This post was contributed by Shae Hadden.
I find myself wondering why we let a difference in our ages limit how we relate to each other in our personal relationships. I’m not speaking of the obvious social taboos like pedophilia and infantophilia. It’s the relationships between consenting adults that have me pondering. Why are different arrangements acceptable in different cultures and societies? Why is what is considered perverse in one accepted in another? Why is the most common pattern of heterosexual relationships still a slightly older man with a younger woman? Why is it that age disparity is less of an issue the older the partners involved are?
Psychologists have developed a host of terms to describe age-disparate relationships such as gerontophilia (attraction of non-elderly people to the elderly), teleiophilia (attraction of young people to the elderly) and the more general chronophilia (for any age-related preference). These terms make intergenerational relationships sound like a disease. They even assign ‘causes’ in the form of reasons for the attraction—usually from financial and social