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.
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.