13 Age Gap Relationship Stereotypes: What's a Myth and What's the Real Truth
Age Gap Relationship Myths Intro
Having been in an age gap relationship for 9 years, we’ve heard it all, both in person and on social media. From the others we know in (or that would like to be in) an age gap relationship in real life and the thousand we’ve connected with online, we can tell you the stereotypes that surround older younger couples simply aren’t true at any sort of macro level. There can perhaps be some smidgens of truth deep within one or two assumptions, so let’s go through them one by one, debunk the myths and tell the real truth.
You Have Nothing in Common
Having things in common depends on you as people, not your ages. Sport, music genres, food, travel, cars, books, art, etc. Name me one thing that is generation specific and can’t transcend age gaps? This perception comes from the stereotypes that surround older people being boring and just sitting around in woollen jumpers watching Countdown, while younger millennials pout all day on TikTok. Even as individual concepts they’re flawed, let alone that they don’t reflect the natural compatibility that comes with two people in a relationship
An Age Gap Relationship Won't Last
The average single person goes on 41 dates a year, with the median relationship being 1-2 years, and average being 2 years 9 months. Heavily skewed by those that last decades, just from this you can see that not many relationships last!! People have an idea that these are doomed to fail based on the other stereotypes that exist around age gap couples and older and younger people individually. Some studies have shown that age gap couples are like to overcome early hurdles because they’re much more considered in entering the relationship to begin with. Overall, people are people, and age gap relationships have no greater or less chance than any other. As someone in a 9 year+ relationship we stand as proof they can last, but I also realise we’re a statistical anomaly regardless of age.
The Younger Partner Has Daddy Issues
There's a lot to unpack here. Any Freudians in the house would suggest that we ALL have daddy issues, mummy issues, or some sort of familial oedipal/electra complexes, so it wouldn’t be exclusive to age gap couples. Personally, my A Level Psychology course led me to believe that’s drivel, so we’ll ignore that concept.
That aside, the idea of dating someone in order to satisfy unresolved issues with their parents seems unlikely. As with just about anything to do with relationships (e.g. marrying the Eiffel tower, clown fetishes etc), I’m sure it happens. However when you consider a relationship to generally include sex, it’s where this falls down. They’re simply attracted to a person that is older than them.
You can argue that there’s plenty of explicit ‘daddy’ based content to support the stereotype, but this is no different to the ‘step-mom’ content that is even more popular with those that arent’ in age gap relationships, so the argument doesn’t hold water. No-one argues that dating someone similar in age is like dating your sister or brother, so why should dating someone older be like dating a daddy or mum? It’s the unrelatability of the concept to those not in age gap relationships that gets them to try to equate it to something they can comprehend. ‘Oh you’re dating someone 20 years older… that’s your dad’s age… that’s like dating your dad.’ It’s a slippery slope argument that just isn’t accurate.
You Don't Get Each Others References - and It's a Problem!
OK so this is a two parter. This one may not be entirely wrong. Having grown up in different eras, you might have some references that are different. You grew up with different music and things on TV - although we’ve weirdly discovered the same children’s programmes were on TV for the both of us!! My dad and Jeremy are able to ping pong back and forth with references I don’t get…but it’s not a problem!! If anything it’s a source of interest. Being able to share new information and concepts with each other is one of the nice things about age gap relationships. And sometimes it can be quite funny too.
But more than this, you both live in the here and now. References are often quite transient and fleeting. They come and go with the times - in particular in the post internet era - as memes are huge and then are relegated to the annals of NFT history as a new one comes long. So you both constantly make and have references in your life that you both get and can engage with.
You Care About the Opinion of Others
This is another one that has truth to it. Being in an age gap couple you learn to grow a thick skin. The looks, comments and perspectives of ignorant others require you to be the bigger person, believe in your love, and not give a toss what others think. Otherwise you can be paralysed by the perspectives of others. Taht said, we all want those important to us to approve and value ourselves and those we chose to date and marry. It can come that people in age gap relationships have to cut ties with some in their life, and it’s terribly sad when that happens. However for you to live your authentic selves, it’s necessary in order to be happy in who you are, and as a couple. But this isn’t any different to other relationships where for some reason - race, religion, or even just personality - others don’t approve. So it’s not that you don’t care what others think, but you learn to not care about what people that don’t matter think.
No One Else is In An Age Gap Relationship
With approximately 9% of relationships having a gap of 9+ years between the partners, age gaps are fewer and further between than others, but it’s a significant proportion. The wider the gap, the lower the percentage, but they definitely still exist. You are absolutely not alone. We definitely felt that way once, but as more of you have followed us and our journey it’s given us confidence to realise a community does exist.
If that doesn’t convince you, take a look at celebrities, there’s countless celebrity couples in age gap relationships - Beyonce and Jay-Z, George and Amal Clooney, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ryan Renolds and Blake Lively, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ellen DeGeneres, Jason Statham…the list goes on and on.
All that said, because of them being more uncommon, and some in age gap relationships being more afraid to show their love or affection in public because of the stigma that can surround them, many can feel like they're the only ones in an age gap relationship. But don't worry, you're not alone!!
Younger men and women are only in it for the money - Show me the sugar daddy!
I’m sure you’ve had to hang around with someone you particularly like. Whether because you just don’t click, actively don’t like them, find them boring etc, it’s not easy is it? Well imagine putting yourself through this hour after hour, day after day. It’d be a nightmare right? It’s just not how the vast majority of age gap relationships work. Most people are simply seeking love, friendship, and sexual compatibility, and it so happens to be with an older partner that they’ve found it.
Now, I hear you, and I will concede that there are sugar daddy based relationships in the world - and they’re probably more common than you think. However even the majority of them have some basis of compatibility in order to work. There may be some that money has an impact on their relationship, but no more so than with more common age gap relationships
Younger people are immature
Some young people are immature, because you know what, they are!! Maturity can come from a lot of areas. Some are naturally born with an ‘old soul’, some develop quickly due to life circumstances, some progress less slowly, and some never grow up remain 'big kids' at heart their whole life! There's no hard and fast rule here, and everyone is different. If anything, anecdotally I can attest to younger partners being more mature, and older partners seeking youthful enjoyment. It's part of what helps you connect and meet in the middle!
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No-one is genuinely attracted to older men or women
Well I for one can tell you this one is definitely a myth. It added an extra layer onto the denial of my sexuality, as growing up I wasn’t attracted to anyone around me at all. It was only as I grew older I realised that I’m exclusively attracted to older men. The word for it is technically geronotophile (from gerontophilia), meaning sexual attraction towards older persons. There are plenty of others like me - and perhaps you - that are like this. Just like some people prefer blonds, heavier people, shorter people, those with beards, it’s all just a facet to our attraction personalities.
You Can’t have a meaningful age gap relationship
This one just feels silly. To challenge it I’d ask ‘well define meaningful’. Someone losing their virginity on a one night stand can be a pretty meaningful experience that can shape their sexual attitudes heavily. But I realise I’m probably being stubborn with that.
This seems to be based on the assumption that your relationship is based on sex, money, or something trivial, and doesn’t have any depth or connection between you. Well as we’ve seen,
Older Guys are Creepy
I don’t know where to begin with this. It’s such a sweeping statement it’s unreal. Firstly, the concept of being creepy is subjective. What’s ‘creepy’ to one isn’t to another. This likely stems from what we see as usual or stereotypical behaviour and appearance, that is formed by our individual realities and what we surround ourselves with on a regular basis. Aspects of how people behave or appear can be down to numerous factors, from styles and socially approved behaviours experienced during growing up, to life experiences and influences that shape who we are. Being honest, I have found some older guys creepy. But I’ve also found plenty of younger or middle aged guys creepy too! Maybe some have found me creepy, who knows?! But to generalise older men as creeps, is just plain wrong.
Either partner can’t get someone their own age
I’m sure you experienced this stereotype even back in school, with the person that’s dating someone in the year above, or with someone dating a college goer when they’re in secondary / high school. Assuming they can’t get someone their own age makes numerous assumptions about their dating ideals. Maybe, like me, they don’t want to date someone their own age - though I originally dated women that were my age. Maybe they just found someone that they click with. For example, I’ve been the youngest person J has dated seriously. One of his groomspeople at our wedding was an ex that he dated for 7 years. A good friend that’s 3 years younger than him. I started dating women my own age. The theory of not being able to date someone their own age just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
Older Partners are Controlling
This stems from the idea that the more mature partner, with more money and life experience, is the one that calls the shots and uses their status to dominate their partner.
It’s true, that in ana age gap relationship, the two individuals are likely in different life stages, and there may be a bit of a monetary gap between them - we had this a little to start, but that’s now changed to a more equal footing. However it makes various assumptions about both parties’ attitudes, self confidence and ability to stand up for themselves.
Age Gap Myths and Stereotypes Conclusion
If you've made it this far, well done! Hopefully this has either swayed your opinion, or given you some confidence in being in an age gap relationship if you've been nervous about it. Unfortunately these stereotypes still exist with many people, but that shouldn't get in the way of being happy with someone you're attracted to and like. And if you fulfil some of these stereotypes, then so what?! Who, really, cares?! It's your life, so do you.