real life

Monique is a model in her 30s. She only dates middle-aged men.

Growing up, Monique Jeremiah spent a lot of time on her own. She considered herself an 'old soul', who didn’t fit in with typical school-yard friendships

"I didn't connect mentally or emotionally with kids my age ever," she shares. "This continued throughout my primary school, high school and university years."

As a result, she became a bit of a loner, finding happiness through academic achievement and, eventually, entrepreneurial pursuits. 

Watch: Mamamia Out Loud: Dating Apps. Post continues after the video. 


Video via Mamamia Out Loud. 

"I did not have a set group of friends growing up. I was very comfortable being solo. This is what made me become so confident and comfortable in my own skin."

In adulthood, she began to forge somewhat unconventional friendships, mostly with people in middle age and beyond, and most often, with men. 

"I love to connect at a deeper level. I do have a small group of friends who I see when they are available. I have now combined my business life into my social life, so I am always surrounded by large age gaps.

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"I have found that my friendships in my adult years have been very fulfilling, as although I am in my 30s, I understand the experiences and the minds of, especially, men in their 50s and 60s."

Image: Supplied. 

In 2017, when she was 31 years old, Jeremiah met Jim Christou — a 53-year-old, newly separated bachelor.

“I spotted him dancing with my very beautiful 50-year-old female friend, however I knew she had no interest in middle-aged males,” she says. 

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“So boldly, but kindly, I intervened and asked him to dance and that was the start of our history.”

At first, the pair became unlikely friends, becoming dance partners and attending events together. 

“I made Jim feel alive and happy again,” says Jeremiah. But it was more than that. 

“The connection was instantaneous,” she says. “The age gap was irrelevant. He was like a cheeky teenager and I was the one who kept him in line.”

The couple talked about “everything and anything”, chatting on the phone and catching up several times a week. Eventually, Jeremiah took the reins, asking Christou point blank whether he was looking for friendship or a relationship. 

"After he realised he enjoyed my company so much, he asked me to be his girlfriend. We absolutely loved being together. Our relationship was founded on friendship and laughing together, always."

Jeremiah says the couple’s 23 year age gap brought more benefits with it than disadvantages. 

"With an age gap, comes a place of meeting in the middle," she says. "I keep a middle-aged man young and feeling appreciated, and he keeps me mature minded and even more feminine than I already am

"I love that Jim is funny, he makes me laugh always, he's not too serious, he's foolish at times, but he has a kind heart. He also is a family man, and he enjoys being teased and mocked by me, because he knows I am only playing around."

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But not everyone feels that way, and Jeremiah admits the couple was probably judged at times. 

"At first glance, I imagine people probably are judgemental on the surface, especially as I am very young and exotic looking and very feminine and classy in my appearance and he is a typical well-dressed Caucasian middle-aged man."

To make a relationship with a large age gap work, Jeremiah says confidence is required by both parties. "The age is irrelevant to both of us. As a woman, I know who I am and he is comfortable in his skin too."

Image: Supplied. 

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Ultimately, the relationship didn’t last, but Jeremiah says their age gap wasn’t a part of the decision to end things. In fact, she says, that age gap led to their relationship continuing even after the breakup — as best friends. 

"He knows the best and worst of me," she says. "When we are together we just mocked and teased each other always. We both love dressing up and he loves to take me to special events with him as his plus one, as he knows I will make him look good and I am as social as he is. 

"There is no romance, it is perfectly platonic, respectful, always fun and we love eating together. He will treat me as a lady, he will be very kind to me, but always appreciate our time together and return back to our normal lives."

These days—at 37 and 60—the pair talk every week, or anytime they need each other’s help. 

"Our friendship helped us to survive the loneliness of COVID, helped us both stay mentally and emotionally ok, and we appreciate each other's life experiences and time. It is a wonderful friendship."

Can big relationship age gaps really work?

According to relationship counsellor, Susan De Campo, they can. 

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"I know several couples in very happy relationships where there is a significant age gap — one where she is 18 years older than him, and where he is 18 years older than her.

"In the latter case, he retired a long time before she did and was able to invest time and energy into supporting her and attending to 'life admin' as she was pursuing her career. Some people prefer to be with someone who is a lot more mature and has more life experience than their own age cohort."

There are some disadvantages though, the most obvious being the fact you're at different stages of adult development, which can cause friction. 

"One person wants to slow down and travel whilst the other one wants to focus on their career, one might want to start a family while the other is looking forward to welcoming grandchildren, one might have lots of energy and be physically in peak condition, the other might start experiencing age-related health conditions, there may be an incompatibility in libido and there can be a huge incompatibility with friendship groups," explains De Campo. 

The key, she says — like all relationships — is appropriate attention, nurturing, and a commitment to address challenges. 

"My experience is that if couples are willing to be open and honest about the inevitable impact of a big age gap, then that’s what matters more than the gap itself."

Feature image: Supplied. 

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