Everybody is searching for their perfect partner in life. It is, for many, their ultimate goal to find someone who they can share their life with forever. And at the beginning of any relationship, it is natural to ask yourself if you are sure that you have chosen the right person. And then comes the old age saying of’’ Age is just a number’’. Or is it? Are we able to have relationships, romantic relationships, marriages and partnerships when the age gap is 10 years, 20 years and sometimes more? If we have a look at the statistics, the numbers tell us that the larger the age gap, the greater the problems and the higher the number of divorce and break up rate. But then, there is always the exception to the rule.
So does an age difference matter in a relationship? Well, that is each to their own to discover and find out, but for the most part, there are going to be extra challenges that relationships will face when there is an age gap. There are of course challenges in every relationship, but when you have 8 or 10 years between you, it may work well now, but what happens later on when it starts to feel like 20 years difference instead of 10?
1. Life Stages
Big age differences might not be apparent initially between couples who are in their 40s and 50s respectively, but when those numbers change and you have late 40s and 60s – the entire dynamic of a relationship changes. The younger party may still be working, attending conferences, meetings, and have to wind up late nights at the office. Whereas the other party has already retired and suddenly everything changes. The working partner is in an entirely different stage of their life and the retired partner becomes increasingly frustrated because they have nothing to do and all day to do it in and their partner doesn’t have enough time in the day.
The mismatched life pressures have the potential to cause major conflict between couples as they enter a new phase in their respective lives and in their relationships. Leisure time is compromised and suddenly what was not an issue two years before becomes a make or break scenario just around the corner.
2. The Cultural Era Conflict
Things could get complicated if you don’t understand each other socially. Growing up in completely different eras means that your roots are in different times and places and somewhere along the line it’s going to reach a point where you don’t fit in culturally and they don’t fit into your social group culturally. As time goes by, this misunderstanding gets worse and worse as the age gap seems to widen like a gaping hole as both parties age in life.
3. Social and Family
Then there are the society pressures, if you are a mixed age couple expect major prejudice and judgemental comments from everyone including complete strangers. Hurtful comments will still strike a chord no matter how thick skinned you may think you are. Lots of jealous remarks, gossiping and mean sniggers about why they think you are with the other person, be it for the money, status or sex.
Meeting the family can be another difficult hurdle to overcome- they may not support a mixed aged couple and actively go about trying to break it up or make it known that you are not welcome in their family. Do you really want to get in between the person you love and their family – as yourself these really hard questions before you think age doesn’t matter.
4. Health Issues
Having a much older partner, who can fall ill at any time, could drastically change the lives of both of you. Are you ready to put all of your life plans on hold, cancel your travel and retirement plans and look after your ailing partner? If you wish to become serious and go as far as meeting the family, this is a very real stumbling block waiting for you both in your future? You may end up with feelings of guilt and resentment and they may feel overwhelmed with guilt and pain at having been the catalyst that changed your life and put it on hold forever.
5. A Time for Everything
We all choose people for different things and different relationships during our lifetime; we may need certain things and another person may offer something else. But the problem comes in when those needs have been met from both sides and both parties really grow out of the relationship naturally. And even though opposites do attract and relationships with big age differences may work for some time, long-term, these relationships suffer when some of the basic fundamental compatibility needs are not being met.
Long-term relationships are built on things like compatibility – in friendship, in love, in life, in bed, out of bed, intellectually and compatibility of age. When the basic compatibility needs are not being met anymore, it becomes the beginning of the end of such a relationship.
So age will matter for sure, somewhere down the line. While it might not matter when one partner is 35 and the other 50, it is going to become more and more apparent when the same partners are 45 and 60 – being in two different life stages, with two completely different set of needs from a social, physical and emotional point of view. And one partner could be in the peak of their career, and the other on a deck chair with a book enjoying their retirement.
6. How Much is Too Much
A 5 year age gap is still okay – there is lots of compatibility at all stages with partners being 25 and 30 or even 40 and 45. Ten years is a bit more tricky and anything over that could very well start to become a problem - when it comes to long-term relationships compatibility is key.
BUT love can prevail, so age should be no barrier.