Many things affect the success of a relationship. You might be more comfortable considering factors such as personality, interests, religious background, education level, and attraction. But age-gap relationships tend to make people uncomfortable.
Celebrities with much younger or older partners continue to make the front pages of tabloids and fuel rumor mills. However, maturity is relative and isn’t necessarily determined by how old someone is. Many successful monogamous relationships have been between people with an obvious difference in age.
What makes or breaks an age gap partnership? Here are some keys to relationship success that are particularly important when considering age.
Having Shared Interests
An age gap might create distance between your interests. For example, the younger partner might be more into hiking and outdoor sports, while the older one might be more hesitant to engage in strenuous activity.
Other interests might come and go based on your generational age gap. If you’re hoping to stay in a long-term relationship, try developing some new interests together that you can spend time doing.
Having Similar Values and Goals
Successful relationships are built on shared values and long-term goals. These can become more pressing with age. For example, one person might want children while the other has already raised several of their own. Will you be able to split childcare duties in the same way?
Keep in mind that employment and retirement can also put people at completely different life stages. It’s crucial to communicate effectively and tackle these questions together. Being open and honest about your goals will set your relationship up for growth.
Maintaining the Ability to Compromise
With age gaps come gaps in life experience. One person may have had a career and a family before embarking on this relationship. They might be more set in their routines and attitudes. They may also expect that their younger partner should have more free time and financial mobility.
These expectations can create conflict and points of contention. At these moments, compromise is key. Learn to become more flexible and accommodating to your partner, who might be at a different stage of life.
When Age Is a Problematic Factor
When one person is significantly younger—say, an 18-year-old woman with a 35-year-old man, they may not have the same bargaining power in the relationship. They might be freshly moved out of their parent’s house. They may have never held a full-time job.
Some people might prey on those younger than them because they’re easier to manipulate and mold to their liking. That same age gap (17 years) feels much less vast once the younger person has had more life experiences. It’s important to consider factors such as independence, financial status, schooling, employment history, and experience with prior relationships when deciding whether an age gap matters.
Ask: Do your friends and family support the relationship?
Ideally, your loved ones are eager to see you thrive with a partner they feel is good for you. Pay attention to whether they’re fully on board with your age-gap relationship.
While you shouldn’t only take others’ opinions into account, their reactions might give you insight into whether or not this is a healthy relationship. Hopefully, they have your best interests in mind and want the best for you.
Do Age Gaps Matter?
All in all: it depends! Relationships with large age gaps come with their own unique challenges. You may want to ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of a partnership. If your older or younger partner brings everything you need to the table, your love and happiness are what matters most.