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POLL RESULTS: There's only one thing that gets between them. Seventeen years.: (7 comments)

POLL: There's only one thing that gets between them. Seventeen years.

Friday, January 11, 2013 - 12:00 AM

A reader writes...

Q. My boyfriend is loyal, independent, and emotionally stable; he has the same interests, taste in food, and ideas as me. We have survived trials together and apart. Is it a problem that he is 17 years older than me?
POLL: Is it a problem that he's 17 years older?
34% (540) No. Love doesn't discriminate on the basis of age.
9% (151) Yes. Don't kid yourself. When you're 30, he'll be almost 50.
56% (895) It depends. If he's healthy and treats you right... why not?
1586 people have voted in this poll. (This poll is not active.)

Posts: 17

Jan 2011
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - 12:40 AM (#62650)

I'll assume for the purposes of this exercise that you're, say, somewhere in your 20s at least. If you're, say, 17 and he's 34, then the chances that it's actually broken and toxic and you aren't consciously aware of it go waaaay up, and you should probably be talking about it with your parents, rather than the internet. That having been said...

It all depends on whether you're good for each other right now, and whether you're right for each other going forward. From your question, it sounds like your experience of him right now is good - he gives you what you need, and doesn't demand from you anything that you aren't willing to give. That means he's a good boyfriend, whatever the age. The only question is - are you happy with a boyfriend for right now, or are you looking to settle down - and if you are looking to settle down, is he going to be able to give you what you need when you do? If you want kids, then you need to start counting years. What age range do you want to be having kids in? What age range will he be? How old is he going to be by the time the kids are out of the house? If the two of you aren't somehow independently wealthy, then you're probably going to have to be managing much of the child-rearing tasks directly yourself, and once the guy hits 55 or 60 or 65, his body may start breaking down in ways that leave more and more of that on you. At some point, his body is liable to break down in ways that leave taking care of *him* to you.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do this thing. I'm not saying that it's a bad idea. I'm saying that it has some implications, and it can be worthwhile to do the math.

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Posts: 2

Mar 2012
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - 05:41 AM (#62652)

My wife and I were 19 years apart (she was older). We were best friends, and very happy, thinking that we were going to be one of those lucky couples who were more in love after a lifetime than we were in the beginning. Then she received a diagnosis of Stage C colorectal cancer, and we spent the last six years of our marriage fighting it. I was widowed at 36, with everything that comes with it. And let me tell you, that is an experience you don't want and cannot, in any way, be ready for. I loved my wife, more than life itself, but if I knew then what I know now...I would not have pursued her. "Bettter to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?" I beg to differ. Losing her, watching helplessly as her light slowly dimmed, was the single most devastating thing I've ever experienced, and has transformed me in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. So here's my advice: understand that you can't live life by "what ifs", but recognize that you almost certainly are signing up for an experience similar to mine. Roll the dice; take your chances. But know what the likely outcome will be, under even the best of circumstances: widowed in mid-life, and growing old alone.

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Posts: 7

Oct 2008
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - 10:07 AM (#62653)

You got to look at this two ways: as a boyfriend, and as a guy who is 17 years older than you.

As a boyfriend, he sounds like somebody you enjoy being with now. Congrats! I'm assuming you're serious about any potential "long term" material this relationship has, or the age difference wouldn't be a big deal.

Anyway, he's special to you but not all that different from any other guy out there. He might get cancer and die as another person posted with their spouse, but the same is true of someone your own age. Heck, he might die slipping in the tub. Most (not all, but most) issues you might (emphasis on the might) have with him, you're also likely to have with another guy. You're rolling your dice with him same as anyone else in a relationship.

That said, while age can't be used to generalize people, it does mean a few things. There will be odd looks at times, and whispers perhaps. I reacted poorly (at first) when my baby sister dated a guy older than me; both of your families may have some reservations as well. His body is more likely (not a certainty, but an increased chance) of breaking down before yours does. He may need your help with rather gross health problems long before you're ready to consider such things, and he may lose a lot of the drive and energy he has now as time passes on. Pretty much all of that is going to happen in -any- long term relationship, you're just more liable to notice it and be inconvenienced by it sooner in this case (I suspect it's easier for most people to forgive their partner growing old when they're falling apart in the same ways too).

But at the same time, all love ends eventually, and finding someone you can love and is worthy of that love is pretty dang hard to do. I'd say if this is someone who is otherwise perfect, you should go for it and be happy.

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Posts: 58

Nov 2009
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - 11:53 AM (#62654)

Love may not discriminate based on age, but life sure does. He'll be ready to retire 17 years before you do. (Yea! Maybe you get to retire early!) He'll slow down some number of years before you do - depending on how young you keep him. Others have pointed out he's likely to die before you, but none of us are promised departure dates so ignore that for the most part. There's probably a study somewhere that will tell you where your sex drive will start exceeding his and you can figure out whether you're then old enough to deal with that or will want to become a horny cougar on the prowl.
That leaves outside forces. Most or your friends are also 17 years younger than him and vice versa his are that much older than you. How do all them get along? With 17 years difference he could be as old as your parents, or at least closer in age to them than to you. How are they and he handling that? Conversely, are you treated as an adult or more like a grandchild by his parents? These, and others, are cultural differences you will need to deal with. He may swear by Led Zep and not recognize the names of any group you like.
Finally, he's probably figured out who he is and in the middle of his career, but you may be young enough to still be in the process of self identification (Know what you want to be when you grow up?). Hopefully, you know who you are becoming because if you haven't established that yet then the direction your life takes you could pull you two apart when you do.

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Posts: 42

Nov 2010
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 01:34 AM (#62658)

Of course it is a problem. What isn't?
Now how serious is something you will have to figure out. Maybe pretty much nothing, maybe a lot. As others have suggested, it's pretty much a die roll. You can get snake eyes or 7 at any age. Couples can have long happy marriages with a great difference in age, can divorce quickly despite being the same age, or the reverse.
A casual memory says the odds are a bit worse for you, but there are lots of exceptions, so look it over and you may want to go for it.

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Posts: 9

Feb 2009
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 04:40 AM (#62660)

Well it's easy to say that age is just a number but it's a little more complicated than that. If you're 7 and he's 24 that's criminal; if you're 17 and he's 34 it may be a bit creepy but not necessarily bad. If you're 27 and he's 44 I don't see much of a problem. If you're 37 and he's 54, you've both probably got some baggage but it can work. And so on.

If you want an encouraging real life story consider James Doohan (he played Scotty on the original Star Trek). He and his first wife were about the same age and their marriage lasted 15 years. Doohan married his third wife when he was 54 years of age, and she was 18. They had three children together the youngest born when he was 80 and she was 44. They were married until his death in 2005 at age 85, a total of 31 years. It CAN work.

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Posts: 33

Jun 2010
Re: There's only one thing that gets between them. (Score: 0)
posted Monday, January 14, 2013 - 12:07 AM (#62661)

You're probably going to hate this, but I've got to answer this question with another question - the same question, in fact. Is the age gap a problem?

My fiance is 9 years younger than I am (I'm 36, she's 27). And, we're very good for each other, we're generally on the same page, and we make each other better people. In our case, the age gap is not a problem.

For others, it might be a serious problem, where the gap in life experience and emotional maturity is just too great to be overcome. But, the only ones who really know, in the end, are you and your boyfriend.

So, you're the one who knows your own relationship - is the age gap a problem?

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