Age Difference In Relationships – When The Age Gap Is Too Big

Age Difference In RelationshipsWe’ve all heard the jokes and disparaging remarks when we see a silver fox with a woman young enough to be his daughter. We are as cruel, if not more so when we see a sexy cougar with a hot boy toy attached to her arm. These May-December relationships seem to be the butt of many jokes, but is the age difference in relationships like these anything to laugh about?

Whether the cause is a mid-life crisis or you know, love many people wonder about the staying power of these age disparate relationships. Just because we a society find it comical or at least like to pretend we find the big age difference in relationships hilarious, doesn’t make these relationships any less real or valid. They contain two people with real emotions. The only difference is they may have a few other problems that couples closer in age won’t ever have to consider.

Sometimes the age gap isn’t a problem and sometimes it is a bridge too far to distance.

Generational Differences

One of the biggest problems that relationships with significant age differences must contend with is generational differences. So you’re a millennial and your sweetie-pie is a baby boomer, this is when generational gaps can really cause problems in a relationship.

The millennials are a very independent-minded group of people who are content to forge new paths in both business and professional lives. Baby boomers by comparison are from a more traditional period in time which is already a pretty big obstacle to overcome. This type of age difference in relationships can cause what I call “everyday problems” because while you may have different political and social views, it is the everyday stuff that will cause cracks in your relationship.

It can be something as simple as differing musical tastes, thoughts on reality television, perspective on historical events your partner may have actually lived through.

While this can be a HUGE problem if you let it, this doesn’t have to end the relationship. You both must be willing to consider and respect your partner’s view point. Share your music with them or a night of primetime reality programming. Make an effort to make those everyday problems, ‘once in a while problems’.

Why You Chose Your Partner

The truth is that motive should always be considered in any age difference in relationships that is more than 5 years. When the age difference climbs to the double digits you should ask yourself what made you fall in love with your partner. A twenty or thirty-year age gap may mean you chose your partner because of their bank account or their status as eye candy. Such superficial reasons will unlikely hold up when it comes to constant criticisms and jokes at your expense.

If you and your partner have actually been able to find common ground and forged a strong relationship, the age gap won’t matter at all to you. If you’ve chosen your partner due to superficial criteria that will inevitably change over time, time will tell just how strong your relationship was.

A big age difference in relationships isn’t always a deal-breaker; as long as your motives are pure going in.

Life Experience

Contrary to what many people have you believe it really isn’t the chronological age difference in May-December romances that matter. It is the life experience of the two people in the relationship that really matters. A 25 year old lawyer on the career track for example may better handle a relationship with a 45 year old executive. On the other hand a 25 year old fresh out of grad school and still searching for work might have a hard time understanding the time demands placed on a 45 year old executive.

Another big issue that couples with a big age difference in relationships tackle is that of children. If you’re still young and your partner has been divorced with nearly grown children, you may find you’ve committed yourself to a person who sees child-rearing as part of their past. On the other side you might find your young new lover isn’t quite prepared to let the role of step-parent interfere with a night of partying.

An age difference in life experience can be more damaging to a relationship than generational differences for some couples. The differences due to being raised in different generations may cause both partners to seek out a parent or child surrogate for a romantic relationship. But being in different places in your lives may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for relationships with large age differences.

You Feel On Display

Couples with a significant age difference in relationships often find the hardest part of being together is the reaction you receive from the world at large. People point, they stare and often feel free to comment on your personal relationship. It sucks, plain and simple. But the question you should be asking is am I strong enough to handle the scrutiny?

The older you get the less likely these judgmental slights won’t bother you as much, but right now they do. If you can’t handle being in a societally unacceptable relationship, you probably shouldn’t be.

Don’t Focus On Age Difference In Relationships

Many couples address the age issue head on and then move on from it. These are the couples with the best chance of relationship success. If you constantly joke about the age difference to ease through awkward silences or to stop others from making the same jokes, you could be doing more harm than good to your relationship.

Don’t make everything about age, even in jest, if you want to show your partner that you are happy and proud to be seen with them.

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