The debate over whether Taylor Swift meant to slam John Mayer with her new song "Dear John" has been swirling all day, but does it matter? Old guy plus child never paints a good picture. The court of public opinion doesn't care who it is.
The day of guys getting a pat on the back for bagging the hot young thing may finally be coming to an end. What, we can dream, right? Or maybe this will just make adults take a long hard look at a date's maturity level rather than taking their birthdate at face value. Come on, still dreaming?
Lending credence to the idea that it's about their relationship is the fact that Swift's been open about calling her new album a sort of diary of the past two years of her life -- from her run-in with Kanye West to her relationship with the other hot young Taylor (Lautner).
Swift was 19 when she was linked to then 32-year-old Mayer, and the "Dear John" lyrics are all about a young woman and an older man:
Dear John I see it all now that you're gone Don't you think I was too young To be messed with The girl in the dress Cried the whole way home I should've known ... My mother accused me of losing my mind But I swore I was fine... You'll add my name to your long list of traitors who don't understand And I'll look back in regret I ignored what they said "'Run as fast as you can."
"John" comes off as a creep here: the idea that he has a long list of wronged partners, the crying in the car ride home dig that calls to mind a brokenhearted prom date in her fancy dress.
Kudos on the songwriting. She successfully paints herself as an innocent. A kid.
But fair's fair: Swift was 19. She was an "adult." Once you pass age 17 and become a legal adult, there is no hard and fast rule for acceptable age differences. All that matters is it's no longer statutory rape. You can do what you want with whom you want.
The only barrier is the court of public opinion on an acceptable age gap. Relationships expert Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told Oprah a few years back that the best bet was a 5- to 10-year age gap, but there are thousands of Americans whose May-December romances are still going strong in January who would disagree.
The problem here doesn't seem to be a 13-year age difference so much as the maturity level of Taylor Swift. She's 21 and still writing high school-style rants about boys who made her mad.
She was an adult in body, sure. But this highlights the age difference conundrum. There's no magical age when someone hits mental maturity. Throw a 40-year-old man and a 19-year-old who's an old soul together, and life can be just dandy. Throw a 28-year-old and a 22-year-old who still sleeps with her teddy bears and calls Mommy to tie her shoes together, and you can put the Haagen Daas on ice -- it's ending fast.
Taylor Swift could have been dating any old dude at 19. It was doomed.
Do you think there's a perfect age difference?
Image via david_shankbone/Flickr