Age difference between partners has long been a question of interest. Remember your high school days when dating someone a year senior was extremely cool. Research on age difference in couples suggests that while the desired gap for men and women is around 13-14 years on average (10-15 years), as specified in their partner preferences on online dating sites, in reality long-term pairs only have 3-4 years disparity.
Age difference in dating
The research data may be surprising, but it makes sense. When dating, we are more open to trying out new things, thus a wider gap we list as acceptable. But relationships are more than just movies and dinners, and moonlight walks on the beach. One of my most memorable experiences was dating a guy 20 years older when I was 21. He was amazing and so much more sophisticated than boys in my university group. Did it last? Of course not! I never even felt it was for real. It was what it was, an experience. We had very little to talk about or discuss, and never been very close. His friends and mine were too far apart. There was really nothing connecting us except our interest in each other.
Age difference in relationships
Other research suggests that the ideal gap in relationships is 4.4 years, and divorced people tend to have a larger disparity in subsequent marriages. In a way, this is to be expected. Young people usually pair up within their age group, as at that point in life their circle of communication is limited to people of about the same maturity. Divorced people, obviously, are older. By then our circles of acquaintances grow to be more spread through generations, and personal values and life style become more important than how old the two partners are. Still, real-life couples rarely have a generation-long discrepancy between them.
When the age difference is too large?
Most often in married couples a man is older than a woman. Many pairs continue a relationship that started back in high school, thus their difference will be smaller. It became more acceptable for both men and women to experiment with dating younger people. However, these alliances very seldom produce a committed partnership, and even more rarely survive past 10 years.
In couples where the age gap approaches generational, the older partner is under a constant and significant stress. While it may be very exciting at first, the long-term prospects of such relationships are directly affected by how self-worthy the mature spouse feels. Being afraid that your younger half may leave is likely to aid in deterioration of your marriage.
Not many people are capable of feeling like the proverbial 70-year-old billionaire, who, being asked about his marriage to an 18-year-old beauty queen, and pointed out that when he is 80, she is going to be 28, responded with, “Well, I can always marry another 18-year-old”.
Let’s be honest. Age difference in couples affects their long-term prospects. Anything over 15 years is too large a gap. If you want to play, fine, but don’t lie to yourself. There are beautiful, intelligent, caring individuals who will make great partners, and with whom you can be happy over the long haul. Give yourself a chance.
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