My girlfriend is nine years younger than I am. And it’s decidedly the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in. Probably because our age difference has never been a deciding factor at any point during the year and a half that we’ve been together, but mostly because there are a lot more important things to consider aside from which one of us has never operated a VCR. However, when you date someone younger, everyone has a damn opinion, mostly about what a bad idea your decision to engage in a consensual adult relationship is.
So let’s tackle the four most popular myths that I’ve personally heard, shall we?
Myth #1: It won’t last because you are in different places in life.
You can date someone the exact same age as you are, marry them, have children with them and then wind up getting a divorce because after years and years together you’ve finally allowed yourself to realize you want different things. People’s experiences in life are vastly different from one another and how long you’ve been on this planet does not define or dictate exactly where you should be at any given time during your adult life. Circumstances and experiences shape you into whom and where you are as a person at any given time, and only you can decide what it is that you need when you need it.
Myth #2: The age gap makes it difficult to relate to one another.
Well, here’s what I can say about my girlfriend, while she wasn’t old enough to watch Friends when it originally aired, she’s watched it on Netflix and we both agree that, on second thought, they were a little bit sexist, kind of extremely white, and just a tad homophobic. We also agree that we’re not ready for children but we do want them, and we both support and encourage our career choices. As far as I know, there are three things I need to connect to someone I’m in a relationship with; understanding, comfort and laughter. Lacking these would be a deal breaker no matter the age gap.
Myth #3: Been there, done that, nothing to see here.
For some reason, the general population of grumpy 30-year-olds and older, are under the impression that we have learned it all and there is nothing we can learn from someone who is a few years younger. There are always things to learn from everyone around you, and not just people you’re sleeping with, that goes for everyone you ever meet. Believe it or not, one thing my girlfriend has taught me—among a long list of things—is how to be a better communicator, because while I pride myself in being a great listener, I have trouble expressing myself, and communication is key if you want your relationship to last.
Myth #4: “She’s actually really mature for her age.”
This is my favorite one because it’s the absolute worst thing I’ve ever heard people say. Here’s the thing, as an adult of whatever age, you know right off the bat if you and a person you meet are compatible in any capacity. Whether that connection goes beyond friendship or kinship is moot. After one conversation with someone, you have a pretty good idea about whether or not you can stand to spend a considerable amount of time with them without wanting to kill them or yourself. Therefore defending your relationship with someone who is significantly younger than you are by pointing out just how “mature” she is as silly as claiming, “she’s short but she acts like a tall person.”
In summary, stop sweating people’s opinion of who you date, and don’t’ let age predetermine the outcome of human connections, because a relationship will either sink or swim no matter how much older or younger your girlfriend is than you are.