There are words that we use about older women that we just don’t use about their younger counterparts. ‘Allure.’ ‘Fascination.’ And, of course, ‘experience’. All of them seem to swirl only around sexy women of a certain age.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the sultry, smoking presence of Hollywood star Kate Beckinsale, 45 – as her 25-year-old beau Peter Davidson will attest.
Davidson, a comedy actor best known for his work on Saturday Night Live, was previously engaged to singer Ariane Grande, who is his age. But he has since upgraded. The pair were photographed canoodling at a hockey match on Sunday, setting tongues wagging – and not only their own – as Davidson is only five years older than his new amour’s daughter.
People may question whether a romance made up of two people from such different stages of life can last, but Pete has clearly discovered the hidden truth that many of us chaps know deep down: that the smiles and nudges of your friends are nothing compared to the excitement of a relationship with a woman who knows herself, and what she wants.
He is just part of a surge of young guys learning that hidden secret. Elsewhere in Hollywood Jason Momoa, 39, currently flooding the cinemas as Aquaman is dating 51-year-old Lisa Bonet, while on the world political stage, Emmanuel Macron is married to his elegant former secondary school teacher Brigitte Trogneux, who is 24 years his senior.
I hit upon the excitement of ‘dating up’ to my eternal benefit a few years ago. Sally was 46, a full decade my senior, with the figure and energy of a 25-year-old. But behind it was the knowing smile of a woman past those fruitful years. Yes, I was a little awe struck.
Sure, when I told my friends I was a little apprehensive, but it soon became clear that I was getting something they could only fantasise about.
I found, for a start, that Sally, like many women her age, had the same flighty love of fun that younger women did – only she wasn’t in the least bit afraid to act on it. So whereas a 30-year-old might dream of taking a Formula 1 car around the track at 200mph, Sally would leap into the driving seat and strap in.
Many women who have gone through marriage and kids and come out the other side want to flirt with being irresponsible again, at which point you might find yourself in an Uber at 5am en route back from an underground drinking club that required a codeword to enter, wondering what the hell happened to those twilight hours from which you have only a dim memory of flagging down a fire engine. Just accept that it happened, and move on.
On the other hand, a few more years does add something. History brings knowledge of the world and how to navigate it. But it often also brings heavy baggage, as Beckinsale’s own set-up, with a 20-year-old daughter and two ex-husbands, may prove. Jetting away for the weekend at a moment’s notice is a thrill; listening to your other half argue over the phone with a former flame is not.
‘You’ll understand when you’re older.’ Literally everyone has heard those maddening words, and yet when you’re in a relationship with someone older than you - going to dinner together, choosing a flat together et al – you realise just how true it is.
Relationships take practice and by virtue of their advanced years, an older partner will be more experienced than you. Knowing when to argue and when to make up is a skill honed over time, and is vital if you want to stay together for more than six months. Often, you just have to swallow your pride and let them take the lead - they probably do know better.
That goes for money, too. Because while youth is fun, there’s usually a limiting factor: cold hard cash. Spending the evening obsessing over whose turn it is to pay for the pizza is deeply unsexy, and puts a dampener on the hours you have together – if you find yourself with an older woman who wants to treat you, sit back and enjoy.
And, good God, one thing I loved about Sally was the fact that she spoke in English, rather than some GCHQ-level code. Mind games are very much the environ of the younger girl. Past 40, women are utterly upfront about where you’re going very wrong – brutal, certainly, but an easier way to live in so many other respects.
One other massive boost from dating someone older than you is how utterly transfixed everyone you tell will be. My male pals started looking around them and subconsciously flirting with women ten years older; my female friends wanted all the details, undoubtedly thrilled by the fact that they were now in line for virile chaps seeking a break from empty headed younger lovers.
After all, it wasn’t Dustin Hoffman’s character that Simon and Garfunkel sang about. It was Mrs Robinson.