My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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4 July 2016

Will you still need me when I'm 64?

You've seen him at parties, I'm sure. There's always this one guy, salt and pepper hair, with the aura of wisdom and been-there-done-that-ness that is standing with a woman over ten years younger than himself. They seem happy and contented, for the most part. She buzzes about the party, he usually stays in one spot and talks to few people there for the entire evening. It's a May-December romance, the Older Man-Younger Woman romance, a tale as old as time and as cliche as those phrases are.

The first time I encountered it, I was in my early twenties, hanging with a crew also in their early twenties. We were recent graduates, some of us in our first jobs, some of us doing further degrees. We chugged our cheap drinks out of plastic cups and played music very loudly in someone's backyard, occasionally singing along. Into all this, came one of the girls bringing along with her this grey haired man, fathoms older than her, who she introduced as the man she was seeing. I was so taken by this, I even put it in my first novel (written not long after this encounter). Little did I know that evening, that person, that change that came over the gathering would be one of many, many, many meetings I'd have over the years. (I blogged about that night here.) (And no, there's no use asking me who this was or when this was, it's ancient history, bro.)

Now, of course, as we're all in our thirties, dating someone older is not so far-fetched. I like to think of maturity as a water level. It's rising through your teens and twenties, and in your thirties it reaches a plateau where things are stable and you're about as grown up as you're likely to be for the next few decades. Things like parenthood and living on your own and dealing with parents who are getting older all add to your pool of life experience. That, plus the fact that most women mature a lot faster than men leads to an almost ideal relationship when you're in your thirties and the man you're dating is older by a decade. It works.

They say that you choose partners based on your experiences with your opposite sex parent. Boys with mummy issues will choose someone who will remind them—even subconsciously—of their mothers. The same with girls with daddy issues. However, as time goes by, I'm finding this too simplistic an explanation. Perhaps this is a better one: we seek partners who repair a certain imbalance that we have within ourselves. If you are quick to fly off the handle and get stressed easily, you're drawn to the cool, calm energies of another. If you need stability and a routine, you like someone who also craves all those things. Most relationships don't work out only when those complementing energies are off.

Briefly, I went out with an older man myself. I enjoyed playing the “when you were so-and-so age, I was such-and-such” but of course, you can't build a whole relationship on that. I was sad when it ended, but somewhere in the back of my head, I knew it wasn't going to be a forever thing anyway. Not because he was older, but just that we weren't compatible. Maybe I always needed someone who was growing at the same rate I was, so we could have our life experiences together, rather than me relying on him to tell me what it was like.

The interesting thing comes when you begin to analyse your relationships. Do you have a type? And what draws you to these people? It's quite fascinating in the end.

(A version of this appeared as my relationship column on Asianet Newsable.)


  1. "...we seek partners who repair a certain imbalance that we have within ourselves"
    Very well put, eM!

  2. Long time reader and lurker . I remember reading that post of yours more than a decade back and admired it's honesty . Good to see you reference that post again! I have known some friends/acquaintances of mine over the years with similar age difference and genders reversed as well. Strangely enough barring one couple, almost everyone did not have a not-so-happily-lived-ever-after ending for various reasons. So curious to know what happened to this couple and how did things proceed ? Obviously no identifying details required :)

    Also I always thought ever since I came across your blog more than a decade back that you are a very interesting person and always wanted to meet you . How does one go about asking whether one can treat you to a dinner ? ( Your SO welcome, of course :) )


  3. Thanks G! Always happy to meet up for drinks :)

  4. PS: lost touch with that lot of friends ages ago, but I don't think it lasted very long.


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