If you have at any time in your life been single, you probably have a checklist you keep of your dream guy or girl. This list often details everything from the color of their eyes to their height, down to the very last inch.
One of the most common appearances on these lists is the ideal age. For the most part, people tend to remain within a five-year age gap, give or take a few years.
Have you ever wondered why this gap feels so natural? Is it because it is what society has forced you to accept as the norm? Or is there scientific evidence to back up the comfort and security provided by a narrower age gap?
So is age just a number when dating, or in a relationships?
Below are a few facts that should help answer these questions for you.
Age-old beliefs about online dating age gaps
Before we get into details about the science of how age gaps affect online dating, let’s first understand where it all started.
As far as anyone can remember, there always seemed to be a specific acceptable age gap range which very few dared to deviate from. The range is about 5 to 10 years.
A few cultures here and there practiced wide age gap pairing for different reasons. With some, it was for social reasons where the older party wanted to show their strength and wealth by taking younger brides.
In other cases, it was for financial reasons where younger brides were married off to older men to ensure their financial security and their family’s as well.
However, most communities and civilizations believed that a smaller age gap was the best way to ensure prosperity both financially and regarding reproduction. This was accepted all over the world for centuries and has been a practice carried forward to date.
In more recent times, a wide age gap while dating has been associated with many negative notations:
If it is the man who is a lot older, people assume that either the girl is after his money or the man is looking for a trophy wife to prove he still got it. If on the other hand, it is the woman who is older, there is the common assumption that the relationship is purely sexual for both partners with the young male also getting some financial benefits.
Should you let the age gap stop you?
With this information in mind, you are probably wondering whether it is worth it even to attempt dating someone who is much younger or older than you.
Is it really worth all the trouble?
The answer is yes. Unless you want to pick up a married woman!
True love truly knows no bounds and age is one of them. If you find someone that you have a genuine connection with, there is no reason to let age be the only deal breaker. In fact, a wide age gap has its fair share of benefits. Below are a few of these.
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Benefits to the younger partner
1. You get to build a more mature relationship
If you have always felt that your mind and soul are older than your body, then you probably have a very hard time dating people who are the same age as you.
The problem here is that you do not get to build mature relationships, which can lead to frustration. You are probably always arguing about petty things, whether it is a failure to reply to texts or getting takeout from the wrong restaurant. Millennials, right?
While dating an older person, you get to skip over these petty arguments and work on building a strong relationship.
2. You get to learn from the older partner’s experiences and mistakes
With age comes wisdom. Therefore, by dating an older person, you get to benefit from this experience and knowledge allowing you to make better life choices.
3. Mature partners know exactly what they want
You do not have to waste your time investing in a relationship that is going nowhere. In this case, the older partner usually knows exactly what they want and will probably not hesitate to make their intentions clear.
4. Older men and women are in it for a long time and not just a good time
Younger partners on the other hand usually just want to have fun. If you are ready to settle down and work on a long-term relationship, then you might want to try dating someone who is younger than older than you.
5. It is usually associated with financial stability
This does not in any way make you a gold digger. However, there is no denying the fact that dating someone who is financially stable is a huge bonus.
Benefits to the older partner
1. They bring some liveliness and excitement back into your life
Dating a younger person means that you get to be around young energy and the associated vibes. With time, these will rub off on you, allowing you to get in touch with your past youth.
2. They challenge you in many different ways
Dating a young person is no walk in the park. It will challenge you mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially. However, it is all worth it as it helps you grow and become a better person.
3. You get to learn a lot
They might be young, but there is a lot you can learn from them. It could be anything from new age philosophies to how to set up a Twitter account. No bit of knowledge learned is too trivial.
Other things to consider
There are obviously many benefits to dating a significantly older or younger person. However, these are still not enough to discount age as just a number in online dating.
It is true that society’s views on wide age gaps are a bit warped when there’s really nothing wrong with it.
However, it does present its own set of unique challenges that you should be aware of.
Below are five unique wide age gap problems that prove age is not just a number.
- Health – This is something younger partners have to worry about with their more mature companions. With age come health issues. It could be something manageable like hypertension or something completely debilitating like dementia or even strokes. Whatever it is, there is no denying the fact that it will seriously affect your relationship and usually not in a positive way.
- Maturity level – This is something that the older partner has to worry about. Dating someone younger is a gamble as there is always the risk of them being as immature as they are physically young. This will leave you frustrated at their petty demands and other negative traits.
- Financial strengths and priorities – This will affect both parties. When it comes to money, age plays a huge role in determining things like priorities. Young people tend to want to enjoy life, treat themselves to shopping sprees and so forth. Older people, on the other hand, prefer to invest or save their money with very limited extravagance. This difference could cause problems in the relationship down the line. However, it is important for you to understand that this is not the case with all young or old people. It just happens to be very common.
- Social interests – This could also pose a challenge in such relationships. This is because whereas younger people like high energy vibes and pretty much all things fun, older partners will tend to prefer a more laid-back setting.
- Expectations and life goals – This comes as a challenge when the younger partner is not ready to settle down. They might feel under pressure which causes major problems in the relationships. It could also cause resentment on the older partner’s part where they feel like their needs and expectations are not being met.
- Intimacy – Finally, a wide age gap could affect intimacy. This is especially the case when the older partner is physically incapable of offering, the younger party what they want. It could be as a result of health issues or simple lack of energy associated with age.
Bottom line – is age just a number in online dating?
The answer, in this case, might surprise you; yes and no.
Yes, age is just a number. If two people are truly in love and on the same page regarding expectations and priorities, then there is no reason why it shouldn’t work.
However, there is no denying the fact that dating someone who is much younger or older than you isn’t without its challenges. This is why the answer to this question is also no.
Don’t worry about it too much, though! It all boils down to your unique relationship. With all the benefits that both parties stand to enjoy, there is no denying that it is definitely worth the shot. Just make sure to acknowledge and prepare for the numerous possible challenges to ensure it works out.
And remember, do not let what other people think and say be what discourages you.