Age difference in a relationship and its impact on the bond

The age difference in a relationship is a topic that arouses many emotions. “She is with him for his money”, “he will soon find a younger one”, “she could be his daughter” — these are just some of the slogans directed at couples, who are separated by a few or more years of age difference. How to deal with the lack of acceptance of a much older or much younger partner?

Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya:

Is age just a number that doesn’t matter? Why is the age difference in relationships causing such a stir in society? Interesting relationships are a stereotype or the truth? Age differences in relationships are actually nothing new. Since ancient times, people have been pairing up with people younger or older than themselves. A 10 year older man is something that was normal and not controversial in the early twentieth century. In the past, a relationship with a woman several decades younger was also not a shock and a reason for gossip.

Nowadays, the average age difference between partners is smaller, and situations in which any couple deviates from the norm are often, unfortunately, the reason for comments, discussions, shallow criticism and merciless judgments. This is especially the case when it is the woman who is older than her partner. But not always. Of course, the phenomenon of hurtful, superficial evaluation is unfair and should not take place.

Reasons for unfavorable opinions concerning relationships with large age difference

First of all, it is worth noting at the outset that “a big difference” is a subjective concept. For some people 5 years is an insurmountable barrier, for others the term “big difference” is used only after 20 years (or more) between partners. It all depends on our approach and experiences. Often it is so, that feeling blurs all boundaries and age ceases to have any meaning.

Some people, seeing a couple with different life experience, say that it is “not right”, without giving any particular reason or argument. This is usually a group of people following stereotypes — so it is not worth entering into a deeper polemic with them.

There is also a belief that someone meets an older woman or man because he or she is hoping for material gain. It’s not a good idea to have a relationship with an older woman or man because he or she is looking for material gain.

Photo by Thaís Silva:

The age difference in a relationship versus “worrying” about your loved ones

As humans we tend to worry about the future. Doubts arise. What will happen in 10 years? How will it be in old age? Does such a relationship make sense in the long run? When we start a relationship, these kinds of questions often arise in our minds.

It’s not uncommon for those close to the person in love to worry about what the later stages of a couple’s life will be like. People who come in contact with two people in love often — usually uninvited — voice their opinion, wondering what will happen when one party is very old and the other is not yet. This is certainly a topic that only the parties involved should reflect on in such a situation. On the other hand, however, it is beautiful that a strong feeling can put such concerns aside.

Another point is that it’s not entirely just a matter of whether someone is much younger, or whether someone is just young. After all, who is surprised by a relationship between a 55-year-old and a 75-year-old? Not many people. However, a 25-year-old girl with a 45-year-old man often causes a lot of comments and such a relationship causes controversy.

Photo by Marcelo Chagas:

How to advise people who enter into a relationship with a large age difference?

If we are going to advise someone (only at someone’s explicit request!) or if we are a person close to the person concerned, it is worth approaching the matter with calmness and common sense. First, try to assess whether you think this relationship is based on affection, sincerity, and a healthy approach (although this is obviously difficult from the perspective of someone who is looking at the situation from the outside). If you feel that the intentions of our loved one’s partner/partner are not entirely sincere, then when asked — we can let the other party know how we feel in a gentle way.

Such conversations are never easy for either of the parties, because sometimes unpleasant information is difficult to convey to a person who looks at his or her chosen one mainly through the prism of strong feelings.

What can age difference mean for a relationship?

There can be many reasons why you are dating a man much older or much younger. For example (although this is not necessarily the case!) girls looking for older guys may have had poor contact with their dad in the past or none at all. Then they often look for in men what they lacked in their childhood: caring, a sense of security, male support. However, this is often a matter of coincidence and it is not worth looking for any special reasons.

Does the age difference between spouses affect the causes of marital breakdown?

The most common reason for marital breakdown is character incompatibility. In 2011. 26.9% of marriages ended in divorce for this reason alone, and in the case of 8.3% of divorce trials this reason was cited as one of many. Second in importance is failure to maintain marital fidelity. 9.1% of divorces were due solely to this reason, and an additional 15.2% of marriages were divorced because failure to be faithful was one of many reasons for the breakdown of marital cohesion. Mention should also be made of alcohol abuse, as 6% of divorces were due solely to this problem and 14.2% of couples divorced because alcohol was one of a number of problems.

Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr.:

Is there a correlation between the age difference between spouses and the occurrence of particular causes of marital breakdown? The analysis shows that:

  • Failure to maintain marital fidelity as a cause of marital breakdown occurs relatively more often when the divorcing spouses are close in age or, alternatively, the wife is older than the husband. This reason appears relatively rarely when the husband is older than the wife.
  • The alcohol problem most often affects marriages in which the husband is older than the wife.
  • Another reason for relationship breakdown is the disrespectful and abusive attitude of the older husband toward his wife and other family members — this is when most marriages break up, and this problem occurs very frequently.

However, there is no rule — some problems occur more often when it is the woman who is older than the partner, and others — in the exact opposite situation. It is worth taking into account that these are only statistics, and our (or our relatives’/friends’) relationship may turn out to be their complete contradiction.



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