Bridging the Gap: Overcoming the Drawbacks of Age Gap Relationships

By: Megan Scott


There are many advantages to being in an age gap relationship. Older men dating younger women frequently report more satisfying sex lives, as women in their 20s and 30s tend to have higher libidos and are often more open to experimenting with new activities in the bedroom. Likewise, younger women seeking older men will tell you that a more experienced man often makes for a more skilled and attentive lover, laying the groundwork for more mutually satisfying sexual encounters. Younger women who want older men appreciate the stability that comes with dating outside of their peer group, where many men are still preoccupied with getting fledgling careers off the ground, as well as the benefit of their partners’ life experience and ability to give useful advice. Older men who date younger women get to re-experience many of the thrills of their youth as if for the first time, and feel motivated by their girlfriends’ vitality.

But as with any relationship, there can be drawbacks, too, and there are some drawbacks that are unique to age gap relationships. Let’s look at some of them and talk about how to troubleshoot them if (and when) they arise:

Drawback #1: Societal Judgment

Let’s begin with the first and most obvious drawback of being in an age gap relationship: You will inevitably draw some raised eyebrows and unwanted judgment. We’re all familiar with the stereotypes surrounding older men dating younger women: they’re creeps and predators, they’re manipulative or controlling, they’re coping with a midlife crisis by dating someone much younger, and women their own age won’t put up with them. Younger women seeking older men have their own clichés to fight against: they’re gold-diggers, they have daddy issues, they’re bimbos who are just exchanging their youthful good looks for a free ride.

When you embark on an age gap relationship, you should assume that at some point you’ll face some unwanted criticism or gossipy speculation about yourself and your partner. Fortunately, this is the easiest problem to resolve. Simply remind yourself that you and your partner know the truth of your relationship, as do the people in your life who love and respect you. Those are the opinions that really matter and should be taken to heart. If a stranger who can’t be bothered to take the time to get to know you decides to jump to a conclusion about your relationship, let them. As the saying goes, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

Drawback #2: Incompatible Life Goals

In their 20s and 30s, women who wish to marry and have children are starting to think seriously about settling down and reaching those milestones. At the same time, they may be finishing grad school, starting a brand-new career, looking to buy a house, and experiencing many of the other “firsts” that come with being initiated into adulthood. On the other hand, women who wish to remain childfree may really value their independence and balk at feeling tied down. They may want to travel the world, move frequently, enjoy the nightlife, indulge their creativity, and experiment sexually. An older man will have already crossed most of those thresholds. He may have raised a family once already. He’s probably settled into a stable career. He may own a home and not feel terribly keen on moving or traveling the world. He may not be interested in marrying—or remarrying. He’s probably sewn his wild oats already.

Yes, some of these issues are definite deal-breakers. If you’re dying to start a family and your partner is resolute about never wanting kids, you should probably part ways, because there’s no compromise to be made there. If you know you want marriage and your partner doesn’t, they’re probably not the person for you. But for everything else, the tricky things that aren’t an automatic death knell for your relationship, the solution is communication. Talk often, talk explicitly, and talk honestly about your desires, your goals, your apprehension, and be willing to listen to your partner, too. Many disagreements can be resolved, or at least mitigated, simply by having a conversation and agreeing to compromise. When it comes to a long-term relationship, you can never communicate too much!

Drawback #3: Your Knight in Shining Armor is an Idiot in Tinfoil/Your Princess is in Another Castle

Remember those stereotypes we talked about earlier? Well, while they certainly don’t apply across the board, they also exist for a reason. Some younger women who want older men really are just looking for a meal ticket, and some older men dating younger women really are suffering from Peter Pan syndrome and know that younger women will be less likely to take them to task for it. If that’s the case, what are you supposed to do? On top of the pain of ending a relationship, there’s also considerable embarrassment to contend with: What if everyone who criticized you was right, and your relationship really was a joke all along?

The solution is to remember that one relationship isn’t representative of all relationships. Yeah, you might have chosen wrong, but that hardly means that all men or all women are untrustworthy, or that all age gap relationships are doomed to fail. It just means you had some bad luck, and you need to toss your hat back in the ring.

Have you experienced any roadblocks in your age gap relationship? How did you and your partner overcome them?

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