The Best Tips For Navigating An Age Gap In Your Relationship

In the last few weeks, Cher, who's 76, has been seen "canoodling," as the paparazzi say, with 36-year-old Alexander Edwards. Of course, social media had thoughts on the 40-year difference forcing Cher to defend her relationship with Edwards by posting a since-deleted tweet that read, "Love doesn't know math, it sees [two heart emojis]." But that didn't stop everyone and their mother from voicing their two cents about the age difference.


Of course, Cher is hardly the first celebrity to be hounded by the public because of an age difference with a partner. Florence Pugh had to take to Instagram in 2020 to defend her relationship and 20-year age difference with Zach Braff. Pete Davidson, who's dated more than a couple of women who are much older than him, gave an epic rant on "Saturday Night Live" when the world just couldn't stop talking about the 20-year age difference between him and Kate Beckinsale — also pointing out the hypocrisy that one of the big concerns was that Beckinsale was the older one.

The saying may be that "age is but a number," but apparently, that isn't applied to age differences among couples. But just because you might find yourself the talk of the town if you have an age-gap relationship, that doesn't mean you should give it up. Instead, it's best to learn how to navigate it and enjoy what you have. 


Don't ignore the elephant in the room

If the age difference is a big one, as in decades apart, it's important to address that. If you're 30 and your partner is 60, you may only have a decade or so with them before the physical and mental decline begins.


"How do you cope with differently aging bodies?" therapist Jean G. Fitzpatrick LP tells Newsweek. "Over the years, the older partner is likely to be dealing with health issues before the younger one, and if they are not prepared for that, the stress on both of them can be very challenging."

There may come a time when you're no longer romantic partners, but the younger one has to take on the role of caretaker (via Women's Day). Of course, people don't want to think about these things or the fact that their older partner might die much sooner than the younger one, but it's something to talk about with each other, so you have a plan in case a situation like that arises.

Know that not everyone will understand

While you may not get the backlash of a celebrity and millions of people trolling your social media accounts, there's a chance that your friends and family might not think it's a good idea — and they'll be sure to tell you so.


"Us humans are judgmental, and if what our neighbor is doing is misaligned with what we expect, we put a spotlight on it," associate professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics Grace Lordan tells BBC. "Women who match with younger men go most against the grain when it comes to our narrative of marriage, and so suffer the most judgment." Although we'd like to believe that those who love us will support our decision to be in a relationship with someone we care for deeply, no matter the age difference, as Lordan points out, human beings are really judgmental and frown upon anything that goes against the norm.

"In many cultures, it is not considered acceptable to fall in love with someone who is much older or younger than you," consultant psychologist Dr. Elena Touroni tells BBC. It disrupts the evolutionary belief that ages should be similar so as to procreate and contribute to the carbon footprint, er, world population, according to Touroni.


Don't let the naysayers get you down

Since you already know your age difference is going to ruffle some feathers, the best thing you can do is ignore the noise. People assert their opinions for many reasons, but one of the most annoying of those reasons is that they think they're right.


"Most of the couples I know say that they feel like they're the same age," psychiatrist Dr. Loren Olson tells PsychCentral. "We have a chronological age, a psychological age, a physical age, and a sexual age. Age gap couples frequently are compatible in the last three."

Unfortunately, while this is true because relationships with an age difference aren't just about the number, it doesn't prevent people who don't agree with what you have from accusing those in age-gap relationships of having daddy issues or mommy issues. However, research has found that this is actually not the case at all (via AskMen). So, if this insult is thrown your way, you can immediately debunk it.

Discuss the future realistically

In addition to the very real possibility of one partner becoming a caretaker, there's also the issue of kids. Although men can father children for, well, pretty much their whole lives — Charlie Chaplin was 73 when his youngest child was born — women don't have that luxury. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average age at which women go through menopause in the U.S. is 51. That means if a woman is with a much younger man and she's running out of time to have kiddos, but he's not ready, that can be a problem. On the flip side, like Chaplin, an older man can have a child at 73, but he'll be in his early 90s when that child heads off to college.


"If you want the relationship to be long-term, then make sure that your values, morals, and life goals match up," matchmaker and dating and relationship expert Laura Bilotta tells Insider. "Big age differences aren't as noticeable when you're both middle-aged but what happens once one of you is a senior and the other isn't? These are the big picture questions that need to be thought about before you decide to spend your life together."

No one wants to think about these logistics when they're in love, but they're logistics that should be discussed anyway.

You do you

The most important tip for navigating a relationship with an age gap? You do you. This is your life, and we only come around this way once. Who we fall in love with and decide to build a life with is no one's business but our own. And, contrary to what evolution dictates in regards to procreation, there is no "right" number of years between two people, so to think that a relationship with only a three-year gap has a better chance at success than a relationship with a 30-year gap is just silly.


"If everyone involved feels happy, loved, safe, and able to communicate well, there is no need to treat this relationship any differently than any other," research psychologist and research consultant with Cougar Life Dr. Sarah E. Hill tells Elite Daily.

Hey, if it's been working for Leo DiCaprio all these years, then there's hope for anyone who's in an age-gap relationship. Of course, he breaks up with his girlfriends before they turn 26, but that's a whole other thing.