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Successful Age Gap Relationships

Updated on June 11, 2011

Successful Age Gap Relationships

First things first (and this may disappoint a few people, but it must be said): a typical Age Gap relationship is just like any other romantic relationship. A healthy relationship can be characterized by honest and open communication, cooperation and compromise, balance between work and leisure, having compatible (not to be confused with ‘identical’) ideals, etc. In an unhealthy relationship there may be physical, psychological, or verbal abuse, or unequal control and consent, distrust, disrespect for a partner’s needs and desires, etc. In any failing or unhealthy relationship where there is also an age gap, society is often quick to point to the age discrepancy as the sole contributing factor at fault, simply because it is generally the most outlying (or ‘unusual’) aspect of the relationship. If this were the case, then all Age Gap relationships would be doomed to fail. However (and though this may disappoint a few people, it must be said): Age Gap relationships can (and do!) succeed.

Myths, Stereotypes, Prejudices

As Age Gap relationships are still considered taboo (that is, not wholly accepted by the mainstream public – or considered ‘normal’), there are plenty of myths, stereotypes and prejudices available in public discourse about such relationships:

The “general rule” for determining age gap limits for dating is expressed by halving your age and adding seven to get the lowest “acceptable” age of a younger partner (conversely, subtract seven from your age and double that number for the highest “acceptable” age of an older partner). For example – someone 30 years old, by such a “rule” is thus “allowed” to be involved with anyone 22 years to 46 years old. There are plenty of adults that are in happy, healthy, and loving relationships that do not “fit” this equation; societal constructs are merely guides (not hard fact or law), and the merits of an equation based entirely on a single variable (here, age) may be suitable for general mathematic interest, but should not determine absolute sociological tolerance.

Some of the most common stereotypes that are often unfairly ascribed to those involved in Age Gap relationships: the “gold-digger” (conveys that the younger partner is only in a relationship with an older individual for the security of wealth and luxury); the “cougar” (conveys that an older or middle-aged woman is aggressively ‘preying’ on much younger partners for sexual gratification); the “pedo” (conveys that an older man having romantic or sexual interest in someone who is younger only does so out of unnatural, inappropriate desires). A younger partner’s interests are also sometimes ‘explained’ away as a Freudian search for a replacement mother or father figure. Stereotypes rarely – if ever – accurately describe the truth of a situation as they are usually derived from exaggerations of extreme cases; often, stereotypes serve “better” to attack and/or insult that which the believer/user of such stereotypes isn’t likely to be fully informed.

Prejudice and ignorance are, too, often bred together. Whether innocent – like a stranger or long-lost friend inquiring (or insisting) that your younger partner ‘must be’ your son / daughter, or else your older partner is your father / mother (or worse, your grandparent!) – or decidedly malicious – such as when an uncouth person decides it is their personal / moral obligation to declare the ‘wrongness’ of your relationship – it can prove difficult to shrug off stupid comments even just once or twice (let alone again and again). When such disapproving sentiments (‘That’s disgusting!’ ‘What can you possibly have in common?’) come directly from close friends and family members they can be much more devastating and harder to ignore. Since they do (or should) have your best interests and your safety in mind, sometimes the best thing to do is just persist in showing them (as ‘telling’ does not always work) the positive effects of the relationship in your life. Having a witty / snarky retort prepared in advance for dumb commentary (i.e. “Ew, that means you/they were in high school / college / WWII when they/you were born!”) also helps – along with lots of patience.

Age Gap Relationship Poll #1

How Much Of An Age Gap Between You And Your Partner?

See results

Complications from the Start

Secrecy is probably the worst element to start off any relationship with – Age Gap or not. It’s almost guaranteed that anyone who isn’t supposed to find out – WILL FIND OUT. If either or both partners in the relationship purposely won’t tell friends, parents and family, then there’s a definite problem. This doesn’t mean they must disclose everything about a relationship (including the age gap) to other people right away – or even at all – but it still shouldn’t be any secret whether or not you’re ‘involved with someone’ (and both partners should be clear about defining what that means). If either partner is concerned about their families ‘freaking out’ about the situation, their family certainly will be much more upset when they discover that they were deceived and lied to (especially if the younger partner is still living with family and / or dependent on them financially, physically, emotionally, etc).

There are other situations where a relationship may have extra complications (but not due to age, necessarily). If either individual in the relationship is: a family friend or the parent / offspring of a friend; a teacher/professor and student (in the same school, and especially if in the same class); a work associate and/or boss; going through a divorce (or is already divorced) particularly with children from the previous marriage – These relationships can have repercussions if kept secret and then exposed and can additionally harm new and old relationships with other people for both partners. If either partner is cheating on someone else to be in their current situation, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT pursue the relationship any further. If both individuals are serious, then the relationship can wait until both parties are officially and/or legitimately single. As well, if the younger partner is not the legal age of consent in the country (or countries) where both reside, there will be CONSEQUENCES. Don’t get involved if you (or your partner) aren’t prepared to deal with legal prosecution; if both partners are serious about the relationship, then it can wait until it’s legal.

Age Gap Relationship Poll #2

How Long Have You Been In Your Current Age Gap Relationship?

See results

Challenges to Consider

In an Age Gap relationship, each partner is likely to be at a different (although potentially compatible) life stage. For success in the relationship, it is important to both acknowledge and respect this element. Since the older partner may have already experienced some key events in life (like graduating from high school or college, getting a ‘real’ job and starting a new career, etc), it is important that they don’t color or diminish these opportunities for their younger partner. In all aspects of the relationship there should always be freedom as well as equality for both individuals; even though there is a discrepancy in age (and thus, in life experience, generally) there shouldn’t be a power struggle. Even if one person has experienced something hundreds of times before, their way of doing something is not the only way – both partners should have the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes as well as from one another. There is a distinction between offering some advice and giving instructions – most adults are gracious in receiving help when they genuinely need it, but are resentful in being ‘parented’ or bossed around when they haven’t asked for it or had a chance to try things for themselves first.

It must be said that maturity does NOT necessarily come with age. But keep in mind, too, that an older partner who is “young at heart” or a younger partner who has “an old soul” WILL want to (or can’t help but) “act their age” from time to time. Whether this means having some separate activities and friends – or embracing something entirely new that you hadn’t considered before – be patient and encouraging through all the moments of immaturity (and maturity!) that you both may pass through. Don’t miss out on the details of an experience because you or your partner has done it before – if you haven't done it TOGETHER before, then it’s likely to be a unique and new adventure. Buying a house, getting married, having children, etc – should all be decisions thought out together, with respect towards fair compromise in fulfilling both partners desires and abilities.

The Good of Age Gaps

 “The Bad” and “The Ugly” have been covered pretty fairly, but there’s plenty of “Good” as well! Even when society tries to blame the Age Gap in a relationship for its failure, a closer inspection shows that there’s really nothing to fear about the gap. Research about divorces suggests that individuals who have divorced once are more likely to divorce or be divorced again if they get married again; as well, married couples with children (and more so for mixed families – with children from previous marriages) are more likely to divorce than married couples without children. It’s easy enough to skew those results to say that Age Gap marriages are highly likely to end in divorce  (as it is somewhat likely that the older partner in Age Gap relationships will have been divorced – with or without children – before), but it makes much more sense to attribute the likelihood of divorce to factors which can actually add stress to a relationship, rather than to blame an innocuous statistic like a person’s age.

As iterated before, an Age Gap relationship is a lot like any other ‘normal’ relationship. It works best when there is honesty and full, open communication from both partners. With the gap comes plenty of unique and positive perspectives. A younger partner may lighten things up with idealistic dreams while an older partner may know how best to realistically achieve them. Each individual will bring their own personal traditions into the mix which may be influenced by the idiosyncrasies of different generations; the balance between the two is something truly striking. Even with the best relationships, it helps to have support: there are many outlets online where open-minded, honest, and helpful people discuss (as well as celebrate!) their Age Gap relationships. I would also recommend to anyone – and everyone! – in any relationship (whether romantic, familial, friendship, etc) the quick and considerably insightful book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. By learning to distinguish the ‘language’ (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch) that you – and others – understand best, any relationship will be successful.


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    • Kenny Benson profile image

      Kenny 15 months ago from Birmingham, AL

      Married for 23 years. I'm 38. She's 71. Yes, I was a child groom (with my parent's permission). I'm sure it seems unnatural to many, but the proof is in the quality of years we've shared together.

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      JJ 3 years ago

      Hi I am in a 3 year relationship where the age difference is 5 years. I am older than the guy and to me there is a huge disadvantage. I am at 31 and he is 26 and I am ready to get married and have kids but he is far from that reality. At the same time he does not want to let me go to find love somewhere else. He is not financially or mentally ready to even get engaged and he is still trying to promise me that he will marry me eventually. It is very frustrating and I dont wish it on my worst enemy. One thing I know is that if you feel at the beginning of the relationship that 5 or whatever amount of years is too much gap then end it right away because if you want kids you will end up in the same situation if the guy is not on the same page with you.

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      narinder.mohan.gulati 3 years ago bala.cantt.from.india

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      nothingbutano 3 years ago

      I've just recently started talking to a guy that's five years younger than I am. I'll admit I sorta feel weird about because I typically don't usually go for younger guys but he is kind hearted and respects me more than any guy my age ever has. who can say no to that?

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      Craig 3 years ago

      I am having a relationship with a beautiful young woman and we plan to marry. She is 18 and I am 53. We are totally in love with one another. Luckily we live in the philippines where there is not that same stigma about age difference. He father is younger than me but he is totally supportive and I don't mind helping her family out - as that is culturally expected. She may only be 18, but she has the maturity of a 30 year old and we love each others company. Nothing like the 18 year olds in Western countries.....

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      Amie 4 years ago

      My partner and I are 43 years apart and we have been together for just over a year. We are very compatible in every way. It is just unfortunate due to the many stereotypes and and discrimination out there we cannot tell anyone, especially when he is a very well known man in his occupation in a couple of countries, and he is definitely one of a kind. We treat each other just like any 'healthy' relationship of a 'normal' age group. No gold digging, intercourse can be totally omitted; its all about the mutual feeling.

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      Raquel 4 years ago


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      Annette Wilkinson 4 years ago

      My husband and I are 7 and a half years apart in our age.

      I was born in 1964 and he was born in 1956.

      We have been married for 29 years and have 4 grown children.

      We never ever had any problems in our marriage and still love each other. We also have a grandson.

      Age dose not really matter and as you do the right thing in life.

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      Age aint nothing but a number 4 years ago

      I am 23 years old and my boyfriend of 7 months is 58 years old. I am happier than I have ever been in my life so far! We have fun together, our personalities just clicked since day one. He is young at heart and in personality when I am with him I don't even see his age because I am so falling head over heels. Finally a relationship that feels like its more about the physically. My boyfriend gives me everything I need emotionally and mentally, because of him even though I was apprehensive and scared to fail-I went back to school!


      Age ain't nothing but a number

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      shathegemini 4 years ago

      I 20 and the man that I am interested in is 36. We have talked a lot since we me t in June. I have never met a man like him. He is a real man. He talks to me. He supports me. We have never had sex and he has never even talked about it... He's so respectful and the thing I like most about him is that he has taught me so much so far. I love that he is so insightful and I'm not sure what it is but he sees something in me. Maybe it's potential and I'm hoping that I can become woman enough to live up to it. He is such a distinguished individual and unlike anyone I have ever met. He really wants me to grow and I can tell that he is watching the way that I move and he's there to guide me. He talks to me like a woman and not a child. He expects things of me but he understands that as a young black female there are things that I don't know and he is always willing to show me the way. I apologize if this isn't well written but this is just how I feel. I love when we talk even when he's not too happy with me because he will treat it as an opportunity for me to learn and I love it... I feel like with him I can be a better woman. I stronger and more successful woman.

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      Tiffany 4 years ago

      is it harder to work around the age gap if the girl is 18 and the guy is 30, we haven't started a relationship until we are passed the gap issue

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      Cori 5 years ago

      These comments are reassuring to me. I'm dating a man 15 years older than me - I'm 21, he's 37 - who also has a lot of baggage in his life right now. I love revealing the age difference when meeting new people if we're out, just to gauge their reaction. Folks closer to his age are usually less judgmental but my peers always have surprised or almost disgusted reactions. My parents actually responded very well - better than I thought they would. Truly, I'm an old soul. I've always connected better with older people and had a hard time connecting with people my own age growing up. My partner and I are very compatible, have wonderful discussions and debates (although he is stubborn as hell) and are actually at similar places in our life, in college, with similar goals. The gap is always shocking, but it only ever bothers me when 1.) I feel insecure about my lack of life experience, or 2.) we get into a debate and his personal experience and firm beliefs tend to trump mine. Other than that I am extremely happy.

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      nikita 16 5 years ago

      so there is this guy a really like and he really likes me im 16 and he is 24 but there is nothing illegal going on between us we are completely innocent and he treats me with more respect than any other guy iv met in my life should i have him ask for my mothers consent to date?

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      Robin 5 years ago

      My boyfriend is 53, I am 30. If I had let a 'rule' get in the way, I would have missed one of the biggest blessings in store for me. I had to get out of my own way and forget about what other people thought. Ladies and gentleman, sometimes those 'rules' will make you inadvertently get in your own way and miss something great. Get out of your own way just long enough to see if he or she compliments you.

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      Angela 5 years ago

      I have been blessed by meeting the love if my life...We have been together 2 years and do everything children love him I love him and yes hes older, has 19 years on me but he loves me for me n my children as well..we all are happy...and that's all that natters..God brought me to him and him to me..where we were meant to be...we cherish all we have n all we are... One happy famuly..

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      sara 5 years ago

      I have been dating an amazing man for the past several months and I can honestly say I've not been this happy or content in many years. there is an almost 20 year age difference between us but we just fit. we make eachother smile and laugh we provide support during difficult times there is nothing we can't talk about with eachother. I was very nervous to introduce him to my family because lets face it family can be the hardest critic. but so far our happiness have overtaken everyone and we've had no "bubble busters" I am a very lucky woman because he is surely my prince charming

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      Kara 6 years ago

      I'm 19, and I've been seeing a man who's 45 for 4 months... We take trips together and share so many of the same passions. After we met and had gotten to know each other, something started to grow between us. Even though we were both really unsure about it, we decided to try going out... It didn't take long before all that uncertainty disappeared and we saw past our age difference and saw that we have a lot of chemistry.

      A couple of my friends who know about us have convinced themselves that I have "daddy issues" and that he is a pervert for dating someone who is so young, but the truth is that we are really compatible, and we care about each other very deeply.

      My partner's job puts a lot of stress on having a good image, and because of that, we haven't been able to be open about our relationship. I just wish that society would recognize love in all its forms.

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      Milenna Lytle 6 years ago

      me and my boyfriend are 4 years apart. and im falling inlove with him more and more each day but my mom doesn't like me dating someone that isn't my age :/ But i dont let that affect our relationship. I truly do love him and nothing anyone says or does will ever change that. +

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      jock 6 years ago

      I'm 62 and she is 29. There is chemistry but I'm unsure what the fascination is. When we're together she can't take her eyes off me. She stands there smiling seemingly afraid to do or say anything. While flattering it's really quite unsettling as I don't know what to do. I feel all the sensations of a younger man, nothing's changed except how I look and my physical fitness. It could be charisma, friendship or more. Best take it slowly and rationally. I enjoy her company although I do not know her at all. She comes to my door, it's her job, delivery driver but is slow to move on to her next delivery, like she's waiting for something.

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      Thatperson 6 years ago

      I know how this feels, I'm 20 and he's 41. We spent all our time together and can talk for hours and hours, we share our life experiences with each other and this is a positive thing.

      Not everyone is happy and I know I will lose at least one important family member through it, but all I can say is you will have to put up with grief, but I would rather live my life the way I want than die regretting living it for others!

      Never doubt your relationship for others if you love each other that's all that matters. I've met my soulmate and yeah it's been up and downs but we will get there! Be brave and live for yourself you only get one life :)

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      Irishwoman 6 years ago

      i have met someone of 22 and im 45, his worst fear is not having kids but says if i gave him the option of forgetting our relationship and find someone his own age its not an option, telling his parents is something we are currently trying to overcome, but he worries they will just say wise up and get rid of her.. we do love each other very strongly, so where do you go from that ?

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      don'tcare 6 years ago

      He is 8 years younger than I am. So far, so good. I know society will not accept. But what socially acceptable things have ever made me happy? Little to none. He makes me happy, and I him.

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      aniek 6 years ago

      I fell in love a man who is 10 years older than me. He says we should not continue due to age gap? does it really matter? can we continue with this age gap? please help me????

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      6 years ago

      My fiancé and I have a 20 year age difference. At the moment he's exactly twice my age and we get the occaisional hater but mostly things are perfect. I don't know what it is about him but our relationship seems more real and more special than any other guy I've dated. I was nervous to tell my friends and family and I did get some grief when they found out but you have to make your own choices and I chose to be happy and I couldn't be any happier right now :)

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      Veilchen 6 years ago

      i am so confused. we have 24 years age difference. i am afraid what would my pearents say. Can someone say anything: how can i tell my dad?

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      Chelseabmc 6 years ago

      Best 8 years of my life. Ron and I are 17 years apart. Wouldn't change a thing!

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      clickityclack 6 years ago

      I have a 17 year gap. We are like two peas in a pod. When we first met we blew each other away almost instantaneously. That was 18 months ago. My parents have a 19 year age gap, so I suppose it is history repeating. I kept my distance initially because I did not want to cause any trouble, and her mother, who initially freaked out, now welcomes it because she sees how we interact with each other, we are completely in love, the true kind. I am meeting her dad tomorrow for the first time so I hope all goes well..

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      jess 6 years ago

      My husband and I are 15 Years apart, at first I worried a lot about the age gap, especially knowing that maybe one day I would be left alone because he is older. But no one lives forever so I've gotten past that. I love him and he loves me, at the end of the day that's what really matters. I look forward to a long and happy life with him and my kids :)

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      Topchicken 7 years ago

      I am 59 she is 37. She is the most wonderful lady I have ever met. We where engaged to marry, but she called it off. She said it was my age, but if the truth be told, it wasn't age. It was she was distoried by her ex-husband. He hurt on so many levels that she will never be in any long term relationship.I never looked at her younger, but as an equal. The man that distoried her distoried our relationship. When he seen an engagement ring on her finger he said, " your getting married?" She said' "Yes." He said, "Who to." She replied, "A." He said, "he old." That one phrase coming from her ex is all it took to start the distruction of outrelationship.Because she had never got passed him and what he thought mattered greatly to her. That was two years ago, today we are still friends. I take care of her because she is ill (fibromyalgia). Age gap relationship do work, it other issue that distroy them like all other relationships.

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      AsianSurferChick 7 years ago from Canada

      I am 37 and I dating a 55 yrs old man. Whatever is the age of your partner you have to asks yourself "IS HE GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?" Because this is all about you. How he makes you feel, treats you and respect you. People will judge us anyways it's the nature of the society.

      In my case, I accomplished a lot in life that every single man with my age or 5 years older that I met is not good enough. I want a man in my same phase. The Quality of life I have.I am a single Parent and my daughter is very independent. I do not have major issues in life anymore and I want someone to grow old with anyways. Skin will soon get wrinkly and what is important is how you feel and look at yourself when you are with your someone special.

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      WORRY 7 years ago

      I had the relationships like you M am dating with man he's fifty-five , but am thirty-six its too old ??

      but i would like to have baby so how we can ???

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      MF 8 years ago

      Good for you M!

      I am 27 and my partner is 47. We've been asked things like "what could you possibly have to even talk about?" The narrow mindedness sometimes is shocking. Others I've run into have said that my view of him would change once the novelty of it wore off -- well... here we are 5yrs in and the deeper I know him, the more I admire, love and respect him. In a crazy, busy world - we found each other. He is truly my soul mate. Every thing we face we take in stride together. It's not always easy but we're in life, in its entirety, together. We are passionate people: mentally, physically, and emotionally. We are a wonderful match.

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      8 years ago

      So tired of the stereotypes...just let us be happy! I'm 26 and in a relationship with a wonderful man of 61...yes, that's a 35-year age gap. I'm with him because he's wonderful. He's charming, sexy, thoughtful and a million other things that feel right to me. We share many of the same interests and can talk for hours on end like any typical couple might. He's my best friend. In my heart I feel that it is a good and wonderful thing to know him. We both have a lot of good friends of varying ages and it's only the occasional person we get an odd look from. It's annoying to me, but I'm learning to take it in stride. I realize at the outset people are socially programmed to expect partners to look the same age, and my boyfriend and I through them a bit of a curveball. There's nothing wrong with what we're doing. The only difference between us is a difference of years, and I wish people could back off and be more accepting of that.


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