Scandalous Romance - Caroline Flack & Harry Styles

All of London has been abuzz over the news that Xtra-Factor presenter Caroline Flack, 32, is dating Harry Styles, 17, member of the boy band One Direction.  Opinion has been divided with some people giving Caroline the high-five, and others who want to stone her the market place.  The big issues, the 15 year age gap, and the fact that Styles is 17 (which is legal in Great Britain).  The couple met a year ago when Styles appeared on the X-Factor but the relationship apparently didn't start until this past October when the couple were caught kissing on camera.

You have to wonder if people would be so icked out if Styles were 18 or even 21.  Since he can't legally drink or vote, the idea that he's dating a woman in her thirties boggles people's minds. Caroline is quoted as saying, "What is hard for me to get my head around is people saying its disgusting. I don't think it is.  I shouldn't have to worry about what I do. But people aren't accepting of big age gaps."  Well Caroline, actually they are, if the roles were reversed.  If Caroline were 17 or 18, and Harry were 32, no body would probably blink an eye.  It doesn't help, that like Justin Bieber, Harry looks like he's just barely hit puberty. (Another older woman, director Sam Taylor Wood has been involved with actor Aaron Johnson since he was 18, and she was 41.  Perhaps the fact that they are now engaged and have 1 child, and another on the way, makes them a little less salacious).

Before you go thinking that Flack is some kind of 21st Century Mrs. Robinson, apparently Styles pursued her, which is pretty cheeky if you think about it. At first, she apparently didn't take him seriously, thinking he was just being flirty, but eventually she just decided that she liked him so, so what? Of course people are wondering what a 17 year old and a 32 year old could possibly have in common. Well, for one thing, both are in the entertainment business.  She's not likely to get upset at the fact that he's constantly off touring and promoting his band's CD, when she's equally as busy with her career. And since she's been in the business for awhile, no doubt she has some sage advice, but it could just be that they have fun together.

One has to wonder what Style's mother feels about all this? Is she outraged or is she perhaps happy that her son is dating someone who isn't using him for fame? Most of the girls his own age that he meets are all fans (who have issued death threats against Flack).  Chances are this relationship will run it's course but Flack has taken a huge risk by being in this relationship.  Her people have already told her that it could cost her a great deal of work. In the end, the bad publicity may be the very thing that kills the romance as both discover that it's not worth all the derision.

In 1920, the French writer Colette published her story of Cheri, a young man who has a relationship with a courtesan who is 25 years older.  Despite both their contention that the relationship is casual, they fall in love,  although they know they can't be together.  Things haven't changed very much since then have they? While George Clooney continues to date even younger and younger women, and nobody blinks an eye that Warren Beatty and Michael Douglas are 25 years older than their wives, for a woman to date a younger man brings up all kinds of issues for people.

So what do you think? Is Caroline Flack brave or foolhardy for dating a guy who is not only 15 years younger but still a teenager? Is there still a stigma against women dating much younger men?


History Chick said…
I think it's the fact that he's 17 which has some people appalled. Michael Douglas might be 25 years older than his wife but she was 30 when they started dating. I imagine if a 17 year old girl were dating a 32 year old man, the same people would be just as appalled. I met my husband when I was almost 18 and he was 24 - even that caused a bit of a stir with some people at first.

Demi Moore is about 16 years older than Ashton Kutcher and I do recall some raised eyebrows about it when it first came out that they were dating but I don't remember there being "outrage", probably because he was about 25 at time, not exactly a teenager.

I think the older you get, the more an age gap closes. And at only 17, a 15 year age gap is going to seem much bigger than, say, a 30 year old with a 45 year old.

Then again, I do think that getting involved in the entertainment industry and becoming famous would probably make teenagers grow up faster in some ways. Ultimately, if his parents are okay with it and it's legal... it's not really my business.
Utopia said…
I think people are too judgmental about the entire older woman younger man romance. You never know what works out and yes looking at the statistics it would seem that most of these romances don't go all the way but hell even the traditional older man younger woman thingies get over in a few months and years. We should just let these couples be instea dof constantly keeping them under the scanner just because the woman is considerably older than the man.
As a woman who has dated younger men for the past several years, there is a part of me that says "good for you" to Caroline Flack. On the other hand, I think that dating someone that young is a bit dicey. If he were not still in his teens and had a bit more life experience it would be one thing but he's a very young 17. Of course, she nay have the maturity level of a 17 so that might be the attraction. But then again, I know someone who started dating her husband, when he was 19 and she was 25 and they are very happy. It's so individual but I agree that people still look askance women who are older than their partner. We still seem to be conditioned that it should be the other way around.
Unknown said…
Speaking as a 22-year-old woman whose husband is 10 years older, I'm disturbed not by the age gap of these two but by the boy's age. He's exactly that: a boy. He may be almost legally an adult, but he isn't one yet. It bothers me just as much as it bother me when I see an underage girl dating an adult man. If my husband had known me when I was 17, he would never have started a relationship with me at that time because I was a child and it would have been inappropriate.

If Styles were, say, 25 and Flack 40, I'd still think it was weird but I wouldn't find it creepy. I do hope their relationship is deep and sincere. My husband often either gets high-fived or teased because he has a young wife. It's not easy (and I realize my above criticism may sound a bit hypocritical given our age gap), and you need to be really, really committed to each other. I'm not convinced that most 17-year-olds have the maturity that's needed for that kind of commitment.
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