But high-profile Hollywood couples like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (12 years her junior) -- who met and began dating while filming an on-screen romance in the 1988 movie "Bull Durham" -- have proven that life can indeed imitate art when it comes to matters of the heart.
Theirs, however, is a real-life love story of an older woman and younger man -- something that is not so uncommon nowadays.
According to a survey by dating website Elite Singles, 20-something men actually have a preference for older women three to six years older than themselves.
The much touted idea that women peak sexually in their 30s and men in their teens does not enter into it -- most of these couples are beyond both those age periods.
The researchers examined how many of the women reported having relationships with a younger partner or partners, noting the length of these relationships and the demographic characteristics of the women involved, including their race, level of education, and religiosity.
They found 13.2 percent of the women in their sample had been in a sexual relationship with at least one man who was five or more years younger, and 4.4 percent "had a partner who was at least 10 years their junior."Defying the stereotype that such relationships tend to be short-lived, they found approximately 54 percent lasted at least two years.
A 2003 study by AARP revealed that 34 percent of all women over 40 in the survey were dating younger men, and 35 percent preferred it to dating older men. Quite frankly, his mother made it so impossible," Winter says of the six-year relationship, which inspired her book.
"Societal attitudes have definitely changed," says Susan Winter, 52, co-author of "Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance" -- and she would know. "But (that kind of discrimination) would not be allowable now." Hollywood in particular has defied the ageism stereotype, with celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore marrying significantly younger men (a 10- and 15-year age gap, respectively, with director Guy Ritchie and actor Ashton Kutcher), and the public has come to accept it.