Last year, news broke American Horror actress Sarah Paulson, who was about to turn 41, was dating the actress Holland Taylor, who is 32 years her senior.
The online reaction was immediate and (rare for a celebrity dating story) almost entirely positive.
Paulson, for her part, found the sudden attention “surreal.”
In an interview with the New York Times, she says she tried to keep her distance from the hubbub but acknowledged,
My choices in romantic partners have not been conventional, and therefore the idea that it is ‘other’ makes it compelling.”
Before dating Taylor, Paulson was in a seven-year relationship with the actress Cherry Jones, who is 18 years older than she is. Before that, she dated men, including the actor and playwright Tracy Letts, who is nine years older and to whom she was engaged.
She never kept her same-sex relationships secret, but she has been wary of labelling her sexuality, for fear of being “skewered” should she change her dating habits later on.
If my life choices had to be predicated based on what was expected of me from a community on either side, that’s going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don’t want to feel that,” she said. “What I can say absolutely is that I am in love, and that person happens to be Holland Taylor.”
The women first met at a dinner party about a decade ago, when Paulson was still with Jones. Nevertheless, she thought that Taylor was “probably the most exquisitely beautiful woman I’d ever seen.”
They crossed paths again a few years later, when the actress Martha Plimpton asked both to record videos for her reproductive-rights organization, A Is For.
Paulson was filming American Horror Story: Asylum at the time, and Taylor was working on her one-woman play, Ann, about the former Texas governor Ann Richards.
After that, they followed each other on Twitter and exchanged direct messages before finally deciding to go out for dinner. They have now been together for a little more than a year.
Paulson said she had never seriously dated anyone her own age.
There’s a poignancy to being with someone older. I think there’s a greater appreciation of time and what you have together and what’s important, and it can make the little things seem very small. It puts a kind of sharp light mixed with a sort of diffused light on something. I can’t say it any other way than there’s a poignancy to it, and a heightened sense of time and the value of time.”
She has always gravitated toward her elders, she added, beginning in junior high school.
I had a complicated home life, and my teachers, predominantly my theatre teachers and my English teachers, were very dedicated to taking care of me in a particular way. And in doing so, I think I developed a very easy rapport with people older than myself.”