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Is there such a thing as a 'too big' age gap between partners?

(75 Posts)
InTheBox Mon 28-Sep-15 14:30:05

I'm wondering what you reckon of this. A friend of mine without DCs but would like some one day has started seeing someone 31 years older than her. She's 27 so obviously has some time before she has children but many people have been telling her that he's not the one for her purely because of this age difference.

I've so far been her confidant but she's in quite a quandary wondering whether or not the age gap means they should break up. I, of course, will support her in any decision but it did get me thinking if there is such a thing as an age gap that's just too much. Our friends have told her that as he has a (now adult) child and an ex wife that he's not the one for her in terms of the future.

LadyLonely1 Mon 28-Sep-15 14:36:39

I do think that in your friend's situation that it's better for her to not pursue the relationship. They are in vastly different stages in their lives. Does he even want more kids?

BertieBotts Mon 28-Sep-15 14:37:28

There is a tongue in cheek rule of half the older partner's age plus seven.

I think at 27 is is her choice, it's not like she's a naive 18 year old. But I have to say that I imagine there would be a few problems with that sort of gap - she must be about the same age as his children? And if they had children together, he'll be an old man before they reach their teens. He's likely to die just at the point that she's thinking about retirement - seems like an awful shame sad

I don't like arguments which are just "It's wrong because I say it's wrong" but it does seem like there might be issues with the scale of it. I suppose it's up to them, whether they think it's a problem or not, its not anybody else's business really.

tillytown Mon 28-Sep-15 14:45:37

Surely a 58 year old and 27 year old are at different places in their lives?
But whatever, if they are happy then that's all that matters.

BoldFox Mon 28-Sep-15 14:53:34

Yes in my opinion it's unwise. The one with the money is always in charge. The one with the youth feels powerful before the relationship is formed, but not later.

I also think arguments such as 'what other people do if they're happy is none of our business' etc etc ignores the fact that if older men persist in their entitlement to date much younger women, worse than now that is, that basically leaves a huge percentage of women with nobody to date. Unless they just shrug and accept that all that's left is much older men, and if that's the way we're headed and it seems to be then there is no choice to it.

If all women copped on and didn't date men too much older than themselves then men wouldn't have the power they do.

Sidge Mon 28-Sep-15 15:01:37

In my opinion any age gap which puts a generation between the two is too big.

If you could have children or parents the same age as your partner then something is a bit off. That's not to say that couples with large age gaps are doomed to fail, I just wonder what they have in common. With such a huge disparity between their age and experiences, what would keep them together? Maybe I'm just negative but I would think long and hard about having children with someone so much older. And who's to say he would want them? He did that a long time ago, and may not want to revisit those baby days.

It's a tricky one.

InTheBox Mon 28-Sep-15 15:02:40

BertieBotts You are right. She's actually younger than his dd by a few months and calculating the ages of future children means that he will be well into retirement if not already dead whilst children / marriage are blossoming.

BoldFox Mon 28-Sep-15 15:06:47

31 years is a mind blowing age gap.
Would it upset her parents? And would that bother her? her parents could be younger than him, as well as her being younger than his daughter shock

If my father dated somebody younger than me, I would feel confused, like, how can he be paternal to me, when he is sleeping with somebody younger

Also, sorry to be crude, but is she confused about when it's ok just to be friends with somebody. She doesn't have to make it a relationship. They could be friends. Does she feel physically attracted to a man 31 years older? confused

BloodontheTracks Mon 28-Sep-15 15:24:14

It's not the age it's the dynamic. People are just emotionally different at those sort of ages, usually. In terms of how they want to spend their time, what their morals and values are, and how much power they have in the relationship. That doesn't always go one way, younger partners have a great deal of power around attractiveness, social circle and reproductive wants. Older partners tend to have power around what they have decided they do or don't do, financial and past relationship issues and disapproval or parental relationship to the other. It's not that it can't work, it's that she is probably experiencing doubt in general, that can be tied to age, but isn't wholly a result of it.

It's a lot harder, put it that way.

ladyrosy Mon 28-Sep-15 15:31:58

They are both consenting adults. Not much else matters, if they are happy.

jorahmormont Mon 28-Sep-15 15:42:40

I thought it was going to be about something ridiculous like ten years. Over thirty years is a BIG age gap, at completely different stages in their lives and especially if she is younger than his daughter. I'd say that's too big for me personally, but if she's happy then it's her life.

Bold If somebody told me to date someone my own age and leave older men for older women and younger men for younger women I'd tell them to mind their own business.

Onthepigsback Mon 28-Sep-15 15:47:21

I think that the only problem is that if you really love each other, the much younger one will likely be left on their own from a youngish age. But that can and does happen to anyone.

I also think it would be better for people to have their children by 45 but again that is purely to reduce the chance of them not being there when the child is sill youngish. But again, that can happen to anyone.

Its up to them really! But I would like to have a good chance of the love of my life retiring with me and being well enough to travel and enjoy later life together, as well as see our children into adulthood and hopefully meet our grandchildren. No guarantees of anything but you are really limiting the chance of it by setting up life with a 60yr old.

derxa Mon 28-Sep-15 15:47:26

It's none of anyone's business.

InTheBox Mon 28-Sep-15 16:05:31

I am so far with the 'none of anyone's business' brigade but as she's having doubts I must admit that I am also doubting such an age gap. Thats 2 generations!. Whilst it's fine now, I seem to think that in a year or so from now the whole thing will fall apart.

MissisBee Mon 28-Sep-15 16:08:39

My aunt and uncle have a 27 year age gap. They've been married 18 years now. My uncle is older than his FIL. We all found it a bit weird at first, then got used to it. Now that I'm approximately the age my aunt was when they got married, I find it a bit boggly again as i couldn't imagine being with someone that much older. They seem happy though, which is all that matters.

BathtimeFunkster Mon 28-Sep-15 16:19:21

If I dated a man 31 years older than me, he'd be 9 years older than my Dad.

Which, much as I love my Dad, is not an appealing thought - someone my own Da would think was an old codger!

I think she would be giving up far too much of what matters in life by shacking up permanently with a middle aged man in her 20s.

I struggle to imagine a decent man of that age, who really wanted what was best for her, thinking that was life with someone who was nearing retirement.

MultiShirker Mon 28-Sep-15 16:32:35

I'm tougher about this than most: I think a man who wants to have a relationship with someone younger than his children has some serious issues about seeing women as his equal.

I'd be asking what's wrong with him that he can't cope with women of his own age.

thehypocritesoaf Mon 28-Sep-15 16:37:04

I doubt they'll be happy for very long. That's a massive age gap.

regenerationfez Mon 28-Sep-15 16:44:50

I know someone with a similar age gap. Same issue with children, although she already had a child so it wasn't a huge issue, but it still came up that he didn't want to start again having another child with her. The issues are now, however, that she is a 50 year old woman, quite young and vibrant who still wants a social life, moaning about her partners lack of oomph and how stuck in his ways he is- he's 80 though, so he's just acting like a normal 80 year old, like my dad does!

Itisbetternow Mon 28-Sep-15 17:06:11

I would question why a 50+ year man would want to date a woman younger than him. My goodness I'm 50 and I find most 55+ men are too old for me! There is no way I could date a man 30 years older than me - I just wouldn't find them attractive!

Elendon Mon 28-Sep-15 17:08:12

I know someone in her mid forties who is seeing someone in their seventies. His children have just suddenly come back onto the scene after neglecting him for ages. They see their inheritance fading... I wish them all the best of luck - he's happy and so is she.

She doesn't want sex to be put into the equation, nor does he, but they do get on well. This is generally what I've always thought about huge age gaps (though I see it often in same age). Basically, as others have said, it's no one's business.

Now, being 54, I'm off to get a man in his 80s. Wish me luck! (Except, I wouldn't do that, no more than I would date a man in his twenties).

BoldFox Mon 28-Sep-15 17:10:09

Didn't Flavio Briatore treat Heidi Klum like a stripper he'd paid off. Long time ago but, he's not even a nice man. Just a rich, fat, entitled one. That is not a 'stunning display'. It looks odd.

sadwidow28 Mon 28-Sep-15 17:25:03

I will answer by telling you my story.

Mine was only an 18 year age gap (26/44 when we married) and he had 3 children with his first wife. I met him 6 months after he had left his wife (her infidelity). So he was 39yrs old and I was 21yrs old.

So when we couldn't have children, the consultants thought it MUST be my 'fault'. They prodded and poked, put me through every test and operation they could think of - and finally tested DH further. He had done the sperm count test (perfect) but the post-coital test showed that his sperm died before they could swim. It wasn't even incompatibility of a couple (where the female environment kills off the sperm suspecting it is a foreign body) his sperm died upon being released. In 1983-1988 there was less known about male infertility.

I was widowed unexpectedly aged 46 yrs (DH had an aggressive cancer and died within 2 months aged 64yrs) and am also childless.

I would never wish my loneliness on my worst enemy!

MrsCorbyn Mon 28-Sep-15 17:33:15

A couple of years ago i was seeing a man 21 years older. It was great at the time, it fizzled out and now we are great friends. Now I look at him at 48 and think just how far apart we are in terms of life stages, energy etc... And that is a whole ten years less in age gap. I would advise your friend not to.

sipsmithandlime Mon 28-Sep-15 21:47:46

A common response whenever these threads come up is that age gap relationships must be strange because either you are from a different generation and therefore can't have anything in common or there is an imbalance in power.

The thing is I know lots of same age relationships where they have nothing in common. And surely if you were having a relationship with someone 'having things in common and enjoying the same stuff' would be a basic first step. You wouldn't have a relationship with someone you didn't have stuff you could share with would you.

As for imbalances of power - you only have to read this board to see that there are plenty of imbalances going on. I was married to a man I had little in common with - and in fact many opposing views. We did nothing together. He showed me little love, affection or interaction.

Now I have a large age gap. We are perfect for each other. It's lasted four year so far, he's taken on my children (and more energetically and patiently than me most days) and we are perfectly suited.

No my parents don't mind. They see a man who treats me well. No my friends don't laugh. They see a man they also have things in common with. Others actively encouraged us to get together.

Yes he could die. However I know far too many friends with a same age partner who died young. And I'd rather have a few years of a beautiful relationship that the 60 odd years I might have had of misery with my ex husband.

Yes he will get old (if he doesn't die first). Yes I will care for him. That's what you do with people you love. It's not about 'benefits'. If I was the same age as him likely I would still care for him. Just I'd be old and needing care too.

Would I have a relationship with any man his age? No. Would I have things in common with most men his age? No. But him? Yes.

I might be young (37) to his older (66) but in terms of the things that matter to me - views on life, politics, how you treat other people - we are the same. We share all the same hobbies. He is active and kind and supportive. Yes he will age and slow down but frankly so will I. He has put up with me being exhausted from the children, ill for a long period of time and stressed from work. In fact he did more than put up with me - he cared for me during this time. I will do the same for him.

I am succesful in my career and earn the same money as him. I am not with him for the money. Or the power. There is no power imbalance.

We pay for things equally. We do equal housework. He has taken responsibilities for the children and spends time helping, playing, loving and teaching them. He cooks for us all. Is thoughtful. How lucky am I to have that? (especially when you read this board).

And as for the question I know nosey people want to know. He's fantastic in bed. Most attentive and skilled man I've ever known. Certainly no complaints there. It's more likely me who is too tired! wink

As for 'clearly an issue if you can't get someone your own age' ... I have plenty of men my own age who showed interest when I was divorced. Many offers of dates. But why would I want someone else purely due to age when I literally can't fault my relationship (ok he sneezes way too loudly). Likewise - he has plenty of admirers and could easily find a woman his own age. But he wants me. Again - why would he over rule our relationship for age?

I just don't understand the assumptions. Are they based on personal experience? Or stereotypes? Yes there are the stereotypes out there - but there are across age groups!

It's about the individual surely. If she is having doubts about him, then support her. But give her advice based on him not his age, as that is irrelevant.

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