After her sixth stint in rehab, Lindsay Lohan is now dating an 18-year-old. We know this because said 18-year-old’s girlfriend flew home from college to see him and found salacious texts on his phone from none other than Lindsay Lohan. Where to begin unpacking this story? First of all, Lindsay Lohan is nine years older than her current boyfriend. Second, the boyfriend has a different girlfriend. Third, there is a college-educated person involved in this story. That may be the most shocking part of it all.
In less shocking news, Lindsay Lohan isn’t the only one cradle-robbing. It’s been reported that Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin, who is 17, is currently sharing her sunshine with the 25-year-old All Time Low guitarist, Jack Barakat. Just to note, sharing sunshine is a euphemism, and it stands for activity that is, in some states, illegal between a 17- and 25-year-old.
We all laugh and titter when there are people with age-inappropriate partners. But are we even right? Do significant age gaps in relationships herald failure? (God, that was a little too close to Carrie Bradshaw for comfort.) While “pervy” is usually the initial reaction, there is a case to be made for cradlerobbing. Cradlerobbing may just be the first step on the road to marital bliss.
For starters, people like the idea of a relationship with a gap in age. In a survey of 2,000 adults, 33 percent of women reported that they’d like to marry a man who’s up to seven years older, and the average respondent offered four years and four months as an ideal age gap between two partners. Not six months, not a year, four months. A whole talking human being of difference in age.
On the more mercenary side of things — it always comes up — people are concerned about money. In the same 2,000-person survey, 55 percent of women who said they’d like an older man cited finances as the cause. Realistically, financial stability is crucial to a successful relationship. In a 2009 study, researchers found that 30 percent of marriages end in divorce when there are weekly arguments about finances arise. In other words, money anxiety is a marriage-killer.
Less money anxiety, particularly in our unstable economic climate, could alleviate stress. The average age for people to get married is 27 for women, and 29 for men. With more people attending college and graduate school than ever, the 20s are the least stable of financial times, particularly with unprecedented —and still soaring — heights in student loan debt. When a partner is older, they truly can afford financial security. This shouldn’t necessarily call to mind unsettling sugar-daddy relationships, but perhaps supportive marriages, where people just starting out in careers feel less pressure on the money-at-home front.
Furthermore, divorce rates for divorcees provide an important backdrop for the cradle-robbing case. Ninety percent of marriages in which both partners have been divorced before will end in divorce. While the number is terrifying, it suggests that the combination of jaded attitudes and already fully-developed lives are recipes for disaster.
When older people who’ve lived through divorces marry younger people, they’re not necessarily displaying a taste for the “sexy young thing.” They’re injecting the younger partner’s optimism and naïve confidence into what is an inherently frightening institution. The freshness that the partner brings could save a divorcee from failure the second or third (or, God forbid hopefully not a fourth) time around.
Divorcee or not, everyone wants some optimism and freshness in their marriage. And cradle-robbing might just be the ticket. So maybe Lindsay Lohan is smarter than all of us and these two are going to live happily ever after. But then again, it is Lindsay Lohan.
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