Mind the Gap – The Age Gap

30 Apr

Men and women tend not to want to date someone older; could you ever be open to reconsidering your age boundaries? Is our mindset possibly getting in the way of finding love? The age gap prejudice is definitely something to re-examine.

Young couple in love, at the riverside, with a red balloon

I was in Victoria Park in East London with my family the other weekend, when we happened upon Baroness Burdett Coutts Drinking Fountain, a drinking water facility for the poor and destitute in East London. The plaque, describing the fountain and the Baroness, shared a very interesting story about her personal life. The fountain was commissioned by the Baroness in 1862. She was at the time the richest woman in Britain and had as a result countless marriage proposals. However, the plaque continued, when she was 67 “she shocked polite society by marrying her 29-year-old secretary”. Due to a clause in her inheritance, she had to forfeit three fifths of her fortune to her sister as he was not British. Apparently, they lived happily until she died 25 years later.

 Usually when we think about marriages with large age gaps, it’s stereotypically an older, very wealthy gentleman with a much younger good-looking model. We instantly assume that it’s a transactional affair, wealth for beauty – such that if there wasn’t wealth nor beauty in the mix the relationship would not happen. Perhaps this is the case for some, but you could argue 2 things:

One –

relationships are transactional; I provide you with X and you in turn provide me Y, insert whichever tradables you can think of (wealth, fame, ego-boost, luxury, security, sex, comfort, stability, approval, companionship, fidelity, emotional support, children, safety, marital status etc.).

If this is the case, then age does not matter, it’s what your partner can provide you with, and vice versa, that counts.

Or two –

love is a genuine, deep bond between two people who connect regardless of age. In which case, age does still not matter.

So what is my point?

I meet many clients who are stuck on the age gap ‘search criteria’, insisting that they won’t date anyone older than themselves, some will go up to about 5 years and then stop their search there. Men stereotypically want to meet much younger women, and women stereotypically want to meet someone around their own age. Both genders would rather not seek out someone older than themselves.

Yes, a 38 year age gap is pretty significant, I am not necessarily advocating that your search for love should reach into your parents generation, but I would like to understand why you think dating someone say 10 years older than you is considered undesirable. More importantly, I would like you to think about whether you are dismissing someone who is otherwise perfect for you, simply because they were born a few years before you. If a generation is considered to span 25 years, in theory, then, you would be culturally compatible with people 12.5 years either side of your age.

I’d like to invite you to think about what your ‘issue’ is with age, and whether that matters over and above the things you think a important in a relationship. I will assume you are interested in a warm loving respectful relationship, with stability, laughter and passion. If someone 10 years your senior were to provide you with that, would you say no? …and if you were to say no, because you wouldn’t be attracted to him or her, think about whether it because you already have a preconceived notion that you won’t fancy them. (Imagine you look at your clock and it tells you it’s 1.30pm, you may then decide you are actually hungry – when in fact you aren’t).

I had a client once who dated a man 15 years her senior, she thought he was 8 years (he had lied on his dating profile), but he didn’t look his age. He had hypothetically asked her whether she would date older guys, to which she replied no, and since he fancied her and they got on, he dared not reveal his true age. She came to me in a rage because she found out that he had lied to her. Once we had worked out what had happened, she understood and they carried on dating.

In summary, age, and many other ‘items’ (height, education, hair colour etc), can get in the way of your search for true love. Don’t make the mistake of shooting yourself in the foot.

If you are a bit tired of the dating scene or you may be seeing someone and you feel unsure whether you are dating someone genuine, perhaps see me for some date coaching – you don’t have to be a Vida client. Email me here – madeleine@thevidaconsultancy.com

by Madeleine Mason Roantree

Psychologist

Madeleine has over 15 years of experience in psychology, where she is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Applied Positive Psychology. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Counselling Psychology, and is member of the British Psychological Society, the International Positive Psychology Association & Dating Industry Professionals Network.More by this author

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