6 (Fixable) Problems Caused By Age Gaps In Relationships

Like all couples, people in 'age gap' relationships face their share of problems, but they can be fixed.

Last updated on Mar 22, 2023

couple with an age gap relationship Davide Zanin Photography/Shutterstock

In today’s society, age-gap relationships in which an older man dates a younger woman draw very little attention. If anything, they may get a smirk but little else. On the other hand, an older woman with a much younger man still causes some heads to turn, along with elbow nudges and knee-jerk reactions in several quarters.

Regardless of who is older, know that even though age gap relationships have unique problems and challenges, a big age difference can be handled well if both partners are truly invested in making it work.


Age 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.

RELATED: The Reality Of Dating A Man 23 Years Older Than You


However, to assume that age disparity is irrelevant would be ludicrous.

Common Age Gap Relationship Problems and How to Address Them

1. The older partner may subconsciously prevent the younger partner from being their authentic self.

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 consented.

There is a huge difference between guiding someone socially and knowingly remodeling them from top to bottom.

2. There may be a gap in emotional maturity.

The older person should also understand that there may be a large gap in their emotional maturity compared to their younger partner’s.


However, age alone is no barometer of emotional maturity. Some twenty-year-olds are emotionally forty, just like fifty-year-olds display the emotional maturity of teenagers. Nonetheless, the younger partner’s feelings should never be mocked nor repudiated.

RELATED: The Most Unique Challenges To Dating In Every Age Range

3. The older partner may unintentionally talk down to their partner.

While certainly not always true, when dealing with a big age difference in relationships, the older partner will generally develop stronger communication skills by living longer.

The ability to communicate effectively, 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.


4. There may be a lack of common interests.

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, in all societies, sameness is a bonding mechanism that intrinsically unites people.

The older partner should recognize that youth, being what it is, is more active than sedentary and find as many activities and situations where compatibility can be demonstrated.

RELATED: Women Prefer Men Who Are This Many Years Older Than Them

5. The younger partner may dismiss the older partner's thoughts and opinions as old-fashioned.

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


6. The younger partner may have more energy and/or stamina.

The younger partner should remember that their loved one may not have the same physical stamina and vitality that the younger one exhibits and make allowances for some activities.

That may sound “ageist,” but a sixty-two-year-old woman might find it difficult even to eke out the excitement at the prospect of accompanying a 35-year-old man down the ski slopes, just as a 75-year-old man would probably find it daunting to go roller-blading with his forty-year-old lady love or white water rafting in Costa Rica.

Unfortunately, since prejudice exists in all shapes and forms and is a common everyday occurrence despite the strides made in the last several decades, neither partner should be surprised at the vehemence with which family members greet a big age difference in relationships.


Either be prepared to face them head-on with resilience, or move on, knowing the loss is theirs and not yours.

RELATED: The Ideal Age Gap For Relationship Success

Mari Lyles is a certified life and relationship coach and frequent contributor to YourTango.