In defence of Leonardo DiCaprio’s love life – and all adult age-gap relationships

Why can’t people just hook up with whoever they want to? Why are we trying to stand in the way of possible true love?

Mary McCarthy
Friday 02 September 2022 18:47 BST
Miriam Margolyes says Leonardo DiCaprio was 'smelly' when they met

So, Leonardo DiCaprio and his girlfriend Camila Morrone have split up. Yet simply because she is 25 and he is 47 – and a few of his previous relationships happen to have run into the ground when his partner hit a quarter of a century – he has been slaughtered and slandered online.

But he did nothing wrong. The couple were together for five years; this was no “lounge lizard” situation where he dabbled for a few weeks and then tossed her cruelly aside. And I’m sorry, but you don’t spend that long in a relationship without being in love.

He is made out to be “Leo the Lothario”, but a quick glance at his relationship CV will show that he usually heads in for the long haul.

He went out with supermodel Gisele for five years, and with Bar Refaeli for just as long. Hardly randy Leo cruising from fling to fling.

His girlfriends would not have stayed that long with him if there wasn’t something really special going on. It is insulting to insinuate that they have been hard done by. Are we not supposed to be a modern, liberalised society where you can go out with whoever you want without getting ripped apart?

Camila herself said in a Los Angeles Times interview: “I just think anyone should be able to date who they want.” But she shouldn’t even have to spell this out.

In fairness, some of the memes were amusing – and the news is bleak these days, so I can see why this story took off – but just as many were sneering and mean. There were tweets that called DiCaprio “super disturbing” and “a sick and gross man”. Not OK.

And viewed from a different angle, perhaps Leo is the victim?

Coincidently, many of his relationships seem to falter when the lady hovers around the age of 25 – but has anyone considered that they may all be dumping him?

It’s pretty normal (or it was in my day) to lust after a fella who is a good bit older than you when you are in your early twenties. Older men can be seriously attractive – but to settle down with them?

I can remember having a boyfriend when I was 21 and he was 18 years my senior. I was absolutely smitten – but when my husband (who happens to be four years younger than me) stumbled into my life a few years later, the old man got dumped.

Who knows what really happened with Gisele Bundchen – she is now married to Tom Brady, who at 45 is just three years older than her. Perhaps she felt Leo was just too old for her?

Another of Leo’s exes – Victoria’s Secret model Erin Heatherton – is reported to be engaged to a bloke who is 33, the same age she is.

DiCaprio went out with Blake Lively for a year, and now her hubby Ryan Reynolds is 45 to her 35 – perhaps Blake could stretch to a decade gap, but no more?

OK, I’ve always fancied Leo – which may cloud my judgement – but genuinely, it’s awfully unfair how he is getting slated. Perhaps he is deeply heartbroken and now has all these nasty memes coming at him.

To me, the fact that he generally goes in for long relationships says much more about him than the age of the women he usually plumps for. The backlash may be understandable, particularly in light of the vital #MeToo movement – but we should remember that there is nuance to every relationship.

I have a divorced banker pal in London, actively in the market for love, who says he would never date a younger woman because his work colleagues would be horrified. I understand his point – but it interests me that it’s so different for women dating younger men. As an example, just look at Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher: when they got married, she had 15 years on him. They broke up, and she’s now dating the chef Daniel Humm – who’s 14 years her junior.

Then, there’s the artist Sam Taylor-Johnson, some 18 years older than her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The pair have been (seemingly) happily married for ages. Say they were to break up and she got with another young lad, nobody would dream of making the kind of memes we’ve seen doing the rounds on social media in recent days directed at Leo.

Still not convinced? OK: reverse the age gap between Brigitte Macron and Emmanuel Macron. Imagine the French president was 25 years older than his wife – would that be considered OK? I don’t think so. And yet Leo is open season for jokes and scorn.

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My personal opinion is that we should live and let live. Why can’t people just hook up with whoever they want to? Why are we trying to stand in the way of possible true love?

Maybe there are many women in their early twenties who are itching to get with fortysomethings, but now feel it is unacceptable – and maybe those women would have been happier with someone older than them. After all, 2008 research from the Office of National Statistics found that having a big age gap makes it no more likely you will divorce.

And if Leo does take up with another woman in her early twenties, by coincidence, I believe they should be left in peace. We should be more open-minded and not so judgey. After all, it looks to me as though, just like the rest of us, the poor man is simply searching for a soulmate.

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