Dating within our age range is, when you think about it, quite a logical thing to do. It means that our journey in life can perhaps sync more easily. When we’re young we can share each other’s motivations and limitations in life, and in adulthood we’re able to experience joint milestones like marriage and our first children, or our first homes as independent people. This logical viewpoint however portrays life as a very linear process, whilst actual living it tells us that there are many variants that can occur.
People who are unable to think ‘outside the box’ of convention will always regard large age gaps in relationships with amazement and suspicion. Whether you’re dating older or younger, it’s helpful to be aware of what you’ll come up against.
The assumption from strangers
If you’re a man and your partner is younger, you’re probably well aware of the different assumptions you’re going to encounter. They’re likely to vary depending on the gender of the person doing the assuming, but it’s safe to say that a majority of other men will think you’re a hero, whilst the initial response from women may be somewhat more negative. The unfounded assumption is, usually, that you must have little in common with your younger partner and that she can’t be dating you for your looks or personality alone. As tough and as hurtful as these opinions can be, you should remember that convincing people your relationship is genuine is a choice, not a pre-requisite.
The judgement of friends
There are certain judgements that will be made about your relationship, even by those who are happy for you and who to some degree support it. These are rarely more imaginative than ‘it won’t last’ or ‘she’s a gold-digger’. What you have to do is remember that even people who genuinely hold your best interests at heart have probably read one too many tabloid newspapers, or have limited experience of this kind of union. Sometimes they’ll be right and other times way off the mark. Whatever the case, their ignorance shouldn’t be a guide you use to make decisions about your love life. By all means listen to advice, but also know when to reject it.
Relationships with family and friends
Friends and family can have a significant impact, simply down to how familiar and invested they are and have been in your lives. They will always carry a weight, sometimes even in their disapproving absence.
If your partner’s people are extremely protective or unsure of your motivations and intentions, your best bet is to demonstrate your humility and honesty. Allow people to get to know you for who you are, but make sure you’re know the line between proving yourself and overcompensating for not being what they expected.
If it’s your family that are the problem then you need to do the chivalrous thing and standby your partner’s motivation for wanting to be with you. Allow your circle of close friends and family to have their say, but never tolerate ill treatment or hostility, however subtle, towards someone you have invited into your fold.
If your partner is considerably younger, say more than a decade, there are more important and practical things you’ll need to deal with than judgment from outsiders. One of these is the various goals of your relationship, should it become long term. If you’re a gentleman who’s been married before, has the children, pets and t-shirt to go with it all, you’ll need to consider your partner’s desire to experience this also, if she hasn’t already. A woman’s desire to have children is just as important as a man’s desire to not have any more, and vice versa, so it’s not an issue that should ever be brushed under the carpet or avoided. Discuss it early, along with other issues that are important to you, and be open but true to yourself.