5 things to Know About Dating with an Age Gap
You love who you love right? So what is with this stigma built around dating someone who is not your age? The tale is as old as time, from Elvis and Pricilla Presley to Leonardo DiCaprio, to Kris Jenner to Lana Del Rey we know that age gap relationships are common, and they can work if you are aware of both the good and bad that comes along with it. We also know from these examples that age gap relationships that they do not always work out either. After my own experience on dating with a 10-year age gap, I’ve learned a lot and here are the 5 most important things to know before getting too serious.
1. Be Ready and Open to Learning New Things
While dating someone who is notably older or younger than you, you need to be ready and open to new things. If the gap is a decade or more, it is unlikely that every pop culture reference will sustain. For example, their favorite movies, music, celebs may be unfamiliar to you and vice versa. It is easy to view this as a disconnect at first, but when you take a step back and really think about it you will see that it does not have to be. This does not have to be seen as a bad thing at all, but instead as a terrific opportunity to expand your horizons and learn something new. Being taught about new movies and music from the past can be just as fun and mutually beneficial as showing someone new music and movies that you love. You may not share common knowledge of things and subjects that change over time, but as long as the constants, such as morals, are compatible you are destined for a healthy relationship despite an age gap.
2. Digital Dating Norms are Different These Days
We today live in a digital dating era filled with social media likes and read receipts. Gen Z has gone through high school and all their dating experience with a cell phone and social media, whereas other generations have not. It is important to keep in mind that your digital dating expectations may be different from your partner’s. You may have the expectation of constant texting throughout the day, whereas your partner may feel a phone call before bed suffices. Social media can be tricky too. Your partner may not understand that if they do not like or comment on your post or a post of the two of you, it can be communicated as they do not care or do not like it when in reality they may not even think twice about it being an issue or connecting to your relationship. This form of miscommunication is unintentional and fixable with a simple conversation. It is important that you tell your partner what your needs and expectations are when it comes to social media, texting, calling, ect.
3. People Will Judge You
This one is inevitable. It is crucial to understand that no matter what you do, people will judge you. Although, there are some cases where it may happen more than others and dating with an age gap is one of those cases. You need to expect to receive judgement from friends, family, and strangers. Whether it is public stares or parental concern, people will judge the age gap in your relationship. It is wise to take this judgement with a grain of salt and evaluate your relationship to verify that you feel comfortable and healthy within it. If that is the case, live your life and do not let anyone’s judgement stand in the way of being with who you love because in the end you are the only one who fully understands.
4. Schedules can be Tricky
As a college student, for example, dating an older person who has a career and other responsibilities you need to expect that your schedules may not always align. Having class for a couple of hours a day compared to a 9-5 career are quite different lifestyles. Put yourself in their shoes instead of fighting the inevitable. As you work towards your degree, you will eventually pursue a career too which is destined to take up time as well. Move forward knowing that one day your days will align better. Overall, the biggest thing to know about making this work is commitment. It simply will not work unless you are both equally committed to the relationship. With that in mind, something that will be extremely valuable in your relationship is planned dates. Whether it’s dinner after work or an event on the weekend, it is important to plan things each week, committing to being available for each other and then actually following through with it. This will also keep the relationship exciting as you are always looking forward to something ahead.
5. Be Conscious of Actions
Words are a great tool to show someone that you love them, but if actions do not align what is the point? Although I hate to admit it, when you are young you are impressionable and naïve. This is something I have always tried to fight in the past, but it is the truth. It is important to be aware of when someone is taking advantage of that. This idea is why many people criticize age gap relationships. It is hard to not be fooled by the “I love You”, future promises, and all the other sappy words that sound as if they are straight out of a love song but putting focus onto the actions that come after the words is how you know if the relationship will work. Make them show you that they care rather than just telling you. From my experience with dating an older man, he said ALL the right things but when asked to prove it, he simply could not. Test the theory early on little things such as showing up to plans and following through on verbal commitments before it is too late, and your heart is involved.