Why it's goodbye to toy boys and hello to the silver fox . . .
After Calista Flockhart (45) married Harrison Ford (67) last week, Deirdre Reynolds looks at older men's appeal
Debonair, confident and sexy -- or crinkly, cranky and impotent? For single ladies, that's the dual-edged allure and agony of the older man.
From Demi Moore to TV series Cougartown, much has been made of femmes d'un certain âge filing their claws for younger prey in recent years.
Yet only last week, svelte star of Ally McBeal, Calista Flockhart (45), tied the knot with Harrison Ford, a good 22 years older than her at 67.
Exemplified by sexy sexagenarians such as Ford and Richard Gere, the silver fox has always held a special appeal for women of all ages.
After Donegal county council failed to shut his controversial shebeen, Bog Hotel pensioner Patsy Brogan (73) vowed to celebrate by wedding his 30-year-old Polish girlfriend Daria Weiske this year.
For a geriatric guy, the appeal of a young, buxom blonde is a no-brainer -- but just what does a bombshell in her prime see in a partner old enough to possess a bus pass?
Sceptics may arch a brow, but Daria insists it's love: "If there's an age gap, it means nothing to me. I know my family said they don't want the marriage to go ahead... but Patsy and I are very happy."
So could Hollywood beauties Catherine Zeta-Jones and Evan Rachel Wood be on to something?
Both actresses have hooked up with men old enough to play their on-screen dads -- Zeta-Jones (40) has been married to Wall Street 2 star Michael Douglas (65) for 10 years, while Wood (22) is engaged to shock-rocker Marilyn Manson (41).
Wiser, wealthier, less sexually demanding and more attentive, older men seem to offer women a stability that's lacking in younger studs.
Who knows -- perhaps it's such life experience that first attracted then 26-year-old Anna Nicole Smith to 89-year-old billionaire J Howard Marshall? When it comes to affairs of the heart, age is but a number, says model Lisa Murphy (36), who'll wed solicitor-to-the-stars Gerald Kean (52) next spring.
"All of my relationships have been with older men," says Lisa, who runs New Lisa Life beauty salon in Sandycove. "I was a late starter when it came to dating, so I was looking for a more emotional connection than a man my own age could provide.
"Older men tend to be more settled, secure in their own skin, better able to express themselves emotionally, more appreciative and calmer than younger guys -- those are all the qualities that attracted me to Gerald."
'I didn't even know how old Gerald was when we first met," she adds of their 16-year age gap. "Age never entered into the equation. Myself and Gerald entered into a relationship based on honesty, mutual attraction, open communication and common interests -- age didn't come into it."
But just because a man has more miles on the clock doesn't make him infallible in love, warns relationship counsellor David Wheeler.
"It's a reasonable assumption for women to make that an older man will be more mature and loving," he says. "But I've seen clients get involved with older men who treat them just as poorly as a younger man might. The most important thing in a relationship is respect -- and that rarely has anything to do with age."