The Sex Column: 'People don't approve of our 18-year age gap'

The Sex Column: 'People don't approve of our 18-year age gap'

August 5, 2021

‘I’m currently dating a man who is 18 years older than me.

‘He is 46 years old and I’m 28 and although I’ve never been with an older man before, I think it suits me. I have my own small business that I enjoy working on every day and he has a business that keeps him busy too.

I find him very interesting and attractive and we have kissed a few times. I believe we are compatible physically.

I think my issue is that it feels quite unconventional and I feel people staring at us.

My parents were not particularly approving of the age gap and neither were my friends.

What are your thoughts?

No one knows how successful any relationship will be. ‘All you can go on is what you have and what you want,’ says James McConnachie. ‘And what you have sounds good.’

We understand that you find the gaze and opinions of others uncomfortable but you decide what your age gap means, not them.

‘Culture may discount a relationship between an older man and a younger woman as a midlife crisis, but if he is committed to you and treats you as an equal, then your relationship avoids these stereotypes,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.

One issue that can inhibit a blossoming relationship between people of different ages is the relative baggage they each bring.

‘You may live a relatively carefree life while he may have commitments to children, a previous marriage or mortgages,’ says Rudkin. ‘But age is, of course, no guarantee of any of these things.’

Another weight to add to the scales is whether you both desire the same future, says McConnachie.

‘When you’re his age he will be retiring. When you’re retiring, he will hopefully be about 80. You might want children and at his age, he might not. You might not be thinking about all that yet but I bet he is and one thing is certain: you both need to be talking about it,’ he says.

For now, though, your immediate challenge is your relationship to being ‘unconventional’ and worrying what others think of you.

‘Considering the barriers that many people have with living honest, fulfilling lives, the mild disapproval of family and friends is a pretty minor obstacle,’ says Rupert Smith.

His arrival into your life could liberate you in many ways.

‘Did you grow up with very rigid ideas of what was acceptable and unacceptable?

Do you feel, on some level, that dating an older man is wrong?’ asks Smith.

Exploring the root of this unease will be useful because the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world create our experience.

‘If you are confident and comfortable in your relationship then others will accept that and will be comfortable with it too,’ says Rudkin.

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Got a sex and dating dilemma?

To get expert advice, send your problem to [email protected]

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