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Is There Such A Thing As An Age Gap Too Big In Relationships?

age gap

Does it matter how old a guy is when you start dating?

It’s easy to pretend that age difference doesn’t matter, but the truth is, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Other times it definitely does. It all comes down to what you both want.

Let’s face it, age plays a large part in your lifestyle, where you see yourself in the next 5 years, and what sort of relationship you’re looking for.

In this post, we’ll look at the MOST IMPORTANT things to consider before dating a significantly older or younger guy, and explain how men’s minds work when it comes to age gaps.

Figure Out What He Wants

Let’s say you’re 35, and the guy you’re dating is a fresh-faced 26 year old. Maybe he’s still studying for his graduate degree, while you’re working a high-flying career in finance.

Does this kind of age gap matter when dating younger men?

Well, it depends on some key questions:

  • What kind of relationship is he looking for?
  • Do you both want to settle down in the next few years?
  • Do you want kids? Like, in the next 2/3 years? Does he?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you both want?

You need to use the early dates to figure out answers to these questions. Because the truth is, it’s not the literal age that matters. It’s the stage of life you’re currently in. And if you don’t find this out sooner it’s only going to be more painful later when you’re deeply involved with him.

Every man has a blueprint in his mind of when he sees himself getting serious with a woman.

For some men, that could be his early twenties (this is typically the guy who marries his high school sweetheart).

For another type of man, the years from 20-35 are when he pictures a life of single, unattached, career-focused, jet-setting fun, after which he wants to marry and settle down with the right woman.

Then there are those men who put commitment off until MUCH LATER, or guys who find themselves divorced at 50 and are suddenly back in the dating game.

So a man could be anywhere from 21-50, and still see himself as either a dedicated bachelor or a marriage-seeking commitment lover. It depends on where he is emotionally and mentally – this is what you really need to pay attention to.

Be Realistic, But Open-Minded

older man kissing younger woman

Suppose you’re 26 and wondering if you should be with a 42 year old guy.

This is where self-awareness is key – especially when it comes to dating older men.

Ask yourself: What am I ready for right now?

Maybe he’s forty and looking to settle down quickly, but you see yourself waiting a few more years. In which case, it’s important to find out how flexible he is about this. If he’s desperate for marriage soon, then you’re probably going to feel rushed if you feel pushed to a level commitment you’re not ready for.

So when it comes to age, you want to strike a balance between being realistic and open-minded.

Some women are far too closed about this issue. They have an extremely specific vision of a guy they’re looking for (e.g. “must work in financial services and be between age 30-35”).

Those kind of strict rules don’t help. In fact, they can make you miss out on tons of amazing guys who don’t fall in these requirements.

However, you also need to be realistic. So if you know a 45 year old guy is going to want a steady, committed relationship leading to marriage, whilst you’re 26 and can’t even see yourself committing to living in one country right now, then that guy probably isn’t for you.

Think carefully about what stage of life you’re both in and work backwards from there. And always, always listen to what a guy says – it will tell you very clearly what he’s looking for.

After you’ve done all that, keep an open mind. You always have to be willing to be surprised in dating, and age gaps are no different!

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13 Replies to “Is There Such A Thing As An Age Gap Too Big In Relationships?”

  • Age gap came up in my previous relationship which broke up a year ago. He was 31 and I was 36/37 and we’d both come out of traumatic break ups, had kids of different ages (his daughter was a baby) and mine were pre-teen. So, we got together and after a couple of years spoke about starting a family BUT now I was pushing 40 and he now wanted to have more children (emphasis on multiple). As much as I wanted to have one more child, I didn’t envisage realistically being able to have more than one. I know women at my age can definitely get pregnant but it’s so much harder and I wanted to manage his expectations. It ended up being a deal breaker for him and we split up, I let him go so he could find his family, so to speak. It was very difficult but I know it was the right thing to do. The older women, younger man thing doesn’t always work….it may in the beginning when expectations are aligned but then people do change and what worked once, is not longer feasible. Since then I briefly dated a guy with the same age difference (this time he was 36) and I’m 41 and the children thing came up again. I’ve learned my lesson and have decided to date men closer to my age or older, as they’re more likely to be at the same life stage as I am and therefore I don’t have to disappoint anyone. I feel lucky to have been considered to be wife and mother material again but I think I owe it to my existing children to be present to them and to not chase dreams of building second families with younger guys…;)

  • It’s definitely where you are in life. I can totally relaye to Lusia’s story. I’m 43 and have teens and an not looking to start another family. I do get along well with 30-35 year olds who want a steady relationship but not marriage right now. After 17 years of marriage I’m happy to have fun.
    It’s actually the men closer to my age who are at a different period in life.
    They often divorced when thier children were young and feel they missed out on the family experience. So, they are looking to start another one, which I am not.
    I love babies and my kids are amazing and the most important thing in my life but I’m not going to do it again.

  • I’m watching a 50 yr old man gives 19 yr old what she wants while his 45 he old girlfriend is left asking and BEING told NO TO USING THE BUTT WIPE or driving his CAR ariund to corner store to avoid moving it then driving HERS coming back and her spit taken by 19 he old, i think age gap us very important for factor male ego & getting a 19tr old at 50 years old and because of all the giving allowing and feeling as if you bought it too then its not cheering its being reimbured?! I’m not sure about ego but older men only want training by older woman to be the bigger picture of a younger girls painting in her mind of him vs other guys its not a joke either want a real relationship with a person that is all happening growing fresh as you did plant it ? Or a genetic mutation that is presentable for YOURSELF TO JUST show to others your not a loser and look at me type thing real person in relation don’t NEED others to watch or care they are being happy with the one that is in THIER RELATION SHIP AND IT shows not blast LOOK AT US

  • My son moved home after 5 yrs in Asia..he is 28..I’ve been divorced for 20.all kids over 20..2 of my sons friends who I’ve known since they were 14 are flirting and pursuing me …ALOT….i unfortunately gave in oh I’m 53 my son doesn’t know…it’s continuing as I feel some emotional attachment but know it’s just sex…women see sex differently i am cutting off ties with them. I feel really silly …we are consenting adults it’s just feeling I want more than just sex. They are single but this is prob. Just a game a thrill to them…help me into reality

  • I agree that an age gap depends upon where each person is in their life and what they want. However, don’t be short sighted in looking only within the close proximity of 2-5 years. When I was 13 my father dated a woman only 13 years older than me, and 24 years younger than him. They actually had a long and loving marriage. But fast forward and then she is in her 60’s still vital and wanting to be active and traveling, and he’s 90 and unable to. He died at 92 and she was 68. Now what for her? I’m 57, and as youthful as a 45 year old. I am not interested in dating the socially acceptable older man. Are you kidding me? Most 65 year olds look to me how I remember my father. How annoying is it that a 57 year old man won’t even look at a woman my age, because he wants the youthful 35 year old. Men typically don’t live as long as women do, as evidenced by the nursing homes filled with women widowed for 5-30 years. The social norm should be the other way around, where younger men date older women. When I find my next and final partner, I want us to enjoy each other for as many years as possible – together. I am not interested in pushing him around in a wheel chair in 15 years. The term “Cougar” is so derogatory. You don’t hear a man being called that!

    1. I my god Lee, I have a similar problem! I’m 53 (Asian) and look like 43. Had a fling with a 30 year old (I couldn’t believe it when he start hitting me!) but stopped myself going any longer because obviously it will never work at such a different stage of our lives. Ever since, any guy my age or even 40 year old look so old and tired… 50s look like grandpa! But I’ve learned recently that younger men like older women more than they used to, social norms changed a bit plus they feel less responsible when they date older women? That’s good for us and I’ll keep open minded for sure… sigh

    2. Lee, forget guys in your own age group, there are plenty of younger guys who love older women, not because we are “more experienced” *wink wink* (shudder!) but because we are often easier to be around and more accepting of them personally, than younger girls (one of the advantages of getting older!) I have been involved with a guy 13yrs younger for a few years and have never been so adored or treated so well. I know a woman 20 yrs with a 17yrs younger guy who has foregone having his own family to stay with her. A lot of younger guys were brought up with less misogynistic programming and are far less interested in imposing their dominance on you, or maybe its the age difference inspires a degree of inherent respect…

  • I also wonder about the age gap – but to gain more insight from the male point of view. Im 62.yrs. 2+ yrs separated and In process of divorce after 38 yr marriage. 3 adult children. Started dating for first tjme 6mos ago after spending the entire time of marriage “working” on our troubled telationship (13 Marriage Counselors!!); followed by several years of intense personal work to make sense (??!) of it all so as to NOT bring ALL that baggage into this next unplanned, unchartered phase of my life. Finally was ready to step “out”. Went on Tinder last April. Didnt want to even contemplate guys my own age! I do standup comedy, Im a drummer, I frequent concerts, I love to go out hip hop dancing – my PERFECT physical “therapy! (often by myself and seriously, FOR THE
    MUSIC AND TO DANCE!) .altho my Ex and I didnt love the same activities – I know two people can share the joy figuratively and or literally in what their spouse loves. In my case it was a domineering and emotionally controlling husband and unfortunately there was only room for one person to have a life that required two people to feed its ego. So I had to create an identity, build “a” solo life with no road map. (We’d been together 40 yrs!!) .With the help of a gifted Yogi/Meditation/Dance teacher/mentor I began to heal, and find my joy. Ive reignited and fostered both former interests / pastimes long in hibernation as well as finding incredible new passions. 8 yrs ago I started drumming with an accomplished working drummer whos toured /played with many of the people in Hip-Hop. his encouragement gave me self confidence and Opened up so many opportunities to expand and Enjoy music. Ide ALWAYS loved to dance (disco, Go-Go, Funk, Soul, Reggae) and because it has always been SUCH A BIG source of fun for me – I decided to start going out dancing by myself …nobody was going to bring it “to me” and after being delrived that joy for years and years – I had nothing to lose and only to gain by its self care. Again met wonderful friends through our shared interests (4 yrs on Soul Train Cruises , and this year on Tom Joyners Hip Hop Cruise with Mary J Blige, Bev Biv Devoe, Ice Cube etc!). Dancing was my self prescribed “Physical Therapy”. The third piece of my triad to healing and building a new ME from the ground up, was that I started taking Improv classes, which lead me to meeting an amazing comedy coach who for the past 1 ½,yrs has been instrumental in me becoming an official full time aspiring standup comedian!! I love it and am ever grateful to those who have come into my life: shown me total acceptance, believed I could do anything, showed me HOW to do things I didnt know, have been beyond patient allowing me to growvat my own pace, and kept open positive loving hearts to life’s enormous possibilities. So by this past April – 2 mos shy of 2 yrs separated, I felt I was READY TO DATE (whatever THAT would mean!) I went on Tinder with the enthusiasm of a Team Mom …not sure my “matches” knew what they had Swiped-Right and gotten themselves into. But I feel lucky in one way bcuz at 62yrs Im NOT looking to slow down. Im thankfully financially self sufficient, am NOT “looking” to get married, not LOOKING to be tied down, and for the first time as a dingle person really having no real check list of MUSTS in a guy. Yes, I am dating completely different men from t my ex: he (and I are WASPS, and now Im solely attracted to and Dating Black men, this more as a result of my lifestyle than an act of “rebellion” to my former life. The men Im matching, meeting and dating on Tinder are from ages 45-54yrs; 90% mid 40’s. Settled into their careers, many with teen or adult children who they are responsible for and are actively “parenting”. If without children they have come to acceot that it may not happen (this is where I know I as a female in their shoes would feel TOTALLY differently and WANT KIDS). I tend to gravitate towards the men who have been married and do have older children – and who started their families young as I did. They are mature. They are nice they are great. Guys! I feel lucky to be in a situation where I can experience who I am as a SINGLE WOMAN, and enjoy the discovery process of figuring out what I want abd take my tkme doing it. Tinder gives me the TIME to first message my matches via the App; THEN talk on the phone; THEN a meet and greet – and if we want to THEN go on a date. I dont know what my future dating love life will look like – but I feel very lucky to be growing as “myself” with the tremendous support of “Team-Brooks” (!) not be in the desparate state of my pre-married days to GET a boyfriend and SETTLE down. I feel very lucky that even my occasional bouts of feeling “lonely” are short lived. Its been enlightening and wonderful to realize the high caliber of amazing men on Tinder who are incredibly interesting, available open and willing to strike up a meaningful connection! So the age gap? Ive found that SO FAR – the 12-16 yr age gap between me and my Tinder dates is a non issue (disclosure: I DO NOT display my age on my Tinder Profile which is what is initially visible to potential “matches”.) I do however tell them right away either voluntarily or if they ask.
    Ive found that after a fare amount if texting and talking before meeting that as long as there can be time (with two full lives) to spend together to get tonK OW each other, and if we have shared interests and energies that match, similar taste in music and a GOOD dose of humor,…the gap hasnt (yet) proven to be a detriment – at least to me., although I’m still very much in the honeymoon infacy of my newfound dating phase. But This story isnt finished!

  • I don’t think it’s a good idea to ‘quantify’ this question. Very hard to measure by using a magic ‘number range’. From my experience, it’s situational, therefore qualify-able.

    That said, it may be better to ‘count ratios’. In other words, what’s being sought after in age gaps between 20 and 30, 40 and 50, and between 50s and 60s.

    Nonetheless, I have found that numbers show that more women will have long term and marriage with men that are well over their age, however, is rare for men willing to have long term relationships and marriage with significantly older women, say 10 years older and up… unfortunately. I have significantly younger men interested in me because I am physically in good shape and have a curvy firm body, attractive personality and looks. However, my face reveals signs of an older woman over 45.

  • Yah. Always, always listen to what he says… Unless, of course, he’s 42, you’re 26, he says he wants to settle down and have a family, ASAP, and you’re completely on board with it–
    and then a few years later when you’ve invested all of your time,, energy, devotion, empathy, and heart and soul into building a relationship with him (or doing your damnedest)… he tells you “Oh, I’m not ready to have kids… And I’m not sure that I ever will be.” And then you figure out that he is a narcissistic, self-serving piece of shit, whom you can’t depend on for anything, let alone build a real relationship or future with.
    So, yeah, “always, always” listen to what he says. Unless, of course, everything he says is bullshit, and cloaking a hidden agenda; and in that case… Maybe listen, very carefully, to everything he says about •you• –every confusing and off-base ‘observation’ & reflection — and then turn it all around and apply it to him, to give you a more accurate sense and understanding of who he really is. Beneath that charming facade he’d like you to believe in.

  • Well I have a different kind of issue with the age gap. Im 16, he is 19. No one knows about it and he lives far away from me, but we’re in love.

  • I’m 30 and currently dating a 22 year old. I had hesitations at the start, for be exact reasons you mentioned. It wasn’t the age gap I was concerned about but it was the stage of life he is in. I had an idea of what I thought a man of that age should be doing and I didn’t think that dating a 30 year old single mum was it. He has proven me wrong time and Time again. He is an amazingly mature man who has stepped up better than any man I’ve dated in the past. He knows what he wants in life and loves to have fun. The sexual chemistry is intense and we make each other incredibly happy. I’m glad I didn’t let my preconceived ideas of what I thought he should be doing get in the way of an amazing relationship.

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