Mind the gap – does age difference in relationships matter?
People reported distinct age preferences for marriage; a serious relationship; falling in Based on the figures Buunk and colleagues () provided (and thus the has been criticized for dating men who differ substantially from her own age. Though they both knew they were done looking, the age difference was still a consideration. How do couples get from dating to “I do”?. Romantic couples with a large age gap often raise eyebrows. But studies have shown they are often more satisfied in their relationships.
The Thorntons on their wedding day In typical millennial style, Courtney shared tons selfies of herself with her beau on social media. Which brings us to the question—how common are age gap relationships?
The majority of heterosexual Americans about 80 percent opt for a partner within five years of their own age when they first marry, according to the Pew Research Center. That number, however, drops to 57 percent for the men surveyed and 62 percent for the women in subsequent marriages. Additionally, in keeping with the stereotype of the older man remarrying a younger woman, approximately 20 percent of remarried men chose a spouse who was more than 10 years their junior, with another 18 percent men surveyed marrying someone six to nine years younger.
In contrast, only 5 percent of women remarried someone 10 or more years younger, while 6 percent chose a subsequent partner six to nine years younger.
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She is 10 years his senior Getty Put more simply, about one in five married Americans surveyed had a spouse more than five years older or younger than themselves. Research out of the University of Colorado at Boulder found that both men and women reported greater relationship satisfaction with younger spouses, specifically in the early years of the marriage.
Men who marry younger wives tend to show more satisfaction in their marriages, the research found. Meanwhile, the men who marry women who are older than they are show less satisfaction.
Age disparity in sexual relationships
What are the relationship outcomes for age-gap couples? Many people assume age-gap couples fare poorly when it comes to relationship outcomes. But some studies find the relationship satisfaction reported by age-gap couples is higher.
These couples also seem to report greater trust and commitment and lower jealousy than similar-age couples. Over three-quarters of couples where younger women are partnered with older men report satisfying romantic relationships.
A factor that does impact on the relationship outcomes of age-gap couples is their perceptions of social disapproval. That is, if people in age-gap couples believe their family, friends and wider community disapprove of their union, then relationship commitment decreases and the risk of break-up increases.
These effects appear to apply to heterosexual and same-sex couples.
#HusbandNotDad: What Experts Say About Relationships With Large Age Gaps – HealthyWay
So the negative outcomes for age-gap couples seem to reside not in problems within the couple, but in pressures and judgments from the outside world. Another factor at play may have to do with the stage of life each partner is experiencing. For instance, a year gap between a year-old and a year-old may bring up different challenges and issues than for a year gap where one partner is 53 and the other is This is because our lives are made up of different stages, and each stage consists of particular life tasks we need to master.
And we give priority to the mastery of different tasks during these distinct stages of our lives. So when each member of a couple straddles a different life stage, it may be difficult for the couple to reconcile each other's differing life needs and goals.
The success of a relationship depends on the extent to which partners share similar values, beliefs and goals about their relationship; support each other in achieving personal goals; foster relationship commitment, trust and intimacy; and resolve problems in constructive ways. These factors have little do with age.
So the reality is, while an age gap may bring about some challenges for couples, so long as couples work at their relationship, age should be no barrier. Gery Karantzas is an associate professor in social psychology and relationship science at Deakin University. This piece first appeared on The Conversation.
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Studies have found partners with more than a ten-year gap in age experience social disapproval. But when it comes to our own relationships, both men and women prefer someone their own age, but are open to someone years their junior or senior.
While there is variation across cultures in the size of the difference in age-gap couples, all cultures demonstrate the age-gap couple phenomenon. In some non-Western countries, the average age gap is much larger than in Western countries. So does age matter?
And do couples with large age gaps experience poorer or better relationship outcomes compared to couples of similar ages? These generally involve older men partnered with younger women.
The limited evidence on same-sex couples, however, suggests the prevalence rates are higher. But what these trends tell us is that the majority of the population is likely to partner with someone of similar age.
This largely has to do with having social circles that generally include peers of similar ages and being attracted to others who are similar. Similarity entails many things, including personality, interests and values, life goals and stage of life, and physical traits age being a marker of physical appearance.
Many of the reasons proposed for age-gap couples have been largely rooted in evolutionary explanations, and focus on explaining older man-younger woman pairings.