In the genre of fantasy, I have come across way too many romantic leads that are years older than the female lead. And when I say years, I mean hundreds.
From vampires to elves to fae, these age differences are present everywhere. In large pop culture books like Twilight, by Stephine Meyer, A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Mass, and The Vampires Diaries, by L.J. Smith, the romantic male love interests are over a hundred years older than the female lead. Why?
Stating that the male love interest and the female lead are in the same mind set does not make the age difference alright. Being mentally eighteen does not make a character eighteen. So when these ancient old males are interested in girls–because oftentimes the female lead is still under eighteen and is not legally an adult–we should look at this dynamic with disgust and not awe. We need to stop supporting this trope.
There are plenty of fantasy books and shows being made that do not use this trope. For example, the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo or The Cruel Prince series by Holly Black could have easily done this trope, but instead they chose not to. Or, try watching the movie What We Do in the Shadows. This movie makes this trope a laughing point by using it in a more realistic sense.
So next time the author writes a male love interest over a hundred years the protagonist’s senior, don’t support it. It’s not romantic. Instead, it romanticizes relationships that support power differences between adults and children, at the very least.