Managing Age Gaps in Relationships

Managing Age Gaps in Relationships

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Though sometimes stigmatized by society, age gaps are common in many relationships. Twentysomethings tend to date individuals within two to three years of their own age. Mature adults tend to have even larger age gaps in their relationships, averaging roughly seven to eight years. When these averages are exceeded, these relationships are often viewed as age gap pairings.


Like most relationships, age gap romances come with their own unique set of challenges. These handy tips will help you manage the struggles that age gap couples often face.



1.) Reflect on where you are in life.


Everyone progresses through life at a different pace. Couples in age gap relationships are especially likely to notice the impact of these "life stages" on their relationships. A woman in her early 50s may be working full-time while parenting a teenage son. A man of 65 may be newly retired and planning to travel the world. Though these individuals might make an excellent pair, their current life stages make their plans incompatible. Whereas couples of equal ages often progress through life stages alongside one another, age gap couples generally find that they enter new life stages at different times. Be sure to talk to your partner to find common ground regarding your current plans and future goals. By mapping out a timeline that works for both of you, you can better ensure that your relationship will overcome the challenges caused by disparate life stages.



2.) Don't forget your similarities.


There may be moments in your relationship where you become acutely aware of the age gap between you and your partner. When these feelings arise, it is important to take a step back and reflect on the things that brought you together in the first place. Whether you both love tennis or share the same quirky sense of humor, reflecting on your similarities will help you put your differences into perspective. Remember the things that made you fall in love with each other. Love, compassion, and shared values are powerful enough to overcome the obstacles posed by age.



3.) Plan for your future.


If your relationship is getting serious, it may be time to start discussing your future together. There are a number of difficult topics that mature couples in age gap relationships ought to consider, including health issues and end-of-life arrangements. With age differences of 10 or more years, couples should consider the possibility of one partner struggling with health problems years before the other. Is the younger partner prepared to be the primary caretaker for the older partner if his or her health begins to falter? In committed relationships, both partners may wish to review their wills to ensure that they are up-to-date and include provisions for their significant other.


Mature age gap couples should also discuss their plans and goals for the future. Do you both wish to live near your family in the city, or would you prefer to retire in a quiet and remote country village? As with all relationships, it is important to make sure that you are on the same page regarding your plans for the future.



4.) Expect others to question your choice.


Perhaps the most annoying aspect of an age gap relationship is the commentary offered by friends and family members. Even strangers may feel the need to remark on your relationship! Some friends might make "sugar daddy" jokes; others might snidely remark that your relationship will “never last.” Dealing with these remarks can be tricky. Though some comments can be "laughed off," it is often best to respond firmly to those who make such crude remarks. Politely state that you don't appreciate such commentary and will not tolerate it in the future. If certain family members or friends continue to belittle you, consider limiting your interactions with them. Your relationship is your business, and your decisions should be respected.



5.) Be patient with your family and friends.


Though you shouldn't have to suffer through verbally abusive conversations, it is important to understand that friends and family members might not accept your relationship right away. Your new relationship might lead to some awkward conversations, nosy questions, and worry from those closest to you. Understand that it may take some time for your children to accept that your partner is 15 or 20 years older than you. Reassure your best friend that the relationship is a healthy one. Though the concern and uncertainty of others can be bothersome, understand that most of these worries will fade with time. As your relationship grows, most friends and family members will eventually "come around."


Despite their challenges, age gap relationships can be just as successful and fulfilling as any other pairing. By mindfully managing the difficulties of an age gap, your relationship can stand the test of time.



Photo: (c) contrastwerkstatt /

Editor, 01/14/2016