem to make any exaggeration sound believable or only slightly over the top for impact. I just keep jumping right to the ridiculous. It’s probably due to allergies. My sinuses are 87,000 times their normal size right now. There’s a family of six living in there, and they have three cars and a boat.

Anyway . . . According to a study by Sven Drefahl at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rosktock, Germany, a woman who is between seven and nine years older than her husband has a 20% greater mortality rate than if she were with a man the same age.

Also, health records have shown previously that men live longer if they have a younger wife. So if you’re a young, healthy woman interested in a man in his early 40s, in good physical condition, with a slight propensity to over-exaggeration, give me a call.

In the meantime:

Are you a female older than your male partner? Male older than female? How big a difference in age? Same age? Does the age difference present any problems, other than that whole early death thing revealed in the study? Any advantages? Or is it a non-issue? 

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. I’m ten years older than my wife (she’s 28, I’m 38).

    I won’t say it’s been 100% a non-issue, but the issues have always been overcome through communication. Not much different from any same-age relationship, I suppose.

    I could write a book on what those issues have been and why I thought they’ve arisen, but this is probably not the place for that :-)

  2. My wife is six years my junion. I was 27 and she was 21 when we met. I don’t recognize any of the music she listens to. Also, if I happen to mention something dramatic that happened when I was young (Apollo, Watergate, etc.), she sticks her thumb in her mouth and sucks on it.

  3. My husband is 2 years younger. I don’t think that’s a big enough difference to mean much, and if there is an effect, it’s probably dwarfed by the effect of the fact that we grew up on separate continents.

  4. The oldest man I’ve ever dated was 16 years my senior. It wasn’t terribly serious, but he was living in Vegas at the time, so I visited every other month or so (I live in Phoenix). I’m not much of a gambler or into the Vegas scene, so we just hung out at this place for the most part (his work meant he got VIP to some “cool” clubs but yeah, not so much my scene). We eventually drifted apart, but we’ve remained friends. I’ve known him since I was 19, though we didn’t date until I was 24 or so. He’s one of my favorite people ever. The age thing I think weirded him out, but only because he seemed to think I would someday want to get married and have kids, and I wasn’t able to convince him otherwise, which bugged the shit out of me. Dudes: If a woman says, “I do not want to get married or have kids,” she means it, k? K. Other than that, we had a lot in common and I still think highly of him. He’s a good dude.

    Average is probably 5 years older. The youngest I’ve dated is 2 years younger (he was 25, I was 27). However, I totally landed a hot 19 year old army boy on my 28th birthday last year. :D But I wouldn’t call that dating so much as one hell of an awesome weekend, lol.

    I think DATING a 19 year old guy would probably not have worked out. 19 year old guys aren’t know for being mature, heh.

    I have a hard time dating women younger than me, or at least more than a year younger, but I think that stems from insecurities in myself, and not because of anything concrete.

  5. Spousal unit is 13 years older. The only odd thing is his friends – they are all old men! Why are his friends so old?

    Yeah, love is blind. And stupid. But I’ll keep it.

  6. @Sam Ogden: But doesn’t this require some sort of long-time commitment with said older partner? :P

    Also, these studies are always heteronormative. What about my best friends? Wife is 28, hubby is 32, and hubby’s long-term partner (gay male) is, I want to say, 33 or so. Wonder who’s gonna die first?!

  7. The oldest woman I’ve dated was 5 years my senior. The youngest was 19 years younger. I think age difference tends to correlate to relationship difficulties but only in that it tends to correlate to cultural differences. I find I have trouble relating to someone who thinks Episode I was the first Star Wars movie, for example.

  8. I’ve always dated withing a two year range, though my parents had a massive gap. Dad was 28 years older than my mom. It seemed to work for them though, he worked as carpenter until he passed away at age 81, in better shape than most 40 year olds I know. I do have to admit, it is a bit weird having a half brother older than my mom:)

  9. I’m 39 and my partner is 50. He was initially concerned about potential cultural differences, but a few factors in our backgrounds (education being a big one) make this a non-issue. So he can talk about, say, Watergate, and get an actual response from me rather than a glassy-eyed stare. (@SkepLit: I do draw the line at thumb-sucking unless an expensive dinner with wine is provided beforehand). ;)

    The only thing that’s noticeable is that he goes to the doctor more often than I do and more poking & prodding ensues. And since I’m often mistaken for being younger than I am, he gets the extra-special benefit of being thought of as having bagged a babe half his age. Ain’t life funny?

  10. The Obligatory

    However, that said, I don’t have an informed opinion. My ex (note the singular) was two years my junior, but most of our cultural differences came from her being from a working-class Boston family full of girls, and me being from a mid-western Army officer’s family full of boys.

    I tend to agree with Steve that the major differences tend to be cultural, rather than simply age. Age contributes to a cultural difference, though.

  11. @Steve: Yeah, there’s that. How about this one: I recently dated a girl 15 years younger than me who loved the “new” Battlestar Galactica (one of the few pop cultural reference points for us), but when I told her that it was a remake (reboot?) of the origianl series she was all ‘huh, wut?’

    These kids.

    For the record, I have experienced women who were more than 10 years my senior, as well (me: 33, her: 44) and it was pretty good, especially the sex (wow!). But, she had some real anger issues. Like yelling at people for no reason. Yeah, I’d say that’s a deal breaker.

  12. I’m currently dating someone 9 years older than me. Still very early in the relationship but so far it hasn’t been an issue. Honestly I don’t think it will be either since our interests coincide a lot, both being skeptical geeks. I think I’d have a bigger problem dating someone my own age if they hated science and loved current pop music.

  13. My mother’s husband is nine years younger than she is, and she’s going to outlive him handily. My father, OTOH, married successively younger wives [all younger than I], the last being 30 years younger, and he’s now dead.

    The oldest male I’ve had a fling with was 25 years older, the youngest 6 years younger than I.
    I wouldn’t call either a romantic relationship, just really good friends who found each other attractive.

    The Biophysicist is 9 years older, but like Noadi’s current sweetie, he shares many of my interests and, more importantly, can wordplay with the best of them. And, upon picking up a Viagra prescription at our local pharmacy, refused a bag, telling the clerk he was going to wave the bottle around and shout ‘I may be grey-haired, but I’m still getting laid’. Teh whimsy, it’s good.

  14. Of all the things I know, holding a relationship isn’t one of them. I’ve observed, hypothesized, experimented, and gathered the data. I think I’m just one of the minority who just functions best alone. But, for the record, I’ve usually dated older men. I prefer men up to about 35/40. Younger guys just seem to not have that “it ” factor.

  15. It should be noted that women who married men much older than they showed a similarly increased death rate.

    IOW, marriage – not healthy for women.

  16. Am I still going to die immediately even if I don’t marry the guy? That may be a solution right there.

    Greatest age difference has been, oddly enough, ten years in either direction. As others have noted, I generally have a greater problem with culture-specific differences than age differences.

    However, I am going to write a book. Right now! (It is very short.)

    Being a Cougar for Dummies
    Step 1: Go back to college.
    Step 2: Wait.

  17. My boyfriend is 12 years older than me. It doesn’t seem to be am issue, except I look younger than I am and so he’s occasionally on the recieving end of some dodgy looks! It’s mostly amusing when he says something about the past and I don’t have a clue what he means. The guy I was seeing before him was 20 years older than me. Which was really weird when I bothered to stop and think about it.

    I’ve never gone out with anyone younger than me, although my step-dad is 4 years younger than my mum, and that seems to have worked out fine!

  18. My current wife is 4 years older than me. I don’t think that is a big enough gap to matter. We share most of the same culutural touchstone memories.

    I did “date” a 19 year old when I was 30. We didn’t have a huge amount in common but she was patient with me and would explain what the hell she was talking about so I wasn’t completly lost.

  19. I love all these comments, but I’m a little disappointed that no one has been concerned about my exaggeration disorder. I have been plagued with the affliction for like a hundred and fifty years now, and I’m very worried.

  20. My fiancee is 8 years younger than, but as most of the other commenters have noted, we share a lot of cultural values (nerds, skeptics, ravers) and so it never comes up. We also both look younger than our real ages (28 for me, 20 for her), which is a relief, because if she looked younger than her age and I didn’t, I’m sure I’d be constantly stopped for questioning.

    As it is, people ask me if she’s my younger sister or younger brother (she’s very tomboyish, and I am very not), at which point I always say yes and then make out with her. Great fun.

    Anyway, I’d say it’s an advantage, because she’s more mature than all of her male friends her own age (and more mature than I was at 20), so our relative maturity rates match up fantastically with this gap.

    I would say that the best way to find somebody for whom love comes easy for you, is to just keep doing what you love, as often as you can. If you’re doing what you’re passionate about, you’ll automatically be surrounding yourself with people who are passionate about the same things, and that’s a big first step to finding somebody compatible.

  21. When I was very young (in my late teens) I typically dated guys who were much older than me, 10 years or more older. I married someone only 4 years older and that seemed like the perfect age difference.

    Today, single again in my mid-40’s, it’s difficult to consider dating anyone older than me. I would really prefer to meet someone who is either no more than 2 years above or up to 10 years below my age. I think the older I get the younger I want my men to be. The older ones just seem, well, too old, maybe too set in their ways. Plus I don’t make a good nurse, and face it, sooner rather than later, the old ones would need one. I think I’d prefer to be the one receiving the attention, not the one giving it.

    The future does not bode well for my love life, does it?

  22. My boyfriend is seven years younger than me. He says that he’s pretty sure that when you say I “will die” 20% earlier, you actually mean, “will have my personality transferred to an android body so that I will not actually ever die.” I’m sure you will be correcting your error immediately, Sam.

    Does it make a difference if we don’t get married, but just continue living in sin?

  23. Sam, you have mentioned this hyperbole disorder of yours at least 987 times. At least. I’m starting to think you may be overestimating the situation somewhat. I would totally recommend a snarky homeopathic remedy to you right now, meant to cure over-the-topness, but I honestly can’t think of what an infinitesimal dose of enormousness would be. Blood is literally gushing out of my ears right now from trying.

  24. My dh is 2 1/2 yrs younger, and my ex was 2 1/2 yrs older. Not enough difference to make a difference.

    Sam, you should consult a statistician to determine your exaggeration factor. Our friend Wayne’s statements are always multiplied by the Wayne exaggeration factor of 0.66569 in order to calculate the actual truthiness of the statement. It hasn’t cured Wayne of the affliction, but it has helped his friends support him in an appropriate manner.

  25. My partner is 13 years younger than I am, and in all honesty, it motivates me to stay in shape.

    I look younger than I am, typically 8-10 years, so on the physical basis of it, there aren’t any issues.

    I started dating younger men, purely by accident, after I was divorced. I was really quite uncomfortable with it at the time, but most men my age, and most men who are older, are not interested in the same things I am interested in, nor do they seem to have the energy.

  26. I read this article as well. But I’m not sure sure that I agree with it. I think dating a young man, if anything would keep an older woman on her toes and encourage her to be more active and take better care of herself which then in turn would lead to a longer life, no?

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