Does a large age gap really matter?
Most people look for a new partner who is within five or ten years of their own age. While this is natural they may be missing out on good matches who are outside their specified age bracket. When it comes to finding a healthy and lasting relationship does a large age gap really matter?
Health and vitality
The main reason people discount older matches is for fear that they might not be suited in terms of health and energy. The reality is that many people are healthier in later life than they were when they were younger. Awareness of the need for good nutrition and regular exercise often increases with age. Younger people are often more likely to live (and get away with) an unhealthy lifestyle. Life expectancy is much longer now with advances in medicine and improvements in standards of living so if you meet someone who is fit and healthy at 45 there is the possibility you could enjoy at least 30 happy years together.
While some people don’t age well, there are many that do, and it’s now harder than ever to accurately tell how old someone is. Each week there are new products on the market and the world of cosmetic surgery and dentistry is growing every year as people take control of the ageing process. Finding someone attractive is based on far more than how they look, though it is important.
A strong emotional connection is an important factor in a relationship but emotional maturity often has little to do with how many years you’ve been alive – more on what has happened to you during those years and how you have dealt with it. A 20 year old woman might find a 40 year old man is much better suited to her than a man her own age because they might be at the same life stage – ready to settle down and start a family, for example, while a 20 year old man might not be ready for that commitment.
What will people say?
When an older man dates a younger woman it rarely raises an eyebrow but if an older woman dates a young man there can still be some stigma attached to it with terms like ‘cougar’ being used to describe her. While the opinions of your friends and family might matter to you, it’s more important that you are happy and confident with your choice of partner and not unduly influenced by what other people think. Love has no age restriction and while people who don’t know you might judge a big age gap, the people closest to you will only care that you are happy.
Starting a family
The main consideration with a much older or younger partner is whether you want to start a family. This is important whether you’re a man or a woman. A woman’s chances of conceiving start to diminish after the age of 35, so a man looking for a match to have children with will look for someone younger, but age is also a factor for a man. Biologically a man can father children into his 60s, but there are other things to be taken into consideration. If a man doesn’t become a father until he is 60, he will be 73 by the time the child reaches puberty. Health, retirement and other issues that arise in later life will all affect how well someone can cope with the challenges of raising a family.
Play the tape forward
A large age gap in earlier life may become a problem later on. A 30 year old with a 50 year old may be perfectly happy and compatible but as they age, and begin to face the challenges that brings, the age difference could become a bigger problem. A 65 year old could be considering retirement and looking forward to free time to pursue new hobbies – an 85 year old will have very different preoccupations.
In most cases, however, an age gap doesn’t really matter. If you fall in love age usually becomes irrelevant so try not to confine your matches to a narrow age bracket.
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