Mind the gap – does age difference in relationships matter?
The people's panel: Guardian readers share their views of big age But we've been together over 20 years now, and our age difference is now. LOS ANGELES, July 7, - When dating, how big an age gap is too big? At what point does the age difference become scandalous?. richard, monica, friends, couple, age gap relationship, man I've ever dated, most of my exes have been between 15 and 20 years older than me. To my surprise, most of my friends were unfazed when we started dating.The Surprising Truth About Age Gaps In Relationships - The Right Swipe
To further compound the issue, my mother was born in — a difference of 33 years between their births. As a child, I was never overtly aware that other people's parents were of similar ages; my mum and dad were just like anyone else's.
The true impact of the age of my father only struck home as a teenager. My father died from age-related illnesses two years after he retired.
He was 79, I was It devastated my family; we had to sell the house we grew up in and completely readjust to new lives. My dad was not there to see me graduate from school or university, see me pass my driving test or have a pint with me on my 18th birthday.
Twenty-plus years on, my mother has not remarried and I often worry about her being lonely or unfulfilled. But my experience has taught me that a large age difference is of no real concern: Fleeting thoughts of selfishness on their part occasionally surface — they both knew how old Dad would be when I would be a teenager — but they gave me the best upbringing I could imagine. What more could a child want?
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They had three boys together. My siblings were uniformly horrified, and some refused to be civil to him up to the time of his death, aged Some common assumptions are that young women marrying a much older man are looking for security.
I believe, from my experience, that it is indeed true — as it probably is for the better half of all women entering into marriage, regardless of age. My father revelled in starting a new family and endlessly doted on his new bride. From my perspective, she did love him and cooked incessantly for him, always trying to please him … quite the contrary to my dear departed mother.
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He was in seventh heaven, and quite frankly, I am very thankful she married him. I say to all who seek such unions, more power to you, we need more happiness in this world! He's 28 years my senior.
Mind the gap – does age difference in relationships matter?
At the time I was headstrong and eager to speed life up. Out of school only one year, I'd started an accountancy course. It's probably no coincidence that I was also hunting for a mortgage at the same time and looking for a husband. I had a doll's house mindset. The thought of living alone made me nervous, and setting up a home seemed the most practical way of avoiding this.
My husband was a successful designer, had worked overseas and was thinking of retirement. We got on very well, had similar interests and senses of humour. I became pregnant almost immediately. There were eyes raised at the beginning of our relationship; an expectation from people that I was "chosen" for youth and looks.
But we've been together over 20 years now, and our age difference is now rarely mentioned. There have, however, been pros and cons to our situation. When I was young I tended to hang on his word — he is clever and has had a lot of life experience. Studies have found partners with more than a ten-year gap in age experience social disapproval. But when it comes to our own relationships, both men and women prefer someone their own age, but are open to someone years their junior or senior.
While there is variation across cultures in the size of the difference in age-gap couples, all cultures demonstrate the age-gap couple phenomenon. In some non-Western countries, the average age gap is much larger than in Western countries.
So does age matter? And do couples with large age gaps experience poorer or better relationship outcomes compared to couples of similar ages? How many relationships have a big age gap? These generally involve older men partnered with younger women. The limited evidence on same-sex coupleshowever, suggests the prevalence rates are higher. But what these trends tell us is that the majority of the population is likely to partner with someone of similar age. This largely has to do with having social circles that generally include peers of similar ages and being attracted to others who are similar.
Similarity entails many things, including personality, interests and values, life goals and stage of life, and physical traits age being a marker of physical appearance. Why doesn't age matter to some? Many of the reasons proposed for age-gap couples have been largely rooted in evolutionary explanations, and focus on explaining older man-younger woman pairings. From this perspective, it's thought men's preferences for younger women and women's preferences for older men relate to reproductive fitness.
That is, the extent to which someone has "good genes" — indicated by their attractiveness and sense of energy also known as vitality — and the extent to which they are a "good investment" — indicated by their status and resources as well as their warmth and sense of trust.
Although men and women place importance on a partner who is warm and trustworthy, women place more importance on the status and resources of their male partner. This is largely because, with women being the child bearers, the investment is very high on their behalf time and effort in child bearing and rearing. So they are attuned to looking for a partner who will also invest resources into a relationship and family. But because the building of resources takes time, we tend to acquire resources later in life and so are older by the time we have acquired enough wealth and resources to comfortably provide for others.
So, women's attunement to status and resources might explain why some women may be attracted to older men. In contrast, there's evidence to suggest men value attractiveness and vitality more than women because, from an evolutionary standpoint, youth is seen as an indicator of fertility. Given men cannot bear children, evolution suggests they're attuned to younger women to enhance the chances of partnering with someone who can provide children.
But the evolutionary explanation is limited in that it doesn't explain why the reverse occurs an older woman-younger man pairingor why age gaps exist within same-sex couples.