Age gaps in relationships | INFJ Forum

Age gaps in relationships

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by uuu, Jul 2, 2022.

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  1. uuu

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    Relationships with substantial age gaps (but in which both parties are consenting adults, obviously).

    Have you ever been in one? What was it like? Do you think they are universally wrong? Do you believe in the "age divided by two plus seven" rule?



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  2. Elder

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    I had never heard that rule, but I adore xkcd. I would say my ideal partner IS the person who spends their weekends at home making graphs. It makes my eyes glow and my heart speed up. Seriously. Lol

    OK, carry on. I have nothing to offer to this actual topic....
     
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  3. AureaMediocritas

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    Age past a certain number becomes arbitrary, in my opinion. I would postulate after 25, since that is the age of prime development in most people, a shift occurs where far more integral things like maturity, beliefs about the world, values, and goals take precedence over age. Age is rarely a coefficient of correlation in regard to the aforementioned.

    In the past, I have dated people younger or much older than me (one person was nearly 20 years older). I think adhering yourself to a superfluous standard when it comes to matters of the heart, is likely to rob you of interactions and experiences which could have otherwise been thoroughly enjoyable.

    I think the age gap only becomes provocative when the sole unifying factor appears to be of a physical nature, and no other qualifiers of compatibility are present.
     
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  4. AureaMediocritas

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    I just realized that my post could be seen to be promoting child and adult relationships, but hopefully no one would make that assumption, and would defer to the fact that I was working from the preassigned stipulation of the OP. One can never be too certain, so I thought I should clarify.
     
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  5. dZpADTLrPmX4c

    dZpADTLrPmX4c Impermanent Fixture

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    Maybe? it depends on what we consider a relationship. Let's say no for now.

    They don't seem to be universally wrong to me. They have implications. Lots and lots of sticky implications.

    I believe in that rule in that it's a socially-accepted standard with which people can use to explain their choices without too much backlash.
    Otherwise it seems akin to a thought-terminating cliche.

    The most frequent problem I've seen with larger gaps is people settling into parent-child roles, where one seeks to outgrow it through the other and the other (besides not being capable of helping them outgrow it) seeks to maintain the relationship dynamic for its own gratification.
    These typically end up dissolving. Sometimes they're stepping stones to important personal growth, though my (biased) experience with people suggests to me they often aren't.
     
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  6. aeon

    aeon Amoureux des Chatons
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    In the past I’ve been younger by seven, ten, and eleven years.

    In the past I’ve been older by ten, twelve, and fifteen years.

    It comes down to the people. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    The one time I broke the rule (15 years), she was small and because I am tall, a couple of times I was told I had a lovely daughter. Ouch. :eek:

    And because it happened a couple of times, I knew by the second time to just smile, nod, and say that’s very kind of you.

    Because you’ve never seen a bigger frown-scowl than when you attempt to correct them by explaining. Ooph! FML.

    Now I’m the “younger one” by 18 months. We enjoy being able to share cultural references now that we’re old enough to have more than a few. :p

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote Meka Istaqa
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    I used to feel more strict about this, with my own rule being around +/-6 years.
    I think it's still where I'd personally be most comfortable, but I've seen dynamics of love work in lots of different ways.
    As long as nobody is abusing power dynamics and accepts the difficulties of a bigger age gap, why not.
     
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  8. OP
    uuu

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    Looks like we have a laid-back and friendly community here, after all. In making this thread, I saw an older thread about "Why do men pursue older women?" where there were some more cynical takes on the issue. In the same way as older men who date younger women are often accused of objectifying them ("trophy wives"), men who pursue older women are often accused of wanting a "mommy," or a girlfriend who has lower risk of cheating. To which my response is the standard cliche that you shouldn't criticize a relationship that you do not understand.

    But IDK, it could be that age gaps are fine in principle but problematic in practice because, statistically speaking, those who get into them are people who have emotional issues or ulterior motives like those described above. For those who hold this view, I think it is important to always be clear whether you are talking about a particular relationship or age-gap relationships in a statistical sense.
     
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  9. dZpADTLrPmX4c

    dZpADTLrPmX4c Impermanent Fixture

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    Well-put and yes I feel that's been my experience too.

    What mostly matters to me is that everybody is growing well and is a happy plant.
    My big sister, for example. She's ten years older than me and has been married for years now to somebody my age. There were some remarks about this at the time, but most people (seem to) have forgotten about it.
    Her relationship works for her and him. I've no doubt that she does have emotional issues, and in the way of finding her path through them she found somebody she connected with and got along with.
    It's not perfect but it is a happy imperfect and that's about as much as we can aim for in relations with others.
     
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  10. Gaze

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    Whether or not it works may in part have more to do with the persons involved, the power dynamics in the relationship, level of experience, and financial equity also plays a role, maybe maturity, although I'm not sure that matters as much anymore. If you're just having fun, maturity doesn't really matter. Really depends in part on what people are looking for in a relationship.

    I think many of them are misguided because they are presented as real, sustainable relationships, based on love, etc. but they're really just about status, sex, and trophyism. Sometimes, there are real incompatibility issues but these aspects are pushed aside or ignored. Nothing is wrong with having fun but pretending the relationship is more than it just looks just makes the relationship seem forced. Our society tends to celebrate these relationships as awesome and cool because someone got a much younger, highly attractive, person to be with.

    I also think some include an element of ageism from older to younger, and vice versa.

    My view is that if you're going into one, be honest with yourself at least about why you're attracted to them, how your relationship will actually work in practice vs. ideal or overly romanticized views of the "May-December" romance, and the potential for a few unexpected challenges, disagreements or misunderstandings that will likely occur due to generational differences. I think people like to pretend that generational differences don't matter because of this notion that "age is just a number." Everyone thinks it's so cool to say age is a non-issue, but it is. No, it's not just a number. It matters.

    That number difference can signify a huge difference in perspective and understanding of the world and what to expect, so to claim it doesn't matter is short-sighted and misguided. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying age-gap relationships can't work, but don't be unaware or ignore the way age differences can affect relationship dynamics. You can pretend it doesn't matter, but it will likely have an impact and you will have to deal with it in some way, even if you tell yourself it doesn't matter. As long as you're willing to acknowledge and address it when it comes up, then I believe you can have a great relationship. Just don't pretend that it's a non-issue.

    I've noticed that many couples have a lovely relationship when everything is going well, but once one partner gets sick or starts to age more quickly as they get older while the other is still relatively fit and healthy, especially older age-gap couples, then the relationship dynamic changes. In other scenarios, when the relationship stops being fun, exciting, entertaining, interesting, or adventurous, then the relationship tends to fizzle. Once the novelty wears off, then it's splittsville. In any case, most relationships today focus on short-term vs. long-term compatibility so it's probably not surprising many relationships, not just age-gap relationships, end the way they do.

    Edit: Sometimes, people do look for stability and maturity in relationships with older partners only to find that the person may not be as stable or mature just because they are older, and the younger partner may find themselves being the more responsible partner far more than they expected to be. That can be a burden on the relationship, because of the inequality in responsibility.

    Another aspect that affects these relationships significantly is culture. Cultural expectations have a huge impact on age-gap relationship dynamics. Culture may even matter more than age. But that's another thread. :)
     
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  11. OP
    uuu

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    I think these examples demonstrate that although an age gap might be a hurdle in some relationships, in general, there is no way to insure yourself against growing apart from your partner by making sure that you are a "perfect match" at the outset. Everything is moving pieces.
     
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  12. aeon

    aeon Amoureux des Chatons
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    I’ve seen relationships undone when one partner lost weight, got sober, returned to school, got a serious promotion...

    “Remember, I love you, so don’t you dare change!” :rolleyes:

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
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  13. Darkly Detached

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    My partner is 9 years younger in physical age, but that's irrelevant because mentally we're much, much closer. I do worry sometimes that my body will give out so much sooner than her, and I'll become a burden on her .. only wish that it doesn't happen and that I can remain mentally and physically independent as long as possible.
     
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  14. OP
    uuu

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    This, or perhaps more charitably, achieving one of those goals you mentioned often presents an opportunity to take a step back and evaluate other aspects of life that you are unsatisfied with—to include the relationship itself.
     
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  15. Darkly Detached

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    People sometimes don't fall in love with the person, but rather what the person represents to them in that moment in time. When that changes, people discover that they never loved *the person* but rather the projection of their personal, selfish desires.

    Love to me is about the person - all of what they are and what they are not - what they can be, and what they choose to be. Knowing that they have every right to change my perception of them then becomes irrelevant so then all that remains is the person, and not the illusion my mind created.
     
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  16. Anomaly

    Anomaly Selah.

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    I agree, wholeheartedly.
     
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