Why Age Difference Matters in a Relationship
Is age just a number? The answer can vary to suit individual needs, but fact is that many studies have proven age to be a major contributing factor in the success of any romantic relationship. Regardless of what you might want to believe, age is a crucial factor in regards to how any relationship will play out. Numerous other factors contribute to a happy relationship, but the importance of age must never be over looked when discussing compatibility.
Age (the figure often expressed in years) itself shouldn’t be the issue, because indeed it simply is a number. And quite often people alter their age at will to suit the moment. There are people who say to others that they are too young to be in love. (This is particularly common for parents trying to protect their children from heart brakes associated with romance). In my opinion, this sentiment is false, because anyone at any age has the ability to fall in love. The real issue is the difference in age between the partners attempting to forge a relationship. It matters little about who is older than the other.
How does age affect a relationship?
There are several ways in which age difference can affect the success of a relationship, but the most outstanding of all is the concept of needs and expectations each individual has out of the partnership.
Through out one's lifetime, expectations from friendships and ultimately romance change with age. A 30 year old person will have different expectations from those he/she had at 16, 19 and 25. But these expectations also vary with gender, because certain needs are unique to specific gender. A 16 year old female’s expectations out of life will considerably differ from those of a male of the same age, just like those of a 30 year old male would differ from those of a female of the same age.
This means that quite often, two strangers with completely different needs, expectations and ambitions will meet, fall in love and attempt to develop a relationship. They must attempt to harmonize their needs so as to nature a happy long-lasting love story. The challenge comes in when their needs are too many years of age apart. Take for example a 35 year old man falling in love with a 24 year old female, or a 33 year old woman in love with a 26 year old man. In both cases, all parties are old enough to be in love, but are in love with people of differing expectations. The big age gap causes contrast in needs, and it’s this contrast that will form the basis of endless misunderstandings, fights and unhappy, unfulfilling partnerships.
The bigger the age gap, the more challenges the relationship will face. Anything above six years is likely to be problematic. The younger partner will often fail to understand the needs of the older partner, while the older partner will sometimes take the needs of the younger partner for granted, because they seem childish in his/her point of view. A smaller age difference means that the age related expectations aren’t too far apart, so that all there is to work upon are those related to gender. About three years age difference is ideal, because it provides an easier platform to harmonize needs and to develop consensus on how to handle them.
A smaller age difference helps to deal with the challenge of authority distribution. A big age difference often is accompanied by unequal distribution of authority. The older partner feels the need to control the younger one because he/she believes they are more experienced and probably more established financially, and therefore should control the relationship. On the other hand, a two or three year difference brings together individuals that are almost equal by default. None should feel inferior to the other, as both are not far apart in terms of career development, or exposure in life.
Does age-Difference affect older couples?
The answer is a big yes. Although the overall approach to life changes as people grow older, difference in age still plays an important role. And it still has everything to do with needs. Take an example of a 50 year old man married to a 35 year old woman. Although this is a mature couple, the 15 year difference in their age can cause some strains on their happiness. This often manifest in form of generational differences. There will usually be a difference in life style and the general outlook on social trends. One partner may find the other’s opinion on a trending subject such as fashion to be ridiculous.
Age also comes with health issues which cause physical limitations. This can mean that one partner may no longer be physically able to participate in certain activities which are otherwise a source of recreation for the other. Sexual performance also diminishes with age. This leaves a lot of dissatisfaction and ultimately misunderstandings. Although we can’t control whom we fall for, it is important to carefully evaluate all factors before deciding to commit to someone.
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