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Is it really OK to date a toyboy half your age?

Beverley Turner (pictured) claims we're conditioned to be uncomfortable by women dating a younger man

Beverley Turner (pictured) claims we’re conditioned to be uncomfortable by women dating a younger man 

YES

by Beverley Turner

Bernie Ecclestone, still spry at 89, recently boasted he ‘didn’t need Viagra’ to father his new son with wife Fabiana, 44.

Contrast this with the actress Kate Beckinsale, looking glorious at 46 yet forced to sneak around LA with her 23-year-old musician boyfriend, Goody Grace, and even defend her attraction to him, saying having fun at her age ‘seems to be risque, which is just ridiculous’.

She adds that she has no plans to ‘sit at home and anticipate menopause while crocheting’.

Well, hurrah for her! I must admit that although I, too, am in an age-gap relationship — with a man 14 years my junior — I wondered what she sees in such a boyish man.

Then I realised: we’re all conditioned to believe the double standard which lets older men brag about their sexual appetites for younger women, while being uncomfortable when the roles are reversed. ‘Older’ women nearing the end of their child-bearing years are not supposed to have sexual or romantic inclinations. But times are changing.

Thanks to a fast-evolving beauty industry, women look younger for longer, which means our appearances now match the spirit and energy we have always had. I may be 46, but I feel 23 and still want to be the last to leave the dancefloor. If you are young at heart, a younger man who shares your love of life is the perfect companion. We should be free to date someone who makes us laugh, shares our interests and likes our wisdom.

Kate Beckinsale, 46, has  had to defend her attraction to boyfriend Goody Grace, 23. Pictured: Kate with boyfriend Goody Grace

Kate Beckinsale, 46, has  had to defend her attraction to boyfriend Goody Grace, 23. Pictured: Kate with boyfriend Goody Grace

Younger men not only look great in the bathroom, but they’ve been raised to believe in a more equitable division of domestic labour. I have no idea if Kate is chuffed when Goody replaces the loo roll, but sharing life’s dull chores with an unresentful chap is liberating for women of my age.

When news first broke of my own age-gap relationship, all of my friends congratulated me with a slight wink. ‘Well done, woman. Good work’ was the common refrain. But they also added: ‘He’s a lucky man.’ These relationships don’t work if the older person feels grateful. My mother was not enamoured by the idea — until she saw us together, and realised the age disparity was irrelevant.

Why are we uncomfortable when roles are reversed?

Kate’s social media feed is hilarious and I imagine this sense of fun allows her to bat away the criticism. But hopefully she won’t need to deflect the haters for long — older women are catching up with the men, and it’s lovely.

NO

by Linda Kelsey

Linda Kelsey (pictured) argues as you age, you realise sexual attraction is about much more than anatomy

Linda Kelsey (pictured) argues as you age, you realise sexual attraction is about much more than anatomy

The thought of dating a man less than half my age, which would make him roughly the same age as my son (I’m 68, if you must know), causes me to squirm.

No such qualms for actress Kate Beckinsale, 46, who positively purrs with pleasure snuggling up to Goody Grace, who, at 23, is just two years older than her daughter, Lily,

Not that I believe women who lust after younger men should be pilloried. But I hope they go in with their eyes wide open. It’s one thing to be a cougar — seeking sex with a much younger man — but it’s quite another to dream of a happy-ever-after with a boy 15, 20 or 30 years your junior.

Young men, I admit, can take my breath away with their beauty, compared to the saggy specimens available to older women. There’s no physical contest between a sexy six-pack and white-haired moobs.

But as you age you realise sexual attraction is about much more than anatomy. Like the shared reference points, and the accumulation of experience. The other day, I told a young man I was reading a novel by Edna O’Brien. ‘I’m sorry, but I’ve no idea who she is,’ he replied. I couldn’t have an affair with someone who’d never heard of my favourite authors because they were before his time.

And, no doubt he’d turn out to be a vegan, which would knock our relationship stone dead. Or, even worse, spend half his life lifting weights and worshipping his biceps in the mirror. If I were a fabulously fit 50-something divorcee, I might feel differently. But frankly neither my flesh nor my spirit are up for it.

While some women pick a much younger man to make them feel young, often standing next to someone so much their junior actually makes them look older. A friend who liked to dally with young studs was once mistaken for a lad’s mother rather than his lover. And that’s about as humiliating as it can get.

To be mistaken for his mother is humiliating 

I’m not surprised younger men are attracted to Kate Beckinsale. She’s catnip to a young buck who wants to avoid needy 20- or 30-somethings who dream of a ring and a baby.

But for women who are not rich and powerful, my advice would be to steer clear. My partner, who is a whole three years younger than me, calls himself my toyboy. And he’s young enough as far as I’m concerned.

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