Age Gap Relationships
The thousands of years of evolutionary psychology and the many generations of social and cultural conventions have molded our ideas about the connections between people of different ages. What is regarded as a “normal” age gap has evolved over the past 100 years as a result of economic changes, improved gender equality, and contemporary social justice movements. These changes have also heightened scrutiny of power dynamics in mixed-age partnerships. While some experts think that attitudes about couples with significant age differences may be about to alter, others contend that young people may now be less accepting of mixed-age relationships than ever before.
Understanding Alleged Power Disparities in Age-Gap Relationships
When it comes to making assessments of age-gap relationships, several widespread stereotypes are at work. Consider the cliché that suggests younger women are gold diggers in situations where creepy older men desire younger “trophy spouses” they can dominate. A younger man could be the older woman’s plaything, or she could be a cougar looking for quick pleasures. Both times, “the woman in a heterosexual relationship is stigmatized.” That subtext may have its origins in the generally held assumption (even if subconsciously or unknowingly held) that it is more typical—and possibly more comfortable—for males to hold positions of power.
Power imbalances in relationships between people of different ages are thought to be caused by a number of variables, and they occasionally are. Financial differences, particularly when one partner earns significantly more than the other, are a common source of power imbalances. These differences are likely to manifest in age-gap relationships given the likelihood that someone who is older has been in the workforce longer and, therefore, might be making more, says Riley. (Since the most typical age gap relationship pattern is between older men and younger women, this arrangement contributes to the development of the gold-digging and trophy-wife trope.)
Why Age Gap Relationships Don’t Work
Most people seek love partners who are within their age range. It makes sense because our age group is more prevalent in our educational, professional, and social environments.
People that are similar in age tend to value their partners similarly, or how valuable they are in the dating world.
While most people would prefer to pair up with someone who has a much greater mate value in order to receive more than they give, they choose partners who are comparable to them in terms of mate worth.
Romantic partnerships are more stable when paired with a partner that shares similar mate values. After all, you’ll feel like you traded down and deserved more if you’re extremely gorgeous and end up with a less attractive individual.
Physical appearance is, of course, simply one (albeit significant) factor in determining mate value. Another key consideration is age.
This essay will cover the reasons why age-gap relationships frequently fail, the stigma they are associated with, and how to get past it.
Why Relationships With an Age Gap are Uncommon
Age-gap relationships are much less common than age-matched ones, which implies that they must be more difficult and difficult to maintain. Large age disparities in relationships are not typically preferred.
The man is typically three years older than the lady in heterosexual relationships, with a three-year age difference on average.
A man’s mate value rises with age, but a woman’s worth falls. An older man has more wisdom, experience, emotional stability, and financial security. These characteristics are typically preferred by women in a partner.
Age eventually reduces a man’s physical attractiveness, but his accumulated wealth more than makes up for it.
Men prioritize youth and physical attractiveness when choosing partners (fertility). A woman’s fertility declines with age. When they reach menopause in their forties, women stop being reproductive.
For this reason, older men frequently date considerably younger women but not the other way around.
According to studies, when women marry older men, both men and women are happy.
Why Partnerships With Significant Age Gaps Don’t Work
The man’s slight age difference from the woman seems to be acceptable to most people. However, if the age difference is greater than ten years, people start to become disgusted and their eyebrows start to rise.
- Relationships with an age difference of more than ten years are stigmatized by society since they are seen as unequal.
- The partnership is viewed as more equal when there isn’t a significant age difference between the couples. Each partner contributes something to the discussion.
- In contrast, a large age disparity suggests that one partner is exploiting the other. This is especially true if the man is much younger and the woman is older.
- She must be taking advantage of him because she has little to nothing to offer in the way of fertility.
- Your friends, family, and other well-meaning individuals dissuade you from looking for a significant age difference in a partner. They voice worries such as:
- “Your husband will be old enough to be his grandfather when your adolescent kid starts high school.”
- Large age gaps can lead to societal rejection and even family disapproval for those who pursue them. That price is too high for some people to endure. They decide against continuing the connection.
- Given that data indicates that married spouses are less content the greater the age gap, it may be a perfectly sensible choice to make.
- There is usually some element of truth to stigma. Your loved ones may be truly worried about you, and their suggestions may be really wise.
- But you must comprehend the origin of everything.
Positivity vs. Reproduction
Society cares most about your ability to procreate, even if it means sacrificing your happiness. Given how quickly the human population has increased, society appears to have done a good job.
#1. There is No Denying the Fact that Having Children Makes You Joyful
After all, that is what genes are designed to do. Because of evolution, we like breeding.
The desire for reproduction might, however, occasionally conflict with our other requirements. You must then choose what to prioritize at that point.
For instance, many people choose to work in occupations they despise in order to earn money for child-rearing. Risking general sadness for the happiness of reproduction. Guess who urges them to take this path? Society.
From a reproductive perspective, it makes perfect sense to do so. However, those who choose jobs they enjoy are generally a lot happier.
#2. They Don’t Always Object to Reproduction
Just that they think having children is one of many things that make them happy.
Society urges you to put reproduction first and foremost. You might pick a spouse who is significantly older than you but with whom you get along well. It makes no difference to society that you love their company. Whether or not you enjoy spending time with your partner, society wants you to pick a partner who will give you the best chance of having children. Your friends and family aren’t interested in whether or not you can successfully raise children with them; they just want to know that you’re happy in your age-gap relationship.
#3. They Worry About Your Yet-to-be-Born Teenage Son and Envision Scenarios in Which You Might Encounter Difficulties Doing So
Again, their worries might be valid, but you need to know what they are all focused on. You should break up with your 70-year-old husband if you find it too embarrassing for him to be your son’s father. In the end, the choice is yours.
Which would you prefer: a partner you’re happy with but might have some minor problems with in other areas, or a partner you’re unhappy with but can raise children with?
The ideal partner is someone you can effectively raise children with while also being happy with. However, if you had to choose, what would you pick?
What Would You Like
I want you to consider your reasons for starting this relationship if you and your partner have a significant age difference.
Ask yourself things like:
- Am I in a relationship that I consent to, or was that manipulation?
- Do I receive less than I give?
- In what direction do I envision this relationship going?
- Do we both approve of the direction our relationship is taking?
- Is it worthwhile to fight for this relationship?
The success of a relationship ultimately depends less on age and more on how compatible and content you are with one other. There are cases of big age gaps that work out successfully, however, they are uncommon.
Working with Age Differences
So how can couples overcome an age gap and yet have a typical relationship that runs like everyone else, stays on the same page, and behaves in a healthy way? The divide will cause problems, but as you reach a certain age, those problems just stop being as significant.
#1. Making Concessions
It can be challenging to feel like an ordinary couple when one spouse is older than the other. And regardless of age, the normal couple must deal with making concessions.
#2. And One Thing to Keep in Mind
despite the age differences, successful, typical marriages frequently encounter the same issues. Instead of focusing on the age gap in your marriage, consider it what it is: a disparity that any typical couple would encounter.
It’s not necessarily due to being a different age, just because your younger partner has different tastes. It has to do with having diverse personalities, and in any typical marriage, both partners will have fundamental differences from one another.
Regardless of the age difference between a married couple, you must recognize your differences and accept one another for who you are. These discrepancies can be both minor and major in any marriage.
#3. Spend Some Time on Yourself
Being together all the time might become tiresome for both sides, just like in a typical marriage. Therefore, making time for oneself is crucial. It just means allowing the marriage some breathing room so that you may keep your sense of self and reduce some of the tension and stress that an average marriage can have. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to spend time with the other person.
Hobbies are great for many reasons, but especially for the health of a marriage. The marriage won’t suffer if you take time to read, write, play video games, listen to music, or do anything else you enjoy.
If anything, having that distance will enhance your marriage since it will give you space to unwind, reflect on your life, and perhaps even feel a tiny bit of longing for your spouse that you wouldn’t otherwise experience if you spent all of your time together.
#4. Be a Supportive Partner
Age differences in a marriage, like it or not, can make it feel anything but typical. The elder partner may find it challenging to deal with some of the criticisms of the age difference and the marriage itself.
Nothing can be done to alter other people’s feelings; they will remember what they think. However, your partner is the reason for your existence in any happy marriage. Help them get through any negative emotions they might be having and reassure them that they are not alone.
Again, you can’t control what other people believe, but you can make a good difference in your partner’s life and lessen their negative emotions. It’s not a flawless system, but even just knowing that you care about them can get them through the most trying circumstances.
#5. Try to Maintain the Excitement
There is always a desire to keep things exciting and novel, regardless of the age gap in a relationship. After all, after two people have been together for a certain amount of time, it may seem as though there is nothing surprising or novel about the relationship.
Although the age difference may at first seem thrilling, there will eventually need to be different approaches. Try getting together in a fun location, traveling somewhere new, or engaging in novel activities. These “changes of scenery” can make things seem a little more fascinating and new.
In addition, it can aid in resolving various problems caused by age disparity. Regardless of the age gap between you and your partner, maintaining a good relationship requires keeping things interesting and new.
Reaching out for support could be beneficial if you’re in a relationship with an age difference and you’re having problems, either with your partner or because of social stigma. You can reach out to a therapist for help. They can provide you and your spouse with the resources and direction you need to get through any problems you might be having as a team. Reach out right away to start down the path to a stronger, longer-lasting connection.
Age Gap Relationships FAQs
Do age gap relationships ever work?
According to studies, women who date older men report feeling more satisfied than women who date men their own age. This is so because the connections feel more equal in terms of status and occupation.
How much of an age gap is acceptable?
Rule of “half-your-age-plus-seven”
Generally speaking, a person should never date someone whose age is less than half their own plus seven years in order to evaluate whether an age difference is socially acceptable.
How much of an age gap is too much of an age gap?
Life experiences might be very different when there is a big age gap, like 10 to 15 years or more. In partnerships when there is a significant emotional maturity gap, the more mature spouse may wind up bearing a greater emotional burden, which could result in tiredness and even a breakup.