“Age is just a number.”
The short answer to this question is yes. And its also no. If I’m honest, there is no short answer.
At this point in my life, I’ve been involved in two relationships that caused people to ask me the dreaded question; “Aren’t you concerned about the age?” To which I always hastily replied “No!”
However, I’d be lying if I claimed it had never worried me. I’ve dated someone who was nine years older, and currently I’m dating a guy three and a half years younger. In both situations, it’s caused more than a few eyebrows to raise. People wonder why I don’t date closer to my own age, or how have I made it work in the first place?
My first relationship with the older guy lasted a total of two and a half years, six months of that being engaged. While my current relationship has been official 5 months; to say I have some experience with this topic is a slight understatement.
Yet, age tends to mean more to us than we let on. We celebrate it, yearly, on our birthdays. Certain ages we deem deserve special privileges (driver’s license 16, drinking at 21, etc.) We can’t act like age doesn’t matter in our lives because it can affect so many factors. Sometimes when we are drawn to a person, we look at all our similarities and we avoid the differences. Particularly in age, even if we know for a fact there is a gap, we tend to expect our lovely significant other to respond to things the way we do. We look at them, despite what stage they are in life, and wonder why they don’t respond the same. We can get angry, frustrated, or even hurt by the lack of understanding.
So how do we handle this? How do we make a relationship work between two people who have a couple years between them. It sounds simple, yet it is harder than it appears.
People can be more mature than their age tells. They can look older, but act younger or vice versa. Even if we find people who act the way their number of years tells, we let it slip between the cracks the fact that someone at 18 doesn’t respond to situations the same way a 28-year-old would. If we are the older part of a relationship, we don’t comprehend why the person we love so much would respond so immaturely to a scenario. If we are the younger half, we don’t understand how the one we would do anything for could be so unsympathetic to what we are going through. We know how to respond to our own situations based on our life experiences, and we don’t always give grace to people who react differently from us. Including our significant others.
My current boyfriend is 19, and I’m 23. Most of the time, he’s going to act like a 19-year-old. Sometimes, he’s going to surprise me and act like a 25-year-old. Yet, when I decided to date him I knew what to expect, because he’s not going to respond to a lot of things in the way I do. He is going to learn on his own so many things, some things that I may have already learned. Yet the reason I’m dating him has to do with the fact that he and I inspire each other to be better. We are different people, with different ideas, and different ways of seeing life. My expectations of him are not low; I expect that he treats me well, communicates with me, and cares for me. They don’t include him acting like someone he isn’t.
Age doesn’t have to affect our relationships to a point of destruction if we don’t let it. It is possible to have a happy and healthy relationship despite an age gap. It just depends on if you’re willing to set aside your expectations and truly look at that person for all the wonderful things they are.