Age Gap RelationshipsFiona Condron
Whose Business Are They Anyway?
These days, it seems that very little is taboo anymore, but there remains a certain societal mistrust and disapproval of relationships between people of different ages. Age gap relationships are still greeted with suspicion, and the assumption that one or other party is getting something from the arrangement that is not quite appropriate, such as money or vicarious glamour.
And while there might be biological arguments why such relationships are inappropriate, particularly if children are involved, these issues are simply deemed irrelevant by those who have found joy in this type of relationship. And if we are not involved in one – who are we to judge?
We are, as a society, judgmental. We like to read about celebrities and comment upon their lifestyle choices, we gossip about co-workers, and we have opinions on everything. And while we are eminently entitled to these opinions, do we have the right to use them to say that other people are wrong?
For couples who find themselves in age-gap relationships, the sense that society feels it’s open-mike night on their lives is probably not the first concern they have. Usually it is the reactions of those close to them that can make life difficult. And let’s face it – these are the people who have the power to really make an impact on the couple’s lives.
They say that love is blind, and truly, most of us do not plan on falling in love. While there might be points along the way when it might be possible to call a halt to the proceedings, love usually just happens. And generally, it’s not a bad thing either, bringing great joy to those who share it.
But it isn’t easy – relationships are the hardest work you’ll ever do in your life, regardless of how much love is invested in them, and complicating them with outside issues is unwise. But if you are in a relationship of which your friends and family disapprove, how can you not take their opinions on board? Well, you can listen to them, and weigh up what they have to say – but you must then place their opinions to one side and live your life as you see fit.
So if you find yourself in a relationship that involves a significant age difference, what do you do? Most of what’s involved is what you’d do in any other relationship – do not undermine what you share with another person by reducing the whole thing to one aspect of it. So there is an age difference – you simple deal with that the way you deal with any other issue in your relationship. Through communication and negotiation.
Whether you are just beginning to date an older or younger person or are in a longer-term relationship, the repeated raising of the age-gap issue between you may mean that one or other of you are uncomfortable with some aspect of it. It is of enormous importance that you be honest with yourself, and with one another. Do you have unspoken issues surrounding the age gap?
Do you want children, but fear it is inappropriate? Do you fear the death of an older partner, or the abandonment of a younger one? These issues will only fester if left unmentioned, so talk about any issues you may have. The age-gap will only be an issue between you if you allow it to be.
But what if it is, in fact, other people who are uncomfortable with the difference? If their opinion upsets you greatly, then it might once again be wise to search your own feelings for some unacknowledged fear within yourself. But if you are simply upset by the refusal of a loved one to quit judging your decision, then the time has come to talk with them.
You must kindly remind them that while you appreciate that their concern comes from affection for you, that this is your life, and you must live it as you see fit. Discuss their fears with them, and point out how much joy and satisfaction the relationship brings to you. Take their fears as they are meant – as concern for a loved one – and weigh them carefully. But once you have, you must put them aside. They are the opinions of others, and do not belong in your relationship.
All relationships are difficult, but ones that are outside expectations can have an extra burden to bear. The partners in the relationship are as much members of society as anyone else, and likely to be swayed by its opinions. It is wise to enter any relationship with honesty, and above all honesty to yourself.
Be sure that you enter an age-gap relationship with realistic expectations, and a firm grasp of all the age-gap will imply, such as the increased likelihood of one partner being left behind by death.
But once these realizations are behind you, then you are as prepared to enter a relationship as any one, and hopefully the people who love you will support that. But if not, you must leave their opinions at the door once you return home.