There may be a 54-year age difference but we shouldn’t judge them blindly
May 31, 2023 3:09 pm(Updated 3:10 pm)
Whenever news of an age gap relationship floods social media, I silently dread seeing the comments, especially from people I know. It’s a deluge of predictability, with the outcome always the same: she’s too young, he’s a predator, it’s doomed to fail.
Sometimes their remarks are accurate and align with my own. But there are times when those posting speak without lived experience of an age gap relationship, unwittingly infantilising the women involved.
I say this with trepidation, having been targeted on social media before for speaking out about my own experiences as someone in an age-gap relationship (my partner is 33 years my senior). I’ve been told I’m “too young” to recognise the danger I’m in. Apparently, my 32 years of life count for absolutely nothing when it comes to making my own choices.
It’s an unpleasant situation to find yourself in, and I’m far removed from the scrutiny of fame and the court of public opinion. Yet for someone like Noor Alfallah, the 29-year-old partner of the 83-year-old actor Al Pacino, the discomfort only intensifies.
The news that Alfallah is expecting a child with Pacino has garnered a lot of attention already, with most articles speaking of people’s “shock” and “concern” about how “inappropriate” it is. So-called sources are sharing how Alfallah “mostly dates very rich older men ”, further solidifying negativity towards her by typecasting her as someone who almost fetishises age. Everywhere I turn, cynicism dominates.
And yes, Alfallah has been linked to older men – including billionaire investor Nicolas Berggruen and Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger – but why does that have to signify something untoward or negative?
There’s plenty of merit to dating older men I can personally speak of, having been with an older man for five years. I’ve discovered a far greater desire for communication from my partner than I’ve ever experienced from men my own age; he doesn’t want to second-guess what we’re both feeling, so we talk about it. There’s always an open mic, free from judgement, allowing us both to be honest about what we want from our relationship.
He’s also comfortable about where he is in life – his job is secure, as is his identity, leaving no room for hesitation or uncertainty to hold him back. As someone riddled with uncertainty thanks to my anxiety, having someone who isn’t adding to the weight I already place upon myself is incredibly refreshing. This isn’t to say he never worries, but rather he handles himself in a completely different way to me, one that doesn’t catastrophise every minute detail.
Above all else, though, my partner’s mature. When I need to have a difficult conversation with him about my internal monologue of fears, he’s emotionally available, and uses his life experience to soothe rather than patronise me. I’d be lying if I said he was never immature, where would the fun in that be? I enjoy being nearly unable to breathe from laughing so hard. However, his maturity is where I need it to be, in the moments that demand silent comfort not quippy “banter”.
The sad truth is, I know so many fail to see these great qualities, and more, because they’re looking for issues. As a society, we hone in on any potential red flags, colouring someone else’s life with our own, scarcely allowing them to actually be themselves. I know because I’ve done this to other people – we’re all guilty of judging too quickly, and it’s never more true when it comes to celebrity couples.
I can’t promise that Noor Alfallah and Al Pacino are the happiest couple, nor that they’re going to last; I can’t, and won’t, speak on behalf of people I don’t know. However, while I can’t guarantee their relationship is perfect (as if such a thing exists), I am certain that we, the hungry spectators of fame and fortune, shouldn’t judge them blindly.