Ashton & Demi: A Giant Step For Older Women?

So, Ashton Kucher, 27, and Demi Moore, 43, got married with her kids and ex-husband in attendance.

It’s great! It’s Bizarre! She’s a cradle robber! It’s a giant step for older women!

Which one is it?

How about “A giant step for older women.”

Well, almost.

It’s not unusual for older female celebrities to hook up with much younger men. Fame and fortune are powerful magnets. But men are visual creatures. What happens after her beauty fades? Not to worry. Loss of a youthful appearance is no longer an issue. With the variety of cosmetic procedures now available women with ample financial resources can look younger than springtime until the day they die.

To a shrewd, future-oriented man, an older woman with money promises long-term benefits. If her age is really “up there” he can look forward to a bundle upon her demise. If the relationship or marriage doesn’t last, he’s likely to win a hefty settlement. So, what does a younger guy have to lose?

What’s significant about the Moore-Kucher union is that it has driven one more nail in the coffin of the “older woman younger man” taboo that “common folk” older women seeking younger men but not endowed with fame or money have to deal with in their quest for a suitable partner.

Sometime ago I gave a talk to a group of older women. After my presentation, a woman I’ll call Betty, came rushing up to share that she was 84, single, dating, and never tells her age. Furthermore, she had no use for men older than 60, and prefers them younger than that. “I can’t stand old geezers. They’re all dead. They are living but they are dead, if you know what I mean” she explained in a confidential tone of voice.

I could understand why Betty preferred younger men. She looked fabulous — a trim figure, she was intelligent, her eyes lit up when she spoke, and she had beautiful smooth skin. Clearly, she had it goin’ on. She could easily pass for 60. Why would she want to put up with a cranky old codger her age?

Here’s the problem: When Betty finds someone with potential, and age comes up, Mr. Potential is gone. I suspect that if Betty had money and celebrity, it would be a different story.

Let me relate a personal experience: At the pharmacy where I work, a customer I’ll call Mr. Smooth, in his mid-fifties, made it clear that he found me interesting, even though he knew I was married. One day the local paper ran a story about my new book and mentioned that I was 76. Before that, my age was mostly unknown because I never talked about it. The public disclosure of my age raised eyebrows, and whispers began at work. “She’s HOW old?” Formerly friendly male coworkers began looking the other way. Sheesh! Be seen talking to an old woman? The guys will think there’s something wrong with me.

Back to Mr. Smooth. He must have seen the story in the newspaper because soon after, he appeared at my prescription counter. Glaring at me with disdain and disgust, he blurted out, “I can’t believe you are as old as you are. I just CAN’T believe it!” He turned around and strode away never to be seen again.

A woman’s age matters to most men. Except when she’s 18 and he’s 81. Then it’s a different story. Society accepts it with a knowing look and a wink. If the relationship produces progeny, that’s really, really cool –until the kids lose their father before their sixth birthday.

Betty has it right. She knows what she wants. She knows what she has to offer. She’s not allowing antediluvian age taboos to stand in her way of finding happiness. Withholding the number of years she has lived, and maintaining a youthful demeanor and attitude, she refuses to bear the stigma of “invisible older woman.”

Joan Collins, Susan Sarandon, Tina Turner, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Victoria Principal, and now, Demi Moore, have defied convention and chosen younger men.

Eventually it will become chic for a fabulous older woman who doesn’t have a bank account or celebrity status to have a relationship with a fabulous younger man.

How can I predict that? Think about this. We are living longer, healthier lives. Yesterday’s 60 is today’s 40 for many women. Dr. Helen Harkness, in her book, Don’t Stop the Career Clock reinforces that reality with her perception of aging chronology that makes sense for today:

Young adulthood: 20-40

First midlife 40-60

Second midlife: 60-80

Young-old: 80-90

Elderly: 90 and above

Old-old: 2-3 years to live

Dr. Harkness’s vision of the stages of aging may take a while to catch on with mainstream thinking, but it will happen. In the meantime, fabulous older women looking for a guy who is still alive and kicking should not tell their age. Happy hunting!

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