Why Age Gap Relationships Don’t Work

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The age gaps between partners typically range up to five years or less. However, sometimes developing feelings for someone can be age-blind. Couples with large age gaps will inevitably face problems, especially when friends and family are not supportive of the couple’s decision.

Partners with large age gaps will likely have different life goals, perspectives, and preferences, proving two people to be incompatible in time.

Being in a relationship with someone that’s significantly younger or older than you is going to be challenging. This does not mean it is doomed to fail, but a large number of age gap relationships don’t work. In this article, we will discuss the main reasons that cause these types of relationships to break down and what to be on the lookout for.

About Age Gap Relationships

In general, age gap relationships refer to age differences between partners of 10 years or more. The individual perception of age gap relationships and what is and is not acceptable broadly depends on several factors, including:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Societal pressures
  • Cultural backgrounds

Studies have proven the following about age gap relationships.

Men are typically more open to considering women that are significantly younger than themselves. The theory behind this is believed to have evolutionary roots. Throughout history and across various nations, gender equality never existed, with the man being considered the superior sex. This often culminated in younger females being given to, earned, or even purchased by suitable male suitors.

Men have a less strict reproductive clock than females, which has played a role in women becoming more open to relationships with older men since fertility will typically not be an issue.

In general, women found little to no advantage in dating men that are significantly younger than themselves. Younger women have a higher acceptance level for older men since they’re viewed as more financially stable and able to support children.

Couples with zero to three-year age gaps showed greater marital satisfaction than those with age gaps of three to five years. Similarly, couples with age gaps of up to five years were more satisfied than couples with more than a five-year age difference. In general, marital satisfaction decreased as the age gap increased.

Reasons That Age Gap Relationships Don’t Work

In more recent times, age gap relationships have become more common as the world learns to embrace diversity and equality. However, the stigma of age gap relationships still exists in society and is one of the most testing factors in such a relationship. Unfortunately, that’s not the only reason. Here are some others:

Societal Pressure

Being in an age gap relationship means that you need to be prepared for your relationship to constantly be the topic of conversation or ridicule by friends, family, and pretty much anywhere you go that people can see you and your partner together. This will include hurtful remarks or jokes, weird looks, and in extreme instances, even confrontation.

In these cases, people tend to jump to conclusions such as exploitation by the older party or intentions of financial gain by the younger, with terms being thrown about such as “gold digger” and “sugar daddy/ mommy.” Not to mention the potentially embarrassing situation of someone referring to your partner as your parent or child.

Family, religious, and cultural pressures are other reasons that cause age gap relationships to end due to the inability of parents and siblings to accept your life choice.

Blaming the Age Gap

When faced with typical relationship problems or disagreements, people around you will likely allude to the age gap as the reason for the turbulence in your relationship. Prolonged exposure to this type of talk can easily result in you starting to believe that the age gap is to blame and, over time, will become your go-to reason for any disagreement in the future.

Middle Aged Couple Sitting Offended On Couch After Argue

Compatibility Issues

Potentially the most common reason, people of significantly different ages are likely to face compatibility issues. Here are the more common compatibility issues faced by people of different generations:

  • Differing priorities
  • Differing views
  • Propensity for risk
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Levels of patience

These issues are likely to make one question if love is enough if you’re not compatible with your partner on several other levels.

Children Issues

There are two major potential issues regarding children in age gap relationships.

Your partner’s children – If you’re the younger half of the relationship, there is a chance that your partner may have children from a previous relationship. You’ll have to be sure that you accept the reality of playing the role of step-parent, and this can be even more difficult the older the stepchildren are.

Having your own children – This is a two-ended sword. On one end, the younger party may not want to have children right away, whereas the older person does. Alternatively, the younger party could want children now, but the older party doesn’t since they may feel their time for parenting has passed.

In age gap relationships, this is something that needs to be discussed sooner rather than later in the relationship so as to avoid issues later on.

Intimacy/Sex Life Issues

Advancing age and lower libido typically go hand-in-hand. Despite having several things in common and being extremely happy in a relationship, age gap couples may suffer as a result of differing energy levels and physical limitations. Sexual dissatisfaction can create frustration in any relationship and potentially lead the dissatisfied party to look for intimacy outside the relationship.


Age gap relationships are bound to encounter more tests and difficulties than relationships with couples of similar ages. Studies have proven that age gap relationships are less likely to stand the test of time for reasons ranging from family and societal pressures to poor compatibility.

Ultimately, couples with a larger age gap need to rely on open, honest communication in order to prepare for the barrage of judgment and difficulties they are likely to face and focus on methods to prevent the differences from creating a divide in their relationship.

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