What is the Best Age Gap in a Relationship?
In matters of the heart, they say that age does not matter. This is very much evident in celebrity couples whose age difference did not stop them from entering into a happy romantic relationship: Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have a 25 year difference and they are happily married, George Clooney and wife Amal have a 17 year age gap, power couple Beyoncé and Jay Z are 12 years apart. This goes to show that when you are in love age makes no difference.
Although age differences are common, many feel that there is an ideal age gap for entering romantic relationships. Some would say that 10 to 15 year age difference is too much of a gap and that there are so many factors that will make this relationship not work. Take this article, for example, it provides an explanation of why you should not date someone who is 8 years older than you.
Why the Age Gap?
There are different justifications that explain the reasons for the huge age difference in relationships. The rational model explains that people look for older partners who are bread winners that can provide for them. Traditionally, men have higher income than women which is probably why they will look for older men. However, this is slowly changing and the tides are turning. Also, many people have chosen to marry later, which contributed to the increase in the age difference between couples.
There is also the model where older women date younger men. However, some studies have concluded that such an approach is not common because men still prefer younger women. Women, on the other hand, generally look for successful and more established men their age or older. But there are exceptions to every situation.
Large Age Gaps and Success in Marriage
One study has revealed that couples with 1 year age gap have a 3 percent chance of getting divorced. Couples with 5 year age gap have an 18 percent chance of filing for divorce. When the age gap goes up to 10 years and 20 years, the likelihood of getting divorced increases to 39 percent and 95 percent, respectively. Another study conducted by 2014 Emory University involved more than 3,000 couples. It found out that the larger the age gap of the couple; the more likely they are to get divorced.
Looking at the research, it is safe to say that a 1 year age gap is the ideal difference when entering a romantic relationship. Even though the 1-year gap is still prone to breakups and divorces. According to Hugo Mialon, one of the researchers behind one of the studies, it all boils down to the character differences on why the couples will likely divorce.
In other research, it was revealed that most female users look for partners around their age or 1 or 2 years older. On the other hand, men prefer women in their early 20s, regardless of their own age. The latter may not be ideal for a relationship to last, as revealed by the Emory study.
The Keys to Success
The various studies demonstrate that the overall success of any relationship will depend on a few basic components. For the relationship to be successful, there should be compatibility in shared values and beliefs, healthy communication and resolution of conflict, intimacy, and partners should support one another’s goals. These traits have nothing to do with age, although a huge difference in age translates to different world views and the relationship.
While the one year gap is the ideal and a huge gap can be challenging, the age difference is not an indicator whether the relationship will succeed or fail, other factors that come into play as well. A huge gap in age does not totally mean that the relationship will fail. It only means that the couple may need to work a little bit harder. After all, every relationship will need a little bit of effort from both in order to work.
According to relationship counselor and sex therapist Julia Cole, the age difference could only mean that the couple will have different levels of motivation. A man who has a younger more attractive partner will see it as a vindication of his masculinity. A younger woman with an older partner, on the other hand, might not take the relationship seriously. Nevertheless, she will consider it as a great boost to their ego but might not expect much from it.
Cole says that the key to success to a relationship between couples with huge age difference must accept their transitional nature. For their relationship to be successful, the couple should practice the need to control and the need to be looked after.
For a younger woman, Julia says, having a relationship with an older man means that she is looking for security, a man who is further up the career leader than herself, who is more successful, and wealthier partners will satisfy this need for security and success. While this isn’t true for all couples, it definitely gives us food for thought.
Perceptions Will Change
Julia says that as a younger woman matures and gains more experience, the mentor mentality might change. The protection she received and the wisdom she gained might now become just a means of patronizing. As she grows older, the original basis for the relationship disappears. For younger boys in a relationship with older women, it typically will be about sex than power or influence.
Julia advises that older partners in an age gap relationship should not expect or assume that their relationship will last because it is often times it is unlikely. In the short term, it will just be about having fun and improving self-esteem. The excitement at the start of the relationship will slowly die down. The longer you are in the relationship, the higher the chance that you will be forced to deal with the huge age gap.
READERS: Do you agree? Do you feel age matters or not at all?
John O. Brooks writes for DoULike. The site is a trustworthy online dating site for singles. It serves as a resource for meeting and connecting local singles from US cities and states. The website features a blog that offers relationship advices. It also includes success stories of couples that met on the website with happy ending. The website does not disclose personal information to third parties.
That is really depressing. The line that women look flren close to their age and men want women who are in their early twenties. I absolutely believe this and it’s sad. Women might as well give up because if men only want young girls then what’s the point?
Thank you for your comment. Yes although many men prefer younger women it’s not ALL men. So no need to get discouraged. It’s all about finding someone that “clicks” with you and you with them. That isn’t impossible.
It just feels like that no matter what year it is women are still not treated any better than back in the day. From everything I hear and read and experience it is MOST men. We aren’t valued for anything other than our looks and when we start to wear out they treat is like an old car and send is off to the dump and trade us in for something new. It seems like it’s all men care about.. The sad thing is I remember being disliked and unwanted in my twenties so there was never a golden period for me. Some of us just aren’t destined for love and even if we find it once we get old we will be replaced.
Abirdwithoutwings, I hear you. In my 20’s I attracted men but it was mostly men who thought I was hot with a fantastic body, perfect facial features and a large chest. I did a lot of modeling then and most of the men didn’t care about anything except my looks and if I gained weight (which I did a few times) they dumped me. I only had a couple of boyfriends who liked me for me, the rest liked my looks. At the time I was seeking a nice boyfriend and most were just “you’re so hot”. Even when I started online dating in my late 20s (when online dating was new) most of the messages were “you’re so hot”. Lat time I did online dating (last March-August) I got exactly 4 responses and three were from freaks. The irony is I have a friend who does like me for me, and we have so much in common but he is suffering from alcoholism and not a good choice for a mate now (and maybe ever). People tell me I should have been looking much younger but I tried and failed.
That is heartbreaking. I don’t understand how some find love so easy and yet others really struggle with it. Looks are okay but they aren’t everything. Everything seems to be focused on sex and looks but looks fade and you will be out of the bedroom more than you will ever be in it so to make hot or sexual, top priority seems silly to me. I would compare it to people who have to pick between a nice house or a nice car. A lot go for the nice car because it is taken out and everyone will see it. I always pick the nice house when I think about the scenario because I spent most of my time at home. Others don’t see it but it’s comfortable for me. It just makes me sad that the world seems to value the wrong things and a lot of us lose out because of it.
Unfortunately I have been a victim of this I am a 47, about to turn 48 woman who wants a man and always has, I’m pretty, educated, in shape, etc and most people look at me and wonder why I can’t find a man. I have been trying online dating and most of the men my age pass me by and many on their profile will state women 18-35. In addition, I am not looking to have kids nor do I want men with kids (or want them) so the men I seek generally shouldn’t use it by claim they want a younger woman for babies (because that is a lie too). Men who want much younger women do it either based on looks or to control the woman. I dated a few older guys when I was in my 20’s and they wanted younger because I was hot and they could control me. Meanwhile the men I don’t want contact me (older men, men with kids, etc) and it’s so sad. Men seeking much younger are creeps.
I wish I knew why it seems to be a problem many face. I would prefer the whole package like you said but many just want the here and now.
Yes, it definitely can be challenging finding love but it’s not impossible. I can see why both of you are frustrated, but you can’t lose hope. I challenge you to look at your own single and dating life and choices. Sometimes a change of perspective in the positive direction will help put you on the path to meeting someone. It’s important to note that many men ALSO face rejection and stigma for things beyond their control (ex. height). So there are a lot of seemingly unfair situations but it’s important to move beyond it and not dwell on the negative.
I will admit I made many mistakes, such as having too much fun in my 20’s and not worrying about this. I’ve been trying online dating and it was frustrating so am seeking men offline. I think for me the biggest issue is the fact I don’t date dads which limits my pool (and am fine with that).
I’ve only dated one guy older than me and it was only by 2 years. I have dated younger; from 19 years younger to 3 years younger. I do have a cutoff for dating older. I’m 52 and 60 seems too old for me to date. I have no explanation as to why. Maybe I just prefer someone younger. But I will say, I’ll never date 19 years younger again.
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Thank you for your comment Shannon and sharing your personal experience. It’s great that you’ve tried different age gaps and realized what works and doesn’t work for you. It’s all about compatibility, attraction and comfort, when you find the right person it will just feel right!
Hmmm lots of things missed in this article and it is largely culturally bias toward the white western standards of relationships (and yes I fit that profile although my cultural heritage is a mixed bag) and rather stereo typically focused on Old Man – Young (money grabbing) Woman. I notice the article makes it seem totally OK for and older man to date a younger woman but doesn’t apply the same standard of evaluation toward the revers mature goddess with younger man, which is unfortunately a reflection of societies attitudes. You think about it the two “celebrity couples” mentioned both perfectly fit the socially acceptable norm of older man – younger woman and they are portrayed as perfectly ok but whom ever wrote this evidently didn’t try very hard to find the reverse a quick Google search would have found pages of celebrity gossip sites listing the mature goddess – younger man demographic.
There is a couple of demographics that totally got missed here to start with there is the Rich Older Male BUT wants a wife who’s within a 5 year age gap who can not and will not be having kids and who is smart, still attractive, healthy and successful in her own right. These are the guys who’ve had 1st wife while they built the business, 2nd wife was the mid-life crisis Gym Bunny and they now wish to semi-retire and travel but with a partner who they can enjoy talking to, traveling with and who is an asset to them in social/business situations. There used to be a Relationship Consultant in Melbourne who exclusively found this type of wife for men between 45 and 65 (only) who had to make over $1M per year.
I notice this article also glosses over the Older Woman – Gym-Boy Giggelo specifically looking for his sugar momma to pay for a lifestyle he’d like to enjoy chunk of society. They exist and some of them actually do end up in lasting relationships and they are not as rare as this article would have you believe especially in areas where there are a lot of well paid females or wealth widow suburbs.
And now for a tine tiny grumpy moment – Why did you repost this article Suzie? This is the stereo-typical type of bullshit that just carves holes into the mental mindset of even the healthiest mature woman. Why not pick an article on successful relationships with age gaps that don’t serve up the same social bias and view point that “Mature woman = unlovable”. This view point of “blue stocking will never find a man as she’s now OLD” has been around since the 1600s when OLD was in your mid twenties and hasn’t changed much in over 400 years so perhaps it’s time to start rewriting the script and make it perfectly OK for younger men to desire mature women.
Thank you for your comments emmanique. I appreciate your candor. These “age gap” situations are far too common. It’s important to put these ideas out there in order to generate discussion. It’s important to discuss the reality so we can be better able to face it. I had also experienced age discrimination in dating more than I’d like to admit, I was also stigmatized because of my divorced status as well as my weight and height and even hair color.
It’s also important to note that the dating world can be brutal for BOTH women AND men. Men are judged on their height, amount of hair, financial status and charisma. There are so many great women and men out there who are single for the sole reason of things that they have no control over. It’s not fair but it’s reality.
The question is how do we leverage this and become successful at dating? We don’t feel sorry for ourselves because someone doesn’t want us for whatever reason, we need to name the problem and then leverage our great qualities rather than defining ourselves by our age, height, weight or anything else.
This is what I challenge my readers and clients to do and what I did myself. Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I was divorced and older than what most men wanted, I focused on what awesome things I had to offer, changed my attitude and choice of men and I met an amazing man and we’re married now with one child and one on the way – all in my 40s. Being rejected for whatever reason sucks but so does wasting valuable time and energy focusing on it instead of finding someone who will appreciate and deserve you. Again, thank you emmanique and best wishes!
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