Does Age Truly Matter?

Your honey is 15 years older than you... so what? In these modern times, does age really matter?

By Chris DeLorenzo

ecently, my friend Jerry starting dating a man who’s 10 years older than he is. These two guys really like each other, they have a lot in common, and there’s a strong mutual attraction; everyone who sees them together says that they seem really happy.

But Jerry is often concerned about feeling “too young” or “not established” enough, and his boyfriend has been concerned about
The most important quality in a relationship is having similar priorities and values.
being “too old.” Friends reassure them by saying they know other couples with a similar age disparity who have been happy together for many years, so the message is always the same: age difference doesn’t matter.

If you’ve met someone significantly older or younger than yourself, you may have the same concerns Jerry has, so let’s take a look at what you might be worried about.

A significant age difference
“Significant” may range from 10 to 15 years or more, but what difference does that really make? The most important quality in a relationship is having similar priorities and values; being born in separate decades doesn’t mean you don’t have similar values. It’s your compatibility that matters most. And if someone has had more experience than you, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any lessons to learn about loving someone. Sometimes they may teach you, but you still have lessons to teach them as well.

Sugar mamas and sugar daddies
I reassured Jerry that making more money (or less money) than your significant other doesn’t have to create imbalance; it’s what you decide to do with your money that you must have in common. If you’re both frivolous (or frugal), all that matters is that you share that outlook.

Comparing your salaries is ineffective, especially if you’re ignoring the fact that just because he can afford to buy you something expensive doesn’t mean he loves you more. Jerry once brought his boyfriend marigolds from his garden, and the guy nearly melted. No one wants to feel as if he or she is loved with “things” anyway; people want to be loved with gestures, communication and affection.

Life experience and the lack thereof
Finally Jerry had to admit that even if his boyfriend (who is only 36!) has some boyish qualities, 26-year-old Jerry must be doing something right; he must be intellectually and emotionally mature enough to attract and interest someone older. Though all of us go through different developmental stages as we grow older, with compassion and honesty we can respect our partners and support them through his or her growth.

There are so many reasons to talk yourself out of the opportunity to experience a healthy, loving, long-term relationship. But if you reject the idea that you have to be the same age, and trust your intuition instead, you are more likely to find what you feel is a truly meaningful love. My friend Jerry feels loved, supported and respected in his relationship, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all that matters.

Chris DeLorenzo is a California-based writer who currently teaches at the University of San Francisco.
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