It could be 5, 10, 15, 20 or over 25 years age difference between lovers and how can we say it’s still acceptable or considered too great? We like to assign a number to just about every important stage in life. We should marry at age 25 to 27 (according to various polls), have kids before age 35 (scientific research suggests), and retire with more than a million dollars in the bank by the time we’re 60.
With this in mind, it’s only natural to approach relationships with the same sort of calculated reasoning. There are a number of formulas used to base whether or not a couple is within reasonable age parameters, but one of the more popular is the ‘half your own age plus seven rule.’ What you do is take half the older partner’s age, add seven years onto that total, and if the younger partner’s current age is below the resulting number, you are ‘pushing the limits’ of socially acceptable age disparity. (Of course, even these calculations have a built-in flaw if the elder party is working their way up towards 50.)
Still, what most experts advise is that you shouldn’t allow your love life to hang in the balance of one number. With that said, there are a few important considerations to take into account when deciding if someone’s advanced age is going to be a problem. First and foremost is your current stage in life as compared to theirs.
For instance, a man, age 35, dating a woman, age 26, by most standards should be a good match. However, take that same man, throw in three marriages, six children, a vasectomy, and a bustling career, and he may not be such a good choice. Now, consider a healthy 40-year-old late-bloomer who has recently changed jobs, never been married, and is looking to settle down and build a life with someone. In these two scenarios, the 40-year-old might be the more compatible choice, despite the greater age difference.
Another way to look at it is that a 26-year-old woman, who has never been married and is just beginning her career, has many things to look forward to … such as her wedding, her first home, her first child, etc. By choosing a man who has already ‘been there and done that,’ she is cheating herself out of sharing these ‘discoveries’ with someone who is just as new to them.
On the flip side, one of the biggest reasons a young woman might find an older man attractive is his accelerated status in life. He is mature, knows who he is, has security (money, home, etc), and is ‘settled.’ To the woman, who has only begun her accent, this may be her chance to bypass some of the more struggling discoveries (supporting a fiance until he completes an advanced degree, obsessing over her own career track, or financing a first home) and become vicariously ‘settled’ through her partner’s accomplishments.
Aging, Social Pressures, and Jealousy
The aging process is always brought up when discussing age-gap relationships because, in general, older people need more medical care, are less active, slow down sexually and have different interests. However, these factors should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Social pressures should also be taken into consideration with the same open mind — quite frankly, our family and peers may mean well, but you have the best vantage point of your life. Trust your intuitions. Discuss the realities of the years ahead before you make a commitment.
One of the biggest problems of age-gap relationships is jealousy. She may see his peers as more mature, experienced, and accomplished, while he may fear her peers’ youthful looks, stylishness, and sexual prowess. Despite these jealous tendencies, concentrate on the commonality of the relationship, rather than the difference in age. Anticipating failure in any relationship will only create failure.
If you do find an older man (or woman) who fits within your lifestyle, is compatible with your core values, offers love, chemistry, and the empathy of a true soulmate, don’t worry about future health issues or social pressures — life is just too unpredictable. Some folks travel the world over to find love and never do. If all you’ve had to do is stretch across a vast sea of numbers to find yours, consider yourself lucky.