The Reality Of Dating A Man 23 Years Older Than You

When I was younger I would have gagged if you had told me that I would fall in love with someone significantly older. Growing up I witnessed so many of my aunts and uncles who were in relationships with large age gaps struggle to maintain a happy relationship, even some who have been married for over 40 years. I learned that while at one point in your life you may be in the same place, sometimes when one person strives to make a change to suit their goals or interests, it can cause many issues.

To put it simply, while the younger individual might want to maintain their youth and continue to go out like they normally would, the older individual might not be into those things anymore and may become a homebody. Even  something simple like a family dinner can turn into a fight. You don’t always want to leave your spouse and do something you know they may not approve of because it’ll upset them, but at the same time you selfishly don’t want to miss out on experiences you’d love to have. Life is too short.

But low and behold, I found myself in a relationship with a man 23 years older than me.

While I could somewhat see the issues my relatives experienced within my own relationship, I wouldn’t say it was necessarily the same. That also could be because my boyfriend  and I are much younger than my relatives are now, or it could be different because we share so many of the same interests and hobbies, as well as have similar personalities.

Our relationship was as normal as any other  I’ve been in, only my boyfriend had so much more respect for me as a woman. He made such a great effort to always make me feel important to him, to not push boundaries and to make me feel comfortable. He made our relationship a priority in his busy life and wasn’t ashamed of being seen with me despite the negativity surrounding our age difference..

I did notice that when we would go on dates, people would sometimes stare because, quite frankly, he is old enough to be my father.  I would hear the occasional odd comment, but he didn’t seem to let it bother him. Instead, he would make me feel secure and confident about us. There was never a moment where I felt embarrassed because of how other people would make me feel, he always reassured me I had nothing to worry about.

We’d do things normal couples would; go to the movies, make dinner at home and enjoy a night in, have crazy and passionate sex on rainy Sunday afternoons, and  have legitimate talks about the future with the intent to stay together.

But we did have one major thing that affected our relationship that ultimately led e me to learn something important about dating in general.

The shift in priorities were different in our relationship. While we were both workaholics, we both had different reasons to be; I was trying to financially establish myself, while he was trying to make money for his family. He was a father of five kids, and a grandfather of two, all of whom were also in different stages of life, and I ultimately wasn’t sure how my relationship with him would have worked if they were involved in my life as much as they were in his.

Obviously, someone’s kids are their priority and I never let him forget that. I would be okay if he had to cancel or postpone dates to watch his kids, or if we couldn’t do something for a week because his kids had activities he needed to attend.  They needed their father and I wasn’t ever going to stop him from being there. However, because his children never knew I existed, it was very hard for us to have a relationship and it would have been difficult for me to become integrated into their lives.

Our relationship ultimately ended because of his kids.

While we were doing really well as a couple, we simply couldn’t move forward because of the fact that he had kids and we both knew that they wouldn’t approve. Two of his kids were older than me, and we knew they would be disgusted if they knew their dad was romantically involved with someone younger than them. Our relationship wasn’t worth risking his relationship with his kids. That’s why we called it quits regardless of how happy we were together.

If his kids were younger then maybe things would have been different, with less  fear of their disapproval. Even if my boyfriend was 10 years younger, things might have been totally different. I didn’t fear him because he had kids and him being a dad was never what turned me off. There was simply no point in continuing if we both knew that his kids would never approve of me. Their relationship will always be more important to him than I ever could have been.

I wouldn’t say this relationship detoured me from ever entering another relationship with a large age gap again, but it did  teach me a lot of lessons in the sense that if they have a family, your relationship will always be affected by that. I also learned that sometimes you will feel restricted in living your life the way you want because your partner has less  interest in going back to that stage of life again.

So for anyone who doesn’t say age affects relationships, you may want to think again.

Photo by Atharva Dharmadhikari on Unsplash

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