I’ve always thought age is irrelevant when two people meet and connect on a deep, visceral level. If you have chemistry, compatibility and a foundation of mutual respect, then you can make it work. But, that doesn’t mean an age gap isn’t at times an uphill battle. I have dated people, someone younger as well as someone older, and I can say from personal experience that there are both pros and cons to the age gap.
Dating Someone Older
Pros: The Experienced Guide
When you are in your heady twenties, out exploring the world, then having an older and more experienced partner can teach you a lot about how to have a satisfying and fulfilling relationship, perhaps more so than dating someone your own age.
Adolescent boys dream of dating older women because of their sexual experience, while girls look for the emotional maturity and stability that some older men have. Danielle D’Souza, a freelance writer, says, “I’ve been dating an older guy (eight years my senior) for quite a while now. It’s like a breath of fresh air after dating men who were almost always my age or sometimes, even a year older. I think this level of maturity is so refreshing! Besides, we never run out of things to talk about or do. I think it’s great that he is so understanding; that’s probably because he has gone through his share of ups and downs in life. We also learn a lot from each other!”
Though you may not see eye to eye on everything, that may, in fact, be a good thing. Differences of opinion, discussed in a healthy manner, can stimulate each partner to respect the other’s point of view.
Cons: The Parent Trap
The parent trap is a scary zone, and once entered it is difficult to escape. An older partner will often feel compelled to help you avoid making mistakes that they themselves made in the past. This, in turn, leads to possessive and overprotective behavior. It’s also nigh on impossible not to think about Freud’s Oedipus and Electra complexes, and question if perhaps you aren’t looking for a father/ mother figure in your relationship. This could boil down to feelings of neglect you felt as a child.
Social differences also crop up with an older partner. At times, an older partner will not mix well with your friends or peers. This can lead to your alienation from friends and peers. In some ways, you age faster and lose out on a vital part of your youth. Your partner may not have the same excitement or fervor as you to try things as you go.
Your partner may dwell on the age difference to prove a point (the “I’m older and wiser than you” move), while you may find yourself constantly working to prove your maturity.
Dating Someone Younger
Pros: The Time Machine
Dating someone younger can give back lost years. It’s a proven fact that those who marry partners a decade or so younger than them tend to live longer, presumably because they are happier, healthier and more vital.
With someone younger, you’ll likely have to take greater care with your appearance in social settings. You’ll look and feel better as the hands-on that biological clock goes spinning back. Himanshu Shah, a 31-year-old who is dating a 20-year-old girl, says, “Dating a younger girl has its own unique charm. Our preferences do vary drastically. And at many times, it is hard to figure out who is the child in the relationship!”
Cons: Rocking the Cradle
If you decide to date someone younger, you’ll need to be careful not to taint youthful innocence with world-weary cynicism. This can crop up particularly during fights when you simply won’t be able to put up with behavior that is, as you see it, juvenile or infantile.
This is also one instance in which, rightly or wrongly, gender makes a difference. Despite the fact that young men and older women are often very sexually compatible, socially and emotionally it can be particularly difficult. Muskan Ali says, “If the guy is 15 years older, then it’s still ok, but if the girl is 15 years older, then it becomes more of a problem as women age much faster than men. If they are thinking of starting a family, then the health of the woman also comes into play.”
Whatever hesitations you may have, it’s always worth giving something new a shot, so try it out for sure. Differences make any relationship more interesting. Time will tell if you can bridge the age gap or not.