Gemma and Davide have been two of the biggest talking points this series
Love Island is back in full swing, gripping viewers across the country with the promise of summer romance.
On Monday (6 June), we saw 10 new singletons enter the luxury villa in a bid to win the £50,000 jackpot and seek out their future partner.
There was already a switch up minutes into the show. Rather than the female islanders stepping forward for their man of choice, the public played cupid. For the most part, islanders were content. That was until the show threw a surprise new addition into the mix - Italian stallion Davide Sanclimenti.
One brutal critic tweeted, "Gemma 19 and Davide 27 can’t get my head around the age difference; put that child down," while another added: "If Davide picks Gemma, then he’s an absolute weirdo because a 27-year-old has no business speaking to a 19-year-old. Legal or not, it’s just weird." However, Davide is not yet aware of his partner's age.
Before the pairing, another social media user jokingly threatened to "file a complaint with OFCOM" if Gemma recoupled with someone over the age of 25. The tweet racked up almost 15,000 likes.
Brunson believes there are four reasons for the public's reaction.
First and foremost, there's a 19-year-old, and she's a woman in a heterosexual relationship. There's also the assumption that "the 27-year-old will take advantage of the 19-year-old and/or the relationship," which isn't necessarily the case.
Cultural values play a significant role in whether people view it as inappropriate. "For Western or European cultures, an eight-year age gap is considered large – but it's not in other cultures," Brunson explained. "If you look at Subsaharan Africa, you're talking an average age gap of around 12-14 years between men and their wives – much larger than this eight-year gap we're seeing on Love Island."
He added: "And even if you look at countries like India, Bangladesh, Morocco, the average age difference between those countries is about 6-8 years. You'll also see plenty of relationships in those countries and more with larger age gaps."
In Western culture, Gemma is still "technically a late-stage teenager", which holds the societal idea "that they're still figuring out themselves and their lives." In the same way, a person in their late 20s is considered to be "fully matured and self-aware."
Interestingly, if gender roles were reversed, Brunson feels she'd get a lot more "kudos and high fives" and less scrutiny. However, he noted that there "would still be a lot of issues for many", reiterating the idea of Western and European cultures.
Public scrutiny is said to die down once people hit the average age of marriage. In the UK, that's typically mid to late 30s, whereas in the US it's early 30s.
"Once you hit that territory, anything older doesn't matter," Buson explained. "You could be a 40-year-old married to a 60-year-old and you're going to get less public scrutiny." However, it may be a different story if there's a 20 year age gap between a 20-year-old and a 40-year-old.
One of the most substantial studies into age gap relationships found "there is less marriage satisfaction or less relationship satisfaction in age gap relationships."
Brunson explained: "You think about a physical setback, a financial setback, whatever it may be in the relationship – the younger person is less likely to be able to bounce back or manage it vs the older person."
Despite this, Brunson noted that there are still some positives. "The younger person can learn from the older person to become more resilient, and the older person in the relationship can learn to open their level of understanding."
One aspect that no one really speaks about is the initial level of satisfaction is the highest. The study reveals that when two people get together with a significant age difference, "sparks will really be flying in the couple."
Unfortunately, this is short-lived and eventually "fizzles out, before satisfaction plummets."
According to the study, there is actually a perfect age gap between partners.
"Typically, 0-3 years is considered the 'ideal' age gap, and when you look at marital satisfaction with couples rating the health of their marriage, the sex in their marriage and the outlook of their marriage, couples who typically have a 0-3 year age gap have the highest level of marital or relationship satisfaction.
"The next run is 4-6 year gap, they see less satisfaction – but there's still some. The couples who have 7+ years as a gap routinely show the lowest level of marital and relationship satisfaction."
So while some people have expressed their issues against the on-screen age gap between the pair, it essentially comes down to both being consenting adults who see themselves as equals.
We’ll have to wait and see whether they ride it out until the end.
Love Island continues tonight at 9pm on ITV2.
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.