How to Handle Age Differences in a Relationship

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How to Handle Age Differences in a Relationship
There's Hope for Cougars and Geezers Alike!

In today’s society, an older man dating a younger woman draws very little attention; if anything, a smirk, but little else. [We’re not talking Grandad with Teenager - that’s going to draw more than a glance.] On the other hand, an older woman with a much younger man still causes a few heads to turn, elbow nudges and knee jerk reaction in a number of quarters. Regardless of which sex is older, know that big age difference in relationships can be adroitly handled.

Age really is a state of mind as couples with huge age gaps have shown for centuries. Some May/December marriages have outlasted many of their same-age rivals, due solely to the hard work, love and respect put into them. However, to assume that age disparity is irrelevant would be ludicrous.

 

From the older partner’s standpoint, whether male or female, care must be given to allow the younger partner to be their authentic self, warts and all. No partner enjoys being “remade” unless they have expressed a desire to be or given consent. There is a huge difference between guiding someone socially and knowingly remodeling them from top to bottom.

The older person should also understand that there may very well be a large gap in their own emotional maturity versus their younger partner’s. However, age alone is no barometer of emotional maturity. There are twenty year olds who are emotionally forty, just as there are fifty year olds who display the emotional maturity of teenagers. Nonetheless, the younger partner’s feelings should never be mocked nor repudiated.

While certainly not always true, when dealing with a big age difference in relationships, the older partner generally will have developed stronger communication skills by virtue of having lived longer. The ability to communicate effectively, whether lovingly or comprehensively during disagreements plays a huge role in the duration of partnerships. A wise older partner should be mindful of not talking “above” or condescendingly “down” to the younger partner.

Couples who are compatible enhance each other’s lives in numerous ways. Those with the same goals, attitudes and activities are drawn to one another more often than those with divergent interests. Consequently, sameness, in all societies is a bonding mechanism which intrinsically unites people. The older partner should therefore recognize that youth, being what it is, is more active than sedentary and find as many activities and situations where compatibility can be demonstrated.

From a younger person’s standpoint, again whether male or female, respect and appreciation for the older person’s abilities, intelligence, life experiences and successes and endurance are key. Viewing one’s partner as “old” is quite different than viewing that same partner as “older.”

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
 
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