I’ve mentioned before that I have a long-term boyfriend (we’ve been together for over five and a half years now) and one thing that I often get questions about from people who only know me, rather than us as a couple, is about the age gap between us, which is not insignificant. In fact, at seventeen and a half years between us, I think it’s technically termed a May-December relationship.
So, I thought it might be interesting to address some of those questions here and maybe look at some of the pros and cons of being in a relationship with an age difference. You might also be glad to know that there won’t be any photos of how sickeningly happy we are, because although he might appear in the background of some of my food shots, this is my blog and so putting him on the internet without his consent wouldn’t really be fair.
We met through work. We worked in different offices of the same company and if it weren’t for the annual all-staff trip to the races, we might never have been more than colleagues within the same department. But, a free bar and a day of sunshine and gambling meant that we ended up chatting and laughing together as we stood around the parade ring checking out the horses. Although we never strayed into obvious flirting territory, so I didn’t think much more of it.
Monday morning came around though and mid-morning an email popped up from him:
So far, so friendly. We started emailing back and forth and I started to suspect that his intention was not just to pass a quiet morning, a suspicion that was cemented when he asked me out to dinner. A few months later and we had the ‘what are we chat?’, following which we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend, a term that somehow always seemed a bit wrong to me when referring to a proper man, rather than a boy.
I held off telling my mum for a while, not because of the age thing, but because I had exams coming up (exams I had to pass first time) and I didn’t want her thinking that I might lose focus (she does worry). So the conversation went a little like this:
Mum: So what are you up to this weekend?
Me: Not much, although I’ve been hanging out with this guy a bit lately so I might see him
Mum: Oh right, how did you meet him?
Me: Through work
Mum: How old is he? (now, I can guarantee that had he been my age, this is never a question she would have asked)
Me: Umm… he’s a bit older, he’s 39
Mum: Has he been married before? (gah)
Me: Yes, but he’s been single for a while
She didn’t go on to ask if he has any children (he doesn’t), maybe she just didn’t want to know any more at that point. For the record, my mum and family love him so no problems there, but that day she definitely asked all of the questions I didn’t want to have to answer at that point.
My friends were similarly accepting of him, although it helps that he’s charming (not in a sleazy way), gregarious and makes people laugh, I like introducing people to him because I tend to think that they think better of me because of him.
But, even though we’re really happy together, there are obviously times when we notice the age difference, mostly it happens when he mentions something and expects me to know about it, it then turns out it happened before I was born. He also thinks it’s weird that I’ve only ever known Germany as a united country and never knew it as East and West Germany.
There are pros and cons to our situation (some more light-hearted than others, we like to laugh about the whole situation):
1. I never have to worry about what he’ll look like when he’s old, because he’s already old
– This is one of the things I joke about
2. If there’s a war and conscription, he’ll be too old to go – And this is another of the things I joke about
3. He never has to carry photo ID to buy alcohol – At nearly 28 I can pretty much buy a bottle of wine unchecked but sometimes supermarket ‘ask over 25’ policies mean I still get flattered by being asked for ID and so have to make sure I have some, he doesn’t
4. He knows who he is and what he wants
– I don’t worry that he’s going to turn around tomorrow and tell me he needs a break to ‘find himself’ (ie. find other women)
5. He’s been well trained by other women – Something you just don’t get when you meet someone in their early 20s, he hasn’t recently been a student, he’s fully housetrained and is much better at doing the washing up than I am!
1. People who don’t know us may assume I’mgolddigger – I’m really not (even if he had any gold to dig), in fact I couldn’t be less interested in men with money, I support myself thank you.
2. He’s less interested in a messy night out on the town than I am
– Not too much of a problem as I’ll just go out with my girls, but sometimes it would be nice to have a night dancing our cares away together.
3. Assuming nothing bad happens to either of us in the meantime, he’s likely to need care before I do – Ok, so this is probably the biggest concern, but if life has taught my anything it’s that it doesn’t always turn out the way you think. Either one of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow or be struck down by illness, so we can only really enjoy our time together and tackle this if and when we have to.
4. He doesn’t get a lot of my references to pop culture – Trying to explain the lure of Funhouse or Knightmare on Challenge TV as nostalgia is just something he won’t understand.
5. I’ll never beat him at Trivial Pursuit – He’s had so many more years to accumulate knowledge! Plus, I can never get the orange Sports widget anyway.
Obviously, the main thing for me is not the age difference but the fact that he makes me laugh more than anyone I’ve met (even when I’m in a grump and don’t want to laugh) and he’s kind and sweet and loves me. As long as I have those things, then nothing else really matters.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone else with experience of a relationship with an age gap or from anyone with thoughts on relationships with an age gap (positive or negative).