Does a large age gap matter in a relationship?

It is a staple of many a gossip magazine story. From Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde to Amal and George Clooney, large age gaps in relationships often set tongues wagging.

The topic of age in relationships trigger many strong opinions – especially when it comes to an individual’s own dating preferences. However, it’s certainly not uncommon to find many couples consider age to be merely a number when it comes to settling down. In western countries around 8% of male-female couples have an age gap of 10 years or more. The gaps can be even larger than that, with an estimated 1% of heterosexual couples in the US having an age difference of 28 years or more.

Our online lifestyles mean the pool of people we socialise with has expanded more than ever, making it easier to interact across a range of different generations. While many point out there are advantages to dating somebody the same age as you because you’ll reach the same life milestones at a similar time, others point out the rulebook has been ripped up anyway. The way we approach our careers is so different to generations before us, and many are delaying having children to achieve other goals in their life. Despite all of this, it’s still common to find a lot of entrenched judgement attached to big age gaps. We’ve all heard the insults that are thrown about to describe those involved in them, including sugar daddy for an older man, or gold-digger for a much younger woman. There can be more stigma attached the larger the age gap involved.

So does age matter?

May-December romances, a term to describe a relationship between two people with a considerable age difference, can face challenges which other pairings may not. As we’ve touched upon, you may find friends, family and acquaintances are sceptical and may disapprove of the relationship, especially if the age gap is sizeable. This social pressure may bring difficulties to your relationship and may lessen your support network. However, it’s important not to let the opinions of others sway you if you’ve found somebody who you’ve genuinely fallen for.

Being at different life stages does sometimes presents an issue as you both age, especially if the older partner encounters serious illness or retires while the other is still working. One of you may be in a very different place professionally or financially, which means you’ll need to decide how you’ll manage your money to avoid any feelings of losing independence or being taken advantage of. There can sometimes be struggles in establishing common ground as you might not share similar interests, social circles, tastes, or frames of reference.

When it comes to dating somebody who is significantly older or younger than you, the initial stages of seeing each other can feel much like dating somebody your same age. However, as things get more serious, it pays to look at how things will pan out down the line. If you have different family situations, with one of you already having children, it’s important to consider how it will work if you do settle down together.

Making an age gap work

There’s not an exact science to determining whether an age gap relationship will be successful. Many find the increased self-awareness and care that goes into making the relationship work can help it endure and be successful. As with all healthy relationships, it takes both of you to put in the work to ensure you are both continue to be happy and satisfied. It can pay to focus on shared interests and be open and honest about any roadblocks which you can foresee becoming a problem so you can be prepared to work together to overcome these issues. The ability to compromise can be a big factor in an age gap relationship, especially when different life stages become more noticeable. What might not have seemed so important when you met might emerge into something more pertinent as you both move into different life stages.

It really does come down to a case-by-case situation with individuals, as age is just one part of the equation. When you have a successful relationship where you share similar values, aspirations, beliefs, and goals, and you are prepared to work through any problems that may arise, it will feel like age isn’t a barrier.  

So, considering age isn’t the be all, end all, why not be a little more open-minded? Many daters set a narrow age range on their profile, potentially ruling out plenty of amazing people. It’s important to remember age doesn’t determine who you are or what you want to do. Next time you are looking at a profile of a prospective match, try ignoring the age. Read about the person and recognise the commonalities that you have, and you might just be surprised how much you have in common. It could be the start of something truly amazing.  

Here at Ignite Dating we enjoy working with enthusiastic clients who are committed to finding a life partner with similar family values and outlooks on life. If you’ve decided it’s the right time to start a search for somebody new, then give our expert matchmaking team a call. We specialise in hand-selected matches with amazing people you’ll really share a connection with, helping you with a dating journey that’ll leave you feeling safe and energised.