Supreeta Singh
There was a time when younger men dated older women openly only in the West. In India it was mostly unheard of or best kept under wraps. Even the ones that surfaced were quickly hushed up.
But at a time when shifting gender roles are laying down new rules in the game of love, the age difference is also put on the back-burner. Men are comfortable being with women who are years older than them and women too are reaching out to  them.
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher redefined the dynamics of such relationships when they got married. You have seen similar instances in movies such as The Good Girl, Harold and Maude, Class, Notes On A Scandal, Prime, The Graduate and others.
It is often said that men never grow up. As they age, their need for emotional succour and dependence continues to escalate in equal proportion. Whether such relationships are successful or approved by society is no concern for them.
Amit Dhar (name changed on request), a successful professional is in his late 20s. Currently, he is living in with his girlfriend at her house in south Kolkata. She is in her early 40s and a senior marketing manager.
There are certain factors that determine the strength of a romantic and committed relationship between men and women. Emotional maturity and worldly experience are two such qualities that have always been important.  They influence the core factor of dependability of one partner on the other. This, in turn, makes the bond between them stronger and deeper.
Amit says, “We met at a party thrown by a common friend. Initially, we started out as friends. However, as time passed I realised that she was a mature and independent woman. Unlike girls of my age, who always look up to you for protection and care, here was someone who could take care of herself. This attracted me to her a lot.”
Amit’s partner is divorced. His family is yet to come to terms with the relationship. But he is hopeful and says that once they see that they are together for good, they will come to understand and accept both of them. “We want to get married and settle down. I know for many this situation is not comfortable, but I believe in our relationship,” says Amit.
 Some may reason that an attraction such as this comes when a guy has been brought up by a sensitive mother who is very close to him. Or perhaps an aunt or teacher who had made a strong impression at an early age.
Niladri Dutta pooh-poohs such notions. He says that when it is a matter of love, the heart has its own reasons. “My ex-girlfriend was almost seven years older to me. We had great chemistry but for some reason the relationship did not work out. In my case, I can say that age had got nothing to do either with my falling in love with her or our breaking up. I liked her personality and sense of values irrespective of her age. And when we decided to discontinue our relationship, it was not because of our age difference but some other personal reasons,” says Niladri.
From a psychological point of view, there is no hard and fast rule that marks such instances as ‘out of the normal’. Dr Srimanti Chowdhury says that there has been no research based data that can tell whether these relationships are successful or not.
“It’s a matter of personal choice. Age is just a social construct. If two people are happy being together, then let’s not add special dimensions and connotations to make it more complicated,” she says.