What All Of Us Can Learn From Sushmita Sen Dating A Younger Man
Recently, 42-year-old Sushmita Sen confirmed her relationship with the 27-year-old Kashmiri heartthrob Rohman Shawl, stirring (yet another) conversation about older-woman-younger-man relationships. Sen is not the first celebrity to date a man significantly younger than herself. Far from it. The list includes Priyanka Chopra, Madonna, Meghan Markle, Mariah Carey, and (allegedly) Malaika Arora. The older-woman-younger man relationship is out of the closet. Indeed, it even found a place in the mainstream. In Karan Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil where Aishwarya Rai’s character romanced a much younger man played by Ranbir Kapoor. That said, to say that an age gap that favours the man is now well-accepted would be a stretch.
Most of us have been taught that a woman must find a man a few years older than herself. Reasons cited for this include: “men mature later than women,” “biological clock,” “he’ll be able to take care of you better”. It has been the norm for the man in a relationship to be a couple of years older than the woman. And as it goes, breaking the norm means raised eyebrows and dropped jaws. Yes, even as it becomes more mainstream where the men are younger, it still jars us, at least for a passing moment.
There is a common thread that connects these women – a history of unhappy (sometimes, abusive) relationships, well paying jobs, and a streak of independence. We know all of this to be true for Sushmita Sen, Priyanka Chopra, and Malaika Arora. But, there’s a more significant pattern that emerge from these relationships. The shirking of traditional thinking.
In the traditional context, a woman is expected to find a man of higher social and financial stature than herself. They are encouraged to “marry up”. In simple words, to find someone who makes more money, and can provide a stable and secure life for her. As women become financially independent, and make their own place in the social strata they desire, the need for a man to provide for her, and be her navigator in life, lessens. The woman dating a younger man isn’t seeking a knight in shining armour, but a companion. Someone who can be there with and for her, through the ups and downs of life, offer emotional support, intellectual stimulation, and, well, good company. Someone who can be the cherry on top of the cake she has already baked for herself.
Like it or not, celebrities do influence the way we think, and can be a force of change. Instead of wondering what is wrong with women like Sushmita Sen and Priyanka Chopra, we should thank them for normalising the older woman-younger man relationship, because at the end of the day, love is not about age, but respect.