Would You Date Older?

When Alex and I first met, I figured we were the same age. But, then, on our fifth date, he told me he was…

Older. Much.

We were strolling home from dinner in the West Village, full of burgers and rosy-cheeked from red wine, when he stopped short on the busy sidewalk. “I have to tell you something,” he said, swallowing hard.

“What?” I asked, suddenly nervous.

“I’m older than you think I am.”

I waited.

“I’m 41.”

At the time, I was in my late twenties, and 41 seemed ancient. It was much older than I had guessed from his baby face, Converse sneakers and goofy demeanor. Later that night, I called my mom, who told me that age was just a number. Then I did the Official Age Test, and we just passed.

But, honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because I was already falling in love with him. Had I known ahead of time, I might have hesitated to go on our first date, but now here I was, dating a guy more than a decade older than me, and I was hooked.

Since then, I’ve basically forgotten he’s older than me (again, that baby face!), but now and again, the age gap pops up in funny (and welcome) ways:

* Funny cultural references. Alex never saw Ghostbusters or Back to the Future because they came out when he was in college and he was “too cool.” Meanwhile, he can quote every line from The Odd Couple. “Everyone in my generation saw every episode,” he told me. “But you’ve never seen one. It’s the same as if I had never seen Seinfeld.”

* Wise advice. When I’m upset about something, Alex has enough life experience to know that “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and “this, too, shall pass”—and explain why that’s true for me. He knows from experience how to see the big picture, the long game, and helps me not get stuck in the moment.

* Chill parenting. Alex grew up in the seventies, when free-range parenting was the norm. Now that we’re parents ourselves, he reminds me that we don’t have to entertain our kids all the time. They can always just…play.

* Walking encyclopedia. Alex has racked up tidbits through the years, so he pretty much always knows the answers to my questions, from current events to vocab words to political history. Sometimes I feel like a four-year-old—”What’s that?” “Why’s that?”—but I like having his knowledge at my fingertips.

* Self acceptance. “If you had met me in my twenties, you probably wouldn’t have liked me,” Alex has told me. “I was opinionated and had that youthful intensity: ‘This is right and that is wrong!’ In your twenties, you’re usually trying on a bunch of identities. Whereas by the time you get to your thirties and forties, whatever your faults are and your strengths are, you own them.”

* Rose-colored glasses. I’m secretly psyched that, no matter how old I get, I’ll always be younger than him. It helps me chill out when I notice gray hairs and wrinkles:)

I guess the bottom line is: In this age of online dating, where you can check off all your requirements (Six feet or taller! Must watch Homeland!), it’s easy to think you can pinpoint the exact person you’re looking for. But maybe you can’t. Maybe the sweetest, loveliest future husband is a whopping 13 years older than you or [fill in the blank of whatever you think you WOULDN’T want] yet it doesn’t matter at all. You love who you love. So love them.

Just for fun, two Alex flashbacks…



What about you? Have you dated older or younger? How much of an age difference would you be okay with? I’d love to hear…

P.S. 8 things I’ve learned about marriage, and what marriage means.

  1. HH says...

    I stumbled upon this post very late in the game. (Your blog is my lunchtime excursion, Joanna.) As someone who is getting to know a man 9-10 (let’s call it 9!) years older than myself, and trying to decide how much that matters as I’m in my late 30s, myself, and unlike him, still somewhat hopeful to have children … I eagerly read all the comments, looking for answers to my own unintelligible questions. He does not have a baby face, if anything looks older than his age, and I know if we do make a go of it, my family will be critical. They forget that I’m not 23 either. What matters in the end? The easy rapport? Chemistry? To have children or not have children? I’m curious what women in their late 30s or early 40s who’ve never had children have to say about dating older men.

    • Alex says...

      Hi. I’m a bit younger than you(32) but my partner is 50. So the “kids question” feels similarly appropriate. I decided to have kids with him (we have a 3 year daughter old now). I think one never knows what future brings. I may die in an accident tommorrow. My own father was 19 when I was born and we never had any close relationship. We barely see each other…also, my step sister has a father who was 47 when she was norn and their relationship is so close that now, when she is 14, she’s gotten so much more of her dad than I ever would. You get my point, right? If you love him and tge chemistry is good, just go for it :). Good luck! Alex

  2. Annie says...

    I had the same experience with my husband! Though, I was the one who had to confess my age since I’ve always looked about 10 years older than I am. He’s only 9 years older than me, but we met when I was 24 so it was a pretty significant gap, and I was worried he’d think I was going to be too immature and too much trouble. I kind of was, but he put up with it and gave me so much thoughtful, vulnerable advice throughout the tumult of my twenties. I don’t know where I’d be without my old man :)

  3. Julia says...

    I also started dating my husband when he was 41 and I was 28. On a hot summer night, when we were just friends, I remember we sat down on the windowsill of a store in our neighborhood and he said: “I’m not sure how I feel about dying without having children”. We have been together for five years now, married three and have two boys. We still leave in the same neighborhood and I pass by that windowsill every morning on my way to work. We still joke about it, – how “the windowsill” made us start a family. It’s just the corner of two streets in Paris, but it will always be a special place for me. I never thought I would marry someone 13 years older; he is so wise, so funny, so confident and experienced in everything I’m not. I learn from him everyday.

  4. Maddie says...

    When I was 25 I dated a 24 year old, after that relationship ended (badly) I vowed never to date a younger man again. My next relationship was with a man 9 years older than me, which meant as I was on the “wrong side” of my twenties he was nearing his forties. I was under the misconception that because he was older he would be wiser and more mature and knew what he wanted in a partner and a relationship, boy was that not the case. Now I am in love with a wonderful man, who knows how to treat me well and is kind and considerate, and happens to be a year younger (and an inch shorter) than I am. Goes to show age is really just a number and it’s the person inside that counts.

  5. Jenny says...

    This is so crazy. I just went on a date with a 41-year-old and I’m 28. Part of me wonders how he isn’t at a really different place than I am because he’s had 13 more trips around the sun. I want to have my shit together in a much more profound way by the time I hit 41. But he’s so handsome and gentle and just plain nice.

  6. shopgirl (eu) says...

    free-range parenting !! Ha, ha, the best one!!
    I like being with older boyfriend too, somehow I feel more cosy, less exposed, safer …. I don’t know.
    I just have the misfortune that because of the way I dress, or my work and people around me I obviously look younger than I am. And therefore a couple of times I have found myself in the same situation of explanation as your Alex … not so pleasant for a woman… :-)

  7. Lisa says...

    I once dated a man 17 years older than me – and he didn’t have a baby face. He was a regular at a restaurant I waitressed at, and our connection grew from there. The relationship didn’t last long. I was 26, and wasn’t mature enough to handle the obvious age gap and the way people gawked at us in public (I was fresh faced, he was an ex rock band tour manager….and looked the part). Still, it’s one of the best relationships I’ve had. He taught me so much about how I should be treated, and what I was worth, simply in the ways he showed his respect for and appreciation of me. And luckily, when I unceremoniously broke things off, he was graceful and experienced enough to handle it well, see my actions for what they were, and guide me towards what has since become one of my most treasured friendships that is full of genuine affection and respect for each other. (It’s been 10 years since we dated).

  8. I feel like you’re writing about me and Justin!!! There’s 14.5 years between us… but who’s counting, right?!

    We would have never ended up together had we asked the age question right from the start. I spoke to my Mom just like you did – and got the same advice!! Lucky we have such wise Moms :-)

    Isn’t it the best to have someone with all those extra years of life experience to share with you? I’m so grateful for that. I feel like I benefit from it every single day.

    The other benefit? They really know what they want in a partner by the time they find you… because they’re so many years ahead, they’ve seen it all and done it all before. I got a lot of comfort from that in the earlier years of our relationship.

  9. It totally depends on the person! I don’t mind an age gap at all, as long as you are both on the same trajectory, pointed in the same direction, and willing to grow together.

  10. june teu says...

    Older men for me (5 + years) are literally from another era – I just can’t, they’re like dinosaurs. I like men my own age, but have seen great partnerships between couples with age gaps.

  11. Courtney says...

    It’s always heartening to hear of age-gap success stories like this. My boyfriend is 49 and I’m 27. We’ve been dating for three years and buds for ten. The age difference doesn’t seem to exist, except in a few goofy ways like cultural references, like those you mentioned. I think that your 40s, especially, are a time when you can choose to keep yourself young or let yourself age, and he’s gone the stay-healthy route. Though age is never an issue in our relationship, I do sometimes worry about what life will look like when I’m in my 70s, particularly since we don’t plan to have kids. Not having kids is fine with me (and I realize that having built-in care takers is not the reason for them), but any words of wisdom on aging with the age gap would be appreciated!

  12. Hannah says...

    I just clicked on this link! My parents are 25 years apart in age. My Mom told me she had to seriously consider everything that came with marriage when my Dad proposed because of the age difference. She waited two days to give him an answer! Inevitably, he was the love of her life and couldn’t imagine not spending it with him. He passed away almost five years ago now. I never noticed it growing up until I was in high school. He had a hard time traveling in planes (sitting too long) and hiking became difficult as he got older but I don’t think she would have made any other choice. They were ridiculously, adorably, annoyingly in love and a perfect match. Sometimes, you never know what will happen!

  13. Emily says...

    I just clicked on the link to this post today, and although I am a regular reader of the blog, I guess I missed it the first time around. You and Alex don’t seem like you have a big age gap at all. My husband is 13 years older. We started dating when I was 22, and although I knew he was older, I didn’t know how much until a few dates in also. I think most people assume we are close to the same age and it’s only when talking about what was happening in life when a certain song/show/movie/event was out that we are even aware of the age difference. We have been together 13 years, married almost 7, and have two adorable children. We met while both of us lived in NYC, and now reside happily in TX. Life is good, and I count meeting my husband as one of the greatest blessings.
    I thoroughly enjoy the blog, and this was a sweet read today.

  14. patricia says...

    I’ve been very happily married for 31 years to the love of my life who happens to be eleven years older. It’s never been an issue. While I’d like to shoot for 50 years, realistically that won’t happen. So we’re enjoying all the time we have together.

  15. Kirsten Springer says...

    I was just going through some old posts, and every single one makes me smile. I’m a long time reader of Cup of Joe- it was the first blog I ever found in the teens, and now as I am finishing college, it still never fails to make me smile and laugh. The best thing about it is that I never feel like you are trying to impress your readers, like MANY other blogs do. Your posts that pose questions to the readers are some of my favorites, because I feel so connected to all these people that want to share some small part of their lives with the blog and you. Even though the blog covers a lot of motherhood and dating topics (and for most of the years I have been reading, I had never even had a boyfriend), I still enjoyed reading it all! I think it’s because it reminds of me of my own mother speaking to me. What I mean to say, is that this blog has been a constant blessing in my life. Though your blog is (usually) lighthearted, you should feel like your job is very significant, because you better the lives of many readers in small ways with every single post. Thanks for being my friend for all these years, even if you didn’t know it.


    • Joanna Goddard says...

      kirsten, your comment made me tear up. thank you so much, it means so much to me. xoxo

    • Jackie says...

      I couldn’t agree more,

  16. Emily says...

    I loved this post when I first read it. Almost the same thing happened to my (now fiancee) and I when we were on date 4 or 5. I was 25, he was 35. I think it was a big deal to him at the time. I was already falling for him so I didn’t care. Now he’s 37 and I’m 28, we just got engaged and we don’t think about it at all! (If anything, I appreciate that he’s had more life experience than I have. I am anxious at baseline, and I love that he can be the voice of reason and my rock when I get worried about something silly).

  17. Wow, his sister (in the photo—at age 9?) looks like YOU!

  18. Beth B. says...

    Oh my gosh, this is just perfect! My husband is 12 years older than me (I’m 26 now), and I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on a first date with him for that very reason. And same case…he does not look his age at all! I love all of the points you brought up, and I loved reading them to my husband. He got a chuckle out of them :) I was worried about what others would think, including my family, when we started dating, but as we fell in love, it didn’t matter. You just don’t notice that part anymore! I’m so thankful for a husband who has seen a little more life than I have and for the wisdom he shares with me everyday. I love him to pieces!

  19. Lizzie says...

    I am coming back to this post much later because I am interested in a guy who is 13 years older than me and it inspires me to see that you and Alex have such a lovely relationship together and that an age difference wasn’t an issue.
    I am considering asking this guy out but I am worried he thinks I am too young (I’m 24 and he is 37), although we are both in grad school together. Maybe I’ll be as lucky as you two :)

    Thanks for your lovely blog and kind helpful words as always!

    • Virginia says...

      Hi Lizzie…

      I am currently in the same boat as you right now and would like to know the outcome! This might not even get to you! but very interested.. so it’s worth a try.


  20. In my opinion, it is important that both parties are at the same stage in life (i.e. both are working professionals, as opposed to one person being a student and the other one a professional), as there is more common ground in their finances, life goals and experiences. My husband is only 3,5 years my senior and I think I prefer it that way, as it somehow reinforces my sense of us both being completely equal in the relationship. Plus, we both used to love the same bands in our teens, which is a bonus when we blast out on Nirvana songs while driving around nowadays… Our codes are similar. :)

  21. Rue says...

    So late to the party, but ohh thank you for this post. 18 years apart, there are those shocking statistics, like how my birth year is his high school graduation year, or how our first overlapping cultural references/events I experienced as an elementary school kid while he was married with babies already (his first marriage started young, to an older woman, actually).

    But everything you said rings true for us. My last serious relationship ended in an excruciating 20-something way, because he was blindsided that I wanted the relationship to grow and deepen — after close to a decade together. After banging my head against a wall for YEARS trying to get my partner to just SEE the questions I was grappling with, I now have someone who is onboard, who wants to plan a life together, who understands what those stakes are, AND who can give me perspective on how all of this takes time to come together (and doesn’t emotionally gaslight me for my anxiety about all of the above).

    He also gives me weak knees any freaking time he walks into a room, and he is crazy handsome. It’s like I won the lottery and found George Clooney IRL, living his best life as a chill dad with a heart of gold.

  22. Mayah Einwiz says...

    Me: attractive, bright , athletic fem. At 25 i sought men aged 22- 29, at 37-40 sought men about my age but dated 26- 42 (was very young for age then and wrestling for fun at colleges) at 52 engaged to 42 yr old.. we ‘look’ about same age. Noticed huge differences now and more as I get older.. its becoming more about health vs age when you 60+ ..
    Typically I’d not date men much older than myself for fear of the too common being alone for many many year.s.. so not only do men die younger but add on their age..–
    I notice men stereotypically very superficial and seem unknowing or unwilling or unpracticed with transcending the bit of genetic programming for certain youthful fertile appearance…. we’d all be happier and better off if they would transcend this, and not get brainwashed by the media.. choosing women who are wise and compassionate and have other qualities..

  23. Allaina says...

    My current boyfriend is 17 years my senior at 41. Though both of our families have had an interesting time getting on board, the age gap has yet to been an issue for either or us. In fact, its enjoyable to learn about his favorite musical artists and the commercials he remembers from the 80s (still very different from anything my family talks about since we are also different races), and for me to talk to him about changing company culture and Snapchat. Our immense differences have kept us both on our toes, and challenged us each to try new things, and new ways of thinking. We even get along with each other’s friends wonderfully. The challenges of being opposites in habitual ways (I’m more of a homebody, he’s more social; I like to plan, he’s very fly by the seat of his pants; I’m a runner, he’s a smoker) are by far bigger sources of contention than age.

    The thing I do get concerned about the is what the future holds, and how things will change as we both age. I’ve always wanted to have kids, and being with him means knowing that there is a smaller window than I had originally anticipated. I also worry about not having the opportunity to grow old together. But we’re still in early stages (not quite a year) so we have some time to figure it out.

  24. I’ve recently started dating an older man (33 to my 22), and I often don’t even notice the age gap at all. My last relationship, though long-term and wonderful, just wasn’t, er, “grown-up” enough for me, so it’s nice to feel like I’m with someone who’s a bit more my equal, maturity-wise. I’m learning that age really is just a number– it’s the ability to connect and relate that really matters in love.

  25. I am dating a 43 years old man now. When I walked out from my abusive relationship three years ago, I decided that I should try to date an older guy but not as older like a decade away.

    I have to agree with you that a man who is much older is like a walking encyclopedia but sometime it’s irritate me. Lol.

    And another one, I must say a man who is much older is too calm to handle a situation that it took my nerves sometime.

    • june teu says...

      Ya, watch out for those mansplainer’s, lol

  26. My husband is 4 yrs younger but old fashioned feels as if he is older ! First husband 2 yrs older left on our silver wedding day. He was a veritable Peter pan, so experienced both !

  27. this is lovely and sooo nicely written! just makes you want to be in love.

    very lucky.

  28. a really nice post! I’m having it the other way around! My boyfriend is two years younger than me… as he told me this I wouldn’t believe him at all. Some of my friends still don’t believe it haha

    love your blog!


  29. Thank you so much for sharing! I am currently dating someone 11 years older than myself and have found much comfort in this post and in the comments. I have always looked to my life with hope that it will be unconventional and find the generation gaps silly and interesting, making life more lively!

  30. Thank you for this post! I met my partner just over 2 years ago. Around 6 months after that I started to fall for him and soon after that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. When I met him I was well aware of the age gap – he was 38 and I was almost 26 when we met. However that couldn’t have stopped us! I love learning from him and like to think I’m keeping him young lol

  31. My boyfriend of four years is 14 months younger than me. We started dating on his 18th birthday, and I was 19 – when we first kissed I remember feeling embarrassed to tell my friends, because I had always been attracted to older guys and had older friends. When his 21st birthday rolled around in Feb of this year, I was kinda awkward about the party, because I hate the ‘cougar’ image. I suppose age is just a number indeed, because so many of my friends and family members had NO IDEA he was younger. They thought he was a few years old than me – I guess the beard helps! ;)

  32. The man I call my boyfriend is five years older than me. We’ve been together for almost two years now. (He’s the first boyfriend I ever had)
    I think it’s about the perfect age difference. At least that’s what it feels like.
    I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable with dating somebody much younger/older. It’s kind of their always in a different stage of their life than you are.
    But you never know what lies along the road ;)

  33. I’ve always dated guys who are older than me. Sometimes just 2-4 years older, but I also dated a guy who was 44 when I was 23. I have ended up with a happy medium- my fiancee is 7 years older than I am. We definitely don’t get cultural references sometimes, but I agree that it is so nice that he is stable and responsible. Also, I love that I am always going to be the younger woman :)

  34. My husband is 9 years older than me and I love it! He’s an incredibly husband and daddy. We have a baby on the way and he’s currently 40. He jokes that he never thought he’d be having kids this late in the game but he definitely admits that he’s glad he got over his childish and insecure ways before having kids.

  35. My boyfriend and I have been together for three years and have known each other for 9. We are 25 years apart. There are numerous issues that present themselves- think babies, retirements, health, family opinions, etc. Though it is hard sometimes and looking beyond this week, tomorrow, etc is difficult. I love him more than anything in the entire world. So many assumptions are made about our age difference and not a single one of them holds true. I work full time and have a graduate degree- I do not date him for his money or his looks. I date him for what kind of heart he has. And although some people judge and assume, we know the truth. And after being around people for only a bit of time- they catch on too. In the beginning I was always trying to “prove”what I had to offer him to his friends. They always wanted to fist pump him when really, I wanted them to realize that I could cook and clean and entertain better than their much older wives. I send flowers and get well cards. I was me and i was kind and now, they understand.

  36. I remember a post where you were wondering who Anton looks like, and think Anton looks a lot like Alex in the picture with his babysitter! We have a 4 month old who doesn’t look much like either my husband or me, but he does look a lot like my husband’s baby pictures! Just thought I would share.

  37. I feel like I could have written this post!! :) My husband is 14 years older; we were 20 and 34 when we met 8 years ago. That generational difference, also coupled with a cultural difference (I’m American, he’s German) sometimes leaves us with some very interesting differences! But we complement each other so well, and that’s great.

    That car seat is insane, haha!

  38. Love it! I had the same experience with my husband except it was “I’m not as old as you think I am!” Two years younger. Not a big deal, I know. But I definitely had to have the “age is just a number” convo with my mom too…Also! My husband’s dad is 14 years older than his mom! xoxo

  39. I had no idea Alex was older than you, especially not that much. Definitely a baby face :) Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to marry a much older guy. I think even as a really young (serious) kid, I thought boys were so immature I would need a guy to be a lot older for me to be able to respect him they way I wanted to. My husband is 4 years older, but these days I totally don’t feel the age difference.

    A good friend ended up marrying a guy who is 8 years younger. He had no idea how much older she was until they were “official.” It’s funny you mentioned the list, because she had a really specific list of criteria a guy had to meet (Ivy league school, car, certain income, etc.) and had a lot of trouble meeting a guy who met them until this one, which is when she realized that age had never been on her list. Funny, how things work out!

  40. My partner is just 2 years older than me but sometimes it seems like 20. I’m of the generation where the obvious answer to the unknown is Google; he was young in a time where books were still the primary way to obtain information. I think it’s cute :)

    becky ::

  41. My better half is 10 years older, and as you, I had no idea when I started dating him! I completely agree with your points, and although there have been times it upset me (many experiences I still had to do, he had done), in the long run, I love his experience and his “chill way of looking at life”. And now that we are new parents even more!

  42. Joanna,
    My partner and I are exactly the same. 13 years apart. When we got together -one year ago- he was 40 and I was 27. I think it was more of a worry for him than for me. Although I was worried people would think he was only dating me as a sort of “trophy girlfriend” than just someone who had a real intellectual and loving compatibility. I wants to post because my partner has been divorced and when I told my mom I remember telling her – “We’re like Alex and Joanna on a cup of Jo”. My partner has two wonderful little children that have become my kiddos and I think we are a wonderful team. He is strong and wise and supportive and funny, and I am laid back and able to encourage him not to sweat the small stuff. He also is able to calm my twenty-something insecurities!
    Thank you so so so much for this post!

  43. I’m 22 and my husband is 5 years older then me, we’ve been married a year and a half and I love him too pieces! When we first met (became friends) we were both rather confused on the age part I was 19 but he thought I was 25, he was almost 25 but I thought he was about 22, needless to say we were both a little embarresed about that and he was a little shocked to find I was only 19, but then again people have always thought I was older than I am. Usually we fit perfectly together and our age gap is forgotten, But some days it’s easy to see the years he has on me, he’s much more fixed and confident … purposefull about life, like he’s found the answers and he knows without a doubt wich way he’s going. On those days I can definatly feel the age difference.

  44. My husband is 12 years older than me. We met when he was 36 and I was 24. At the time, one of the reasons I found him so appealing is that I had just ended a relationship with a very immature 24 year old and I was happy to date someone who had it together. I guess it worked, because years later we are happily married. Now he is 44 and I’m 32. I can talk to him for hours, he is so considerate and romantic, I find him incredibly sexy and he loves me too. I can’t imagine being with anyone else.

  45. Playing catch up here and commenting much too late… I was in a relationship for 5 years from 26 years old with a man 12 years older than me. Initially, it was fine – I totally fell for him and was fascinated by our different cultural reference points. But as time went on, it grew more difficult. He already had a child with another partner and his friends were all married. My friends were just starting to get married; he really wasn’t interested in any of that. Nor was he interested in big, informal dinner parties of intense 20-somethings discussing their lives. And he was well past ever wanting to go out and dance and get drunk on the occasional Friday night. We split (for much more complicated reasons than age alone) and now I’m happily with a man two years older than me and we spend far too much time trying to guess the year of 90s music and comparing our favourite 80s cartoon…

  46. I am 5 years older than him, and we just got married:).

    I had all sorts of hangups about age and height prior to meeting him, but our chemistry and time together made everything else insignificant.

    True there are life experiences I wish he had, but we have our whole lives ahead to go through all sorts of new experiences together.

  47. I married someone 10 1/2 years older than me. I was young (21) and didn’t have a strong enough sense-of-self to not be subsumed by him. He seemed so wise and knowledgeable about the world, that I put him up on a pedestal, and that didn’t make for a very equal partnership. It was especially hard when I found out (in a dramatic way) that he wasn’t as perfect as I thought he was. I was too blind and naïve to recognize some unhealthy dynamics. (One being that instead of developing and improving certain qualities in myself, I let him compensate for me, and he in turn thrived on feeling needed.) We are working through things and rebuilding our marriage, but I remember watching Liberal Arts and wishing my husband had been benevolent enough to just move on.

  48. I’m a bit of an old soul, so I’ve always tended to date older. I’m 23 and moved to England to live with my 33 year old boyfriend, and it’s absolutely brilliant. Being in his 30s, he has such a wonderful “everything will work out” attitude about life, which seriously helps calm me down and put things into perspective. Age really is just a number :)

  49. I always thought the biggest age gap between myself and a boyfriend would be five years, but my current boyfriend (who is incredibly wonderful, thoughtful, and handsome) is ten years older than I am and I very rarely think about the difference! Those first few weeks we were dating the gap freaked me out a bit, but once I stopped thinking about his age and focused more on his amazing qualities it stopped being an issue. I think my new rule is that as long as your boyfriend is young enough to have parents that are your parents age, it’s all good : )

  50. I only dated men older than me for most of my life. Ten years older was the average minimum. But then I got to my mid 30’s, and was annoyed by all the older men attempting to appear ‘older’ and ‘wiser’ to attract young women!! Found myself a 24 year old man, who is beyond compare, and we have been happy ever since. Only strange thing is the culture you grew up in… i was an 80’s child and he was the 90’s. He’s never seen Who’s the Boss!!

  51. I wouldn’t mind marrying someone quite a bit older than me except for the fact that women tend to live a lot longer than men and I am the sort of hopeless romantic who would miss my husband terribly if he were to die. Of course I realize that it could happen at any time and we’re both not guranteed long life, but still. I see grandmothers who aren’t the same after their husbands pass away and I just wouldn’t be able spend so long with someone and then not have them for even longer. I guess I am extremely selfish!

  52. I think age generally matters most when you’re younger and then again when you’re older, but not so much in between. My parents are 12 years apart in age and had 36 great years of marriage together before getting divorced this fall. It’s a matter of both physical aging and personality as well; my mother is extremely young at heart and my dad has always seemed like an old curmudgeon (which I say very affectionately), and so the mental age gap grew as they aged, with her becoming every more youthful in spirit and him mentally and physically aging.

    But I definitely prefer dating older too! My boyfriend is just 4 years older than I am, but because I’m in my mid-twenties, those 4 years of maturing on his part makes a huge difference in how we relate.

  53. Such a good point – I could list all my deal breakers… and then I could name at least one person I let slide anyway :)

  54. Lovely cute post. I’ve dated older than me, the biggest gap being… 20ish years, I don’t remember exactly, either way when I’ve broken up with someone older, the age gap hasn’t been the issue. The youngest I’ve dated is 3 weeks younger than me. I kinda think when I’m in my 30’s perhaps that’s when I’ll meet someone who is right for me.

    Another thing, am I the only woman not dating online? I don’t have a single online dating profile. I don’t want to meet someone that way. I want our story to be interesting. Am I naive to think that can still happen?

  55. You hit the nail on the head with your list! My husband is 10 years older than me. I am constantly asking him “how do you know that?!?” when he has answers to my weird questions or spouts off random trivia or knowledge. He can NEVER tell me how he knows things, which I act annoyed by, but I secretly really love it.

    And like you said about Alex, my husband is such a grounding force for me. He has more perspective about the big picture of life.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I would have despised him in his 20’s. :) He’s told me numerous times that he knew he would never get married in his 20’s…he just knew he wouldn’t have himself together enough until his 30’s, and he was right. I find that so interesting.

    Lastly, do you ever worry about Alex dying well before you do? Women tend to out-live men anyway, and sometimes I seriously worry that I’ll be a widow at age 70. I tease him to take good care of himself so that he lives a long, long time, but of course I’m really serious about it. Is that a crazy thing to worry about?

  56. Ok, that old car seat is an absolute riot – it looks like a Six Flags seat on a roller coaster!! although less safe:) My hubby is 2 years older than me, but he’s so laid back and wise (killer at trivia) that he calms me down when I get all hyper focused on something!! And I totally agree with letting kids just play – with my 1st kid I thought I had to CONSTANTLY entertain him, but now with 3 kids, I realize, they have imaginations on don’t need me ALL the time!

  57. I’ve dated 5 years younger and 9 years older (when I was 27 I was talking to two guys at the same time–one 22 and one 32–so much fun, I highly recommend it). But ultimately I ended up with someone born the same year as me :)

  58. My husband is 15 years older than me- 45 to my 30 when we met. It worked because we met older- had we met 10 years before, I wouldn’t have looked twice.
    Also- Alec was gorgeous in high school! wow.
    Just to say- I’ve also dated a few years younger.

    • Iloovatar says...

      I think your observation is spot on. During early 20’s people really aren’t fully “functional” adults. By the time they reach 25 or 30 they have enough life experience. I guess the age gap rule does work.

  59. My now-husband and I met on my 19th birthday, and he was 23. At the time, that seemed soooo old! I mean, I was 2 months into college and he had just graduated. But now, after 8+ years, I don’t even notice the difference. It was weird when I realized a few years ago that I was older than he was when we met.

  60. My husband is 7 years older than me. We’ve been friends since I was 14 (which he’s a little sheepish to tell people, since he was 21 at the time). We’ve had the same group of friends for a long time, all older than me, so it wasn’t all that strange to me to marry someone older. But even though 7 years isn’t a huge leap, the generational gap does rear it’s head in funny ways, like movies and TV shows. I’m with you though, I love that he has more life experience than I do so I don’t have suffer the same mistakes he trudged through. Now I can’t imagine being with someone my own age!

  61. My bf and I passed the test! haha. I had dated guys my age before or a couple years older, and it just didn’t work. I don’t wanna go all cliche with “women mature faster than men”, but I’ve been through a lot, and there were many things that I couldn’t agree on with a guy my age. So I met my bf without even looking for someone, I was 19, he looked like 23 tops, and turns out he was 26! I was pleasantly surprised that he was interested in me. We’ve been together for a little over a year now, and age hasn’t been an issue. He was born in the late 80’s, I was born in the early 90’s, so we’ve both 90’s kids, pretty much. Only his family had their “reservations”, daring to say that I was probably planning to get pregnant to go after his money and lots of other crazy sh**. But we’re happy, that’s all that matters:)

  62. My husband is 5 1/2 years older than me and sometimes it’s weird especially when I think “I am 24 and my husband will be 30 in January. 30.” That freaks me out. But he is a late bloomer and in a lot of ways we are at the same phase of life. And I love his maturity and his life advice that I get to grow from. He is amazing. I love that I married someone so much older than me

  63. Great post – I can really relate…and did not pass the age test :)
    However, it just works for my husband and I. I can especially relate to the “wise advice” part, I am terrible at seeing the big picture and my husband is so great at bringing me back to earth and helping me be more logical.
    Thanks for sharing, it’s not often I get to relate to this.

  64. Just read the comments now – I like how so many readers are surprised by your age difference. I’ve known about you and Alex for a long time – I used to read the Glamour blog (Smitten?) when you made the confession. I remember being surprised back then!

  65. My husband is 14 years older than me :) I’ve always been attracted to older guys, but never really dated one until I met my husband. I agree with everything you posted, especially the advice thing. I tend to freak out and he is able to calm me down because he’s been there, done that. He takes care of me emotionally lol. I found that dating someone close to my own age and growing up with them was a turnoff. I like someone with more life experience. I also have enjoyed traditionally old people things like not going to the bar and having quiet evenings at home, so it’s nice to have someone who has done all that and enjoys being old with me hahaha. I was in my mid 20s when I started dating him and now I’m almost 30.

  66. What a sweet post! Alex seems really perfect for you.

    My husband is seven years old than I am, and it actually works out okay with cultural references since he was raised by his grandparents who are the same age as my parents.

    The one funny thing is that he got his life started really early, so he bought the house that we live in now while I was still in middle school, he got elected to public office when I was a freshman in college and couldn’t even drink yet, and so on. But I actually love that he’s older for exactly the reasons you mentioned. His life experience is such a blessing to me when I need advice!

  67. Wow, a lot of readers with older husbands! I’m just six weeks older than my husband (the worst six weeks of the year!), and we started dating senior year of high school (we met in 8th grade!). Several comments above me mention how different their 9/11 experience is from their husband’s because of the age gap…my husband and I had the same keyboarding class and saw the video for the first time at the same time in that classroom! (We’d each heard about it in earlier classes of the day, but didn’t see the footage until keyboarding class.) We have truly grown up together, and we’ve been lucky to grow in the same direction. I can’t imagine being married to someone significantly older just because it’s so drastically different from my own experience. His parents are very happily married for 35+ years with a seven year age difference. Although his dad is fitter than his mom, their energy levels are starting to be quite obviously different. Whatever the age, when it works, it works.

  68. Such a cute couple :) But how does Alex feel about all the posts discussing how crazy old he is? ;)

  69. I dated someone 10 years older for a few months. we’ve stayed friends for years and hooked up for a while. In any case, I preferred dating someone that much older. Felt like there was more to learn about each other.

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. He is 20 years older. Between my old soul and his youthful spirit, we seem to be exactly the same. :)

    Sweet post, Joanna!

  72. My husband is twelve years older than me (but he always jokes that he is in better shape which may be true!). It’s never been an issue for us and I actually find it cool that he graduated in the seventies. He’s got a whole different view and knowledge about stuff that I was too young at the time to know about. JFK and Jackie were also 12 years apart ;)

  73. get out! i never would have thought alex was that much older than you. you guys look so perfectly matched in age.

    my boyfriend is 4 years older than me and i thought that was a lot at the time we met. he’s also salt and pepper gray, so it feels that much more so. and there are times where he’s telling a story and i stop him to say, i wasn’t born yet or i was only 2 at the time. but i agree that age is just a number. we fit so well together, that the gap does not matter. plus, i secretly love that i’m a “young catch” to him :)

  74. you nailed this! I actually had no idea alex was that much older than you based on the photos! mine is 13 years older, I’m 29 he’s 42. “if it’s not an issue, don’t make it one”. sure that can apply to anything but when it’s about looking at numbers it just made it all crystal clear! ;)

  75. I loved this post – you bring up a good point about how we can now check off all these boxes hoping for the perfect mate, but that may be just limiting ourselves!

  76. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your blog. I relate to you in so many ways. If we lived in the same city or hung at the same park, I think we’d be good friends. Thanks for the great posts, references, laughs, ideas and realness.

  77. I’ve always dated older – in high school that meant 2-3 years older, in college 3-5 years. But I really took it up a notch (hah) when I started dating my last serious boyfriend. We started dating when I was 21 and he was 35; a 14 year gap.

    I was nervous to start dating him because it definitely raised some eyebrows (try introducing your 14 years-older boyfriend to your university friends), but he taught me so much about entering into a mature and honest relationship. Ultimately we weren’t meant to be, and in all honesty I wouldn’t go looking for that age gap again, but I also can’t picture dating a guy… man?-boy? my own age. They have always seemed too young, no matter how old I get (ripe old age of 24).

    Anyways, thanks for this post – it really resonated with me!!!

  78. Thank you so much for sharing this! My husband is 8 years older than me and almost all of what you said really resonated.

    My husband also has a baby face and just a very genuine, happy, positive demeanor that I think makes him seem young because he isn’t jaded at all. We met when I was 25 and on our first date he casually brought up his son who was 11 at the time and after he mentioned it I almost couldn’t concentrate on the conversation. I didn’t know how old my husband was yet but had assumed we were about the same age so when he told me his son was 11 I just kept trying to figure out the math in my head. It turns out he had become a father pretty young, which I also never would have guessed since at 33 he was so fun and well-rounded and successful — all things that at 25 I assumed would have been terribly hard to pull off if you had a kid at 20/21.

    I had never dated older before I met my husband and for awhile it really freaked me out — both because he was older and had an older child — but our connection was too magical to deny. Today, I almost never think about our age difference except when I mention to someone that I have a (step)son in high school — I’m only 29 and also have a bit of a baby face so everyone always does a double take that requires a bit of an explanation. I think you’re right that you just don’t know who might be your perfect little match.

  79. Also, I would LOVE for Alex to share his perspective on being the older one, starting a family later in life, etc!

  80. I thought it was so cool when I found out about your and Alex’s age difference. I agree completely with everything in your list!! My partner is 15 years older than I am, and like a lot of the women posting here, I think the difference is perfect for us! I don’t mind the cultural references, him making fun of millenials, etc., but to be totally honest- it terrifies me sometimes to think about what that difference will feel like when we are older. My mom is 55 and so active and youthful, and my guy’s dad is 70 and in very poor health (he has a live-in caretaker). My guy takes better care of himself that his dad did, but I can’t help but think about what it would be like to go through that experience in my “prime”, or for our possible future kids to lose their dad when they are in their 20s. I know it seems morbid, but we aren’t married yet and this is the only thing that sometimes makes me seriously question that step forward.

  81. What a sweet post! Please make Alex watch Ghostbusters ASAP. I dated a man 14 years older (and British!) before I met my husband. I thought he was older than me but it turns out he’s actually 4 months younger – which he loves to point out. However he is not who I *pictured* myself with – he’s a blonde Republican from the Mid-West – but you’re right, we love who we love. We just don’t talk about politics!

  82. I can relate to this so much! My boyfriend and I met on the sidewalk on the when I started up a conversation with him because he was wearing a jacket with the name of my alma matter. We hit it off right away and quickly learned our graduating years were 11 years apart! I shrugged it off – we were having such a good conversation and he asked to buy me a drink at the bar we were standing in front of on East 41st street (a neighborhood that neither of us are usually in!) We have been together since this night 2 years ago. I’m sure if I had been filling out an online dating profile at 24, I probably would think that 11 years my senior would be too old for me, but when you click age doesn’t matter. And all those quirky benefits of being with someone from a slightly different generation are so true!

    Thanks again for the wonderful blog :-)

  83. Wow, I never would’ve guessed! It seemed like he was more progressed in his career and now that makes sense :)

  84. All this time I assumed you guys were around the same age!! How funny. He looks great. I would love to hear his opinions about becoming a first time father in his forties – any worries he has being an older dad?

  85. I married a guy five years older than me, which seemed a lot at the time when we first met (26 vs 31) but it never really mattered. I like 90s music and he likes awful 80s hair bands and that is pretty much the difference. Age IS just a number! :)

  86. I just love this post!

    I can relate – We met when I was 24, he was 36. At the time, I didn’t think he’d be the one – just thought I’d be open to a different kind of guy (at the time, I recall wanting to meet more of a “manly man”). We dated for 6 years and have been married for 6! He’s my best friend and such a good match.
    I was always described as mature for my age, and my dad was 10 years older than my mum (he was also 52 when I was born!) so I always admired the earned confidence (not false bravado) and emotional maturity of older guys (although they’re still guys – they’ll never be on our wavelength!)
    Ultimately, we have the same values and outlook on life, but totally different cultural references (music and tv of our youth is definitely somethjng we don’t share at all.)
    And having a mature husband when you have kids is so great – he’s done all the fun/crazy things guys do intheir 20’s and 30’s and really values family time and is more focused on us.
    Ultimately, it’s the quality not quantity of time together that matters for us.

  87. I don’t think I could do it. I’m 35 and online dating. The guys my age LOOK SO OLD.

  88. Younger, yes. I cannot abide most men my age, so guys Alex’s age are for me. Yep. Glad it worked out!

  89. For me, more than 5 years difference has always been a little creepy but it’s just because of the my family situation growing up.

    There was 18 years difference between my parents. My grandmother is only 2 years older than my dad and I have a half sister who is the same age as my mom. My parents are now long divorced and it is a little strange to see my dad who is 70, getting older and slowing down a bit while my mom who is in her 50’s is still very youthful. In a way, it’s good they didn’t stay married because I can’t fathom how they’d get along at this point in their lives since they are such different physical/mental conditions.

  90. It always comes down to the couple… When you know what qualities you are looking for and find it, who cares about the age! My boyfriend is 12 years younger than me and I couldn’t ask for a better partner. Though typically Id agree that women mature faster than men (and I definitely see the benefits of dating an older man) there is always the exception to the rule. I’m not going to lie and say it has been super easy for me to wrap my head around – in our society there is more of an acceptance when men date younger women and it’s just not the same when it’s the other way around. Don’t know it’s the different values for aging that we seem to place on the sexes (men physically get more handsome, women just age (ahem, total b.s.)) but I’m fighting the stigma! Would I rather be the young, hot one in the relationship? Yes, I think so! But there is also something to be said for being the confident, sexy older woman and quite honestly Id take a happy, healthy relationship over worrying about that nonsense any day.. Love this post and love hearing from women that are the older in the relationship as well!

  91. I always wanted to date an older guy! Guys seem to take a bit longer to mature in general (ahem), so I always thought it would be wonderful to date someone with a little more life experience and perspective who was comfortable in his skin. But my fiance is five months older than me–go figure. :-)

  92. My boyfriend is 3 years younger than me, something I swore I wouldn’t do. But he’s so loving and wise and much more mature than I am…I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  93. I have never been interested in older men…those around my age also bored me. On the other hand I fell in love with a man ‘significantly’ (6 years) younger than me and we have been together for 15 wonderful years. He was a baby faced 23 year old and I an ancient 29 but somehow it worked out perfectly. And the wonderful thing, I still look younger than him ;-D

  94. My husband and I share the same birthday, but he is 11 years older! We are 46 and 57 and the difference is no big deal. We have no kids by choice. My husband was 51 when we married;some people were surprised it was his first marriage! I only worry about’s coming up for him in 10 years when I’ll only be in my 50s. Hopefully I can work part-time then so we can travel more.
    Interestingly, my male cousin is 51 and his wife is 66 – they have been together 25 years.

  95. I can so relate to this post – my husband is 19 years older than I am! Eeps! (I guess I always had a thing for older guys – in Kindergarten I had a crush on my teacher’s son, who was in 5th grade – haa!) We’ve been married 11 years. I never notice or really think about our age difference, except for when we talk about tv shows or music we listened to growing up. He looks younger than he is, unfortunately so I do, so that doesn’t help much! Ha! And yes, the wise advice and chill parenting are a definite plus!

  96. I Dated a 31 year old when I was 19. I was totally infatuated with him. But one day he told me I was too young. I thought he was crazy, but I had also been reading too much Jane Eyre and it seemed like the perfect love story. Looking back, at 33 I was too young and I played stupid 19 year old games. I think if I would have met him in my late twenties it would have gone much different. We might even be together today. We had an intense connection, but at the wrong time.

  97. You guys are the cutest! I adore lovey partnership posts- this made me teary eyed.