Does age matter to date someone?

People say "age is just a number" all the time, but do they practice what they preach? My answer is... sometimes. As far as relationships go, it can get complicated. Age signifies so much more than just a number: it can reflect your maturity, your stage in life, and your experience. At the same time, age can be deceptive. Not every 21-year-old is on the same playing field--some are already gearing up for the ninth inning while others are just jumping into the dating game. It's often "different strokes for different folks," as the old saying goes. "What might be right for you may not be right for some."

If having a family is something you want from a relationship then obviously age differences become a bigger consideration. Women's fertility naturally begins to diminish after the age of 35 and, while men can physically father children until much later, it's worth bearing in mind that a man who doesn't become a father until he is 50 will be 68 by the time that child reaches adulthood. Financial, health and economic factors also change as we grow older and these can sometimes make child rearing more difficult in later life.

If having a family isn't part of your future plans then there are examples of many happy and healthy couples who have age gaps of 10 – 20 years. Anything over 25 years does begin to raise problems in terms of compatibility because you are effectively from different generations and therefore your life experiences, beliefs and values may be so vastly different that it can cause difficulties when you negotiate important decisions in your relationship.

It doesn't matter now but will it matter later?

When someone of 30 is dating someone who is 50 the age difference may not seem particularly significant. It will, however, likely start to become more difficult when issues around retirement or health problems arise. A 60 year old who is only just approaching retirement may be making plans for tackling all those ambitions that they haven't had a chance to fulfil while working. An 80 year old will be coping with very different life challenges and the differences could lead to a range of issues that weren't apparent earlier on in the relationship.


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