Though you might think you have all the experience when it comes to dating, if you have only dated people in your age group, you may not be completely prepared to date someone significantly older or younger than you. Here is what to keep in mind as you navigate your relationship.
Back in the day, a woman dating someone younger was seen as shameful. Today, this has changed. Ali Male, a counselling psychologist at A-Z Professional Counselling and Support Centre, says age gaps in relationships seem to be more acceptable. However, he says, there are also some things that might come up when one partner is significantly older or younger than the other that you just do have to think about when you are dating someone of the same age.
Denis Odoi, a relationship counsellor, says during the course of dating you need to know your partner’s expectations from the relationship to help you to know whether to move on or call it quits. For example, your partner might not be interested in having children or does not plan on having children as soon as expected. This might not necessarily be about children but other life factors. Are they favourable for the both of you or not?
“This will help you make the right decision on whether to stay in the relationship or to move on before the red flags set in,’’ Odoi advices.
However, with age gap relations, some expectations can be dealt with as you need to reflect more on what you both want in the relationship and focus on that. But Male says: “It is also important to consider what your relationship will look like down the line. Big age differences are not as noticeable when you are both middle-aged but what happens once one of you is a senior and the other is not? These are the big picture questions that need to be thought about before you decide to spend your life together.”
Cathrine Natukuda, a counsellor at J.O.Y Medical Clinic, also says to minimise the effect of the age difference in a relationship you must identify and focus more on things that are of common interest to both of you.
“You must learn to agree with each other on all issues, big or small, and not allow one party to things not one party to take the role of decision making simply because they are older or younger. However failing to agree is as well understandable as it happens to all relations regardless of age,’’ she remarks.
The fact is that some people will disagree with you no matter how perfect your relationship is. Male says an effort to explain to your family and friends will be required.
“They will ask questions, make comments that are probably pretty annoying, so be prepared with a response. Depending on who the person is, you might actually feel like you can get into an explanation of the relationship, but other times, it might not feel necessary, so just to be prepared with that,” Male says.
Natukuda also notes that it is important for each partner to avoid showing power over the other. Regardless of who is older or younger in the relationship each person deserves equal rights and respect. However, it can be difficult for some people especially those that are older yet holding power over your partner is not a healthy behaviour.
“Much as your partner can be a mentor and a guardian on matters they have experienced but proving their power in a relationship is enough to indicate that your partner is not in the relationship for the right reasons,’’ Natukuda says, adding: “If you notice your partner is putting you down, scolding you, or making you feel worthless than that could be a red flag that the relationship is doing you more harm than good.”