Short answer: Whatever works for you.
Long answer: It depends. Read on …
An acceptable age gap when dating depends on the chemistry, values, and long-term goals of each person in the couple.
Since I work only with folks who are ready to settle down for the long haul without settling for the short stick, my views on ageism will apply as such.
If you’re interested in fooling around, testing ice cream flavours, or wanting a Sugar Baby or Sugar Daddy—nothing wrong with that—this post doesn’t apply to you. Sorry, kids.
Side note: Unless you’ve longed all of your life for a football-team-sized family, I believe our 20s should be for testing ice cream flavours. Even though many twenty-somethings long for lasting love, practicality (divorce rates) suggest you’re better off getting to know people—including (especially) yourself—before selecting your one and only.
If you’ve only tried vanilla, one day you gonna wonder what chocolate tastes like. (Or maybe strawberry—but then again, I am biassed.)
But if you’re interested in a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship, then the age of a potential partner is a reasonable consideration but not necessarily a deal breaker.
One of the major considerations for someone ready to settle down is whether or not they want children. If they do want children, then age can play a factor.
Example: She’s in her 30s and wants kids. He’s in his 50s. He’s got grown kids and doesn’t want more. End of story. End of romance. (Now, or later when it’s more painful.)
Example: She’s in her 30s and wants kids. He’s in his 30s and doesn’t want kids. No go. End game.
Example: She’s in her 30s and wants kids. He’s in his 40s and not sure about kids. First, he needs to get his second career off the ground. Honey, you risking it big time.
OK, you get the idea.
What’s the rule about assessing a potential mate? Right, don’t go for potential!
No, he may not change his mind no matter how persuasive you think you can be. And if he doesn’t and you’re now 45 with cracked eggs, how happy are you going to be? Your choice, your fault.
Of course, people change their minds all the time. I’ve heard of someone who so desperately wanted kids, and her partner didn’t. And then he moves on to a new gal and bam! Babies be popping out like one of those automatic tennis ball shooting machines.
No fair? That’s life. It happens. Reality land—he just wasn’t that into you. Be glad it happened sooner than later.
Aside from wanting children, what other factors influence the relevance of age in a relationship?
Guess what? These are all possibilities. But it’s also possible the younger person dies first. It happens. It’s possible that the younger person will be the first to not want sex or to develop a disease, let their body go to pot, or lose connection. We all know people who have suffered the result of these situations.
I know a couple who’ve been together for over 40 years. He’s 26 years older than she is. They’re still in love. They still connect. I don’t know if they still have sex, but I’ll bet they do.
I’ll bet you know couples who are around the same age who don’t connect, aren’t in love, and don’t have sex (at least with each other).
My ex-husband is 16 years my senior. He’s still the man to whom I set my what-a-good-man-is bar, even though we split up (largely) because he got lazy, and at the time, I didn’t know how to effectively inspire him to get un-lazy. (He admits his part in losing my hand and is now happily remarried with someone he won’t take for granted. And I’m happy for him.)
So, if you’ve got the hots for him or her, age be damned. Go for it!
P.S. My editor suggests a blog on older women, younger men. Interested? Lemme know!
Vancouver Dating Coach for Shy Guys & Introverted Men. Matchmaker Liaison. Founder: Wingmam