When it comes to dating a much older or younger partner and getting into a relationship, there’s no getting around it: people are going to comment and will be amused because of age gaps. Even open-minded people will probably sound a note of caution. Do they have a point?
There are a lot of bad names for people who date someone years older or younger or are in age gap relationship.With such social disapproval, you may hesitate to date someone older than you, even if the two of you like each other do you have enough in common, are you sure they’re not just taking advantage, and is this really good?
Sounding the warnings
Why do intergenerational romances have such a bad reputation? Part of it may simply be the atavistic part of our brains telling us that relationships are for producing children. A so called May-December couple’s reproductive peaks don’t align, so bystanders may instinctively feel they shouldn’t be together.
This isn’t very logical, of course: both men and women can have children later in life, and even if they don’t, there are more reasons to be together and more ways to be a family than traditional childbearing.
There’s also a less primitive concern: different generations are not balanced in what they bring to the relationship. The younger partner brings youth, while the older partner brings greater experience and maturity, and often more money and status as well. The fear that one is exploiting another—that the body or larger bank balance is the only thing your partner sees in you—will loom large in some minds.
Getting it right
If you look at the statistics of age-gap relationships, the outlook isn’t horrible. In 2008, an American study found that the happiest relationships of all were “women-older” ones, while a study of Canadian divorce rates in 1990–91 found that the couples least likely to divorce were those with a much older husband! Either way, couples who commit despite an age gap may turn out to be very stable and contented.
Is there a key to success? Probably the best answer is to be aware of your differences as something to balance rather than exploit.As long as you’re sure your partner likes you for yourself and not for your age, there’s no reason not to give the relationship a try. Statistics suggest that if you can make it work, it could work very well indeed.
BRIDGING THE GAP
If you think you’ve met the right person for a relationship, whether older or younger, a few tips to help keep the age-gap relationship happy:
- Know what appeals.If they were your age, would you still love them?
- Accept the cultural differences.Dating across generations can be like dating across nationalities or cultures. Don’t be threatened by that; it’s part of who you both are.
- Be each other’s rock.Unless you’re very lucky, friends and family will comment. If this age-gap relationship lasts and clearly makes you both happy, they’ll probably stop,but be sure you can support each other in the meantime.
- Don’t obsess about it.You’re both likely to get self-conscious if you dwell on the age gap relationship too much. Be together and focus on other things.
What The Statistics Say
Most people marry someone close to their own age—one third marry someone up to a year older or younger, according to US population data for 2013. See below for the many statistical outliers: there’s no reason your age gap relationship couldn’t be among them.
|2-3 years older||20.4% of husbands are 2-3 years older than their wives.||6.5% of wives are 2-3 years older than their husbands.|
|4-9 years older||24.9%||6%|
|10-19 years older||6.4%||1.3%|
|20+ years older||1%||0.3%|