If I say Demi and Ashton, Tom and Kate, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Calista Flockheart and Harrison Ford, Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, and Madonna and Guy Richie, whilst they have their quirks (don’t get me started on TomKat.) they all have age gap relationships in common. But for us normal folk out there that don’t have bags of cash to help PR our relationship and possibly even leapfrog over certain hurdles, it doesn’t always get to be love conquers all and happily ever after. People still make a big ordeal out of an age gap, whether it’s the people in the relationship, or those that are around them, and it can be surprisingly difficult to keep it together.
I’ve had a few relationships with guys that were between 7-10 years older, and for me, it proved to be disastrous. I may have been secretly harking for a bit of that daddy figure feeling but the reality of being with someone who seemed to be a know-it-all, been-there-done-that type, who more often than not wanted to change me and control me was pretty annoying and unpleasant. On the flipside, I went out with a guy three years younger than me and I am still bewildered as to how we transitioned from couple to overgrown baby and reluctant mother.
When you’re in an age gap relationship your own insecurities, and either your domineering ways or submissive ways, can bring a whole host of issues to the table without ever having to put up with a sneering comment from family or friends.
If you’re older, you may worry that you’re too old, too controlling, a cradle snatcher, or that you or your friends are superior to your partners friends, and that’s just for starters. You’ll probably spend a lot of time with your head in the future trying to work out whether you have one and if you an merge your dreams and aspirations. On the flipside, if you’re younger, you may spend a lot of time thinking the sun shines out of your partners backside and that their word is law, or you may be a rebel, or worry that your friends will feel out in the cold with your older lifestyle, or worry about your family and friends reactions, or that you may be moving your life along too fast.
Like any relationship, age gap relationships take work, and whilst they may not take more work than others, they do take a certain type of work and understanding.
The most important opinions on your relationship are your own and both of you must be careful not to let outsiders influence how you may feel about or treat each other. However, for your relationship to work, it does mean that you both need to find a happy medium with your friends and family. Don’t force your relationship on them – let them see how well your relationship is working and involve them in your life. Only those who don’t truly care for your happiness will struggle to support you and your relationship. Be careful of being paranoid and making assumptions about your friends and family’s opinions that aren’t actually correct!
Your social lives may not merge as easily as you think but give it time and don’t expect that either one of you should give up your friends and family in order for the relationship to work, because this will eventually make one or both of you feel resentful.
You need to be united though for the relationship to thrive. This means that superiority and inferiority complexes can’t be the third person in your relationship. If you’re older, don’t assume you know best or patronise the crap out of your partner, and if you’re younger, don’t forget that you have a voice, they don’t know best, but don’t turn into a child or start being a rebel. It is key that the relationship strikes a balance and that you don’t slip into a parent/child relationship. You can both stand to learn a lot from each other and both of you have room for growth, not just the younger one.
Try not to leapfrog too far into the future because you may end up putting undue pressure on the relationship. If you spend a lot of time worrying about whether they will want the same things as you in five years, or whether they’ll run off, or how you will need to find someone your own age eventually, I have to ask – why the hell are you with them? Like any relationship, you need to manage your expectations and a healthy way of keeping things under control is to discuss them so that you’re both on the same page.
Most importantly, you both need to accept your age difference and embrace your individuality. There is no point in starting a relationship if you’re going to try and force your partner to act as if they’re the same age as you. Ultimately the age gap shouldn’t define and dictate your relationship; you both should and trust me when I say that if you break up, it’s not down to your age gap, it’s how you both handled it.