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Summer Monteys-Fullam is the girlfriend of Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood and people aren’t happy about it. Because, in a classic iteration of the ‘older man meets younger woman and leaves his wife’ genre, she is 22 and he is 52, making him 30 years her senior.
The tabloid press has unearthed a now deleted Instagram post from Monteys-Fullam’s account in which she thanks her ‘amazing boyfriend’ Hollywood.
On social media, the whole thing was described as ‘grim’ by one user, another said ‘the power imbalance’ of Hollywood and Monteys-Fullam’s relationship was ‘seriously gross’ and somebody else wrote ‘OMG this is peak dating one of your dad’s friends from the cycling club’.
You may dislike Hollywood because he followed the Bake Off money to Channel 4 as opposed to ‘doing the right thing’ along with his original co-stars but he hasn’t actually done anything wrong here, not legally anyway.
The older man/younger woman conundrum may be hackneyed, cringeworthy and, even, seem unsavoury (sorry), but, it is worth noting that often, as in this case, it involves two consenting adults.
Your ick-ometer might go wild as you read about how Hollywood scoped Summer out while at a party with his wife, there is no law against dating somebody younger than you.
Maybe that’s one of those indecipherable cutesy private couple jokes or, perhaps, she really does mean that he has, quite literally, turned her into a fully-fledged house wife, we’ll never know.
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However, she also pointed out that the reasons for this 'could also be evolutionary in nature, it may be that if the age difference between a younger woman and an older man is too great, the man may not be able to help care for potential offspring over the long term'.
As a teaching psychologist, Fuegere noted that when she spoke to her students about this issue 'they felt that life stage rather than age might be important; so if women are at a younger age (for example, college students) comfort with a ten year age difference might be reduced because an 18 year old and a 28 year old might at different life stages, whereas the difference between a 40 year old and a 50 year old might not cause so much discomfort because those individuals are likely at more similar life stages'.
Whenever an ageing man – be he a celebrity baker or a politician – partners with a younger woman it’s frustrating because it reinforces the fact that we live in a world where male privilege rules to the extent that there is still a pervasive narrative that women over the age of 40 are ‘on the shelf’ while men can do pretty much whatever they like.
Indeed, only yesterday a study was published in the journal Psy Ar Xiv which found that older heterosexual men like older women but they would still prefer to be in a relationship with a younger one.