Age Gap In Relationships: A Complete Guide For Everyone

Age won't be a problem if you focus on your relationship and truly care about each other.

Reviewed by Ellen J.W. Gigliotti, LMFT
By Harini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

Age gaps in relationships are often welcomed with a frown, especially if there is a gap of more than 10 years. Most of us prefer a partner closer to our age or someone 5-10 years elder or younger.

Across the world, different cultures have different rules. Even the acceptable age difference varies across cultures, and most of them encourage relationships between people who belong to a similar age group. An age gap between the partners is more prevalent in Eastern countries. Does age become an issue when it comes to marriage? Is it better to marry someone of the same age? Will a bigger age gap in relationships affect it in the long run?

There are not many who have married a much older partner. Most people prefer a partner of similar age as they think it helps them understand each other easily. When the partners are of a similar age group, their likes and social circles may differ significantly. Their life goals, values, beliefs, opinions, and political views may also match each other. But, at the same time, some people are attracted to the maturity of older people. Let us find out why large age gaps do not matter to them and more.

Why Doesn’t Age Matter To Some?

People believe that the root of age-gap couples is based on evolutionary advantage. From this perspective, it is assumed that men’s preferences for much younger women and women’s attraction towards older men are related to reproductive fitness. They are seen as a “good investment” as older men are more “settled” and younger women are more likely to produce healthy offspring. However, can love really be that clinical?

Although both men and women place importance on qualities like kindness and trustworthiness when it comes to seeking partners, women evolutionarily have placed more importance on the resources and status of their partner. This is mostly because women are the child-bearers, and they need to invest a lot of themselves in the relationship. They need someone who can support them and the children. So, they want to seek out a partner who would invest his resources into the family. Similarly, men would like to have healthy children and, biologically, younger women have a better chance of having children without complications.

It is more likely in couples with a large age gap that the woman is younger. Very rarely do we see women in a relationship with a much younger guy. This could be because the building of wealth and resources takes time, and we tend to achieve those things later in life. That is why we are probably older by the time we acquire enough to provide for our partners. So, it could be a plausible theory that a woman would automatically be attracted to an older man.

Age is not a matter for some people in relationships

Shutterstock

Similarly, men are wired to value vitality and attractiveness more than women do. This is because, from an evolutionary point, youth is considered to be an indicator of fertility. As men cannot bear babies, they are attuned to younger fertile women to enhance their chances of partnering with a woman who can give them healthy children.

However, the evolutionary explanation is faulty as it can’t explain why the reverse occurs as well or why some same-gender couples have large age gaps. To explain this, we need to look into socio-cultural explanations.

As more and more women are getting independent and working in higher positions, they are getting paid more. This means they are no longer dependent on men for wealth and resources. So, it is not required for these women to prioritize resources when looking for a partner. As for same-gender couples, there’s still very little research available. Some state that a lack of, or a reduced number of, suitable partners that are similar in age may bring about couples with big age differences.

Age is not a matter for some people in relationships

Shutterstock

Do Age-Gap Relationships Work?

It’s a common assumption that age-gap couples do poorly when it comes to having a happy relationship. However, studies have found that age-gap couples report higher relationship satisfaction. They also report greater commitment and trust and lesser jealousy issues than similar-aged couples. More than three-quarters of partners where younger women were in a relationship with older men reported happy and satisfying intimate relationships.

The age-gap couple enjoying happy and satisfying relationship

Shutterstock

One factor that seems to impact the relationship outcomes of large age-gap couples is their fear of social disapproval. That is, if those in age-gap relationships believe that their family members, friends, loved ones, or society disapprove of their relationship, then their commitment towards their union decreases and the chance of break-up increases. These outcomes seem to apply to both heterosexual and same-gender couples. So, the possibility of negative outcomes for such couples resides not in issues within the partners but in judgments and peer pressures from outside the union.

The age-gap couple enjoying happy and satisfying relationship

Shutterstock

Another factor that may be at play here has to do with the stage of life each partner is at. For example, a twelve-year gap between a 20-year-old and a 32-year-old may cause different issues and challenges than for a twelve-year gap where one of the partners is 55 and the other is 67. This is because we live our lives in different stages, and each stage comprises certain tasks we need to complete. We tend to give priority to these tasks during these different stages of our lives. So, when our partner is in a different life stage, it may be intensely difficult to find common ground and work towards each other’s different goals and needs.

Does Age Matter?

Age is just a number for some couples in their relationship

Shutterstock

The secret of a happy relationship is having common ground. Your relationship’s success depends on the extent to which couples share similar beliefs, values, and goals about the relationship. Both need to support the other in achieving their personal goals, show commitment, build intimacy and trust, and resolve their issues in constructive ways. But, fulfilling these needs depend on their personalities – it has got nothing to do with age.

So, the truth is, while an age gap between two partners may bring about certain challenges for them, as long as they work at their relationship and love each other, their age will not pose a barrier.

Key Takeaways

  • Older men seek younger women because they can give birth to biologically healthy children without complications than women of the same age or older.
  • While it is a common assumption that couples with a large age gap won’t work, it is mostly observed that there is a higher level of commitment and trust between the partners.
  • If both the partners are on the same page when it comes to their goals and values, and show commitment to one another, then age may not be a problem.

Though relationships, where the partners have a wide age gap are uncommon, it does not mean that such bonds are bound to fail. On the contrary, many individuals do not give much value to the age of their partners if they have great chemistry and enjoy each other’s company. It is assumed that couples with an age gap struggle with communication, intimacy, and understanding each other’s perspectives. However, various studies show that the opposite is, in fact, true. So, if you have a good time with someone and like them a lot, you should put concerns about their age on the backburner.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much of an age gap is OK?

It depends on you. Age is just a number if you and your partner are fine with the gap. However, an age gap of 5-7 years is socially acceptable.

Do relationships move faster when you are older?

As you age, you go through relationships that give you experience and wisdom. Older people know what they are looking for and don’t waste time with people who don’t meet their needs. This is why relationships may seem to move faster as you grow older.

Can you still fall in love after 40?

Yes, it’s never too late to fall in love, even if you are 40 or older. Look at J.Lo, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, and many other celebs.

Was this article helpful?
thumbsupthumbsdown
The following two tabs change content below.
As Head Of Content Operations, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic... more

Ellen J.W. Gigliotti

(LMFT)
Ellen J.W. Gigliotti is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 20 years of experience and the owner of... more

LATEST ARTICLES