7/16/2012 12:06 PM
The celebrity world has brought us a new May-December romance: Singer Peter Andre has recently been spotted out and about with the 22-year-old daughter of the surgeon who removed his kidney stones. Personally, I’d be a bit more weirded out by dating someone whose dad had seen my internal organs, but, there are many people who still find big age spreads problematic, as well.
I’ve been in serious relationships people both older and younger than I am. While I absolutely do not see anything wrong with dating someone older or younger, there are definitely a few issues that you won’t run into when you date people who are the same age as you are. Knowing in advance what to expect can help you be a little more prepared.
You’ll have to be prepared for a few rude comments. At a barbecue I attended with my older guy, a friend of his pulled me aside to ask me to set him up with a friend because he “deserve[d] to be with a young girl, too.” A guy at my old job, upon learning how old my boyfriend was, asked, “Whoa, is he rich or something?” Be sure you have a thick skin, because people will have a tendency to make comments without thinking. Remember that your relationship is between you and your partner, and other people’s opinions of it are really immaterial.
You will have few of the same pop culture touchstones. This is not generally a problem with my husband, who is younger than I am, because he spent his late teens and early twenties hanging out at Old Wave nights, and thus listened to a whole lot of the same music as I did and do. But, I’ve made plenty of referential jokes that older and younger boyfriends didn’t get, and vice versa. In other cases, friends have admitted that learning that their much-younger partners grew up watching “Barney” made them feel like child molesters. The entertainment we grew up with is part of our identity, and sharing that group identity with your SO can make you feel closer. Learning that the two of you are in different camps can make you feel further apart.
You will not always be comfortable around one another’s friends. Most people have friends who are older or younger than they are. But, when you date someone who is 15 years your junior, they’ll sometimes have friends who are young enough to be your kids, or, worse, if you have kids, people who are actual school pals of your children. It can be really awkward to hang out with someone socially who you would normally think of as a kid.
You change a lot more between 25 and 30 than you do between 40 and 45. And, the ways that one of you changes may leave the two of you incompatible with one another. While any relationship can come apart over time, there are extra pressures on older/younger pairings. Many of these relationships do last, but, a lot more of them don’t. As long as you can go into the relationship with the understanding that you will both change over time, and that your relationship will change, too, you can save yourself the heartache of an unexpected growing apart.
Have you ever dated someone older or younger than you? How did it work out?
Photo: A Hahn