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Relationship Advice: The Pros and Cons of the Dating Age Gap

Relationship Advice: The Pros and Cons of the Dating Age Gap

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So you’ve finally met a guy who seems worthy of your time. He is everything you’ve been looking for and more: handsome, successful, smart, and funny. There’s just one thing; he’s a little bit older than you…make that, a lot older. More so than you’re willing to reveal to your parents–let’s just put it that way.

As if the world of dating didn’t already have enough nuances and complications, differences in age between you and your significant other can be a common source of complication. Whether you are currently dating someone or considering dating someone who differs greatly in age from yourself, read on to see what you can expect from a relationship with this kind of age gap involved.

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Celine Dion and her man are 26 years apart.

The Cons

As you’ve probably already guessed (or experienced for yourself), dating someone, let’s say, 12 years your senior can elicit some raised eyebrows from friends and family–and it’s never pleasant when the closest people in your life don’t approve of the one you love. You’ll have to decide whether your family members and friends are the kind of people who can get over the age gap in your relationship given time, or if they’ll always hold it against them for this simple fact.

Depending on what phase of your life you currently find yourself in (college, your first job, or divorced in your 40s), it can be hard to get to a deeper level with someone who’s just not in the same place. If you’re still frequenting the local campus pub every weekend and your boyfriend is 30 and thinking about marriage, chances are the relationship is doomed, unless one of you is willing to make serious sacrifices. You’ll also have to be prepared that all of your lover’s friends may be at a completely different maturity level, even if your bf/gf is not–and hanging out with a bunch of married folks with kids when you’re 21? Not so fun anymore, is it?

When dating someone much older than yourself, be wary of their motivation. Did they just get out of a marriage and are simply trying to prove to themselves they still have what it takes to bag a babe? Use caution.

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Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas are 25 years apart.

The Pros

While others may find it creepy, dating someone ten years older or younger could be just what you need to keep the relationship interesting. While you might be able to keep your man young and modern, he could impart his extra years of wisdom on you, working out a beautiful balance between youthfulness and maturity in the relationship. Plus, since you’ve grown up experiencing different cultural times, you’ll have plenty of stories to share with one another.

If you’re still in a phase where you’re just getting your career started, there is something to be said about dating someone who is a bit older, and ergo, more financially stable). That is, unless you want to spend every single night of your relationship in your apartment microwaving ramen noodles. Yeah, we didn’t think so. We don’t suggest basing your attraction solely on a dude’s bank account, but if you meet a great guy who’s got a steady job and can treat you to the occasional cultural event or dinner out on the town, we say, bring it on.

In the end, if you feel a connection and have similar interests and chemistry with your man, there really shouldn’t be anything to stop you from continuing the relationship, as long as you feel that yours and your significant other’s motivations are valid. So don’t rule someone out just because they were wearing neon spandex and listening to Eddie Money in high school while you were still sucking on a pacifier. There’s still hope for the sparks to fly.

  • anonymous

    Just a note: This article mainly touches on an older man/younger woman scenario. With the rising popularity of the older woman/younger man relationship it would be interesting to have an article reflecting the dynamic of this age gap and also if it truly is more widely accepted now than before.

  • Elle

    this is so yesterday….a woman dates a older man… please…..talk about the pro and cons if a woman dates a younger man…..welcome to the 21 century :-)

  • erin

    I was 39; he was 27. I have a good job and benefits, he helped me raisemy daughter who was 9 at the time. 13 years later, daughter is in college, will have Bachelor;s in spring and deciding where to do grad school. I still work, he dabbles w/ big tonka toys (backhoe, dumptruck). He enables me to live a rural life, firewood, moves snow, fixes stuff.

  • PC-DOC

    My wife now is 18 years my junior, I was the guy listening to Eddie Money (but NOT wearing spandex!)while she was ‘sucking on her pacifier’. She is a very smart educated college woman who is MUCH more mature than her years. And thats the secret, if the one party is able to relate to the other and both are on a somewhat same maturity level (despite the age) then the chances for success are good. And we are fortunate that both sides of the family were open and accepting of our relationship (despite the fact I was closer in age to her mother than to her! LOL!). Anyway, 7 years and going strong, she keeps me young and I challange her mentally. We both benifit!

  • anthony 1

    An individual whose appearance was so repulsive I had to have my mirrors insured. All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Kernal” is not a word,Is” is the verb for when you don’t want a verb. Training a female is more or less a matter of pot luck. Treat your girlfriend as if she might become an enemy.Try to divide your time evenly to keep others happy.
    Try to value useful qualities in one who loves you.Verily man was created avid of gain; when evil befalls him, apt to grieve; when good befalls him, grudging. – Koran 70:19

  • KamE

    Article is grossly oversimplified. A 20 year age difference shrinks over the years. If you’re 40 and she is 20; is not same as when youre 60 and she’s 40. Another is whether she wants to have a baby and youre done. Many other factors: intellectual age, maturity age, energy level, spiritual stage, etc. But we live in a very shallow and one dimensional society and tend to oversimplify.

  • Anonymous

    We have been married for 16 years ,almost 18 spend together.Money or kids were not the reason,we are made for each other.Friends made remarks in the early days,but that has past long ago.Age is only a state of mind.If it is meant to be ,it will work.
    I am 63 my Hubby is 44.

  • Jake

    To each his own but consider the following: A man who married a woman twenty years his junior is now 75 and unable to do much due to father time. His wife of 55 is still very active (in more ways than one) but he can no longer do certain things or go on outings with her. They married when she was 17 and he 37. I personally know of three simular situations. I’m not saying what they had or have isn’t valued between them but you need to consider what lies at the end of the road as much as what’s at the beginning of it and ask yourself if you will still want to be on that road as it gets near the end. You viral and still full of life and the other person not able to get out of the house. Something to think about.

  • lucky guy

    Once I achieved a maturity level that I could actually put myself 100% into a relationship, and truly appreciate what is really important in a committed relationship, then I was blessed with meeting my wife. I had my first and only premonition that I was about to meet “someone”. I turned to the friend I was with and said; “Something is going to happen this weekend. I am going to meet someone.” The hair on my neck stood up, I got chills and in my mind I envisioned meeting someone my age. Then I met my wife and at first I thought she was playing with my mind as she was obvious with her attraction to me. There were fireworks, whistles and every other cliche’ from the moment we met. It was/is so different from every other previous relationship. The age difference scared the hell out of me, so I scheduled a visit with a counselor. I was in my mid 40’s and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t in some mid-life crisis or worse yet, becoming some kind of pervert. The MSW was someone I had previously seen during a failed attempt at marriage counseling prior to a divorce years earlier. She laughed and said “the fact that you are here talking to me is proof you are not a pervert” and something to the fact that I deserved to be happy. She warned me of many of the same obstacles mentioned in this article. I have lost “friends” and not sure my in-laws will ever actually approve of our relationship. They disowned my wife until their first grandchild was born. My wife is the most mature woman I have ever met. I really do believe there was divine intervention in our meeting. I am finally a father and she is the most wonderful mother. She has many friends who get treated badly by their partners with cheating, drugs, etc… She has mentioned many times how she is thankful to be in a stable relationship. I am at an age where I don’t give a damn what others think of me and my young family; however, my children may be the absolute cutest in the world. I thank God I was able to give up old conditioned ideas of the age difference. I never imagined my life being so wonderful. True love is a beautiful thing no matter when, where or how you find it.

  • tracy

    I personally have a husband who’s 16 years my senior, and while the maturity and experience were a big plus when dating, one big issue became prevalent–health. We were only married one year before he developed serious health issues that have put an end to the romance and the financial stability. Now, I realize this could happen to anyone, but it is far more likely when you’re 60 versus when you’re 45. So, I got the worst case scenario and am paying for it in the worst ways. I want to go out and have some enjoyment in life but can’t because he is so dependent on me and he can’t get out very much. I do love the man I married and know that I am committed to him, but the cost to me has been very high.

  • John Speciale

    My wife is 16 years younger then I am and we are fine. I have known her since she was about 13 and her brother and my son were best friends. I had no idea that she had harboured feelings for me until after my divorce. She was 25 then and I was forty. Once everybody is over 25 I don’t think that the age is really that improtant. What really counts is that we are best friends and have now been together for 17 years. It would not matter if she were the older one, we are just soulmates and would have found each other anyway.

  • Richard O. Canty

    Let’s say that you are in your thirty and the person you dateing he’s in his forty or fifty, as long you have common land between the two of you it may work out, but if you or in your twenty and they thirty or fourty and fifty,it won’t work, there to bigger age different.

  • StangSalie

    Been there….doing it now! I am 36 and my husband is 50 and we get along better than either of us have in previous relationships/marriages. We’ve both been married once…he has 2 kids…I have none and don’t want any so it’s perfect. I’m an old soul….he’s a kid at heart…we have a blast together! Everyone close to us forgets the age gap after a while….with the exception of some bitter older women in the family but that’s another story. What we have works…we’ve been together 6 years and have no signs of stoppin!

  • Kathryn Clark

    I am 21 and my boyfriend whom I have known for a year is 47. Though some people might judge us both harshly for the age disparity, I am the happiest I have been with anyone. After dealing with the immaturity of “boys” my own age, I can appreciate being with a man so much more. I’m very mature for my age and he’s a young spirit that has a lot of life experience and good stories to tell. The biggest obstacles we’ve had to face so far are other people’s judgements and how external forces can affect how we might feel about the relationship. Anyone who reads this should keep that in mind. The opinions that you project onto an age gap couple don’t really help them, it just makes them feel insecure about being together. These judgements are often the result of your own personal bias against such a relationship, which is selfish to project onto other people. You may not think to appreciate the fact that your relationship exists within social norms, but for us, we must work very hard at not caring what other people think. This includes friends and family, unfortunately. I am a consenting adult, I love him, and I am happy. I consider myself lucky, because some people who date partners their own age cannot say they’re truly content in the relationship the way I can about mine.

    • Madison Trent

      So glad someone else is in my situation! I am 20 and he is 40 with two kids –who I absolutely adore! Reading your story has made me realize it is possible to keep it going with him :)

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