Age Difference

silverswordSeptember 17, 2008

What do you all feel about age differences? At what age is it appropriate to date/marry someone five years older/younger than you? Ten years? Twenty years? Older?

I see that some people have issues with people marrying someone their senior. I married a man 12 years older than me, we are now divorced and I am with a man 3 years older than me. I have also dated a man 5 years younger than me.

My opinion? Age up to 18, no more than one year difference. Up to 25, two/three years. Up to thirty, three/four years. After thirty, 5 years younger to 10 years older. After 40, 10 younger to 20 older. And so on. I think you can see my pattern. Of course, there are exceptions, but my experience has shown that generally it's best to stay within a 10-15 year range.

I have a friend who married a man 25 years older than her and had another baby (total tally, two for him, one for her, and one for the both of them). And she was 23 at the time. I still cringe. But she seems in love, so I support her. Do I really respect him... not at all. But if she were 30 or 40... I would probably feel different, because they would have both been adults for longer.


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I don't think it makes one bit of difference if there is a vast age difference, if their gay or if it's an interracial marriage, if it makes them happy more power to them. Happiness is what we all want.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 5:35PM
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My grandparents were 22 years apart in age and very happy (she was 22 and he 44 when they married). Of course she was a widow in her mid 60s. But is was a different time.

When I met DH my mother didn't dare object to his age due to her parents' age difference. We are 9 years apart in age, and I have to say it isn't easy. He tends to think he is superior to me because he is older (even though I am more successful professionally). I was in my late twenties and he late thirties when we met. We are different generations (he's a boomer, I'm a gen-X) and had vastly different experiences growing up (he had a mother that ironed his clothes even when he was in college, my mother started a successful career when I was in junior high). The differences in our outlook seem to increase as we age (we've been together almost 12 years). I want a partner and he wants to be the boss. I don't want or need a boss. Of course, I think it's totally individual to the couple. But I do think the older person tends to think they should be "in charge" and the decision maker. If the younger person is ok with that (some wives are, no matter the age difference), it may work. But if the younger person doesn't agree (like me), watch out.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 8:31PM
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I think it depends how young you are when it happens. I wouldn't want my 16 year old daughter going out with a 25 year old man. But I wouldn't have any objections if she was 25 and he was 34.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 7:51AM
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stargazzer, I appreciate you writing in. But I can't help but feel you are being judgemental in your statement of nonjudgement. Sexuality and race have nothing to do with age. I don't know how old you are, but for most people in my generation homosexuality and skin color aren't an issue at all. It's the disparity of power I'm looking at.

My point is highlighted by Sue36's response that it can be difficult with an age difference. I married a man 12 years older than me, and while we seemed compatible in the beginning, later we had issues that came up from him growing up in the 80's and me in the 90's. And it would really bug me that he and my mother would talk about something and then say "you're too young to remember this".

I agree that people of age should be able to be together as long as they are of consenting age and not hurting anyone. But in my home state, the age of consent is 15. Should we be ok with a 15 year old and a 50 year old because they are happy and "Happiness is what we all want"?

I know that's a little extreme. Personally, I think my friend at age 20 with no education past high school dating a man age 45 who is a physician is a recipe for disaster. He has had a full life already, with two boys (at that time age 16 and 18) and an ex-wife. She barely got out of high school and was still living with her parents. I'm only three years older than her, but when I met him I had my college degree, had travelled and lived on my own. He and I have a lot to talk about, while she'd be sitting there not understanding what we were discussing. It was embarrassing at best. Yes, they say they are in love, and I support my friend. But I don't respect her husband for his choices, and I really can't see why he wants to be with a person who is not even slightly on his intellectual level unless it's all about sex and power. And I don't like that.

This is just one example. I dated a man 20 years my senior at age 20 for two years and looking back I think I thought I was so mature, but really he was immature for dating a 20 year old.

I agree with Khandi that it depends on how young you are, and I think the older you get the older your mate can be, but the age difference below you should not be that great. Someone who is 40 dating a 60 year old? Both fully developed adults- no problem.

Anyway, I just read on another forum how people were having issues with age, so I thought rather than hijack that post I'd ask my question here. Thanks for responding!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 11:26AM
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I never gave it much thought until recently, when I found out that two of my acquaintances, in their early 60's like me, are married to men 20 years older than them. Both of their husbands are now quite debilitated with chronic diseases and one has Alzheimer's. These women work full time and then go home and care for their husbands. I'm sure this isn't what they expected when they married many years ago. While these things can happen to anyone in any marriage, I see the terrible strain these women cope with day after day. This is less likely to happen if the husband and wife are closer in age.

Now, for me, if I could find someone in his mid to late 90's, with no family and LOTS of money, I'd consider it!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Both of my husbands were 10 years older than I was and I knew that women outlive men usually by 10 years, so I knew I would probably end up taking care of my husband and I did. If we had been the same age it would have been much harder on me. I watched the young people around me grow up and struggle learning to be independent, I didn't have to go through that.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 5:21PM
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Age doesn't matter... maturity does.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:29PM
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oops... hit enter too soon!

Wanted to ask... what does this have to do with parenting????

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:31PM
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good question. I keep going to the marriage forum looking for this thread. LOL

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 8:36PM
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This reminds me of the story my sister told me last year. A woman where she works has a FULLY developed 12-year old daughter who is dating a 19 year old guy. IMO, he's way to old for her at 12! At his age, he's allowed into bars and am sure he's into sex. I wouldn't want my 12 year old doing the same! The mother thought this was cool and the girls at work were trying to knock some sense into her but to no avail. Here in Canada, 14 was the consenting age at that time. Now, I think it's 16.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 6:39AM
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You are right when I think of marriage I am thinking adults not minors. I was almost 19 when I married and I was very mature as far as responsibility goes, but not in terms of judging a mate's character, I was waaaaayyyy to young on that score.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 11:48AM
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Western, Stargazzer,
Sorry, maybe I should have posted this in the marriage forum. One of my friend's daughter's is dating a much older man, that's where it originally came from. I read a post, I think from Kathy in WA, and she married an older man and there was some controversy about that, which brought the question up for me regarding my friend.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 12:53PM
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Western "Age doesn't matter... maturity does."

Stargazzer, "You are right when I think of marriage I am thinking adults not minors. I was almost 19 when I married and I was very mature as far as responsibility goes, but not in terms of judging a mate's character, I was waaaaayyyy to young on that score"

That's exactly what I'm getting at. I agree it's not always a certain age, but how old do you have to be in order to be able to really judge your own maturity? Children think they are mature enough, and I thought I was mature enough and flattered to be dating a man 20 years my senior, that this older man found me interesting/acceptable proved I was mature right? WRONG!!!

We can let this thread die, I'm not really attached to the outcome :) I was just curious what y'all thought. Thanks for humoring me.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 12:59PM
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This is an interesting thread and it doesn't matter to me where it started.

I know I was mature, I was born mature. I wanted to be independent, didn't want bills, didn't want everything now. I never complained because we only had peanut butter sandwiches for awhile and had to buy everything we needed a piece at a time. Our first apartment was a furnished one room garage apartment and those first few years was a happy time, don't think I have ever been happier except the last couple of years.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 3:38PM
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