Can age gap relationships work?

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When it comes to age gaps and love, can the two work together? One woman, Briony, shares her story…

There are many ideals around love – mostly finding someone who is kind, makes you laugh and deeply cares for you. Oh and if he’s good looking, that’s a nice bonus. I’ve found all of that, and more. The only problem? My partner and I have a 12 year age gap, which means most people think this can’t be real love or a real relationship.

I met Paul (not his real name!) when I was out at a bar with some girl friends. He came over to me with an espresso martini. There was something about his confidence that instantly took my fancy (I’d never had an espresso martini before either!). We chatted for a few minutes, he asked for my number and then walked away. I didn’t see him again for the rest of the night, and, I assumed, would never hear from him again.

Until two days later when I was at uni my phone rung, which was unusual – most people just text me or WhatsApp me. I was even more surprised when it was Paul. He asked me to dinner for the next night. Again his confidence was appealing, so I agreed.

The date was perfect. He picked me up, took me to a fancy restaurant and we laughed all night. After we’d been dating for about three weeks he told me he was 37. I knew he was older – but not that much! To be honest, I was so caught up with the butterflies of first romance that it didn’t bother me and, 10 months on, it still doesn’t.

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He is very busy with work, I’m busy with uni so our personal lives don’t cross over much. I spend one weeknight and one weekend night at his house, and I’ve never met any of his family and he’s only met a few of my friends.

I know my friends think our relationship is odd, and I can see where they’re coming from. They can’t relate to him like I can – he’s ‘old’ in their eyes. They don’t have anything in common, which is why we don’t hang out as a group much.

As for my family, they say they’re happy because I’m happy but if I’m honest, deep down, they’re not really. I think they struggle with what I struggle with: the settling down part.

He is in the prime ‘baby-making’ age but I’m not ready to start a family. Although he says he’s not interested in children, what if he changes his mind? And what if I want children in a few years… am I ok with the fact that my baby daddy will be a senior citizen when my kid is in high school?!

I know I’m far more mature than men my age, and this is what helps us get over most of our relationship bumps. But then, on the flip-side, I wonder if this isn’t such a good thing? I wonder if I’m missing out on experiences I should be having in my early 20’s. I listen to my friends talk about how they went to festivals and met a guy, or going on a camping trip with their boyfriend and I get a bit sad. Paul would never do either of those things – he’s past that!

I think the one thing that keeps Paul and I going is love. Pure and simple. There’s no doubt that right now, our relationship is bliss, but I can’t speak for the future. A relationship with an age gap is difficult, but if two people are willing to work hard, and compromise on things (like starting a family) then you can make it work. It all depends on whether you’re willing.

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