The year is 2020. A new decade. We have self-driving cars. Artificial intelligence is changing how we see the world. We have personalized medicine available. Yet, we still feel outraged and somewhat surprised when we see a couple with a “significant” age difference. Why are we still so caught up on age differences in couples? Should this even matter anymore?
Why We Still Have Trouble Accepting Relationships with Age Difference
I’m biased when it comes to age-gaps in relationships. You see, my parents have a 22 years difference. Yet, they’ve been together, through ups and downs, for over 30 years – if that’s not a stable relationship, I don’t know what is.
According to a recent study, people outside of the relationship find age-gap couples less acceptable than age-matched ones. Why? Well, they tend to make a connection with exploitation or define those as an exchanged-based relationship (e.g., intimacy for a luxurious lifestyle) instead of a love-based relationship.
However, the study found some interesting patterns. Younger people where often harsher critics of man-older age-gap couples than older people. Quite shocking, when you would often link younger people with being open-minded.
Can You Be Too Young or Too Old?
Is there a rule-of-thumb we’re supposed to follow when it comes to dating older or younger people? According to many, you should follow the seven rule – date someone half your age plus seven. So, if you’re 25, you could date anyone who is at least 19 years old. The other side of the equation says you should subtract seven from your age and then double it. Following the same example, if you’re 25, you could date someone who is 35 years old but not older than that.
Is the Rule Effective?
No. What the seven rule does is provide a sense of boundaries accepted by society and traditional norms. It’s an exciting tool for those who are not comfortable with other people’s judgment. If you use this rule, know that it might not mirror your preferences as both men and women didn’t mirror the rule in studies.
Why Age-Gaps Exists?
Many believe it has to do with evolution. It’s thought that men often prefer younger women, and women prefer older men due to reproductive fitness. Of course, that concept is valid as long someone has what the individual considered to be “good genes.”
Despite the public judgment, some studies find that age-gap relationships have a higher satisfaction rate than age-matched ones. They also seem to report better communication, greater trust, and lower jealousy rates. Not to mention, over three-quarters of couples say they have satisfying romantic relationships.
However, if those in an age-gap relationship don’t feel supported by their friends, family, and peers, their risk of break-up increases, and their commitment decreases.
Does Age Matter?
The success of a relationship depends on many factors. There’s so much more to a relationship than love. When a couple shares beliefs, goals, and similar values, their relationship will thrive. It’s all about commitment, support for each other, and fostering a relationship based on trust and intimacy.
Many celebrity couples have a large age-gap:
- Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas: 10 years
- Beyoncé and Jay-Z: 12 years
- Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi: 15 years
- Amal Clooney and George Clooney: 17 years
- Hilaria Baldwin and Alec Baldwin: 26 years
- Katherine McPhee and David Foster: 34 years
If you’re in an age-gap relationship, know that other people’s opinions shouldn’t deter you from being with someone you care about. Know that maturity is relative; always share your expectations about what you feel the relationship should be with your partner. Identify mutual interests and engage in these without losing your true self. But, above all, respect the relationship. If you both have a strong bond and share mutual love and respect, age is merely a number.