Age-gap relationships have become a popular topic of conversation in recent years. But are they all that we make them out to be?
People are quick to criticize those in age-gap romances, more specifically older men dating younger women. They either assume the relationship is financially dependent or power-imbalanced. While those relationships exist, other age-gap couples seem to have surpassed the stigma.
In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed an equal amount of successful and disastrous age-gap relationships—a couple of them being my own. My experience with older men has led me down a path of disappointment and heartbreak, and made me question if I’m meant for that lifestyle. Maybe I’m not. But in that case, what does it take to be? Can a woman truly be in a successful relationship with an older man?
Here are eight women on their experience in an age-gap relationship.
“I dated a guy eleven years my senior last year. He’d often poke fun at my lack of “real-world” experience, which caused me to feel insecure. It took me a while to realize it, but there was absolutely no depth to our relationship, and I was the only one who seemed to mind. Unsurprisingly, we got bored with each other… [we] simply couldn’t satisfy each other’s needs. I’m sure he can be a wonderful boyfriend, but not to a senior in college.”
“When I was 19 I dated a guy that was eleven years my senior. It was a bit of a messy situation because of how we met, but overall, we had a great relationship. To this day, he’s the only boyfriend I’ve had that [has] planned dates…and really understood me. He was also the first [person] to [not only] give me an orgasm, [but also] show me that there are men who prioritize female pleasure… Ultimately, he told me there [couldn’t] be any expectations in our relationship [so I ended things]. Now being 26, it makes so much sense why he was like that. 30 [isn’t] that old and some, maybe even most, 30-year-olds I know [behave] the exact same way. But everything happens the way it’s supposed to, and now he’s happily married and I’m pretty damn glad it’s not to me.”
“My partner is ten years older than me. When we met, we didn’t think it would be anything more than a hookup, but we’ve been dating for two years now. Dating someone older seems to be in sync with where I am in my life. Needing someone who is emotionally, intellectually, and financially capable of taking care of themselves is something everyone wants in a partner. That seems simple enough, but when it comes down to it, it’s a lot harder to find, especially if you’re in your early twenties. I used to think of him as this perfect being that I had nothing to offer [to] because of my age, but he has helped me grow to love myself in ways no one else has before. We’re always helping each other to be better…and the sex is pretty fucking good too.”
“My boyfriend is twelve years older than I am. It’s apparent that we are at different stages in life and I often feel criticized or judged for decisions I make or [want]… I express desire about things that he has already become jaded about, which makes me second-guess whether or not I should want them in the first place. This is my first serious relationship, so I [feel] insecure when he talks to his exes [or] tells me stories about them. I [think] I have learned a lot about myself, [as well as] how to communicate better with him. [He] has talked me through things that…he has also felt or gone through in previous relationships that [have helped] me process [whatever] I [might be] feeling.”
“I dated a guy seven years older than me this past year. We had a similar interest in art, music, and humor. A lot of the people I hung out with growing up were friends with my older siblings, who [happened to be] older than the guy I dated, so age was never an issue for me. However, he was [concerned about] our gap… He even expressed insecurity over holding down a minimum-wage job [while I was working on securing] a career after college. We split because he couldn’t get past how I had more direction career-wise than he did.”
“The vast majority of men I’ve dated have been 10-15 years older than me but the two I saw most consistently were 11 (A) and 18 (B) years my senior. I met A when I was 18. He missed our first date because he’d been arrested for ‘terroristic threats’ against his ex-girlfriend, which I was unaware of at the time. Throughout the three months we were together, he became increasingly possessive, and I began fearing for my safety, so I ended our relationship. Shortly after that, I met B, who was twice my age. We dated casually for almost two years. This relationship felt like a stark contrast to my previous one. We had mutual respect and understanding for each other and our relationship. Though we got the occasional weird stare while out in public together, our friends were all very supportive of our situation.”
“I’m currently dating someone who’s almost nine years my senior. My parents aren’t crazy about it, but I’m genuinely happy. Even though we haven’t been together for long, five months to be exact, we’ve managed to create an environment where we both feel safe and understood. Sure, there are times when I struggle to relate to his experiences or day-to-day life, but we genuinely love each other, and that is enough for us.”
“I hooked up with my fair share of men who were 10-14 years my senior when I was 18-20. At the time, I didn’t necessarily want to be in a committed relationship, but I still wanted my ‘lovers’ to be financially independent and mature. The sex was always incredible, something I blame on their age-related experience, but I was disappointed by their childish behavior. Most of them could afford to take care of a $150+ dinner bill, but, besides that, their behavior wasn’t much different from men my age. I’m not entirely opposed to date older men right now, but I doubt I’d be open to being with anyone five or six years older [than me].”