The fact that the statement “love does not understand age” has a touch of very tempting romanticism does not mean that it is not partly true and partly misleading. Although neither love nor passion is contingent on a person’s age, it may influence the relationship in some way.
There are many elements that make up and influence a relationship, and couples with a large age difference may have to face a different set of risks than other types of couples.
Is age a barrier to love?
There are many more couples with a great age difference than we usually notice, since even though from a certain age difference goes unnoticed.
Currently, despite the evolution of beliefs and prejudices, there are still a number of conventions within today’s society that tend to judge these couples negatively, especially within their own family or group of friends.
It seems that if this age difference is perceived in couples outside the person, it is better tolerated than if one is touched at close range. Either with a son or daughter, a brother or sister or a very close friend.
However, despite these social restrictions, is the age difference between members of a couple a real drawback for their relationship? According to research published by the American publication The Atlantic those couples with an age difference of 5 years or more were 18% more likely to end up separating.
Despite these data, there are many factors that can influence the correct development, or not, of a couple’s relationship, age being only one of them. The social context, the shared experiences, the education and the values received by both members will play a very important role when it comes to reinforcing a couple’s bond with a great difference in age.
Therefore, age as a number in itself is not as important as the context in which each of the two members have grown up and lived, what ideology they have or what values or thoughts they have on certain issues; and these differences can be present in all kinds of couples, regardless of their age.
Finally, although age is associated with a series of personal characteristics that can be a risk factor for the relationship, a couple’s relationship must be based on many other elements such as sexual complicity, complementary personalities and values and, most importantly, a common life project.
Risks in an age-differentiated couple
As mentioned above, age in itself need not be a barrier to maintaining a relationship. However, as in couples with very different cultures, a very disparate age between both partners can lead to a series of external risk factors that indicate the possibilities of passing through some conflict within the relationship .
1. Family opposition
It is very common for couples with a large age difference to have their families and even their closest circle of friends look down on their bond with a much younger or much older partner.
In these cases, the objective of each of the members of the couple will be to talk to their relatives, explain the situation and make them change their way of seeing the relationship, in order to normalize the situation. Otherwise, this can become a real source of anguish for each of them, since they will not be able to share time together and may have to choose between their partner or their family.
2. Differentiated social context
Although this can happen in any type of couple, it is common that if there is a great difference in age the social context of each one is very different and sometimes almost incompatible .
Circles of friends and the type of environments frequented can vary greatly between a person of 20 and a person of 40, so if the time spent with each other’s friends is not equally distributed or the hobbies are shared in a balanced way, this can lead to long-term conflict within the couple, since one of them may think that he or she is sacrificing his or her hobbies or friends.
In the event that this happens, demonstrating a sincere interest in the tastes and interests of the other, even if these are relatively different from our own, will be an indispensable attitude to be able to compensate for these differences .
A lively interest in the questions of the other, even when due to one’s age these questions “are far away” in the current life experience, will be indispensable, but without falling into the self-deception of believing that they can be lived as one’s own questions that can only be lived with emotion when age and circumstances accompany it.
3. Differences in performance or sexual dynamics
Although there are currently hundreds of measures to maintain a satisfactory sex life, it is true that sexuality evolves and changes with age.
For example, a man who is much older than his sexual partner may need more stimulation time and possibly perform somewhat less well, so if this fact is not dealt with in the right way it can create feelings of frustration or distress in him.
However, a proper rapport and an interest in sexually satisfying the couple will be of great help in avoiding possible complications. In the same way, with the help of sex therapy, these couples can enjoy an absolutely satisfactory sex life.
As specified above, these risk factors are external to the couple, so if the couple has a strong and healthy relationship and the other elements of the relationship are relatively intact, none of the above factors need to pose a real problem.
4. Different short-term goals
Age is often associated with different life goals, and sometimes these do not fit. For example, the older person may have a greater interest in having children or settling down, while the younger person tends to live relationships in a more liberal way, without so many ties. Managing this type of asymmetries is key .
Is it the same for men and women?
Although generally couples with a great difference in age are subject to the judgment of society or the context that surrounds them, these moral or value judgments will not be the same if the woman is much older than if the man is .
Differences in prejudice between men and women still appear in most areas of daily life, and relationships were not going to be any less. As a rule, unions in which women are considerably older than men tend to generate rejection by society. Whereas if a middle-aged man forms a partnership with a much younger woman it is socially more acceptable and even a source of admiration for him.
This fact can also be a risk factor when it comes to maintaining a relationship, since the pressure that society puts on women can make them think better, break up or deprive themselves of maintaining an affective and sexual relationship with a partner who is much younger than them.