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Is minding the gap just for subways?

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Whether you’ve been to London or not, you’re probably familiar with the phrase commonly associated with the city’s underground subway system: “Mind the gap.” While you should absolutely be careful about the void between the train and the platform, minding the gap is much less of a worry when it comes to ages and dating.

During my latest “Ask Erika Monday” Q&A session on Instagram— join me next week with your burning questions! — I got not one, but two questions concerning age gaps. (And I actually wrote about this topic just a few months ago, but the questions keep coming!)

The first submission said, “She’s 23 and I’m 32. I know the under 25 rule, but we fell in love.”

I’m not sure what “rule” this person meant, and I told them just that in plain terms. “I do not know such a rule. You’re both consenting adults. You’re fine.” (They don’t call me “no-nonsense” without reason.)

Along similar lines, there was a 31-year-old woman dating a 23-year-old man. “Both want the same thing but feeling weird about the age difference. Thoughts?” they wrote.

In this case, the woman was older, but I had pretty much the same answer: “You’re both consenting adults. People mature at different rates. Do not let some arbitrary societal ‘thing’ get in the way of what could be a beautiful relationship.”

 

While having a decent age gap between you and your partner might raise some eyebrows — just think of when George Clooney married Amal, 17 years his junior — why should it? Where does it say that two people need to be within X years of each other to connect?

Sure, finding someone who is your age or similar might help you connect on a few things. You probably watched the same shows growing up, you were around the same age when significant world events happened, and you might remember trends of your childhood. But what do any of those things have to do with attraction and connection? There are much more important things to base a relationship on: long-term goals, similar values and your chemistry, for starters.

Of course, when there is a significant age gap, there are things to consider. Do you want kids? How will you handle retirement at different times? Will health issues be a problem? But as long as you’re in agreement on these issues and communicate honestly about them, I wouldn’t let it stop you.

By the way, George and Amal have been married for nine years and going strong. And for what it’s worth, my mom was 28 and my dad was 22 when they met. They’ve now been married for 43 years! Think about some of the couples you know, and you’ll realize it’s actually not super uncommon.

So when evaluating an age gap in a potential partnership, ask yourself, “Am I concerned about our lifestyle/life stage differences?” or “Am I concerned what people will think or say?” If the former, regardless of age, that is certainly worth a large consideration in any relationship, especially if someone is 23, as in these cases, and has not had a lot of life experience yet. And if the latter, then I recommend not giving into arbitrary “rules” and finding out for yourself if you’re compatible. There are many factors that determine compatibility, and age is only one of them.


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