FFE Magazine

What’s the deal with May-December Romances?

Do you know of the dating rule ‘half-your-age-plus-seven?’ According to this maxim, one cannot date someone who is younger than the answer to this formula:



Ask any young girl today, and they would probably say they would like to marry someone who is near their age or at least just a few years older than her. But as we grow older we realise that true age may not matter in relationships.


Most of the time our attraction is based on many factors and some standard we set. And as a person ages his or her sense of financial security, sexual experience and level of maturity also matures. This is perhaps why May-December love affairs still happen, despite being taboo in many societies.


Given these advantages of a May-December romance, why is it that age is still a factor for some Filipino families? Does age really matter? And why do we love talking about May-December relationships? Here’s the scoop:


Why age matters


In many places, age is a very important factor when it comes to looking for partners. Religion plays a key role in many countries around the world, dictating to whom people should marry. On the other hand, in communities that have embraced modernity, women are more liberal and may choose a partner way younger or way older than her.


The Philippines is a society that embraces youthfulness. We celebrate the young, and older adults do their best to remain young by being young at heart or by using beauty products and keeping with the latest fashion. Virility or the ability for the couple to bear children is also one big factor that makes Filipinos care about age gap in relationships. The Filipino’s family-oriented culture may pressure people to choose partners who are within their age range whom they are sure are healthy enough to rear their future children to adulthood. These outlooks give Filipinos the tendency to favour relationships wherein the partners are close in age.


However, this does not mean that May-December relationships do not exist. Sometimes they are celebrated: the younger of the two benefits from the relationship in terms of experience, while the older of the two feels a boost in his or her self-esteem. A ten-year gap might be considered the ‘acceptable’ threshold. But beyond this age gap, relationships may be considered taboo and scandalous. Consider the recent case between 60-year-old music icon Freddie Aguilar and his 16-year-old wife.


JOVIE-Gatdula-and-Freddie-Aguilar Wedding


Aguilar’s love life erupted in the news for many days because he was dating a girl who was 44 years her junior. The news created quite a scandal that drew the attention of netizens and even of authorities like the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Although the couple said they loved each other, and that everyone else really didn’t have any business butting into their relationship, many Filipinos still buzzed about the subject and argued over it. Many thought that Aguilar was manipulating and abusing the relationship, and that the girl didn’t really know what she was getting into. But Aguilar was able to escape the scandal when he married her girlfriend in a Muslim ceremony, which allowed marriage once a girl turns 15.



Another famous May-December affair is the relationship between Kris Aquino and James Yap. Aquino is older than Yap by 11 years. Not only was their relationship on the headlines because of their age gap, but When the relationship started, Aquino was at the height of her career while Yap was a small-time UAAP Basketball star these further incited more talks about their relationship.


When their relationship kicked off, no one believed they would last long. Their age and the circles they walked made it seem unlikely that they will stay very long together. But Aquino and Yap beat the odds and got married, and the relationship bore fruit in the form of baby Bimby.


Almost ten years after the news spread, however, Aquino and Yap have forged their separate ways, with Yap even considering wedding his current girlfriend. In a way, those who have been skeptical about the relationship ‘won the argument in the end’ but for reasons they could have only guessed.


The real story


No one can truly guess how relationships may end. Even couples who are close to each other’s age may abruptly put an end to a relationship because of differences in beliefs and goals. Others may succeed because the couples have remained true to the reasons that made them say ‘I do’ in the first place. May-December relationships are pretty much the same thing.


Though May-December relationships may still draw surprise from Filipinos who hear about them, people who get into them are still the captains of the relationship. The couple’s relationship may erupt as a scandal, but what matters is what’s happening inside their hearts and what they share between them.


For May-December relationships to work, the couple must be able to talk about certain sensitive issues between them privately. Some of these are:


Acceptance by the family. Parents always want the best for their children. Certain stereotypes attached to May-December relationships may have affected their opinion on them, making them against such an attachment. A person in such a relationship must not force the family and the partner to confront each other to avoid conflicts.




Kids or no kids? Health issues and the biological clock can hamper child-bearing and rearing for May-December couples. Many Filipinos still strive to attain a family of their own, so it is important to talk about the possibility of having kids with an older or younger partner. Again, a person in this relationship must not force the partner to change his or her mind about having kids as this may become a very deep issue that can sever the relationship.
Blended families. Getting into a May-December relationship also means accepting the partner’s baggage, even if this includes children from a previous relationship.




Sexual problems. Sexual performance and expectations may be different between people who are older and who are younger. If issue crop up, do not hesitate to talk about them as satisfaction in sex can affect the relationship especially as the couple ages.
Don’t make age an issue. Concentrate on the relationship, not the age. Anyway, it’s the relationship that makes people choose whom they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Love and acceptance are the crucial ingredients of a May-December relationship as this allows partners to excuse the flaws and deterioration that come with age.


May-December affairs are just like any other relationship. It’s the community that adds pressure to the couples who are involved in one. Unless the couple has internal issues, then May-December affairs will survive and thrive. As the saying goes, love has no age and no limit. This means that anyone, no matter how old he or she is, has the capacity to love another person fully and genuinely and receive the same kind of unbiased love in return.


Are you in a May-December relationship? What advice can you give those who have older or younger partners? What unique difficulties did you face in your relationship and how did you solve them? Share your thoughts by leaving your comments below!





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