In a world where celebrities are commonly seen courting partners who could be confused for their son or daughter (ahem, 54-year-old Alec Baldwin’s recent proposal to a 28-year-old yoga instructor), age gaps can appear harmless. And maybe they are, but not all of the Michael D. and Catherine Z. relationships have a fairy tale ending. While every relationship comes with its own quirks and challenges, an age gap can bring with it a unique set of challenges.
Compatible Life Stages
It’s naïve to think that age doesn’t matter. Why? Because none of us are Peter Pan. True, it’s not the number that creates a strain, but where you are in life. For instance, why does the difference between a couple who is 20 and 30 seem greater than the difference between a 50 and 60-year-old couple? The difference of ten years is more significant when you’re striving for major milestones like graduating college, searching for a spouse, buying a house to put roots down or starting a family. Whereas later in life, many of these milestones have already been accomplished.
One of our Advice members made a good point about the pitfall of insecurity that age differences can fall prey to. What if the older partner can’t keep up physically in appearance, energy level or sex drive? Granted, insecurity can be the enemy of any relationship regardless of age, but it’s easier to accept changes that come with age when you can relate with your partner rather than just observe.
The Novelty Wears Off
The humor of hearing things like, “Fleetwood Mac, who’s that?” or “I bought my first car brand new for $3,500”, grows old (no pun intended) after a while. While being compatible on core elements of your personality are most important, it’s also nice to have a partner who you can relate with on a conversational level.
I’m sure there are plenty of 20-year-olds with marriage at the top of their priority list who are balking at this topic, but in general, it boils down to this – where are you in your life and what are your priorities?
I would love to know if you have dated someone significantly older or younger – and how did it work out? What challenges did you face?