The idea of age-gap dating, of dating someone with an age difference of ten or more years, is more socially acceptable today. Aside from the perceived benefits of older dating younger, there are also several legitimate challenges.
Statistics on Age-Gap Dating
This poll on age-gap dating from Ipsos paints a picture of what we think and how we behave regarding age differences in dating.
- 39% of adults polled have dated someone with an age gap of ten years or more.
- Men are more likely to have dated someone younger compared to women (25% vs 15%).
- Women are more likely to have dated someone older compared to men (28% vs 21%.)
- Singles are very open to age differences when dating. 57% would date someone older and 49% would date younger. This open attitude increases with age.
It’s no surprise that there are gender imbalances when it comes to dating younger men or women. 75% of those over the age of 35, say its OK for a man to date someone 10 or more years younger. Only 60% think it’s ok for the woman to do the same.
Benefits of Older Dating Younger
The benefits of age differences in dating depend on the gender and age of who you ask. Here are a few reasons given why various age gaps are preferred.
Why dating younger men is better
Younger men may be more energetic and open-minded, which can be attractive to older women.
For men and women alike, physical attractiveness remains one of the top perceived benefits of dating younger.
Older women may feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to attract a younger partner.
Younger men may be less set in their ways and more open to trying new things than their older counterparts. This can be a refreshing change for older women.
Older women may feel a sense of validation from being desired by a younger partner.
Why dating younger women is better
Younger women may be more energetic and open-minded, which can be attractive to older men.
Older men still rate physical attractiveness as one of the top benefits of dating younger. (On the other hand, this research on age-gap dating found that “…women, in general, are less concerned with looks and instead pay attention to the socioeconomic status, occupational success, intelligence, and communication skills of the men they choose to date.
Older men may feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to attract a younger partner.
Younger women may be less set in their ways and more open to trying new things, which can be refreshing to older men.
Older men may get a boost in self-esteem when dating a younger partner.
Why dating older men is better
Older men may be more established in their careers and financially stable, which can be attractive to younger women.
Younger women may feel a sense of accomplishment by attracting an older partner.
Older men may be more confident, emotionally mature, and self-assured, which can be attractive to younger women.
Younger women may feel a sense of validation from being desired by an older partner.
Why dating older women is better
Older women may be more established in their careers and financially stable.
Younger men may feel a sense of accomplishment when they connect with an older partner.
Older women may be more confident, emotionally mature, and self-assured, which can be attractive to younger men.
Younger men may feel a sense of emotional validation from being desired by an older partner.
Drawbacks to Age-Gap Dating
The one warning I see in the reasons listed above is that there is evidence of problems with self-esteem and emotional maturity. If someone can’t live a happy, well-adjusted life as a single person, then there will be difficulty living as part of a couple.
In other words, relying on someone else to validate your self-worth does not make for a stable relationship. One partner will always be needy.
Another potential red flag—someone who is dating to get a sense of accomplishment or conquest is doing it for themselves. It’s a one-sided dynamic that won’t lead to a good relationship. Once they reach their goal of conquest, they’ll be looking for the next conquest.
Here are a few other things to consider when dating someone with a significant age gap.
Different life stages
With a significant age gap, you and your partner may be at different stages in your life. This can create challenges around things like career goals, family planning, and lifestyle preferences. Be open and honest about your respective goals and expectations.
Depending on the culture and context in which you live, there could be social stigma associated with age gap relationships. This perception affects how you are treated as a couple. Be aware of these potential biases and support each other if you face criticism or negativity.
Different levels of experience and maturity
Age is supposed to bring a level of life experience and maturity, but it’s not the only factor that determines maturity. Some people never learn from experience. I remember one colleague remarking on a co-worker, “Yeah, that guy has 30 years’ experience, but it’s the same 1 year experience over and over again.”
Some folks never mature past adolescence. Others face addictions, trauma, or mental health problems that stunt emotional growth. Get to know your partner well before committing to a long-term relationship.
Health issues are unavoidable as we age. It’s likely that one partner has health concerns that the other does not. If a healthy lifestyle is important, you’ll want a partner with the same physical and mental health priorities, and a willingness to seek support when needed.
Tips to Succeeding with Age-Gap Dating and Relationships
If dating someone older or younger feels like the right path, keep the following ideas in mind.
Always be open and honest with your partner about your feelings, expectations, and concerns. With a significant age gap, there may be different expectations and experiences that you each bring to the relationship. Actively listen to your partner. Don’t assume and don’t take anything for granted.
Everyone at every age has different boundaries and comfort levels, and these need to be respected in any relationship. Be open about setting your own boundaries and respectful of your partner’s boundaries.
Consider local social and cultural context
Age gaps may be more or less socially acceptable depending on the culture and context in which you live. It’s important to be aware of this going into the relationship, and to support each other and to support each other in the face of criticism.
Keep an open mind
It’s easy to stereotype or make assumptions about someone based on their age. So, don’t.
Keep an open mind and do not let age be the sole determining factor in your relationship. Remember that everyone is an individual with their own unique experiences and perspectives. Focus on what you have in common and on those things that draw you to one other.
If you’re unsure about how to navigate the age gap in your relationship, get support from a trusted friend or family member, or better yet, a therapist. They can provide an objective perspective and help you work through any concerns or challenges.
Use Age-Gap Dating Sites
In my experience, every dating site has a setting to select your preferred age range in a partner. Be sure to use it.
And carefully consider all the other compatibility options available when setting up your profile.
There are also a few sites that specialize in dating with an age difference.
Although you’ll find people of all ages on AgeMatch, it’s specifically designed for people who prefer an age difference.
So, keep in mind that if you try to connect with someone your own age on this site, you’re probably going to get a lot of “no’s.” Otherwise, it’s perfect for finding a younger or older partner.
Senior Match is geared for men and women over fifty and doesn’t even allow people under forty. So, if you’re looking for a fellow mature single with an age difference, this is a good one to try.
Silver Singles, like Senior Match, is made for people over fifty. They include an in-depth personality test to help discern compatibility.
(Some of the links on this page are for affiliates. Which means might get paid a small commission if you sign up. It never changes what you pay.)
Overall, dating someone with a significant age gap comes with its own unique set of rewards, risks and challenges. Remain aware of these potential risks and talk to your partner about your feelings, expectations, and worries. With mutual support and understanding, you can navigate these senior dating challenges and build a strong, healthy relationship.
Have an age-gap dating story?
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