Age Gap: What it’s like dating someone 11 years older
I met my significant other, Alex when I was 24 and he was 35. I have not previously dated someone with that much of an age gap, but I decided that it wasn’t a valid reason to end the relationship. It’s challenging at times, but it is important to maintain as much communication as possible in order to bridge the gap. Note — communication meaning understanding each other’s communication style, not just verbal communication.
When we first started getting serious, a lot of people would make comments about the age gap, in particular my parents. They were very much thrown off by it. My parents had me at a very young age — 17 to be exact — and I am not going to lie, it did feel weird when my mother met my significant other. Eventually, she realized that it was silly to be against me dating him just because of the age gap. There are some family members that do not necessarily agree with the age gap, but at the end of the day, it is my relationship, not theirs.
From the beginning, I realized that our life and career plans were very different. Alex lives in Los Angeles County and I live in Bakersfield, California (2 hours away). Not only did I face the age gap situation, but also the long distance. Once we discussed our life plans, we decided that I would move to Los Angeles after graduation. We came to this agreement after several years of balancing the pros and cons of both cities. Even though planning is crucial, COVID-19 taught us that we also must learn to live day by day and not rush things.
Something that I’ve learned in our relationship is how to increase my emotional intelligence. Alex once told me, “You do realize not everything needs a reaction.” I immediately gave him a reaction following his unsolicited comment! I did not learn right away what he meant, but he eventually explained what he meant. I originally had taken it as always being angry. After speaking about his stoic stance, I realized that he was right. I had to choose my battles, and before I realized it, I wasn’t reacting to every single thing. That, my friends, is what I call growth.
Different communication styles: It is important to find the communication style for both parties in a relationship. For me, quality time is important, and I am quite an analyzer while Alex is more of a socializer. We both took the 5 Love Language quiz and I got quality time while his quiz indicated the language of receiving gifts. When it comes to the Myer-Briggs personality test, I am an INFJ and Alex is an ESFJ. It is important to not only understand these concepts but also to understand human behavior and why we take certain actions, especially in relationships where partners are quite the opposite. It is essential to learn each other’s communication style because it helps understand both perspectives when disagreements arise.
Slight cultural gap: There are times when we won’t understand each other’s references, but it is also a time to learn and find a common interest for both of us.
Sense of humor: I think it’s important to maintain a sense of humor in the relationship. Being best friends and navigating the relationship as such really helps and thus, we learn from each other.
Even though there are disagreements in the relationship, it is important to find balance and compromise in situations. Humans are complex by nature and a balance is necessary in order to maintain a successful relationship. This does not mean dismiss differences. On the contrary, it’s important to bring awareness to those differences and grow together instead of apart. Age-gap relationships are very much stigmatized, but at the end of the day, the relationship is up to the parties involved.