Even a generation ago, people typically married within their own age bracket, but today the rules have been turned upside down. Thrown together at work, school and by special interest groups, people of very different ages often work closely together. The Internet also makes it easy to meet people from all walks of life who live around the world. Spending prolonged time in close contact, working on something that incites both people's passions, can naturally lead to friendship and even romance. As long as both partners are legal adults, a romantic relationship can flourish, but a 10-year age gap can present special challenges.
Maturity Levels and Life Stages
People mature at different rates, but in general, young adults are less mature than those who are older. In “Dating Downside of the Age Gap,” CNN.com notes that some behaviors that are seen as “cute” in younger people become annoying or even pathetic in those a few years older. Arguments could come from unexpected situations, such as an older partner’s frustration with a younger mate’s lack of cooking experience. In addition, a wide age gap could mean that you enter different life stages at different times, points out certified counselor Fran Creffield in “Age Gaps in Relationships -- Do They Matter?” for "eHarmony Australia." When the younger partner reaches his career pinnacle, the older partner might already be ready for retirement travel.
Something in Common
Common interests and values help to solidify the bond between two people. Like any relationship, consider how well you get along with a much older or younger partner. Make sure that you have something to talk about and something you enjoy doing together. Consider each other’s religious beliefs, parenting policies and ways of interacting with the world. A 10-year age gap does not mean that you have nothing in common, but make sure you are each comfortable with the way you live your daily lives.
If you want to have children, consider whether you and your partner are physically healthy enough to have a baby and raise it to adulthood. A women’s fertility is typically reduced after age 35, while most men remain biologically fertile into their 60s. Health concerns could also become an issue later in life. Make sure that the younger partner is psychologically prepared to become a caregiver if it becomes necessary.
Family and Friends
Consider the opinions of your family and friends. If your parents have conservative ideas about dating and relationships, they might have trouble accepting a much older or younger partner. If one partner has a teen or adult child, she might not want a stepparent who is not much older than she is. You might be uncomfortable around your partner’s friends, particularly if they are in a very different life stage than you. Ultimately, you must make your own decision, but relationships are generally tougher when they do not have support from loved ones.
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including VisualTravelTours.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.
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