Does an Age Gap Matter in Relationships?

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September 25, 2014

While mixed-age couples have probably existed since the beginning of time, we are seeing more and more people choosing to pair up – regardless of their age gap. It’s definitely becoming more socially acceptable, but will the relationship have longevity? Only you and your partner know if your goals and needs are well aligned but here are some things to consider:

Do You Want Children?

When it comes to fertility, the aging woman can be at a disadvantage. It may be difficult or even impossible for her to get pregnant.  There are, however, an increasing number of infertility treatments available and surrogacy/adoption may also be a viable option. Another potential issue is whether the older individual already has children from a previous relationship and has decided that he/she does not want any more. This is definitely a topic that needs to be discussed early on to avoid problems.

Declining Health

It’s an unfortunate fact of life but, as we get older, our health begins to deteriorate. This can put a serious strain on a mixed-age relationship in several ways.  The older individual’s physical concerns may limit the activities in which they can participate. The younger partner may end up taking on a caretaker role which can lead to resentment. The couple may also face a decline in sexual satisfaction as the older partner begins to experience symptoms associated with common age-related biological changes such as menopause or erectile dysfunction. It’s important to know whether this is something each person can live with as their relationship moves forward.

Generational Gap

There are people who are “old souls” or who are “young at heart” who seem to transcend generational gaps, while others are very representative of the time during which they were born. Many couples enjoy being able to relate to growing up watching the same shows, listening to the same music or having lived through the same moments in history. Therefore, some people may struggle with making this sort of connection with someone who grew up in a different era.  Determine whether you have enough similarities in other areas in order to compensate for this disparity.

Be Prepared for Criticism

Your friends, family and coworkers may not be willing to accept your relationship with someone who is much younger or older than you so it’s best to be secure and sure about the relationship before taking it public. Even strangers may assume that you are a parent/child rather than a couple. No matter how understanding people are, they will have questions and/or concerns and you should be ready to face critical comments throughout the duration of your relationship. They may not have a right to say anything about your choices but that won’t prevent them from speaking their mind. It’s better to be prepared for this scenario than to be taken off guard. Talk to each other about how you will respond to questions or comments so that you create a united front.

Know When to End It

You may enjoy being together and love each other very much but, unfortunately, there are times when that is just not enough. If you start feeling like the dynamic of your relationship is off or that things are one-dimensional (you have great sex but have nothing to talk about or you are able to talk about anything but lack physical chemistry), it might be time to reassess where things are going. Be open with each other and be honest about what aspects of the relationship are not working. You may be able to work through some things but you may also discover that you are better off as friends.

Regardless of what anyone thinks, does or says, you must be the one who is satisfied with your relationship. If you meet someone who makes you happy, go for it!

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