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. My ex-husband was 17 years older than me and my actual boyfriend is 10 years older than I am…:) I tried dating boys my age and it was horrible I had nothing to talk with them :)

  2. LC says...

    I met my husband online when I was 28 and he was 35. I was dating guys my age, and I just couldn’t connect with any of them. I decided to try online dating, and after a few dates with more guys my age, my husband messaged me. We got engaged a year later! I think I fell in love with him before I even met him in person, but like you, after 5 dates I was truly hooked. Sometimes, the 7 year age gap doesn’t even cross my mind. Other times, there will be some pop culture reference that I won’t get, or that he won’t get because he was a 80’s kid, and the 90’s was really my era. I always thought I might bond with someone over my love of all things Nickalodeon, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be! However…I agree Joanna, I will always enjoy being younger than him :)

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

  4. I had always dates guy at least 3-4 years older than me. Then at one point I was hanging out a lot with a guy 12 years older than me and I never felt weird about the age we just clicked, but it never progressed beyond friendship. I went on several dates with a man 14 years older than me last year. It was fun because I was finishing up college and he took me to really fancy dinners and fun dates much better than the dinner and movie route college guys did. I did have a funny realization that he was exactly 14 years older than me and 14 years younger than my mom. When things fizzled out it was actually a lot to do with his immaturity. So age really is just a number. My love now is a year older than me, but we were the same year in school. It’s crazy, he was the first guy who really peaked my interest who was close to my age and I fell madly in love.

  5. I’ve dated younger and older. Maybe it is just the guys I’ve chosen, but neither group has themselves fully together. The older guys have been divorced with great jobs, but seemed to think I was in need of rescuing either emotionally or financially. Both false ideas. The younger guys were only younger by a couple years, but they have the stupidest ideas about dating–the nonsense involving vague plans and suggestions of dinner at 10 pm, and continuing to date around after we’ve had a talk about committment. I don’t have time for that stuff, being a full time student and working full time as well.

  6. I’m three years older than my fiance (I’m 30, he’s 27) and you wouldn’t believe how often I get comments like “cougar” and “ooh, boy-toy” when people find out!

    Personally I think stage of life is more important than age. It might have been a little weird if he’d been in college and I was out working, but we met when we were both grad students so to me we’re the same. I much prefer to be on an equal footing that way – had an ex who was always trying to ‘educate’ me about life (when he was ONE year older) and I hated it!

  7. I don’t think that the age difference matters….I think what’s important (or a deal-breaker) is that you’re on the same page with regard to the big stuff….if Alex hadn’t wanted children/had been married & divorced already/had children already, then maybe it might not have worked out. Or if he was ready to but you weren’t. Timing is everything!

    I must say that I had no idea that he was that much older than you…but it makes complete sense now, he has a maturity about him – and I say that as a 40-yr old!

  8. I once dated somene 25 years older than me. I feel comfortable around older people, so I’d definitely do it again (well, maybe not THAT age gap but 15 years older is ok).

  9. secret confession – around the same time I met my (now) boyfriend you had just done a post about how Alex was 13 years older than you, the exact same age difference that I have with my partner! and while it did worry me at first I found it oddly reassuring to think: Joanna seems happy, hey maybe it can work!

    and it’s true most of the time I forget, but when it does come up it’s just one more way to learn from each other :)

    my boyfriend also thinks that had we somehow been able to meet when we would both be in our 20s I wouldn’t have liked him!

  10. It is a beautiful article. I have always dated older men. I think they are more mature than our peers. I usually dated man 10 years older than me. Even my fiancée is 9 years older:-)

    Have a great weekend, Jo!

  11. I’m having a moment of WHOAH! I had no idea about you and Alex! My hubs is 7 years older than me, and other than the cultural references (so true), I don’t notice it at all. But, I’m not sure where the line is between his calming, “wise” personality and his experience and maturity versus mine due to age. Another thing I notice about marrying an older guy: when we met all of his friends had 8 year olds, and my friends were just getting married. So, our social lives were very different when we met, although they have melded more over time.

  12. I had no idea that Alex is so much older than you! It’s interesting to read your perspective on it. My husband is only a year older than me and he’s the oldest guy I’ve ever dated. One thing I like about that is when we’re reminiscing, we’re constantly saying “Oh, i remember that/those!” We grew up in the same era.

  13. My husband is 11 years older than me. We met when i was 31 and he was 42. I hesitated for about half a second. He swept me off my feet almost 15 years ago! We have a small kid together and are very happy (except that he teaches our kiddo all the bob dylan songs and doesn’t know who the foo fighters are. boo!)

  14. It’s so interesting to read your perspective…in my group of friends ALL of us are older than our husbands (I’m only a month older than my hubby), one by 4 years! We all swear by it…perhaps in our case the girls needed to do the growing up :)

  15. L says...

    My parents have a 21-year age gap and have now been married 25 years. True, they both had previous marriages, but we are all close now and it is a gift to have the wisdom of my grandfather-aged father, although sometimes his old man habits can be difficult! When my mother’s friends brought up the age gap before they married, she put it this way: “If an age gap is the only obstacle in our relationship, then we’re doing pretty well”.

  16. My husband is 15 years older than me and I always feel like I am the mature one in our relationship. I never really thought about having children but since I’m now 32 I started thinking about it. Sadly my husband thinks he is very old to have kids. What do you guys think about it? Is it too late to have kids in your mid-40s?


  17. My husband is 14 years older than I am. Just like you, I was fooled by his baby face and had no idea how old he was until we were well into our first date. I was 18.5, he was about to turn 33, but I was already too smitten to care. 7 years later, he still doesn’t look a day older than 28 and is the most supportive, positive, loving and funny person I have ever met!

  18. When I met my husband he was just turning 19 and I was turning 30. I know we were sent for each other.
    We have now been together for 13 years and married for 7 years.
    I still hear people talk about how I am a cradle robber (that what Danes call it).
    We have only ever been away 4 days in a row.

    I loved you post because it is often a thing people don´t talk about.

  19. Thanks for sharing, Joanna!

    I don’t think a 13 year age gap is shocking at all. There are so many preconceptions about relationships that are just meaningless. It’s only about the person who’s best for you. And you just know and feel when it’s right.

  20. My husband’s only a few years older than me, so technically he’s older, but not significantly. I think there’s something sexy about dating an older guy though, not that I personally have any experience with it, but I have plenty of friends who do.

    I do have to say – I’ve noticed a lot of girlfriends who are right around 30 who date men right around 40 and have had awful luck. The men tend to act superior, like they’re too old for us “kids”.

    Bravo to those couples who can make it work. Age really is only a number.

  21. My partner is way older than me with 18 years difference but it really is just numbers to me. My friends think I live with a real adult but I know that he’s just a big daft kid in an older body. The only time we notice it is in cultural references too, he’s never seen any of the films or TV shows I have but I just tease him now. I think at the end of the day it’s about being happy and feeling loved and it genuinely doesn’t matter if that person is older, younger or the same age.

  22. My husband is 5 years YOUNGER. We met on the internet, so I knew from the very beginning, when he decided to contact me, how old he is, and he knew my age. I agreed to go on a date because I was intrugued – what kind of guy asks 5 yers older girl to a date? And the rest is history :)

  23. I’m 43 and my partner is 59. We met in 1999 when I was 28 and he was 44. Our love gets stronger as we age. Yes, there are some considerations. We have had to be much more aggressive in saving for retirement and paying off our mortgage. And we both strive to remain healthy so we age as well as possible. Neither of us wanted children so that has been a great bonus.

  24. I would have never guessed that Alex is in his 40`s. He definitely has incredible genes :)

  25. My husband is six years older than I am, and I benefit every day from his calm, his wisdom and his experience! I love him with all my heart, even though I was, too, hesitant in the beginning.

  26. Thanks for a lovely post! You’re always so insightful!

  27. This is so adorable, I never would have guessed Alex is that much older then you! My husband is only a few years older then me but we didn’t meet until he was 30. I think he was pretty grown up by then. I also think if we had met younger it would not have worked out.

  28. Your post is a great reminder that love can come no matter what age, or that special someone is.

    I went on a date once with a guy who I thought was my age, but was older. Not 13 years older, but at least a couple of years. I was put off by it, just because it (a dating app) said he was a different age than he really was. But pretty much he just lied about his age.

    You’re right though. Even doing a silly dating app, you can pick and choose which ages you want, and maybe it’s good to be a lot more open about it. Older guys have a lot of great qualities that younger guys may not have. Maturity, wiser, etc.

    Great post!!

  29. I love this–parallels mine and my husband’s story. He is 10 years older and started getting silver hair in his 20s so there was no hiding his age when we met. He was so nervous on our first date because we were going out with my friends.But most of them married older too so he was actually in good company that night.
    Completely agree with you on all your bullet points, especially the pop culture differences. We crack up over some of it though. He’ll act surprised that I haven’t seen a certain movie and I’ll say “look up the release date–I was 5!”

  30. In that high school picture of Alex, he looks so much like Chris Messina!

  31. My partner is 9 years older than I am. I wouldn’t have it any other way! He knows so much and has lots of experience in how to live.

    He grew up in Delhi and now we both live here. We work together, and in that too I look up to him so much! I don’t know what I would do without him, he is guiding me through my mid-twenties and helping me not make mistakes that he did. Also navigating a new country and new language is so much easier with his support. I’m not sure I would make it in this crazy place with such a hard job (sterilizing and rescueing stray dogs) without him by my side!

    He also says the same thing, that I wouldn’t have dated him in his twenties :) Given the stories, I think I agree!

    I have always been a little frustrated by my peer group, so this works out really well. My guy even says that I have taught him a lot, and I’m miles ahead of him in a lot of things. That’s nice to hear too!

  32. My boyfriend is 19 years older than me…I’m 28 and he’s 47. It works for us, and our family and friends have been surprisingly accepting. I think if I weren’t an old soul, our relationship wouldn’t work, but we have the same values and expectations for our lives.

  33. i love this post! i agree, never write anyone off, you never know who the one might be :)

    xoxo, kiely

  34. I actually had to read this post outloud with my boyfriend of 6 years…We both identified with practically every aspect of this post! We are 10 years apart and couldn’t be happier. I met him when I was 21 and he was 31; it felt so sexy dating a man in his thirties!

  35. What a wonderful post Joanna! My boyfriend and I are many years apart as well. I am 25 and he is 40! My family did not like it initially, but I knew there was something about him that I could not pass on. I am so happy you embrace the age gap too! xo

  36. My husband is a decade older than me. He has a niece that is a year older than me. It was weird for a little while. But in the end, it’s whatever. But then I get sad that he will likely die so much sooner than me. Whoa, deep.
    xoxo Laura

  37. I’m 6 years older than my husband. It’s really not that much older, but I do find that there a few things that are different from our childhoods. I was a child of the 80s and he was a child of the 90s. I’ve been introducing him to episodes of the Cosby Show. He had never seen one episode!

  38. Older is the best! When I met my husband I knew how old he was and never thought twice about him as a potential mate. I was 18 and he was 30. Well two years later he really started flirting with me and I fell head over heels. Who knew! 12 years and three babies later the age gap has never been an issue.

  39. <3 So true. My husband is 7 years old older and it’s so wonderful <3

  40. My husband of 7.5 years is 41 and I’m 27. He definitely doesn’t look his age, and our life experiences overlap much more than people would think. It only seems weird if I think about the fact that his oldest niece is only five years younger than me (she and I even went to the same middle/high school!) or that he was going off to college when I was 4. We joke a lot about him being an “old man,” but the age difference doesn’t really matter to us. I guess we’re a good match :)

  41. My husband is 41 and I’m 27. He definitely doesn’t look his age, and our life experiences overlap much more than people would think. It only seems weird if I think about the fact that his oldest niece is only five years younger than me (she and I even went to the same middle/high school!) or that he was going off to college when I was 4. We joke a lot about him being an “old man,” but the age difference doesn’t really matter to us. I guess we’re a good match :)

  42. Aww what a wonderful post Joanne. I can’t wait to find my Alex someday. Hehe, he’s a stunner in that high school photo!

  43. I would have never guessed Alex was above 34-35!! Tell him he is well preserved, lol.

  44. My husband is 6 years older than me, but I previously dated someone 17 years older (I was 30) He also looked very young. Didn’t really feel the age difference, we were both professionals, same area of law etc. But you’re right- the cultural references could throw us off a little. ps – Alex really looks young – does he coat himself in coconut oil and sleep upside down, or what?

  45. How interesting and sweet! Alex seems like an awesome guy. The only time I dated much older (he was 9 years older than me) it did not work out. Surprisingly what it came down to for me was our different tastes in music! He was into 90’s rock and I am very contemporary/hip-hop. He was going on a road trip one weekend and I spent a long time making him a mix cd of hip hop songs that I loved and hoped he would like too. When he got back I asked how he liked it and he said, “Um…” And that’s when I knew it wasn’t going to work. Of course, there were other reasons too, but if we can’t share music that’s a big deal to me. Having someone diss your playlist actually kinda hurts! Haha. My current boyfriend (3 years older) and I have the exact same taste in music and for that (among other reasons) I know he is “the one” :).

  46. I love this post. My beau is nine years older than me, and I love it. He’s fun and silly and we have very much in common, but he’s also wise and intelligent. He’s stable in a way that calms my crazy, mid-twenties mind. He’s the first man I’ve dated that’s older than me, and we fit so well. I can’t wait to spend many years ahead with him.

  47. I’m 20 and my boyfriend is 26. We are 5 and a half years apart. We first started dating when i was 19 and he 24 which I thought wasn’t so bad but then he turned 25 and I freaked out a little. It works for us though, my parents have a 19 year age gap so I’m used to it and like having an older boyfriend. He is still in university as well so we are still in the same stage of life! Conclusion: I love having an older boyfriend.

  48. I’m 29, and my husband — we got married last year — just turned 50! I know it sounds crazy. A bit over the top. And on paper, I’d never have gone for it. But he was a friend, someone I knew before I knew exactly how old he was, and although I knew the age difference (about 20 years — I’ll turn 30 soon) before we ever started officially dating, it’s not something that feels like an issue at all, 99% of the time. I definitely relate to what you say about benefiting from his wisdom and life experience. But other than that, he doesn’t seem (or look) his age at all! He’d never married or had kids before so that might be part of it. In any case, I would never have guessed I’d end up in a relationship like this, but I’m so, so happy, and what a shame if I’d have let an age difference get in the way of that. We do have fun with it and make jokes about the age difference, because the reality is, it’s not something that negatively affects the quality of our relationship at all.

    (Interestingly, when I was 9 my mother married her second husband — a man 36 years her senior. In that way you could say I’ve been exposed to radical age differences, yes…but I would not say it in any way made me more inclined to such a relationship myself!)

  49. Whaaat? I didn’t know that! He does have a baby face. And that car seat…I die. And in the front seat lol!

  50. I never would have guessed there was that big of an age gap between you two. Tell him he has aged well! My husband is 4 years older than me, but that’s nothing.

  51. I love this post! My husband and I are 13 years apart, too. I thought he was joking me when he first told me his age (I was 25, he was 38) ;) I completely agree with all of your points — the only time it gets awkward is when he’s around all of my friends or vice versa, since many of our friends are still around our own ages. Do you guys find that, too?

  52. I’m rereading Emma right now, and Mr. Knightley is 16 years older than she is! But they make it work ;)

  53. this is so wonderful. I have dated older not too much like two years. It was okay. I dont like older to be honest. Now I go with someone younger, and though its different im okay with that. but when we go out they always think hes older, im like no i started drinking 5 years before him. ( lol)

  54. I had the opposite experience when I was first dating my husband – I found out he was 6 years YOUNGER! It definitely gave me pause, but like you, I was already hooked. We’ve been together for over 12 years and I never even think about it now.

  55. I am married to a man 24 years my senior (I’m 29, he’s 53). We married in 2012. It took a lot of dates, and patience on his end, before I took the leap and went with my heart. The age definitely played a factor in my hesitation to move forward in the relationship at first. But I haven’t regretted it, and funny enough, lots of people who knew me told me they weren’t surprised I ended up with someone older. We relate emotionally in ways I never felt I could with men my own age. I’ve been extra lucky in that my family loves and accepts him as a part of the family, too. Sure, it presents challenges sometimes, but all relationships have those. I’m glad I took the leap!

  56. All your points were spot on! My husband is 16 years older and there is a lot I can relate to with what you said. It’s never been an issue or big deal for us. Although it’s freaking him out a little as I approach the age he was when he met me, 37. It made him realize how young I was! Although I was always an “old soul” and he needed the additional years to mature.

  57. Uh I remember when I met my boyfriend I almost didn’t take him up on his date offer because he looked like he was 19. I ended up going and found out he was 22, only 4 years younger. It was still something that I worried me until I talked to my mom and she reminded me that my dad is 4 years younger than her.

    Now it’s been a year and I see him going through the same kind of phases I did just a few years ago and it’s so eye opening. But I’m patient and I like being able to offer advice and being respected for my experiences.

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  59. I married someone the same age as me, and there’s pros and cons to that, too. I don’t think either of us was super mature emotionally, although we had the house/kids/boring lives thing down. Sometimes I wish I had married someone more mature, but then I remind myself that I’ve got some work in that area too ;)

  60. my parents are 11 years apart. they joke about how he was pretty immature and my mom was extra mature for her age, so really, they were about even. ;) she was 18 when they met and he was 29, dated for a long time then made it official. perfect.

  61. I was the opposite—ALWAYS dated older and then started dating Tom. I thought we were the same age because the guy who introduced us was my age and only told me he had ‘gone to college’ with Tom. Fast forward a couple of months into dating when we started planning birthday celebrations (we are within a week of each other)…
    “Um, you do know this is a big birthday, right?”
    “How big?” [insert quizzical look]
    “It’s the 3-0.”
    Let’s say I was well past 30 at this point.
    If I had known this 2 months prior, I would never have gone out with the man who became my husband.

  62. Whoa, Alex had me fooled!

  63. Wow, Tobi looks JUST like Alex in that last college pic! So cute!

  64. My husband is 6 years older than I am. We started dating when I was a measly 17 and married when I was 21. I wouldn’t trade his age for anything, It’s one of the best parts of our marriage. Besides the age gap he’s also 1 ft 4 inches taller than I am. So, our age difference combined with our height difference has lended to some funny looks over the past 8 years.

  65. I married a man 9 years older than I am and don’t usually notice a difference. We technically fall into separate generations, but I am right on the line between Millennial & Gen X. He is already a college instructor which is what I want to do, so he gives me insight into working in academia. I sometimes relate better to college students we work with in our ministry since I am actually in their generation. Overall, I think our age difference makes us a well-rounded, strong team.

  66. I always dated older men. Then I met my husband who is ten years my junior. However, when we met I swore he was 28 (I was 32). He was 22. I also to the Age a Gap Test and just barely passed, so I continued dating (ahem pursuing) him. We have now been together 7 years and have a 7 month old son. I can’t imagine anyone else being my partner in life or the father of my child. I still get butterflies before I see him after a long day of work. We do had some age gap differences. But I say, whatever works, works.

  67. Those pictures are incredible!

  68. I’m almost 3 years older than my husband. My parents are 20 years apart. Age really is just a number! :)

  69. Great post!! I had no clue Alex was older than you. My parents are only 5 months apart and as a kid I always thought you had to marry someone your exact same age. Definitely not the case!!

  70. My boyfriend is 9 years older then me and I couldn’t be happier. He knows what he wants, is mature, financially stable and he has a lot of past relationship experience so we don’t really have stupid fights. Plus it’s always fun reminding him that I will always be younger and less wrinkly ;)

  71. My husband is 14 years older than me; eyebrows raised when we started dating (I was 24) but with each year it seems less a big deal. We work because we’re both still growing and changing but have managed to do so in a sort of parallel. We decided to make a big life move from NYC (the same BK neighbors you’re in now actually!) to Vermont. It was a great decision for us; two kids later we’re still going strong. I knew he was “the one” back in NY when he would aske to accompany him on a boring errand like a run to Home Depot and I found myself always up for hanging out with him. I really do think age is just a number as I’ve met guys my age who seem a little fuddy duddy and stuff. My guy is taking better care of himself these days and actually looks younger than when we first got together.

  72. Funny story – I actually thought that the guy I’m dating was my age for the first six weeks we dated until I found out he was actually about three years older! (We met on Tinder and the site had messed up his age.) Once I got over the initial shock, and having to readjust my brain around how old he ACTUALLY was I was relieved because I’ve always preferred dating older men. Three years isn’t much, but I think it’s an important three years… ;)

  73. Say Whhhaaaattt?! This is SO cool! You guys work so well together!
    I’m secretly crushing on some super smart hunky guy at work who is ten years older than me. All of our female co-workers LOVE him. Long story short it’ll never happen for me, but you’re right about the whole “encyclopedia” thing, he’s educated but I swear he knows something about EVERYTHING which makes him twice as attractive.

  74. My husband and I are 14 years apart, and when we first started dating, we failed that test of if the age difference is too much. But we have been married 8 years and had 3 children, so it all worked out in the end. He jokes that he’d never leave me for a younger woman…I am the younger woman! Ha. He and I never would have dated when we were both in our twenties, I love that he was so established with work and a home and who he was before we had our children.

  75. Love this post! My hubby is 5 years older than me. We are from the same hometown but didn’t meet until after college in a larger city. (Although I sort of remember him as a hot senior while I was in junior high.) It’s fun to compare memories from our hometown. :) I love that he is a little wiser and really laid back….helps me chill out!

  76. I just married the love of my life over the weekend – and he is 15 years older than me! When we first started dating he brought up the age difference quite a bit because he felt insecure about it. I thought it was very Mad Men to be dating an older man, and I liked that he was mature, ambitious and affectionate.

    Overall we work wonderfully together because I’m an old soul and he’s a young soul…:)

    Thanks for posting this – it helps for other couples with an age gap to see that it’s not weird or uncommon.

  77. Wow, we have remarkably similar stories! My husband and I met when I was almost 26 and he was 40. It was odd telling my parents and friends when we started dating, but now the gap hardly registers and the benefits are deep. I think every one of your bullet points is true for us as well!

  78. I recognise so much in this post. My boyfriend is 8 years older than I am. We actually watched Back to the future recently, because when it came out I was still in diapers!

  79. I’m 26 and not in a relationship, but I’m definitely looking for someone older …. Maybe 32-34ish? I STILL feel like guys my age are totally immature. I’m looking for someone who has his **** together and I actually find that to be reeeally attractive.

    PS I totally thought that was Anton in the 1st pic! So cute!

  80. I loved your post! My fiancé is 5.5 older than me, he had just turned 30 when we met and I saw him like a real grown-up at the time. Some people were a bit shocked back at the time, since I’m a baby face too, thinking he was dating a minor! I’m turning 30 next week…On some aspects he’s really the wise older man, other times I’m the voice of reason!

  81. I’m apparently in the minority here! My boyfriend is actually 5 years younger than I am- I never thought I would be dating someone so much younger, but we’ve been together for 2.5 years and it’s great! Most people don’t even realize he’s younger. Luckily my friends are very accepting- I have a few who also have boyfriends/husbands younger than them and a couple whose husbands are 14 years older.

  82. I am now 31 and my husband is…53! We have 21 years between us. My parents have 16 years between them, so it was never odd to see this. Although, her ONLY love advise for me “don’t marry someone much older than you”.. oops! My husband and I don’t always know what music or TV show the other is talking about, but we sure have a span of knowledge in a trivia game! Thanks for your post!

  83. My first husband was only 2 years older than me and that worked. After I was divorced and started dating again, I was open to dating someone older than me, but not by too much. My parents had me young, when they were both 18 so I didn’t want to date someone that was 10+ years older than me. Dh is 7 years older and it’s a non issue now. We don’t even realize it except when we’re talking about his college days and I remind him I was still in Jr high…lol

  84. I am married to a fantastic (and young looking) man that is 14 years older than I. Like you, the only time I notice the difference is cultural references in our youth – he has no clue about Saved by the Bell or My So Called Life – which is what I grew up with.

  85. I really enjoyed this post! I never would have guessed he was that much older than you!

  86. My husband is 11 years older than me. He was 41 when we started dating too, and much like Alex, says we wouldn’t have gotten if we had met when he was younger. Haha. I love it!

  87. My husband is ten years older than me and it’s the best! All of those reasons are so spot on…but you do worry about them a little bit more, I find!

  88. Yep! My hubby is 7 years older. The youngest I’ve ever dated was just a month older than me. He definitely proved to me that I prefer older guys. Ugh, those young boys….Lord help me!

  89. Oh, how I love this post, and the comments. My partner and I have been together for 8 years; he is 14 years my senior. While we have always passed the “official age test”, we do NOT pass a silly rule that my single mother and I (only child) had – that we would not date anyone closer to the other’s age than to our own.

    The difficulty for me, falling for this relationship when I was 29, was in the fact that in his extra years, he had been married and had two daughters. And he didn’t want to do either again. He still doesn’t.

    But my friends have small kids, and I love being an auntie. My partner’s daughters are now in college, which means that we can go away on the ‘every-other’ weekend or make plans for a Wednesday night (ah, that classic split custody arrangement). The freedom that gives us … our relationship has never been stronger.

    At 37 now, I look at the flexibility we have to go PLAY, and I think, it’s definitely ok that I don’t have a little human to be taking care of.
    A diamond on my finger would still be nice, but a LOT of that has to do with a simple desire to rock some bling! :)

  90. My husband and I are seven years apart (’78 and ’85) and our birthdays are seven days apart! So that is kinda fun! There are tons of early eighty references from his childhood that I don’t get. Even more early ninety music references that I don’t know. I missed out on REM, ha. But then he was too cool for plenty of things my age group experienced. It is kinda crazy to think that he was graduating high school and starting college when I was still in elementary school! If I think about it long enough, the crazier it seems. It works for us. Strangely, I’ve never even dated anyone the exact same age as me. Tried younger a time or two, that was never a good idea. 7 years is a good match for us. I like knowing I”m always younger than him too. :)

  91. I like this post! I prefer older men to be honest, so I wouldn’t mind dating older! It depends how old obviously but it also depends how well we are together. Age doesn’t really matter to be honest.

  92. I just turned 30 and have had only failed relationships, so at this point, I would date someone 25 years older! #whydoesthiskeephappening

  93. Great post! I am 35 and my husband is 17 years older then me. It works great for us, specially raising children now that we have two small boys, we in totall agreement about what are the most important things in life. I feel like I need more time to get there, but eventually do;)

  94. I dated a man who is 11 years older than I am. I was 27 and he was 38. I found that the age difference wasn’t enough, and should have dated someone older (45 to 50, according to my mother, who says that men in my city are ridiculously immature).

  95. Oh and I forgot the most interesting part: in all three scenarios the couples are very close in age and the husband was the one who brought up the difference – almost in a defensive way – as in, she does it this way, but I don’t think I need to.

  96. This comment has been removed by the author.

  97. Great post! My husband is 7 years older and I never think about the gap. When we were first dating it was so refreshing to go out with an older guy. There was no drama or playing games. I had not had much dating luck up until meeting him (which obvi turned out to be a good thing!), but I imagine it was because I couldn’t relate to guys my own age!!

  98. I have two sisters. All three of us married older men (all 8 years older than ourselves)… because we are smart girls!! In a strange way, I think it brought us closer together in adulthood … its like we created our very own old man club:)

  99. This post sums up entirely how different and exciting dating someone a decade older than me is. I grapple with the social norms and parental expectations, but they pale in comparison to how happy he makes me and how much love there is between us! Give it up for older guys!

  100. I’m nine years older than my husband. He’s 56 and I’m 65. We’ve been married 28 years and couldn’t be happier. Age *is* just a number.

  101. That’s awesome! I agree with your mom age is but a #. As long as you’re compatible and on the same page of this journey that’s all that matters. Alex definitely doesn’t look much older than you (he’s aging well) :) in a good way! Usually when men have beards it makes them look older, not in Alex’s case!

    I dated older before I got married. He was 6 yrs older. Hubby is 8 mos older.

  102. DR says...

    Ok so I think Anton totally has his dad’s look!

  103. Thanks for sharing! I grew up with my parents 7 years apart, so I didn’t think an age gap was that strange. I’ve always been attracted to older guys and by the time I joined JDate at 24, I was finding myself inching my age range higher and higher to find guys that felt mature and grounded enough to be serious. I ended up falling (hard) for an amazing man 8 years older (9 years in November and most of December, hehe) and I’ve noticed a lot of the same things, especially pop culture references. Is is nice to always be younger too :)

  104. I dated an older guy once. It’s funny – he was a decade older and a yankee and I HATED the differences. Instead of it being “cute differences,” it felt more like he thought I was stupid (and, hey, I probably was, and I imagine he was too 10 years earlier at age 23). There were good things though – we went to grown up adult dinners and he kind of showed me what being a grown up was like (I almost died when i saw the price of our first steakhouse dinner – ah, youths).

    Anyway, it didn’t work, and I haven’t dated anyone that much older or from new england since. :P

  105. When my husband and I met I was 20 and he was 28 which seems so old!!! He told me his cut off was 21 for dating but made an exception :). Now five years later and the difference seems so small!

  106. I am 4.5 years into a relationship with someone nearly 30 years older than me. Trust me when I say that did not go over well with my family. BUT, I have never felt happier or more fulfilled in a relationship, mainly because we share many of the same interests (opera, symphony, ballet, museums, travel, languages); we both enjoy good food (he loves to cook + I love to eat = weight gain all around!); he understands my introverted need to be alone and do my own thing sometimes, and doesn’t take it personally; AND we make each other laugh. Most important, we can talk about things that bother us, without there being any extra drama. Though I didn’t intentionally set out to date older, I’ve had a better relationship with him than with guys closer my own age. So I’m with your mom on age being just a number. When your interests and values and priorities are aligned, and the attraction is mutual, it feels right.

  107. I had ABSOLUTELY no idea Alex was that much older!! I’ve always dated older too but I don’t really think about it at all – the whole “age is just a number” adage is completely natural to me. It’s all about mutual attraction and how well two people work together, in my opinion.

  108. Loved this post and the comments too.
    I was married to a man two weeks younger than me, but he was always the more mature one in the relationship, and now that we’re no longer married but still close friends, he gives the wisest advice.
    And now the man I love is 17 years my senior, but you’d never guess, because he looks and acts much younger than his 45. And yet one of his coolest traits is that he takes everything so chilled because he’s lived long enough to know, as does Alex, that this too shall pass. He really calms me.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is age doesn’t matter, but emotional maturity does, and so does life experience. If it’s a match, the age gap makes no difference (even though I did initially fret about it).

  109. You and I are the same age, and my husband is 12 years older than me (so probably Alex’s age). However, he was already divorced with a 17 year old daughter when we met. A good friend advised me to get to the bottom of whether he wanted more children by the second date, advice which I followed. We now have two boys of our own and recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Not all of our jokes, musical tastes and cultural references always mesh, but things that are really important to you when you’re in college/in your 20s, just seem to melt away and give way to more meaningful things that you have in common when you’re older.

  110. Thanks for posting this, Joanna! My husband is 12 years older than me and I can relate to every one of your examples (except the parenting one, as we don’t have kids). Interesting point about that one, though – three of my couple friends have brought up the same subject – the father is okay with letting the kids play independently and the mother feels more inclined to be interacting with her kids all the time. I wonder why that is…

  111. This is such a great post, Joanna!

    I’ve only ever dated guys that were a couple of years older than me or the same age, so I’m not really sure how “old” I’d be comfortable dating.

    Funny thing is, I NEVER dated younger than myself–until my last boyfriend/now fiancé! He’s three years younger than me (though he looks older than he is) and is a bit wise beyond his years. Even so, it took me a looooong time to be comfortable with the fact that I was the older one, and it would especially irk me when there was some pop culture reference that I’d make that he was too young to have experienced! By now I’m over it, obviously, but it is still funny how some people react when they find out. We’re in our late 20s, so I imagine the eyebrow-raise will dissipate the older that we get, but it makes me smile.

    Here’s to keeping an open mind! Age really is just a number ;)

  112. I’m 8 years older than my husband. I forget all the time that I’m older. To me we’re the same age. It’s only awkward when I think about me being 16 and dating and driving and he was a little 8 year old boy in elementary school.

  113. I am 4.5 years into a relationship with someone nearly 30 years older than me. Trust me when I say that did not go over well with my family. BUT, I have never felt happier or more fulfilled in a relationship, mainly because we share many of the same interests (opera, symphony, ballet, museums, travel, languages); we both enjoy good food (he loves to cook + I love to eat = weight gain all around!); he understands my introverted need to be alone and do my own thing sometimes, and doesn’t take it personally; AND he makes me laugh (plus I think my generally positive outlook on life helps him out a lot). Most important, we can talk about things that bother us, without there being any extra drama. Though I didn’t intentionally set out to date older, I’ve had a better relationship with him than with guys closer my own age.

  114. My husband is 7 years older than I am and I always forget the age difference too! Until he quotes some movie I’ve never seen, similar to you and Alex. I really enjoy it though. Its especially convenient when it comes to our careers because he was basically “paying his dues” before we met and now he is more established and is supporting us/me while I pay my own dues in my career. Its nice that we both don’t have to struggle along!

  115. Great post! My husband is 3.5 years older than me, we met when he was 25. Even though he is 32 now, he still looks like a baby face too. We joke that if I had met even a few years earlier (say when he was 20), we would have never gotten together. He was in a punk rock phase (complete with lip rings, tattoos and black hair) and now could be a clean cut j.crew poster boy. Alex is right, our identities change a lot in those early years!

  116. My husband and I are 8 years apart. I almost never notice the age difference. It’s kind of funny, though, when we each share where we were on September 11th. Him: 21 years old and in a college lecture. Me: 8th grade science class. Weird!

  117. Hi Joanna! I totally identify with everything you said! My husband is a wise & much older frenchman (he is 49 and i’m 32) who charmed the socks off me with his knowledge of all things history and politics and his gentlemanly ways! And i think it’s great that we can throw on any old thing and they think it’s cute or beautiful just cos youth makes everything rosy & well, more hip haha!
    Also weirdly I keep thinking Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester was basically a young woman older man kinda thing right?? And I love Jane Eyre so… ;)

  118. I’m in my mid twenties and my boyfriend is his mid-30s – there is 10 years between us. As I read your article I weirdly thought to myself “EXACTLY!” about all of your points – my boyfriend and I have very different media references, but I find one of the most interesting things is where we were in our lives when the internet began to boom. I was so young that I remember a time before it, but my life has mostly shaped around it. For him, he learned to research and study and communicate well before it came along, so he doesn’t use or appreciate social media and why anyone would want to share their life so publicly.

    Admittedly I also didn’t know how old he was when he met – I had done some google searching to try to figure it out but I could really only narrow it down to within about 10 years. I wasn’t completely shocked as to how old he was, but I don’t think I ever hesitated to date an older person because my parents have a 13 year age gap (which was quite scandalous at the time!) When I tell him I feel sad that I missed out on so much of his younger years and I wished we were closer in age so I could have met him sooner, he reminds me that his twenties were about his career and being selfish, and I never would have liked him back then. So now I remind myself that I am lucky that he waited for me :)

  119. I did my big age difference dating as a teenager which was definitely not the time to do it. My husband is almost five years older than I am, but to be honest we never notice! Five years seems small compared to right (biggest difference), but it might just be that the discrepancy is less and less noticeable as you get older.

  120. I married older….MUCH…27years older to be precise. In the beginning it was difficult to get over everyone elses views on our relationship, but very soon friends and family realised we were just meant to be together. The only time it concerns us is when we think a long time into the future, when he will be nearing the end of his life and I’ll still have plenty of time (health permitting) left. But, our relationship is fantastic in almost everyway, almost feels too good to be true and decided long ago that any long term sacrifice was absolutely worth it.

  121. My boyfriend is 14 years older than me – he is currently 41 (like the age Alex was when you two first met) and I am 27. I think that sometimes this age gap does cause problems, but every relationship comes with their set of problems. As long as you are with each other because you love who each other are, you can make it work. And if it doesn’t work, the age gap (in my humble opinion) is hardly the problem.

    rae of love from belrin

  122. Yep! I did and I married him! My husband is 12 years older than me but it’s always worked for us. We’ve been married five years now and I rarely think about it anymore. It seems to surprise other people though which I find funny. I mentioned celebrating my husband’s 40th birthday to a colleague once and she seemed really confused, she had no idea there was such an age gap. Aside from things like that he does make a few pop culture references I don’t get, but that could also be because he’s English and I’m American ;)

  123. I think when the woman is significantly older its a problem. My mom was ten years older than my dad and their marriage…not so good. I think the age gap was too great and as a woman we mature faster anyway. But older man, younger woman? Seems to work better :)

  124. My husband is six years older than me. Before we started dating, I could tell he liked me, but a friend told me he thought I was too young for him (I was 23, he was about to turn 30). I always loved that he was older; I hadn’t had great luck dating guys my own age and had always considered my old side. Once I convinced him to go out with me once, he recognized this about me, too. :)

    Now, like you, I forget about the gap most of the time, but cultural references do bring it back to the surface once in a while. Or I’ll say something about 1996, when I was in sixth grade, and he’ll remind me he was already in college. Mostly, though, I find he grounds me in the same ways you’ve described about Alex. There’s something really comforting being married to someone with a few more years of life experience.

    Thanks for posting–great topic!

  125. I have to confess… I totally googled his age on his birthday! your posted that photo… and I was all… wait, ‘How old IS he?’ :) I was surprised, too! Ha.

    Also, My husband is only 4 years older, which seemed super young to me at the time. I always dated men around 10 years older, so I was hesitant that he was so ‘young’ :)

  126. What a stud in that last picture! ;)

  127. Loooove this post! The babysitter truly has an awesome style! UAU!

  128. My husband is 10 years older than me – 45 – and it’s such a good fit. He does not look his age (or act it!) Your comment about self-acceptance is so apt for us – I would NOT have liked my husband had I met him in his twenties. I have heard the stories and they are not good!

    He has ‘educated’ me about music, and I have educated him about…nothing really, annoyingly he’s much cooler than me despite being a generation older!

  129. My boyfriend and I are only three years apart which isn’t a huge deal but I totally get what you’re saying about the cultural references! He will usually have found something cool that I was too young for at the time.

  130. i’m currently dating someone who is kind of a lot older than me… in fact i’m a little worried about what my parents will say when i eventually bring him home to meet them! but, i have to say, when we’re together i don’t think about it at all. and like you said, he has more life experience, including in the bedroom! i also like feeling like i’m always attractive to him, i’ll always be the hot young thang ;) haha.
    i do worry about him slowing down in life before i’m ready, but i’m trying to take it one day at a time since i tend to overworry anyway! thanks for sharing your story.

  131. ND says...

    My boyfriend is four years older (to the day, ha) and it’s had pros/cons — he never played games in the beginning, is super neat/can cook/has great “adult” manners :). But, sometimes it’s felt like I have to “catch up” in certain areas, and since he already has done lots of adventurous travel, he isn’t as inclined to do it with me or uproot ourselves as willingly.

  132. This may be one of my favorite posts you’ve ever done!! And I had NO idea Alex was so much older than you–he looks so young! (Um. can we get HIS beauty secrets, please??!)

    My husband is five years older than me, which isn’t a ton but when we first started dating, I thought it was a lot. But I never think of the age difference anymore–not ever.

    And I’m dying over that car seat photo! Love how it’s in the front seat, too! #deathtrap;)

  133. I’ve always dated older men (from 3 years to 10 years older). My mom has always told me that I’m mature, and that boys/men my age wouldn’t “get” me, and that was mostly true. My husband of 11 years is 4.5 years older and it works for us!

  134. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I dated three boys two years older than me…. And I ended up married to a guy two years younger than me!
    Is it Alex on the first picture?!? I thought it was sweet Anton!! (And OMG that car seat!!!)

  135. when i was 21 i dated a guy who was 28 and i always felt so immature and inadequate. i was still in college, worrying about exams while he was worrying about taxes and making his car payment.

    now, that kind of gap would not bother me. my husband is 4 year older than me and i love that he’s a walking encyclopedia of random tidbits and facts.

  136. My parents were 12 years apart in age, and my husband and I have a 9 year gap between us. Most of the things you listed are true for us, too, especially the one about the funny cultural references. He didn’t even have a cell phone until he was well out of college!

  137. Lu says...

    i dated a range of ages as a single gal, and ended up married to a man nearly five years younger than i am! he calls me a puma (not quite a cougar). sometimes i feel odd about it, but then i realize he’s walter mathau from grumpy old men, just in a young man’s body. he actually yells at kids to turn their car stereo’s down…from our porch!!

  138. My husband is also almost 13 years older than me and for the most part it’s awesome. We also had to have that ‘moment of truth’. I totally appreciate having a guy who has nothing to prove and had a lot of the kinks already worked out ;) The biggest drawback at this point is considering having another child since we are at significantly different ages.

  139. I married someone my own age (three months apart), but I did date a couple older men when I was in my early 20s, and now that I’m now near the age of many of them I think I was attracted to their age more so than who they were, if that makes sense. I was so enraptured by the fact I was dating someone older (and thereof I tethered wiser, more experienced to their personalities) when that wasn’t necessarily the case.

  140. My husband is 15 years older than me. We started dating when I was 22 and did not pass the official age test. But he gave me all the things you outlined above, most importantly a sense of steadiness that I desperately needed. We’ve been together 6 years and he’s my best friend and confidante. With a less learned and steady man I do t think I’d be as healthy as I am today.

  141. D2 says...

    Wonderful post. My husband is 8 years older than me. Much of what you said resonated – especially my husband’s ability to be more chill and the way he handles women (and all their craziness). My husband too has a baby face and when I think of others his age they sometimes appear older. Some of our pop culture references are pretty funny.

  142. Oh my gosh, the carseat!!! And I have never noticed how much Anton favors Alex until now!

    As for dating, I have always been an old soul myself so I don’t mind an age gap. The oldest I have dated is 9 years older (I was 25, he was 34) and we had more in common than I usually do with men my own age. When it’s right, it’s right! :)

  143. Oh lord, yes! I absolutely adore older men. My favourite romance books are the ones where the man is at least 8-10 years older. I have been in a relationship with a man who’s 8 years older than I am. And I totally relate with you. He knows more, we do not exactly know what the other is talking about because of the generation gap, but I would not have it any other way.

    I always imagined that I would end up with a much older guy. (Everyone always said that I was way too mature for my age.)

    But frankly, he does not look older than you at all! You both look like you’re the same age. And that is such a lovely photo.

  144. I think (and this might seem controversial) it helps if the woman is the younger. There’s only 5 years between my partner and I, but he spent those 5 years doing a whole lot of growing up about commitment and dating, so now at 24 and 29 we’re on the same page about our future timelines etc?

    Great post btw xxx nicola

  145. Sorry, I meant the high-school photo )

  146. I am one of those people who took a long time to mature (NOT pronounced with a hard T!), so dating older would probably not have worked out for me. Even now, in my 30s, I look at my friends in their 40s and think, “How did you get so damned grown up? Where am I going wrong here?”

    I had a friend in high school whose parents were 10 years apart (the mom was older), and I remember that totally blowing my mind, because they were and are basically my ideal for how a marriage should be.

  147. Oh dear, the car seat!

    I dated older, but ended up marrying younger.

  148. Аlex is so handsome on the college picture! )

  149. Lovely Post! Thanks for sharing!

  150. What a wonderful post! I really loved getting to know your family through your blog, it’s so comforting.