Ishani Mukherjee discusses why age isn’t the most important factor in a relationship.
I remember people in my halls obsessing over the relationship that Emmanuel Macron shared with his partner, gasping at the 25-year age difference. I couldn’t help but wonder – does an age gap really matter in a relationship? As long as we are talking about two consenting adults, I’d ultimately say no. Age is not necessarily a big factor in compatibility.
Choosing a partner usually comes down to a natural reaction, a gut feeling. For this reason, we shouldn’t make formal rules about an appropriate age gap because this would box in the complexity of relationships. Conversations like “they like their partners to be older to them” or “it’s a father complex that makes them pursue someone older” have made me question the reasons behind my preferences. However, a person’s preferences are usually based on maturity levels, which is why some people may prefer to date someone older or younger.
From my experience, if there is a common ground on issues of practicality, the relationship will remain strong despite the age gap. Take for instance if you both believe that personal finances must be independently managed between partners; no matter your ages you will both have similar morals and won’t experience conflict on these grounds. As long as you are compatible, your relationship should work.
“From my experience, if there is a common ground on issues of practicality, the relationship will remain strong despite the age gap.”
I come from an Indian household, and a lot of the marriages that I have witnessed have been with a significantly big age gap. It is culturally acceptable where I come from that age gaps help one build a sense of security. But, when I objectively looked at relationships with a large age gap, I found that a lot of the people in these relationships struggled to connect. However, I attribute this difficulty to poor communication. People struggle to find common ground with their partner when there is a lack of communication, no matter what the age difference looks like. As long as the maturity level of both people in the relationship is the same, then communication shouldn’t be a major issue, regardless of years spent alive.
“As long as the maturity level of both people in the relationship is the same, then communication shouldn’t be a major issue…”
During a conversation with a friend about power dynamics that come into play with age, I realised that unconscious biases can exist in a relationship, regardless of the age gap. Some relationships in real time have younger partners being assertive, while others work differently; your age will not definitively determine your power in a relationship. In the end, what truly matters is your compatibility and happiness as a couple. Age is just a number. Maturity and relatability are the most important things in a relationship, which is why I don’t think that an age difference can define whether or not a relationship will work.
I would simply put it this way: experiences, reflections and maturity are entirely subjective. The bottom line is that every relationship, no matter the age difference, comes with emotional baggage and experiences, and to put an age limit on who you can date is to cage the concept of dating. If you genuinely want a relationship that gives you mutual satisfaction and meets your emotional needs, age is a futile factor. A good relationship relies on how partners understand each other.