I’m sure you’ve heard that ‘age is just a number’ many times. Even if you agree with the saying, you must admit that there are some rules that need to be obeyed.
Sometimes we just can’t help but ask: how old is too old to date someone?
This isn’t the most comfortable topic to talk about, since some people have very strong stances when it comes to it.
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding couples with a bigger age gap for various reasons. They are often judged, frowned upon or ridiculed.
Not only that but there’s a very obvious double standard relating to the phenomenon of young woman/older man couples versus young man/older woman couples.
In this article, we’re going to discuss different perspectives on age differences in couples and hopefully find a middle ground.
Age limits: How old is too old to date?
In modern society, there’s an unwritten rule about the minimum age/maximum age a person should date.
It’s pretty simple: You should date someone who’s half your age plus seven years (the minimum age limit) or in other cases, someone twice your age minus seven years (the maximum age limit).
So, if you’re a 50-year-old, the minimum age to date is 32, if you’re a 24-year-old, the maximum age to date is 41 and so on.
If you have trouble deciding whether the person you want to date is too old or too young for you, follow this rule and decide whether you feel comfortable with the result you get.
With this being said, it’s important to mention that when people are in love, this rule isn’t always obeyed and that’s just reality.
A big age difference: What are the challenges?
Whether you’ll be concerned about your partner’s age or not depends largely on what you want and need in life.
Do you want a committed relationship? Do you want a one-night stand? Do you want to have children?
All of these questions require different points of view. Here are some common concerns that couples with bigger age gaps often encounter.
It’s no secret that society judges couples with a bigger age gap, especially younger women who decide to have a relationship with older men.
This often leads to problems with family disapproval and awkward first time introductions.
There are worries about how people perceive the couple. It’s not likely that the parents of a 20-year-old woman will be excited if their daughter starts dating someone their age.
There’s a widespread stereotype about young women who enter relationships with older men as gold diggers. Some people simply find it odd or taboo and associate it with deviant behavior.
This can affect the family negatively and sometimes they won’t support the relationship. Of course, this takes a toll on the couple and their emotional life and possibly their everyday life.
A lack of support from the family is always a big issue in the life of any individual.
Different social circles
Another thing that doesn’t come as a surprise is a problem with different social circles of age gap couples. It’s not very likely that they’re going to have mutual friends.
Even when they do have mutual friends, it’s not always ideal because different age groups mean different lifestyles, interests, hobbies, etc.
An average 20-year-old will most likely have very different life habits from an average 40-year-old.
Having mutual friends is not crucial for a relationship but it’s oftentimes important and has an effect on a couple and how they spend and organize their time.
Planning a family together
Planning a family as a couple with a large age difference can be challenging too.
For example, if you’re a younger woman who wants children and you’re in love with a much older man, you need to think about all the consequences this choice of relationship could have on your future and the futures of your kids.
If you’re an older woman dating a younger man or a younger man dating an older woman, different child-related questions can arise.
If you’re not concerned about having children at all, there are still some inevitable questions.
For instance, a little grim but valid concern of one partner dying sooner than the other, losing the connection further in the relationship because of the age difference, the question of libido and your intimate life and so on.
That’s why people usually choose a partner closer to their age. However, if you just want to have a fling and experience some casual fun, there’s nothing to worry about.
Another thing that needs to be said is that the level of maturity is not strictly correlated to your age. There are very mature young people as well as immature older people.
Every person is different and brings different dynamics into a relationship. Some couples with bigger age differences are a perfect fit while others are a big no.
This is another touchy subject that needs to be discussed. Although everything can be great at the beginning of their relationship, later on, as both parties age, more unique challenges start to show up.
The truth is that a person is not the same when they’re in their middle age period, i.e. their forties, fifties and sixties and when they’re in their early twenties or thirties.
Depending on the age they are and the phase they are at in their life, people develop different needs and goals.
This is how they can grow apart too, not only in age gap relationships but relationships in general.
Age gap relationships often differentiate from other types of relationships when it comes to financial matters.
This isn’t a rule but it’s not hard to understand and assume that if one partner is much older, he or she will have an established career and a stable income.
Younger people, especially if they’re in their twenties, are probably exploring their career opportunities and aren’t set on what they want to do with their life.
This can (but doesn’t have to) create unique challenges in a relationship of this kind.
Children from previous relationships
Obviously, this is not the case for all relationships of this kind but it is something that is often a challenge.
If one partner is older, it’s likely that they already have children from previous relationships and that means that the other person will have to accept the fact that they’re going to be a stepmom or a stepdad to someone else’s children.
Being, for instance, twenty-something and a stepmom or stepdad to someone who’s, for example, a 19-year-old or goes to high school is probably a pretty unusual experience for both people included.
Other than that, there’s the whole emotional aspect considering children who are very important to older partners and also children’s reactions to a new person in their parent’s life.
Double standards: Does age difference in a relationship affect men and women differently?
Despite all the good things that have happened in recent history that have allowed more liberal views on different kinds of love, there are still a lot of stereotypes and double standards when it comes to these particular types of relationships.
For instance, an old man who ends up with a young girl is seen as someone to be admired, while that same woman is shamed for being with an older man.
It’s generally accepted that older men date women in their 20s while it’s not the same for older women who date younger men.
There are also examples of famous men with older women or even women of their own age who are considered objectively less attractive and often bullied and called names, just because they don’t fit into someone else’s idea of what a ‘perfect couple’ should look like.
So, the answer to the question is: Yes. Although men and women are proven to have different preferences for dating age ranges, double standards are, unfortunately, very much present.
Tips on how to have a healthy relationship despite an age gap (and societal pressure)
Be prepared for judgment and misunderstanding
As already mentioned, it’s no secret that people often judge couples with big age differences.
This means that both people in a relationship need to have a strong sense of self and be sure of their love and their mutual goals.
They need to prepare to be judged and misunderstood by people who find their relationship weird or off-putting.
However, they also need to remember that other people know nothing about their love life, aspirations, feelings or goals.
Unfortunately, young women frequently need to justify their life choices and defend themselves from accusations of being gold diggers or sugar babies, while older women with young partners are seen as cougars.
When it comes to love, nobody should have to justify themselves to anyone but keep their focus on the person they love and do what they want despite what anyone says.
Make sure you’re on the same page
When a person decides to start a relationship with an older or younger dating partner, they have to be sure that they’re on the same page as them.
They have to set clear goals about the future and disclose what they want and don’t want.
This is important because with a bigger age gap, there’s a bigger chance of differences in goals, life experiences and ideas about the future and life in general.
One person is more experienced while the other is not and that usually makes a big difference. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t have similar or the same goals.
Age gap relationships are tricky on their own and with all of the risks that a couple is already taking, they need to be sure it’s worth it.
It’s important to talk openly about any potential challenges and be very open. There’s nothing that an open and honest heart-to-heart conversation can’t solve if two people truly love each other.
Don’t let negative opinions discourage you
Anyone who feels genuinely happy with their life choices shouldn’t be discouraged by the harsh words of others who know nothing about their life. This is also true for relationships with big age differences.
People who comment negatively on someone else’s life, based on one small detail, don’t know the full story and never will. Whatever they say isn’t true or realistic.
Instead of letting others crush your spirit, it’s important to stay on the path you chose and prove that love wins.
Instead of getting discouraged, show by example that age really is just a number and that your relationship can work out like any other healthy relationship.
Be confident in yourself and your love
If you’re someone who’s in this kind of relationship, be confident in your decision. Be confident in the love you have. At the end of the day, you’re two people in love. Enjoy it!
Don’t let one thing about your relationship change the course of your life. If your relationship is strong and you feel loved, there’s nothing that should make you question yourself.
All the hardships people go through only make them stronger in the end, so let that happen to your relationship too. Let the love and happiness make up for all the uncomfortable stuff you have to face.
Love knows no age: A truth or a myth?
Engaging in any kind of relationship that’s seen as weird by the rest of society will always be a challenge.
The truth is if you love your partner and your partner loves you and if there are no red flags, a relationship is obviously possible and love can be very much true.
Age could mean nothing but a number when everything else is right.
If you enjoy all the unique things that this kind of relationship brings you, then that’s all that matters.
If you find no other reason to not be in a relationship like this, you already know that that’s what you truly want.
When you’re sure of your love for your partner, no outside pressure stands a chance.
I hope that I have managed to give you a proper answer to how old is too old to date.
The best relationship advice for any kind of relationship is to go after what you want and not listen to people who know nothing about how you feel or want to live your life.
Be sure that everything you do is done for the right reasons and that you feel comfortable with your decisions.
Your life and your choices should be yours only. If that includes unusual dating preferences, so be it.
There are many examples of very successful relationships with big age differences and that’s proof they can work out.
This goes for all other kinds of relationships that are scorned by society without a valid reason.
If it’s true, love is love.
Insightful quotes about the (in)significance of age and age gap relationships
1. “Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90. Time is a concept that humans created.”—Yoko Ono
2. “If you love somebody, you love them. My parents had a 25-year age gap between them and my mum was the breadwinner, my dad the house husband. I’m a strong believer that a good relationship can work, whatever the situation.”—Katherine Jenkins
3. “In a relationship, things like age, size, weight, distance, religion, gender, race, flaws and differences shouldn’t matter. If you find a person you love, the love is requited and they make you happy, be with that person regardless of what anyone says.”—Unknown
4. “… it’s like when Kate Hudson was hooking up with that Jonas brother. It was kind of weird at first and then we all got used to it and nobody gave it a second thought. If anything, people applauded her because she’s not afraid to go after what she wants. And she really wanted that cute little Jonas brother.”—Winter Renshaw
5. “When we’re young, everyone over the age of thirty looks middle-aged, everyone over fifty antique. And time, as it goes by, confirms that we weren’t that wrong. Those little age differentials, so crucial and so gross when we are young, erode. We end up all belonging to the same category, that of the non-young. I’ve never much minded this myself. But there are exceptions to the rule. For some people, the time differentials established in youth never really disappear: the elder remains the elder, even when both are dribbling greybeards. For some people, a gap of, say, five months means that one will perversely always think of himself – herself – as wiser and more knowledgeable than the other, whatever the evidence to the contrary. Or perhaps I should say because of the evidence to the contrary. Because it is perfectly clear to any objective observer that the balance has shifted to the marginally younger person, the other one maintains the assumption of superiority all the more rigorously. All the more neurotically.”―Julian Barnes
6. “There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”―Milan Kundera
7. “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”―Sophia Loren
8. “Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.”―Joan Collins
9. “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”―Samuel Ullman