Significant age differences can present challenges in a relationship, note professionals at Two Of Us, a subsidiary of The National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, an information resource for healthy marriages. Two Of Us professionals say that many people view relationships with significant age differences from either a stereotypical perspective -- such as "sugar daddies" or "cougars" -- or under the assumption that there are too many challenges for these unions to be successful. There are pros and cons to every relationship -- it's up to each party to decide if the relationship is worth the effort after considering the challenges they may face.
It's possible that your family will have difficulty adjusting to and accepting your mate if he's close to your parents in age, or not far from it. Professionals at Two Of Us note that family members may question your partner's motives and the overall sincerity of the relationship. Two Of Us professionals go on to say that this resistance may not be etched in stone -- if your family is initially hesitant about your older mate, they could come around once they see that the union is genuine.
Incompatible Cultural References
Another disadvantage is when one of you makes a cultural reference to a commercial you watched as a child, or an "oldie" that you danced to at your prom, and the other can't relate. This could present challenges to the two of you forming a bond by either highlighting the age difference or because a lack of common cultural references can make communication more difficult. But, it doesn't have to be a major issue. If you're really interested in your older mate, then professionals at Two Of Us recommend that you embrace these differences. Use this time to learn something interesting about your mate's past experiences.
Dealing with Stereotypes
The most well-known negative stereotype associated with significant age differences between young women and older men is the "sugar daddy" stereotype, which suggests that an older man is financially generous with a younger woman in exchange for her company. Public reception of you and your older mate may reflect this stereotype, which could generate stares and whispers from passersby. The opinion of others should have no bearing on who you choose to love -- your happiness should precede public opinion.
If your mate is near retirement and has already reared children, he may not be interested in starting a family. This is something that you should seriously consider if you want a family of your own. Should you have a long-term, committed relationship with your older partner, the reality is that you may outlive him if there's a significant age difference, say Two Of Us professionals. If your partner has any health concerns, you may also end up playing the role of caretaker, which will significantly impact your quality of life.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images