By TONY PARSONS

Men have long been entitled to date and mate younger women. Now, the stigma of older women with much younger partners has (finally) become a thing of the past. My interview with British GQ explains the age gap journey toward age equality, in love and romance:

Relationship expert Susan Winter says, “Socially speaking in the Western world, women have been granted liberty to unite with men five to 15 years older without anyone batting an eye. Conversely, when a man chooses an older mate he’s apt to encounter judgment and discrimination. Historically, a woman was to choose a man the same age, or five to 15 years older. Mid-century, the reason for the elevated age gap would have been economic. Women had little ability to earn income. Their husband was their access to social standing and stability. Obviously, an older man had more time to achieve a greater number of personal and financial goals.”

Tony Parson writes:

I never thought about the 15-year age gap between my young wife and I until the first Eighties rock star came to tea.

This was back in the Nineties. Yuriko and I had not been married long. She was in her early twenties then and had just left university while I was in my mid-thirties and, quite frankly, already had a few hard miles on the clock.

Courting – then marrying – a woman that much younger than me was totally different from the relationships with the thirtysomething women I had been knocking around with for a few years. Many of them had husbands, children and mortgages. All of them had – like me – heartbreak, disappointment and betrayal in their luggage. But life is gloriously different in your early twenties. You are waiting for the world to get started. The big moments are all ahead of you. And for me, after all those furtive trysts with the woman down the road or on the far side of the dinner table, an April-September romance was enormously refreshing.

And, of course, I was crazy about my young bride.

Then the Eighties rock star came to tea.

“There’s an old man coming up the path,” Yuriko called from upstairs.

I went to the window and I saw no old man coming up the path.

I could only see Morrissey.

This was a few years after the end of The Smiths. Morrissey was in his early thirties. But my wife was ten years younger. So I looked at Morrissey as his long elegant fingers traced over the spines of my books – he still has my hardback edition of Elvis by Albert Goldman – and I saw a rock god. Truly, one of the greats. But my missus – too young to be a Smiths fan, and too Japanese – just saw some old bloke disappearing over the cusp of middle age.

We laugh about it now. At least, I do. “I was very young,” Yuriko says, usually with a frown.

But in truth, it wasn’t much better when David Bowie called late one Saturday to invite us out for dinner. Yuriko had been a Bowie fan, but not the same kind of Bowie fan as me. She had been there from “Let’s Dance”, released when she was 14, so she had missed the long march through Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, Station To Station, Low, Berlin, playing keyboards for Iggy. She was born too late for all that. She liked Bowie – and she sort of understood why I was swooning with excitement that we were invited to join him for a late supper at The Ivy. But the thing is, she had already made something for our dinner and Bowie was calling with no notice. So I went to The Ivy alone. Yuriko was always more of a Michael Jackson fan. And she might have dropped everything if it had been Jacko on the line. But here is one thing about an age-gap relationship: your heroes are never her heroes – they are old geezers.