While there aren’t as many dating “rules” as there used to be, there’s still a big question mark when it comes to a large age gap between the partners. If the age gap extends a whole generation, then it can really set up some awkward scenarios. Is it okay to date someone who could have graduated high school with your parents?
The answer to this might lie in what you consider dating. If you are wondering if you can go out to dinner with someone this age, why not? However, if you are contemplating a serious, long-term relationship, possibly leading into marriage, then you have a lot more to think about.
Not only do you need to consider your relationship now, but you have to think about the future. It might be harder than you think. So, can you date someone your parents’ age?
Will it be awkward to date somebody your parents’ age?
While it is still the norm to date people about your own age, there is a growing societal acceptance of relationships with larger age gaps. In Great Britain, almost a quarter of marriages are between an older woman and a younger man, according to the BBC.
Movies commonly portray sexy, older actors with younger, hot leading ladies. In real life, however, women are often attracted to older men who are seen as more stable, financially secure, and more committed to family than men their own age who are still trying to find themselves–or worse, are nothing but overgrown teenagers.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some obstacles to overcome if you pursue a relationship with an older partner. How will you feel bringing him home to meet your dad? When you get together with your friends, will he feel out of place? The last thing you want to do is make him feel old.
While an older mate may be extremely attractive to you, do you have a lot in common? If you like outdoor activities, or video games, or pop music, does she share any of these interests with you? If your answer to these questions is no, then you might rethink the future of this relationship.
Are marriage and family important to you?
While you might be attracted to that older guy because he is more serious and stable then the goofballs your own age, you still need to ask yourself if he has the same goals in mind that you do.
Let’s say you want to eventually get married and have a couple of kids. If you are seeing a guy your dad’s age, it’s likely he already has kids himself. Is he really interested in starting all over again?
Or, if it’s an older woman who has caught your eye, she may be unable to have any children anymore or may already have her own children that you would be expected to raise. While this may be fine with you, it’s important to find out before the relationship goes very far. It’s a lot easier to part ways early than to be in deep and find out your beloved doesn’t have the same ideas about life as you.
What about the future?
The other thing to seriously consider is the future. If your date is now your parents’ age, it means that when you are middle-aged your partner might very well be in a nursing home. If you are a woman, statistics say you could be left alone far earlier than that, since men don’t live as long as women.
Not only that, but whether your date is male or female, he or she could be losing their interest in sex long before you do. The Mayo Clinic says that men do gradually experience a decreased libido due to age, even if they aren’t on medication. Web MD reports that impotence is a common problem with men as young as 65.
Women aren’t immune to problems either. Not only do women experience great hormonal changes with menopause, but as the get older, there are also physical changes.
While this might not seem like an important issue now, if this relationship were to go the distance, how would this affect you in 20 years? You could still be in the prime of life, but be left with a partner who is far less interested in sex. The New York Times reports that sexless marriages are a big problem today, resulting in many more unhappy couples.
So how old is too old? Best Life Magazine gives the following guideline borrowed from the French (who know a thing or two about this topic) for determining if a date is too young: Divide your age in half and add seven years. If you are the younger partner, are you half plus seven? Hopefully this will keep you close enough in age that you can move through life on pretty much the same page.
However, as Woody Allen once said, “The heart wants what it wants.” Sometimes, no matter how wrong it seems on paper, it just feels right when you are with this older person. While it will be a much tougher road to hoe with your family and friends, and possibly even your own expectations, that person may be worth every effort.