In a slew of recent Facebook group posts, we are bombarded by images of celebrity couples where there is a huge age difference between the partners.
From Mick Jagger’s 43-year age gap with his dancer partner Melanie Hamrick to Hugh Jackman’s 13-years older wife Deborra-Lee Furness, age seems to be only a number. But is age really just a number, or is there “too big” a gap in some instances?
What are some of the pros of having an age gap with your partner, and can there be red flags to worry about when you choose a much younger or several years older partner?
In the end, you have to wonder if having a large age gap is healthy for you and your partner. Let’s find out.
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What Is a Good Age Difference in a Relationship?
Traditionally, men were said to be better off finding a younger wife with an age gap of five to seven years.
This age gap would mean the man would be secure in his job and over his “sowing wild oats” days and the woman would be young enough to have children and mind the house.
Obviously, times have changed (#ThankGoodness). Today, it’s not unheard of for a woman to have a partner who is several years (even a decade or more) younger than her. Men are also seeking out younger partners with an age gap that rivals Mick Jagger’s own 43-year age gap partner not being unheard of.
But what is really a good age gap, and why?
The short answer is that anything from five years to seven years won’t raise an eyebrow in most instances, but when the age gap reaches 10 years, there will be some challenges to tackle in the relationship.
Considerations for Age Gap Matches
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
The greater the gap, the more satisfaction decreases
A study by the Journal of Population Economics found that couples with a two to three year age difference are more likely to stick together than couples with four to six or seven and more years’ difference between partners.
Couples who have a smaller age gap tend to be happier together than those with a larger age gap, and this lack of satisfaction continues to escalate as the partners both age.
The impact of an age gap increases over time
Over time, a large age gap seems to increase, despite there being no actual change in ages. People age in leaps and bounds according to the life stages they enter. A couple with a ten year age difference may cope reasonably well until one of the partners reaches a critical life stage.
So if the older partner reaches pension age, the younger partner will be in their prime, creating a very different life outlook. While the older partner now sits at home and relaxes on pension, the younger partner is still working and living out in the world.
Age isn’t always a predictor of differences
A positive consideration is that age isn’t always indicative of difference. Biological age doesn’t account for mental development and spiritual connection. While age can cause differences in terms of interests and beliefs, it doesn’t have to be a defining factor.
Our personality traits and mental capacity isn’t bound by age, and if the connection isn’t based on the physical, you and your much older or younger partner may thrive.
Illness isn’t age related
A popular concern and public opinion is that age equates to illness. Because you have an older partner doesn’t guarantee that you will be the more healthy one in your relationship.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that age difference is always going to result in the older partner being the burden. People get sick, even when young, so the older partner can just as easily “be stuck” caring for an ailing partner.
Statistics aren’t laws
While statistics find that partners with a large age gap become more dissatisfied, this is not a law or reality. There are many couples with large age gaps who have enjoyed many successful and satisfying years together. It all comes down to the two individuals in the relationship, not necessarily their age.
Age doesn’t account for motivation
When partners are motivated to make their relationship a success, they generate the energy needed to live happily together. Age doesn’t influence this, as long as both partners are equal in their mental and emotional development. However, couples who have a small age gap may quickly fall out of love if they lack motivation.
Are There Any Red Flags in “Age Gap” Relationships?
While you want to be happily united with your partner, the age gap can create problems and challenges. Some challenges may even be red flags that need to be vigilantly guarded against. Here are a few red flags to watch out for:
Relationship age gap red flags are as follows:
Differences in income
If one partner, usually the younger partner, has a much smaller income or level of education than the older (or other) partner, it may be a gold-digger situation. While only the two partners can really decide if this is a red flag, it’s worth noting this could be the situation when going into the relationship.
Spending habits and other habits
Habits are what make us who we are, or at least, we develop habits because of who we are. So if you and your partner have very different spending habits, and one partner tries to “teach” the other partner in an authoritative manner, it could signal that the relationship has a skewed balance of power.
It’s not up to either of the partners to decide they have better habits than their partner. In a healthy relationship, you should respect each other’s habits and form more great healthy habits together. With the age gap, there may be a dominance play at work, which is unhealthy and will create resentment.
Don’t stop doing things your way and suddenly do it your partner’s way, unless they also compromise in some areas.
Sudden changes in personality of the older or younger partner
We are who we are, and our partners should add to that and polish it, but never change it. When your older partner influences you to change completely into a way of being that’s not like you at all, it’s a warning sign. The same applies to younger partners influencing their older partners.
Respect and abuse in the relationship
When there is a difference in age between the partners and there are signs of abuse or a lack of respect, the relationship is in danger of becoming abusive and disrespectful. The reason for this is that the age gap has created a parent-child relationship where one partner dominates a younger resentful partner.
Don’t be surprised if there is blackmail in such a relationship and if the younger partner eventually leaves or regularly throws tantrums.
Can a Big Age Gap Cause Problems in a Relationship?
There are many different things that can cause relationship problems and challenges, and a large age gap can be one of these. Any age gap upwards of 10 years may introduce several challenges to a relationship such as:
How Can You Have a Healthy Relationship With a Big Age Difference?
If you have found your love in an older or much younger partner, it will take some careful management to ensure relationship success. Share and grow together. You can “teach an old dog new tricks” with patience and persistence.
Try to communicate effectively, practice mindfulness and kindness to bring the best to your relationship, and discuss the impact of your age on your children.
Ensure that if you start a family late, you make provision to ensure they are cared for financially should you or your partner pass. While all relationships should do this, it’s even more vital when one partner is much older and more likely to pass before the children are old enough.
Final Thoughts: Age Is Just a Number
If you truly love your partner, age is only a number.
While we tend to think that younger people who go for older partners are gold diggers, it’s not healthy or accurate to stereotype people and their love life. Whether the age gap is seven years or almost seventy, love is blind and the heart wants what it wants.
Ensure you guard against abuse when you are suddenly approached by a potential partner with a big age gap, but don’t close yourself off to possibilities.
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