It has long been socially accepted that men tend to be slightly older than their female partners. Studies have attributed the pairings to a number of causes, one being the idea that women tend to mature quicker than men and therefore, the younger woman/older man combination ends up being pretty on par where maturity is concerned. These days, it’s also become quite common for a female to end up with a younger male. And why shouldn’t she? But, no matter which way you slice it, there’s the potential for a major age gap in your relationship to lead to major issues.
Many couples with 10+ years of an age gap do perfectly fine. In fact, it’s likely that you have at least one couple in your circle of friends (or family’s friends) that fit those criteria. But, there are a lot of age gap couples that simply don’t end up working. This post is all about dealing with a major age gap in your relationship, so we hope it proves helpful!
When the Age Difference is Really Just too Large
Sometimes, the age gap simply ends up being too large to handle. For example, a 25 year old woman with a 60 year old man. It’s an extreme example, yes, but it happens. A man at 60 can be exceptionally youthful and maybe even keep up with his 25-year old counterpart. But, what happens 20 years down the road when he’s 80 and she’s only 45? In relationships with very large age gaps, it’s important to look to the future. Ask yourself, “what will our lives look like in 10, 20 and even 30 years?” Sometimes, it’s better to recognize that things will probably not get easier when dealing with more than an age gap… but a multi-generational gap.
When the Age Gap Is Less Than 10 Years
When the age gap is less than 10 tens, you do have a much better chance of making it work. While you’ll encounter problems now and again, they’re less likely to be wildly challenging. When that number creeps up to 12, 15 or even 18 however, there’s simply more room for major differences of opinion on politics, religion, society as a whole and lifestyle choices. When one partner grew up in a completely different generation than the other, there tends to be less common ground on many key topics. Sure, you can work through them. But, if you do have quite different takes on life, you can both end up feeling isolated within your relationship.
People will Criticize. You Need to be Ready.
It’s sort of expected that no matter who you pair up with or how old they might be (or their choice of profession, where they live or how many kids they want to have), you’re going to get questions and even criticism. It’s human nature, unfortunately, and people love to judge a relationship. Just look at how many tabloid magazines sell with relationship scandal headlines on the front covers! When you date older, or younger, people feel like it’s even more acceptable for them to get critical. At the end of the day, all that matters is YOUR happiness and the happiness of your partner. Let the people talk… you’ve got an amazing relationship to focus on.
Don’t Use your Age Difference in Arguments
Arguing in any relationship is tough. It’s never fun and nearly always leads to hurt feelings. It’s incredibly important that, when dealing with a major age gap in your relationship, you don’t use the fact that he/she is older/younger as a point of argument. An example might be if he doesn’t feel like going to the club, even though you’re dying to go with all of your friends. Telling him he’s acting like an old man or just doesn’t “get” younger people is hurtful and can be seriously damaging to your relationship. Look for the underlying reason why he/she feels the way he/she does. It likely has nothing to do with age.
Understand the Potential for Financial Differences
Let’s say there’s a guy just graduating from grad school (with a nice sized amount of student debt, no less) and he decides to start dating a woman who’s 7 years older and nicely situated in a senior position within her field. It’s silly to think that money will never come up, or will never be an issue. If she’s 7 years older, she may be at the point where she’s ready to “settle down”. Then again, she might not be. If she is, the fact that she’ll then become partially responsible for his student debt should be discussed. When you’re just dating, conversations about income and finances don’t usually extend beyond who’s going to pick up the bill or pay for the movie tickets. But in a serious, long-term partnership it’s important to delve a bit deeper than that and have a thorough understanding of where both partners are, financially, and how finances are going to be managed moving forward.
Have you ever dated someone older or younger? Or, are you married to someone who’s older or younger? We’d love to hear about the problems (if any) you’ve overcome.