8 Ways To Make An Age Gap Relationship Work

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In this era of modernization and open-mindedness, the age gap in a relationship should hardly be an issue. However, there are some important things to consider if you have fallen for someone with a substantial age gap. Age is indeed only a number, and love is the only thing that matters in a relationship. Also, color, region, language, and religion are mere identities and should cause no hurdles as long as there is selfless love between two people. But can two people start and maintain a relationship with a significant age gap? In this post, we provide you with details about age gap relationship, including its advantages and problems and how to make such a relationship last long.

In This Article

Does Age Really Matter in Relationships?

Generally, it doesn’t. A relationship depends on the understanding and connection between two individuals, regardless of the differences in their ages or generations. A couple can have a strong relationship as long as they love, respect, and care for each other. Having a partner, who is a few years older than you, is considered normal but when the age gap is too wide then it may look unconventional.

A blogger by the name of Darktaboo in her blog opens up about her experience being in a relationship with a man older than her. She says, “I am dating someone 25 years my senior, we have been together for just over 3 years now, we started dating during Covid lockdown and soon moved in together due to restrictions, this has given me a unique perspective into seeing what it’s like to be with an older man 24 7 (literally), so let’s get into it. I’ve never had a problem with dating an older man although, my first I can say so far so good! It can cause stereotypes and some judgment although I’ve never really had anyone have a problem with it, of course the occasional stares and “Is that your daughter?” comments which are always funny, most people apologize after realizing, to be honest it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, it gives a good laugh (i).”

What Is The Ideal Age Gap Between A Couple?

Most couples prefer an age gap of three to five years, with the male partner being older. But there are also cases where the difference in the age is more than 15 to 20 years, or where the female partner is older than the male.

A study suggests that both men and women prefer a gap of approximately three years, with the man being older than the woman (1). It also says that older men are willing to consider a relationship with women far younger than them while women’s maximum acceptable age gap is 10 years above their age.

Yet another study (2) reveals that age inequality is not the only defining factor for the success or failure of a relationship.. Most people prefer their partners to be a couple of years older or younger than them. Men prefer to date and marry women who are younger than them while women are more open in their approach. They are likely to accept younger or older men.

Some couples also consider an age gap relationship rule or norm, which dates back to more than 100 years. The rule suggests, “do not date anyone whose age is less than half of yours plus seven.

So we hope you have a clear answer to the question, ‘does age matter in a relationship?’

Factors That Influence The Age Gap

Certain factors have a conscious or subconscious effect on individuals while choosing a partner:

  1. Cultural aspects: The practices followed in the region or culture could have an influence on the individuals. In European and Asian countries, an older male partner is preferred and an age gap is usually around two to three years. In some cultures, wider age gaps of up to 15 years are also acceptable.
  1. Family background: If a person belongs to a family where their parents or close relatives have a huge gap in the relationship or the woman is older than the man, they could be more willing to explore such relationships than a person from a conservative family. But this need not be true in all the cases.
  1. Family planning: If an individual wants to delay having children after marriage and start the family only after some years, in such case, they might want the woman to be much younger than the man.

    Family planning, age gap relationship

    Image: IStock

An age gap in the relationship has both some merits and drawbacks.

Merits of Having an Age Gap in a Relationship

Here are some of the merits of having an age gap in the relationship.

  1. Maturity: The older one in the relationship can help make mature decisions, emotionally and also financially. They may also bring in their maturity in times of discord in the relationship, due to past experiences.
protip_icon Did you know?
Couples having an age gap are less likely to feel jealous and the foundation of their relationship is often trust and immense respect for each other (1).
  1. Interesting views: A couple with an age gap can have different views and outlook towards life. It brings in some freshness into the relationship and helps each other understand and accept the other’s ideas.
  1. Financial stability: An older partner is likely to be settled better as they start it early in life. This provides an added advantage of a stable financial position for the couple.

    Financial stability between partners

    Image: Shutterstock

  1. A healthy balance: In the long run as the couple ages, the younger partner can support the older one physically, financially and emotionally. This also helps in keeping the family and the children stable.

While a decent age gap might bring in advantages, a wide gap might have more drawbacks than merits.

Possible Drawbacks in Age Gap Relationships

Here are some of the problems that couples of a big age gap are likely to face:

  1. Might turn sour as time passes: Research has found that age gap relationships might work initially but as time passes, the satisfaction comes down. “The people who are married to a much older or younger spouse tend to have larger declines in marital satisfaction over time as compared with those who are married to spouses who are similar in age,” says the study done by the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) (3).
  1. Higher chances of divorce: Disappointment and decreased levels of satisfaction could increase the chances of having a divorce. Randy Olson, senior data scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, says (4), “The larger the age gap between you and your partner, the more likely your marriage will end in divorce. Only being one to five years away from your partner is nothing to worry about, but if you’re old enough to be your partner’s parent, then your marriage might be in trouble.”

    Higher chances of divorce, age gap relationship

    Image: Shutterstock

protip_icon Do remember
Irrespective of the challenges and roadblocks in the relationship, if you and your partner have genuine love and faith in each other, you can make it work!
  1. Marital instability: In a marriage with a broad age gap, there could be issues such as decreased value consensus, potential caregiving and financial issues, and a power struggle, especially if the wife is older than the husband (5).
  1. Social disapproval: The couple might attract unnecessary attention and the families may not be cooperative due to ageism. This might put unnecessary pressure on the couple. It may also draw negative criticism in cultures where age gaps between couples are more common. There is generally a social stigma in society wherein people frame their assumptions. For example, they may think that the younger spouse chose the older one for their money or social status, and conversely, the older partner must have been wooed by the physical charms of the younger partner.
  1. Priorities in life: People of different ages have different priorities in life. The priorities of one partner might look frivolous to the other, thus bringing a psychological gap between them.
  1. Having children: Couples with a larger age gap might face health issues when they wish to start a family, especially when they delay it. The fertility rate is deeply connected with the age of the couple.
  1. Unsatisfactory romance: The intimate moments between the couple may not be as satisfactory due to their varying expectations. The younger partner might want it to be more active and frequent while the older one may not see it that way.

    The intimate moments between the couple may not be satisfactory

    Image: IStock

  1. Socializing: Couples with large age gaps may or may not have a common social group due to fear of prejudice. They may end up attending different social gatherings, hanging out with people of different ages. The friends of one partner may not like the presence of a much older/younger person.
  2. Power imbalance: Though power imbalances may occur regardless of age gap, it is a common criticism for couples with an age gap. The older partner usually has more financial stability, status, emotional maturity, life experiences, and other resources, which could lead to the younger partner being dependent. At the same time, the younger partner may be energetic and might not match wavelengths that were some time ago. It might look fancy in the initial stages, but with time, things may not seem as planned.

It is not necessary that all the age-gap relationships are stuck in these stereotypes because it all depends on how well you understand the relationship and take it forward.

Ways to Make an Age Gap Relationship Work

If you are entering into such a relationship, these tips would be of use to you:

  1. Give space: Do not cling on to your partner. Understand the importance of giving space. In any relationship, giving space to each other is extremely important and when the age gap is high, it becomes even more important.
  1. Have patience: Dealing with odd situations requires patience. Being calm and composed helps you win half the battle, as you can view the things in the right perspective.
  1. Be flexible: Do not be too rigid with your partner. Being flexible and empathetic towards each other is important to build a strong connection with your spouse.
  1. Have an open mind: Life will throw many challenges at different points in life. Having an open mind and staying confident about your commitment and the relationship will give you clarity in life.
  1. Enjoy silence: Sometimes less is more, so just take a break and do nothing. Enjoy the calm and stillness rather than cribbing about petty issues in life.
  1. Have an active sex life: If you are happy and content with physical intimacy, then you would love your partner better. This keeps each other hooked on to each other and most issues are taken care of.
  1. Communicate well: Most problems can be solved with proper communication. Your partner is someone with whom you can share anything and everything under the sun. Therefore, have honest communication with your partner.

    Most problems can be solved with proper communication

    Image: Shutterstock

  1. Love unconditionally: Love your partner without any boundaries or limitations. Even the worst situations can be easily handled when the partners are loving, kind and affectionate towards each other.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a relationship with a 20-year age gap work?

Many relationships with 20-year age gaps exist worldwide, but the success and compatibility of such a relationship cannot be guaranteed. These relationships may face difficulties and attract much attention and judgment from society. The couple may also have vast differences in their preferences. However, they could make it work with mutual understanding, open communication and also compromise.

2. What does the Bible say about age gap in marriage?

There are no specific verses in the Bible about the ideal age gap in marriage. Instead, it emphasizes that the marriage between two people is sacred and should be honored.

3. How common is a 10-year age gap?

A 10-year age gap in romantic relationships may be considered somewhat common in many cultures, with varying degrees of acceptance. It is not unusual to encounter couples with this age difference, particularly when the individuals are in their 30s or older. However, societal norms and personal preferences may influence the prevalence of such relationships.

4. How does society view age-gap relationships, and why do people often criticize them?

People may criticize age-gap relationships due to concerns about power dynamics, perceived exploitation, or assumptions about the motives of individuals involved. Additionally, cultural, generational, and personal biases may contribute to the criticism. However, it’s important to note that societal views and criticisms may evolve and vary across different communities.

Age is just a number when it comes to building relationships. However, it is also not wise to overlook the crucial factors related to the age gap in relationships that may create rifts. Nevertheless, the decision to be with someone with a considerable age difference is entirely personal. You must establish open and transparent communications about your wants and needs while maintaining a bond of trust, care, and love. As long as you are happy with each other and your relationship, the age gap should never be a problem.

Infographic: Celebrity Couples With Big Age Gaps

Love has no barriers, and age is no exception. Despite the social disapproval and criticisms, many couples find a way to make it work despite significant age differences. Check out the infographic listing a few celebrity couples who prove age is just a number when it comes to lasting love.

celebrity couples with big age gaps (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • A successful relationship is based on mutual understanding; hence large age gap between partners does not matter.
  • A wide age gap may bring fewer benefits and more drawbacks to the relationship.
  • An open mind and some tips could help a wider age gap relationship work.
Age Gap Relationship_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Justin Lehmiller and Christopher Agnew; May-December Paradoxes: An Exploration of AgeGap Relationships in Western Society; Department of Psychological Sciences Faculty Publications, Paper 27 (2011).
2. Andrew Francis-Tan and Hugo M. Mialon;A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration; (2014)
3. Cheryl Bond-Nelms; Do May–December Romances Work?;  American Association of Retired Persons (2017)
4. Randy Olson; What makes for a stable marriage?
5. Brandan E. Wheeler; Age Differences in Marriage: Exploring Predictors of Marital Quality in Husband-Older, Wife-Older, and Same-Age Marriages; Brigham Young University, BYU Scholars Archive(2010)

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Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena
Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-GoyenaPhD (Counseling Psychology)
Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena is a board licensed therapist in the USA and Puerto Rico with a specialty in couples, families, and relationships. Dr. Carlos possesses a PhD in Counseling Psychology granted at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.

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sanjana lagudu
sanjana laguduBPharm, MBA
Sanjana did her graduation in Pharmacy from Andhra University and post graduation in management from GITAM Institute of Management. It was during her first job, she recognized her skills in writing and began working as a freelance writer.

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Shikha is a writer-turned-editor at MomJunction, with over seven years of experience in the field of content. Having done a certification in Relationship Coaching, her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood.

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Benidamika holds a masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Assam Don Bosco University and another masters degree in English Literature from North Eastern Hill University. At MomJunction, Benidamika writes on human psychology and relationships.

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