What It's Like To Be In An Age Gap Relationship In Your Twenties

14 Feb 2019

Happy Valentine's Day! I've talked a little bit about mine and Alex's relationship on my blog - in fact, I'm pretty sure he gets a mention in almost every blog post of mine as of late - but neither of us have ever really gone into depth about it. He doesn't talk too much about personal things on his blog and tends to stick to news and reviews, and while I do talk about personal things, this isn't something I'd ever thought to divulge. However, I realised that this was something that was pretty big in our lives and felt that talking about it around Valentine's Day would be perfect!

So as the title suggests, Alex and I are in an "age gap" relationship, which means that there is a "larger than average" number of years between us. If you want to get specific, there are 12 years between us (I'll let you do the maths - very sorry, Alex!) and while that's not the largest age gap in the world, it is the biggest age gap that either of us have experienced in a relationship. We don't fit into the whole "an acceptable age to date someone is your age divided by 2 plus 7", but it's a gap that I think is viewed as a little more "accepted", for lack of a better word, because I haven't been referred to as a gold digger or as having a sugar daddy or anything like that.

It's a gap that I think is viewed as less unusual as time goes on. It's like the scene in Big Fish, where Jenny (aged 8) acknowledges the 10 year difference between her and Edward Bloom, which seems large because she's so young. But she goes on to say, "when I'm 38, you'll be 48. That's not much difference at all," and that's how it feels with Alex. If I was 19, he would be 31 and that feels weird, but because I'm 24, the age difference doesn't feel so big, if that makes sense?

We thought it would be a great idea to do a post each about our relationship, how we view the age gap and how it has affected us, so take a read about my view and stay tuned for Alex's post!

How did we meet?

Like every love story, there's always a 'first meeting' story and from my perspective, it was totally unexpected. I had seen Alex posting about his Articulate blog in a university group and I read posts from time to time, so I was aware that he existed. We'd also been on the same university trip and to a blogging event, but never spoke or even looked at each other. There was even a time where he came into the Students' Union when I worked there and had been a bit standoffish with me. Obviously, I went into the back room to slag him off, which makes me laugh so much now, but all of these instances were before we'd ever properly met or spoken!

For a university project, I was looking for men between 18-30 to come and film some short clips for me, and I advertised this in the university Facebook group. He was the only person to respond and when he told me his age, I was hesitant, but as he was the only volunteer, he had to do. He came along to the shoot and presented me with the script I had written, except he'd pretty much re-written it. I thought, "my god, what an arse," but he was good in front of the camera, so I was appreciative. He also smelled great, but I didn't feel attracted to him initially, especially because I was engaged at the time.

I'm not entirely sure what happened from there, but we just clicked. He came to our blood donor recruitment drive, we talked a lot and he was a really good friend through the break down of my relationship. The feeling of 'could this be more than a friendship?' started to creep in and after my relationship ended, we decided to explore that possibility. Some would probably think that we started the relationship too quickly, but it felt as though my previous relationship had been over for a fair amount of time.

Because he had volunteered for our university project, I was aware from the beginning of his age and I was actually surprised by it because he definitely didn't look it. We joked about the age difference a lot before we were together and his "old man ways", so it was light-hearted at first, but a couple of months in, I became insecure about it.

What insecurities did I face?

I was used to being a relationship where both partners were very close in age. My previous relationship was almost 6 years long and we only had 2 years between us. That was the only serious relationship I had been in, so to feel so certain about a person that was 12 years my senior was a completely new feeling. At first, it was fine and it wasn't something that crossed my mind. We just hung out and it felt like nothing could touch us.

Then Alex went back to Bristol for a few weeks and being left on my own meant that I ended up really overthinking the situation. I was terrified that there was some unspoken pressure on me that we would need to get married and have children very quickly because Alex was nearing 40, and this wasn't something that I was ready for. The thought of marriage after ending an engagement made me feel a bit sick, so I was extremely worried that I couldn't provide what Alex wanted. This made me feel like I wasn't good enough and that he'd be better off with an older woman who was more established in life and possibly had kids already.

I began to convince myself that there was a huge difference in our intelligence levels - my brain said that because he was older, that automatically meant he was smarter than me. We have so much in common, but I could only focus on our different interests. He likes politics, which I can't understand no matter how many times he explains it, and I like beauty YouTubers. You see how polar opposite some of our interests are?

I also worried about how other people viewed us. I'd received a horrible Facebook message from someone I used to know who said that I was a horrible person and that no one liked me. They said they couldn't wait to see this new relationship go down the pan, and those words really affected me. But it wasn't just them that I worried about. I was scared about how my family would view the relationship and what my friends though about it. In fact, Lehmiller and Christopher found that the risk of break ups in age gap relationships increases due to perceived social disapproval, so I'm not alone in feeling like this.

I'm really sad to say that I let these insecurities get the better of me, and I actually ended the relationship for a short amount of time during the summer. However, when Alex came back from Bristol, we spent a lot of time talking about all of these things that were going on in my head and the what I needed to help me feel more confident in our relationship.

How did people react when we got together?

Despite the couple of people who had something to say, the reaction from other people was a lot better than I thought it was. Looking back on it now, there were more positive people than there were negative, which is pretty darn lovely.

My mum had already met him because he'd interviewed her for an article and most of my friends were really kind, but there was quite clearly a third group of people - the "impressed" group and, possibly unsurprisingly, these were mainly women. They saw Alex as some sort of trophy, as if bagging an older man was some sort of achievement, and this made me feel a bit uncomfortable. That's my fella you're talking about, not a piece of meat!

We've been together about 8 months now, so any sort of negative or impressed comment has kind of pattered out. People just sort of accept that we're a thing now and don't really question it.

I should also point out that we don't get funny looks in the street when we hold hands or kiss either, but I think that this is down to the fact that the 12 years between us isn't painfully obvious. If there were 22 years, that would show, but because 12 isn't that big of a gap, it isn't as noticeable, which I'm thankful for. I'm not sure I could handle being stared at when I'm trying to buy groceries. As you can tell, I'm definitely not at the point where I don't care what people think, but I'm working on it.

What about the 'different stages of life' thing?

An article by Insider said that one way to make an age gap relationship work is by acknowledging and understanding that you are both in different life stages. However, our relationship is unique in this department because both of us has experienced the life stage that the other is currently in. That sounds like a load of gobbledegook, but let me explain.

I did university in the way that was expected. I enrolled as soon as I left college, did my education, got my degrees and now I'm going into full time work. Alex went about things the other way. He went straight into work after college, got some experience, became really smart on a financial career path, but decided to explore journalism, something he'd always dreamed of doing, so he is currently a mature student.

Because we've both been in the other person's shoes, we're able to provide support and advice on almost all aspects, which is a lovely position to be in.

Why do we work?

If you haven't been in an age gap relationship, this question might be something that you were wondering. And to be honest, it's something we talk about a lot, mainly because we're disgusting, but also because we're constantly picking up on little things and saying "this is why we work." So despite the age gap, here are a few reasons why I think that we're pretty solid:
  • We both want the same things in life - we both want to have a family, careers in the media field and a house. We haven't quite decided on a cat or a dog because we love both, but there will definitely be one of the two! After discussing the pressures I felt about the whole quick marriage and kids thing, we both realise that there's no rush and things will happen when we're ready.
  • We have a lot of shared interests, but enough different interests that we always have something to talk about - I am never bored around Alex. We can talk about social media or journalism for ages because we're both interested in them, but we're constantly learning new things from each other because of our differing interests. I get him to keep me updated on politics and he asks me about makeup. We go to look at trains because he likes them and we browse Waterstones so I can lust after books.
  • We have solid communication skills - we're both really good at picking up on each other's emotions and knowing when we need to have a chat. I don't mean this in a 'we need to break up' way, but more in a 'let's get whatever's on your mind out in the open.' And this can be anything - nothing is off the table. I'm talking about period problems, daddy issues, university struggles... absolutely anything.
  • We have experienced the stages of life that the other person is at - I talked about this earlier in the post, but like I said, I'm in full time work at 24 and Alex is in university at 36. We have both been in each other's shoes before, so we are able to support each other through these stages.
  • Our personalities balance us out - Alex is a self-confessed grump and can be cynical in a stereotypical older man way, and I try to see the positives in everything and bring him round to that. We've both started to steal little bits of personality from each other, like I've started to be a bit grouchy and ranty about things, and he's started to be a bit more sunshiney.
  • We poke fun at the age gap - if our ages ever come up in conversation, which they rarely ever do, we tend to just laugh at it. Alex may talk about something from the 80s and I might say "I didn't exist then" or I might talk about toys that were popular when I was a kid and he'll laugh at how high tech they were in comparison to his wooden train set.

So for me, the age difference felt like no big deal at the start. I was just head over heels for a guy that happened to be 12 years older then me! It was only when he left for a few weeks that I started to overthink and put unnecessary pressure on myself. That was definitely the biggest struggle for me. It's so important that if you feel like this in a relationship that you talk to your partner and get everything out of your head.

But since then, things have been pretty peachy. I think people have this common misconception about age gap relationships that they're just rife with problems, but I can safely say that ours isn't. If there ever is a problem, however, we're pretty quick to talk about it and sort it out.

As I said, we've been together for about 8 months now and I know that's not a long time, but we just seem to be going from strength to strength as a team. Like a fine wine, we're just getting better with age, pardon the pun. But we're learning more about each other and finding new things to love. It sounds so cliche and minging, but the way I feel about Alex is completely different to how I've felt before. It feels mature and childlike all rolled into one, and like I'm the happiest I've been in such a long time.

I know that this was a long post and if you made it here, then well done! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about us and that you stay tuned to find out Alex's thoughts.

Whould you like to comment?

  1. Oh, what a nice story. I enjoyed reading this post. I wish you all the best.


  2. I love posts like this - it's always nice to hear a bit more of a background into people's relationships! x
    El | Welsh Wanderer

  3. Wonderful post! I love your story and the openness with which you tell it!