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Dating & the age gap

“For about three months I’ve been dating a great guy. He’s incredibly kind and witty and the frequent sex is the best I’ve ever had. The only glitch is that he’s 17 years younger than me. We’ve connected so easily but I’ve never been one to chase younger guys so this feels really weird. I’m 49 and he’s 32. There are ways in which he makes me feel younger — he exposes me to new music and nice people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. The flipside is that I can feel older too (seeing photos of us is a hard one). The bigger fear is that, while this works for now, what about 10 years from now when I’m nearing senior citizen-hood and he’s still in the prime of his life? Am I crazy to worry whether this relationship can go the distance?

Dean

People who get into age-gap relationships have to ask themselves a lot of the serious questions that you’re asking. Because the two of you are at different life-stages, I think you’re wise to think ahead and investigate some of the common pitfalls of being with someone younger.
While you’ve mentioned how much you can enjoy his youthfulness (and endurance!), my hunch is that you are both benefiting from the generation gap. Those extra 17 years have likely imparted some additional wisdom and clarity that I’m sure your honey enjoys. But don’t pretend the gap is a non-issue: Being honest about your feelings decreases the likelihood that fears and insecurities could build and erode what you have built up.

As evidenced by your squeamishness in seeing photos of you two lovebirds, an age gap relationship can often fall prey to insecurities and jealousies. The truth is that your guy seems to have no trouble jumping your 49-year-old bones, so it’s really going to be up to you to keep body-image issues in check and trust his desires for you. This arrangement could also invite insecurities for your youthful loverman (“His friends think that I’m just here for the security. What if he realizes I never get his Dynasty references?”) Both of you will need to remind each other, as fears arise, of the reasons why you’ve chosen to be together.

A lot of the strain for age-gap relationships, especially at the beginning, can come from the outside world — or at least our imaginings of how others see us. While the occasional “sugar daddy” or “cradle robber” crap might be thought by some, the majority of folks will either not care about your age difference or they’ll actively support your connection.

We’ve all been fed an idea that age commonality is some sort of relationship holy grail, but I don’t see age, itself, as a primary element in compatibility. Priorities, goals, sexual chemistry and cultural interests seem like the factors that, on a daily basis, are more likely to make or break a couple. Knowing the future in any relationship is impossible, so you’ll need to go with your actual lived experiences with your BF and not your fearful imaginings of a future breakdown.

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