The age gap and the four F’s of dating
These terms have become part of our dating vernacular, despite being rather unflattering and unhelpful. We all know someone who has chosen to date someone significantly older or younger than themselves, only to be faced with judgement and even ridicule.
So what is so confronting about the age gap?
Firstly, it goes against our traditional expectations of what relationships ‘should’ look like. And although most of us consider ourselves quite evolved, when it comes to relationships, we typically prefer the norm. We like our relationships vanilla flavoured, with a side of ordinary, thanks very much!
Secondly, we don’t understand them. Those who haven’t experienced a relationship with someone from a different age group have little understanding about the pros and cons of such relationships. And as good old human nature dictates, what we don’t understand, we fear.
Whilst these reasons are flimsy at best, there may be some merit in the general weariness about inter-life-stage relationships*.
Let’s take a look at a technique for assessing the suitability of a date from a different life-stage.
The 4 F-words of dating
It can be helpful to assess someone’s life-stage based on their perspective on these four factors:
The research tells us that, generally speaking, in our 20’s, we tend to prioritise fun and fitness, in our 30’s, fun and family take priority and in our 40’s we are more focused on family and finance.
So this can create potential barriers when dating people in the life-stage above or below us. Let’s imagine you are 35 and you are enjoying your busy social life, whilst also starting to think about having a family. You start dating a 23 year old who just wants to party and hit the gym 7 days a week – this may have a shelf life. Or, you may start dating a 48 year old person who has already had their family and is now focused on building wealth and travelling the world – what about your family plans?
How to use the 4 F-words
First, conduct a self-assessment on each of the 4 lifestyle factors.
Give yourself a rating of 1 – 10 in terms of the level of importance in your life. For example, if you are in the process of saving for a property or building your share portfolio and this is a high priority for you right now, you might rate yourself 8/10 for finance. If you are a long way from starting a family and more interested in having fun in the moment, you might rate fun as 9/10 and family, 4/10. Get the picture?
How to make the 4 F’s work for you
Whether you are engaged in an online or offline dating campaign, you can easily use the 4 F’s to assess potential dates.
When emailing a potential online date, elegantly slip in a few questions relating to the importance of each of the 4 F’s and see how they respond. You can use the 10 point rating system to assess email response.
If you’re sitting face to face with a date, it will be quite easy to assess their views on fun and fitness. Ask broad, open questions about family and finance and watch their reactions. These are both ‘big ticket items’ in the dating game so be subtle and patient.
I prefer to think about this phenomena as people from different life-stages dating, rather than age groups. After all, it is not unusual for a man or woman to be early or late in their life-stage development. She may be 45 but living like a 28 year old, or he might be 28 and living like a 40 year old. Some young people want to be settled down and married, and some older people want to be free to roam the planet.
By Melanie Schilling, Psychologist and Dating Coach
Try the 4F assessment on your next dating prospect and tell us how it goes in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.
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