As someone who’s always believed that people can love whomever they want, I still have a little trouble when I see couples with big age gaps. It’s not that I don’t believe they could actually be in love, but for me, the problem is when the woman is the younger one in the relationship. When I see a younger woman with an older man, it concerns me. Women are constantly preyed upon and assaulted by men — especially older men. So that’s why I cringe when I see relationships like Leonardo DiCaprio and his 19-year-old girlfriend.

Leonardo DiCaprio is notorious for dating women significantly younger than him. And because he is a celebrity, we shrug this off. But I don’t believe we can excuse how weird this is. Sure, the relationships seem to be consensual as far as we know but I can’t help but wonder if relationships like these actually involve love, or if they’re purely an exchange. 

I’m not saying that people can never fall in love with someone who’s older than them. Like I said before, I’m a firm believer that people can love whomever they want. I’m also not saying that the reverse can’t happen, meaning a younger guy in a relationship with an older woman. Take Harry Styles and Caroline Flack, for example. He was 17 and she was 31 when they dated. 

Personally, I believe that in order for an age gap to be okay, the youngest person in the relationship should at least be 21 or over. Especially if they’re dating someone who is over 20 years older than them, like in the case of Leonardo DiCaprio. His new girlfriend is still a teenager and he is 48

But, even if the younger person in the relationship is 21 or over, I’ll never truly be able to get rid of that uncomfortable feeling I get when I see young, college-aged women with middle-aged, older men. As a woman, I think it’s only natural to feel like that. After all, it’s all too common to see in both the media and reality men manipulating and abusing us. It’s only natural to feel on edge when we see them with younger women. 

I truly hope that all of the young people in relationships with an age gap are in that relationship because they truly love their partner, and that they feel fully comfortable with them. I would also hope that people like DiCaprio’s new girlfriend aren’t being forced into the relationship. And if there isn’t love in the relationship, I would hope that it’s consensual and as close to an equal exchange. This should be the case for any relationship but especially those with major age gaps.

Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing such specifics. That’s why, I believe it’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable about couples that have such big age gaps, especially ones where the youngest member is still a teenager. The world we live in now is pretty messed up, so we can’t help but be a little suspicious.

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