Devil’s Advocate: Age difference affects the success of long term relationships

In Devil's Advocate, Opinion
two couples each sitting at a table, one couple is the same age, the other couple is an older woman and a young man

Love may be blind, but in a relationship with a large age difference, individuals must not let their lust or affection for each other prevent them from thinking about the relationship long-term.

While it is not impossible for couples with a large age gap to be long lasting and find true happiness, age difference can play a significant role within a relationship.

A lot of people might argue that age shouldn’t be a determining factor when looking for a partner, and that as long as two people care for each other and have a lot in common, they can maintain a good relationship.

Others might argue that love is blind in every relationship and that couples with large age gaps are just as compatible as those without.

Couples with large age gaps that value appearance have higher rates of divorce and separation versus couples with a much smaller age gap, according to a 2014 study conducted by Emory University.  The study defined five years as a large gap and 10 years as a significantly large gap.

Relationships don’t thrive off of happiness and lust alone. Staying committed in a relationship is a choice, one that both individuals have to continue to make every day.

All relationships are sparked by mutual feelings of desire and are brought about from the individual choice that two people make, but that choice has to be established not just by present feelings, but by the reality of a future together.

All relationships come across problems at some point. Even those relationships with an age gap of only five years or less suffer from problems like partners outgrowing each other. However, these issues are more prevalent in relationships with a larger age gap.

Couples closer in age may have more in common with each other, especially since they are going through similar stages in life. With a large age gap, partners might not be totally in sync with each other, as they are products of two different eras.

This may be the case with couples where one individual is significantly older and ready for the next step in their life. The younger individual may not be ready for a commitment, but believing that they have found their true love, may feel pressured to commit anyway and regret that choice later on.

Both individuals are at different stages in life, so the older of the two might feel more satisfied with their life while the younger might feel as if they have lived their youth to the fullest.

Maturity is a key factor in whether or not a relationship will work out. Older individuals tend to be more mature, which can be refreshing for a younger partner. But with big age gaps, both individuals are going to be at different stages in their lives, and those differences will only continue to grow along with the relationship.

When in a long-term relationship, both individuals commit to each other “in sickness and in health,” whether they profess their vows at the altar or not. “In sickness” might come a lot sooner when dating someone older. Although couples close enough in age could go through health issues, it is inevitable in relationships with a large age gap.

Age is not just a number; it is one of the most important numbers. Relationships are not just a feeling; they are a choice. A couple has to come to terms with their own ages and be comfortable with the choices that they are making. While age may not matter to them in the moment, it will definitely matter in the long run.



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