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Articles > Relationships July, 01, 2016

Why Age Gap Relationships Aren’t A Big Deal

Maria Read
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Relationships are always complicated, but there is a definite stigma attached to age gap relationships. Terms like ‘sugar daddy’ and ‘cougar’ only fuel the idea that people are merely in relationships with a significant age gap because they believe there’s something in it for them, like sex or money. However, my own age gap relationship proves that this just isn’t true.

older boyfriend with girlfriend

Isn’t age just a number?

I had just turned 17 when I went on a date with a guy that’s 12 ½ years older than me. He was somebody I’d worked with for the past nine months; we had always got on well, and I definitely fancied him, but I’d assumed he wouldn’t be interested in me and never acted on my feelings. Now I’m 18, we’ve been dating for eighteen months and I am currently on a gap year due to start university this Autumn. Although we are at different stages of our lives, which could be seen as an obstacle, our relationship is solid and my partner is planning to move with me to university.

I’ve grown up thinking that age gap relationships aren’t a problem; my parents have 21 years between them and they’ve been married for just as long. So when I told them I was dating a guy who’s 12 years older than me, I knew they couldn’t object.

“Colleagues told me that he was only using me for sex, or that I was just a fling to prove a point to his friends. Without knowing anything about us”

However, there were plenty of other negative comments. Colleagues told me that he was only using me for sex, or that I was just a fling to prove a point to his friends. Without knowing anything about us, people judged our relationship because they simply didn’t understand it. My older brother loved cracking ‘jokes’ about my partner’s age, and a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while asked me only last week if I’m “still with the 30-year-old boyfriend?” I know he didn’t realise how judgemental he was being, so I just calmly replied, “He’s 31 now, actually.”

I don’t understand why age has to come into the question. I don’t ask people if they’re still with their 20-year-old boyfriends, so why is it necessary to bring up my partner’s age? Due to reactions like this when we first started dating, steps like meeting his friends and family were something I really worried about. Would they like me? Would they assume that I’m too immature and inexperienced to spend time with them?

I found myself googling age gap relationships, trying to determine whether mine was actually ‘wrong’, and why they are something people struggle to get their heads around.

“I’ll be 23 by the time I’ve gained my degree, and my partner will be 35. Everything that we may want to do together will be at vastly different ages: getting married, having children, retiring, even dying!”

I do understand that there are potential problems that stem from being in a relationship with somebody significantly older or younger than you. For example, one of my partner’s good friends has admitted that initially he was worried I might be too immature to spend time with. More importantly, I’ll be 23 by the time I’ve gained my degree, and my partner will be 35. Everything that we may want to do together will be at vastly different ages: getting married, having children, retiring, even dying!

There are, however, many benefits to our age gap. We belong to different generations, which can make for some very interesting conversations because we often have completely different perspectives on things. I keep him young, and he is guiding me through becoming an adult and all the complications that comes with it.

I am so happy in this partnership, though obviously it’s impossible to know where life is going to take us and what will happen. One thing, however, is certain: whoever you decide to date, just make sure you are happy, and don’t care what anyone else thinks.

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  1. Charlotte Swale

    I could not agree with this more!!! There’s a 15 year age gap between me and my fiance, I was 16 when we got together and he was 31. Now, 4 and a half years later I’m 21 and he’s 36, we live together and we get married in just under two years time (we would love to do it sooner but I need to graduate first.) When we got together our whole town were basically out with pitchforks and torches condemning our relationship cartoon-style, I even had teachers at my school asking me why I was throwing my life away and telling me that my relationship made them feel uncomfortable (none of their business!!!). People assumed we’d got together in a really seedy way, when we actually met very innocently when we were introduced by mutual friends at a gig. Being at different stages in life hasn’t really been a problem, and he’s made my life better in hundreds of ways I could never express. I wish you and your boyfriend all the best for the future, don’t let the haters keep you down.

  2. Linda Grainge

    This is so well written and really does make those who judge other people’s relationships, look very silly!

  3. Sarah Thompson

    I think…that as long as you and your partner are on the same page, to do with life goals and are honest from the start about any worries or issues. It shouldn’t be any different to a relationship with no age gap. There is the saying that, ” age is just a number”, and this is true. Why should two people not be together due to their age. If you both have feelings for one another, love one another and respect each other then I say go for it!

  4. Anna Lee-Diemert

    I think… you are completely right!

    I also think the reason age differences seem suspicious is because people fear a power imbalance. They are used to reading stories of teachers eloping with students, or where a confident, self-sufficient older partner manipulates a naïve or insecure young partner. However, it is really unfair for people to assume that couples with large age gaps automatically have this power imbalance. Some people are simply young or old for their age or have goals that match a different generation’s. If two people are willing to look past age difference, then they probably have a strong connection.

  5. Gilbert Tong

    This is interesting, but when you state that your colleague believes that he only wants you for sex, I find it hard to believe, If he were 20 – 28 there a possibility, but a 30 year old man would usually want to settle down and find love instead. I honestly admit that 12 years gaps would be difficult, however it is not impossible, my friend and her husband is 12 years different and woah they are happier than most couples I meet. Now with 3 kids, so don’t be discouraged, if you two are meant to be, you will be together 🙂

  6. sou chanseng

    Age is not a problem of starting up the relationship. What’s important is that that whether they love each other honestly or not. How much they understand each other and in the future they can live with each other or not. Age is just a number.

  7. Gsry

    So what! If you like someone go for it. All we have for certain in this life is the present moment. Life is short and full of pain If you found happiness then go for it. Who cares what others think!

  8. Soph

    I’m so glad I read this.
    Ive just turned 17 & im currently talking to a guy that’s 9 years older than me. He’s literally my dream guy and we get on so well but I’m too scared to tell anyone in my family because of how they’ll react. My mum and dad had 6 years between them so it’s not much different but in the past mum has basically signalled that she wouldn’t like me being with a much older guy and I know for a fact dad won’t. So I was sort of second guessing it. But this post is so well written etc, it’s made me forget about that and now I only care about what happens between me and him

  9. waqas ali

    Age is a number not a trait
    The stereotypes about individuals in distinct age brackets are never universal truisms. Not all twenty year olds are flighty and irrational, and not all sixty year-olds seek sanctuary over adventure. While experience can play a factor, there’s no reason why this discrepancy can’t prove symbiotic rather than destructive.

  10. Gaurav Patil

    I think age never matters in any relationship, but understanding matters always … there are lot of people who like a person who is older than him/her. your lucky to have one who understand you very well..

  11. Megan Clifford

    Love really has no age gap, however you should know to not go with anyone under the age of 16 you should wait, and if there is a massive gap between you then it could be worrying as the older person could die before you, sometimes you have to think of the pros and cons

  12. Jacqueline Davies

    I agree completely! I’m 18 and my boyfriend is 28, we’ve been together for a year just now, after meeting at a car show last summer! Meeting his family wasn’t strange at all and the only gap that’s noticeable is some of our tastes in music and films! As we share a lot of the same friends of all ages hanging out is never difficult, my dad has always dated much older women so it wasn’t a strange thing for my family, but I think it took his a while to get used to the idea. We currently also live in two different counties, but are looking at getting a house close to my university and work next summer 🙂 Glad to see more people that don’t think it’s weird! I’ve had all sorts of judgemental comments from colleagues, friends, even university tutors!

  13. Chloekiara Chandler

    This is the same age difference between my partner and myself. Same ages, too. Love is love.

  14. Queen A

    I really prefer older guy cause they are much sweeter and more caring. They know how to handle certain situations .

  15. Jana-liss Cooper

    i totally agree and am so glad for this post to see so much support for this! i am so glad how you have said about how people mention the age… you wouldnt do that normally so why ask! surely the most important thing is that you are happy and it is a healthy relationship. love and happiness is all that matters and if it works for you then why should others judge. i am also in a age gap relationship and we have been together for 5 years and just got married, we are so happy and i dont care what others think. it is better to be in love and happy no matter what others think. they are likely to be jealous of your relationship and happiness. if you dont like it then i wouldnt want to know them.

  16. Jana-liss Cooper

    so glad someone has made a post on this! i totally agree being in a age gap relationship myself. ! we have been together 5 years now and got married this april! if you are happy and know it is right then why should anyone else judge you for this? and i so agree with how people ask about the age? why do that when you would normally! being happy in the relationship and being in love is everything… if others dont like it then thats up to them but they are not worth knowing .. and mabye just jealous of your happiness!

  17. Cindy

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve always been into men a lot older than me and it has always been a sensitive topic for me because people always comment on it and feel the need to criticise it. I’m a lot maturer than people my own age and honestly going out with a guy in my own age range seems really unlikely because they seem a lot younger than me in terms of spiritual growth and soul age. It’s really difficult finding someone a lot older than you who you connect really well with only to have to worry that it wouldn’t be ‘feasable’ or realistic, and thinking about what your family and friends might say about it. Thanks so much, good to know that other people are in the same boat as me!

  18. Gerardo Padilla

    “To each, his own” , that’s it.

  19. Harley Stenner

    I agree! Theres 14 years between me and my partner, im 20 and hes 34, weve been together just over a year and its better than any of my past relationships, i have had people judge in the past however were both happy and the age gap means nothing, we both have similar mindsets and couldnt be better suited!

  20. Chelsea Lang

    If it doesn’t bother you it shouldn’t bother anyone else, love is love

  21. Ali El Qouns

    I think… age doesn’t matter love matter

  22. King6023

    Good for you. My Mum and Dad are about 12 years apart age wise and it’s never stopped them enjoying their lives.

  23. florinda gonzales

    I think… its ok as long as you really love each other

  24. Sarah Williams

    Great article. My boyfriend and I have a huge age gap but we are happy. It’s difficult sometimes as people can be judgemental. Who cares how old he or she is? As long as they make you happy, it’s consensual and legal. And yes, he’s been mistaken for my dad a few times. Wouldn’t change him for the world.

  25. Mellissa Marne

    I think… Age gaps shouldn’t matter what so ever! As long as you’re with someone you love and vice versa, and you’re happy – they should be the main things. Individuals who judge or comment on others relationships including age gaps have either not experienced it or are too naive to realize you both care about each other. This stigma should be broken with the “sugar daddy” and “cougar”, as it’s not valuable.

  26. Kim Green

    It’s a tricky subject for sure, but if you put it into perspective then as long as the feelings mutual it doesn’t really matter. Relationships are things where two people should feel most safe and secure with one another; being that if your both 17 or if your 22 going out with a 39 year old as long as your happy and faithful it’s not an issue.

  27. N

    At the risk of sounding judgemental, I don’t have a problem with large age gaps in relationships unless person A is old enough to be person B’s son or daughter. Then I honestly just feel a bit grossed out.

  28. waqas ali

    A new relationship will form a life and character of its own. Precisely because of a relationship’s inherent uniqueness, it will mean that both you and your partner will start on equal footing, regardless of experience, maturity or age. 19year to 28 best for sex

  29. Rebecca P

    I agree

  30. I Kahn

    I like to think…to think sometimes makes me cry…to cry makes me sad…to be sad is very lonely…loneliness is due to the lack of self-esteem…self esteem is the denial of courage…courage is what makes the hero and the coward different…for it is what the hero does that the coward doesn’t do that makes him different.

  31. Alice Grassi

    I really relate to this post more than anything! My partner and I started dating when I was 15 and he was 17 (nearly 18) and every single person that found out about the relationship had a problem with us due to the age gap and it actually drove me to a point of serious depression yet he was the one to get me through everything. I don’t understand why people had such a problem because it wasn’t affecting them and they had no right to judge the relationship. I don’t think age gap relationships are a problem if you seriously like someone or even love them then what is it for age to stand in the way? I have now been with my partner coming up to 4 years this October and we are stronger than ever especially after all the judgement we have been through together. If anyone seriously considers age to be a problem when to people are in love then maybe they should look at thenselves and ask why they have such concern about other peoples lives.

  32. heri heryanto

    I think… it’s good for our relationship as human

  33. Toyah Knott

    I believe also that age gap relationship shouldn’t matter depending on the people themselves. For example, at the moment I am young aged teen becoming a young adult and have doubts about being with someone older that who has already experienced a lot of things compared to me and who already has a past . I believe if you are willing to be in a gap relationship then to begin with you both should get to know each other as people first and find out what is going to make your relationship work without age being a struggle when the older person can do things that you may not be able to and also making sure that your family and friends can come to the exception of excepting the person for who thy are and not their age and willing to put that to one side and be happy for you. As back in the past people’s parents I know have a age gap between them and it wasn’t a big deal , it a big deal today because of the society we live in and are growing up in which is completely different compared to back then.

  34. manoj kumar

    I think…this is good

  35. Chee Lyn Lang

    I think…it’s true if the relationship means you are both happy, it’s a good thing.

  36. Hida Yati

    I think… the age wouldn’t matter, really. Bcs the person would be the one thing that will make you feel like you’re worth it. Its no harm to be in a r/ship which you and him had a large gap of age. The important thing is you’re comfortable with him, and most of all he treats you well and value you in his life.

  37. ANONYMOUS

    It’s mean to think less of people based on who they like. Good on you, Maria!

  38. Shukrullah Nasrullah

    I think…as long as the people in the relationship are happy and in a non abusive relationship then there is nothing wrong with an age gap

  39. Sumit Nath

    I think… gap relationship is needed because when you want to get married with him , he must have a source of income. This problem is much more in same age relationship. The girl’s family wanted a man who can earn money to spend.