The age gap in lesbian relationships

By Allie Connell

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According to the Allure Magazine’s National Anti-Aging Poll, lesbians are more attracted to women who are ten or more years older than they are. The study was conducted by polling 2,000 men and women about the state of aging in America and how their attitudes towards age impact their romantic lives. While it was not stated how many queer people were included in the surveyed population, the results showed LGBT respondents were more likely to be attracted to an older individual.

MCT

In speculating the causes for this trend, the lesbian blog sphere has been atwitter. Pictures of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are flooding the Internet with captions ranging from “Fifteen year age gap and still the best couple ever” to “Who knew Ellen was 55?! #Foreveryoung.”

One strong opinion comes from a lesbian pop culture site Autostraddle.com blogger, riese, who posits in her article “Lesbians Love Older Women, Says Survey and Our Hearts” that the inclination could be tied to another statistic. The Allure poll also showed 73 percent of LGBT respondents think that “women have more pressure to look young now than they did 10 years ago,” highlighting that queers are less concerned with the societal stress on looking young.

Being the subculture that it is, homosexuality allows for a different set of prescribed norms that often deviate from widely accepted social norms. In the realm of lesbianism, there is emphasis on aging gracefully rather than trying to uphold an impossible standard of eternal youth. Allure’s poll reinforces this reality.

Another theory for the age disparity is that the dating pool for lesbians is relatively small rendering factors such as age less important. I myself, being a tangential member of the lesbian blogosphere, conducted an unofficial poll on this very subject. I took the number of lesbians I knew, multiplied that by the number of ex-girlfriends each mentioned, and then subtracted a solid twelve for probable overlap. Once the numbers had been crunched by my iPhone calculator’s research team, the yield was 32 lesbians that I am aware of at the University of Massachusetts, give or take a few. After all, this is an unofficial survey. Using this as an example of a high sample—this is the Happy Valley after all—I concluded that, yes, the lesbian dating pool is actually just a blow-up kiddie pool.

A companion theory to the kiddie pool concept is that lesbians are not tied to the traditional milestones associated with age in society, and therefore women of different ages can be at the same life-stages. These “traditional age-specific milestones” include marriage and popping out babies, and although we as a culture are no longer following the 1950s familial model, divergent subcultures like lesbianism were never entirely on the bandwagon. According to my poll, the life-stage trajectory of most lesbians is as follows: overt displays of rainbow or flannel pride, frequenting the lady bars in NoHo, watching Law & Order SVU marathons while crocheting and, the final life stage, getting a cat. Out of the 32 lesbians in my unofficial poll, I assume most are in the lady bars phase because no one has been visiting me while I crochet.

While the theories abound as to why ladies-who-love-ladies love ladies who are older, the fact remains that part of the beauty of being a member of a divergent subculture is that you are almost encouraged to abandon traditional ideals and structures. In this case, the structure being abandoned is the impossible standard of women needing look young to be considered beautiful by society. Aging gracefully is being able to look as close to 30 at all times because, according to Allure’s poll, men believed that “female beauty peaks at 29” and women believed that it peaked at 31.

According to my poll, now termed “Not Really National Anti-Factual Statistic Survey” by the “LezBeHonest Research Firm,” all 32 lesbians polled believe that female beauty peaks at 80 when one can comfortably sit in her pajamas in a rocking chair, sipping whiskey out of a tea cup and smoking a cigar. By “all 32 lesbians,” I really just mean myself, but it’s nice to think I have some company in my divergent subcultural belief that our golden years are whatever we make them.

Allie Connell is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].