Mind the (age!) gap!

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We all know how challenging relationships can be, even at the best of times. But what of the relationships that are faced with criticism and scepticism before they even get off the ground! Relationships with age gaps can be subjected to disapproval right from the get go. Not everybody is behind the ‘age is just a number’ theory.

Although statistics show that most people end up with someone of a similar age – around three to five years either side, there are plenty of us who experience age difference relationships at some stage in our lives and quite often these are in our younger years.

What we need to remember is that even as a teenager we are able to make our own choices and decisions. If we are committed and sincere and genuine in our relationship then there is no reason why that relationship shouldn’t succeed.

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If you are struggling to get your age gap relationship recognised as a healthy and happy one by those around you, here are a few tips to help make things work!

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Connection

You need to make sure of strong a connection between you both early on in the relationship and understand where each other is in life. It isn’t enough to just quite like each other, or to base your relationship on a purely physical nature, you need to have a bond that you feel confident can endure all the challenges you are likely to face.  Lifestyles will be different at different ages and stages of life and undergoing big changes for example moving on from high school or graduating college will throw up all manner of issues. You both need to know what you want from the relationship and set expectations.

It is likely that pursuing a relationship that has too large an age gap during our teenage years is going to be an impossible and unwise decision.  You must consider why a 30 + somebody would be interested in a teenager. Basically it is weird and unhealthy.

Openness

Don’t try and hide away, it could look like you’re ashamed or feeling guilty.  If you are hoping to be taken seriously and viewed as mature and capable of making your own decisions, then behave in a mature manner and discuss your relationship with those closest to you such as friends and family, especially parents, as early as possible.  Make sure they get to meet your new man and feel happy and confident that you are good together. They might be cautious at first, but once they get to know him and see his intentions are good, they should be more open to the idea of your dating someone older. Include them when you are socialising with friends so you can see that everyone gets along well and has things in common. It is true in any relationship that you want the support of your nearest and dearest and this is especially true when the relationship is likely to face more challenges than most.

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Confidence

Make sure you have confidence in your choices.  However nice it is to have everyone’s full support, ultimately not every person in your life has to love the idea of your relationship – don’t focus on their negativity or dwell on their critical comments, after all these can happen with any choice of partner, age gap or not.  There is no written dating rule that you have to stick to dating someone your own age.  If you know you are happy with your decision and truly believe the relationship is right (and legal!) for you then be loud and proud with your partner!

Compatibility

Life experiences, shared values and common beliefs are the foundations of good relationships.  Too large a gap can stifle a teenager who could be over powered by a mature independent adult. You can’t gain maturity and experience from someone just because they’re much older. You can only get it by living and learning from your own life.  Once you are past a certain age, larger gaps are not such an issue because life experiences are more similar.  You don’t want to be trying to have a sexual relationship with someone that actually has more to chat about with your parents than they do with you!

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The Law!

Be mindful that big age gaps can bring with them a whole host of issues and problems, not least in some cases they can be actually breaking the law. Depending on where you live and what state you may even be under the age of consent. If you are sexually active or thinking about having sex, keep this in mind. In most states, the age of consent ranges from 16 to 18. For example, in New York the age of consent is 17. Be sure to check your state’s sex laws whether it is you or your partner that is the younger half of the partnership.