I like older men.
Not just in terms of romantic relationships. I like talking to older people in general because I feel they make more sense and people my age are usually just after the “small talks.” I get along with women in their 30’s really well while I usually find myself crying on the inside when left with a group of people my own age.
And because of that, I took it to the next level and closed off all windows and doors and gates to men that are my age and below. To be fair, I never dated anyone my own age. It was always a guy a year or more older.
And so I met Jec. We have an 8-year gap between our ages, but it didn’t make us shrug off the other person. In fact, we got along really well even from the start.
Personally, I seldom come across people my own age who have partners that are 5+ years older than them, much less 8. Some might think it’s a harder relationship to handle, but I disagree. It still depends on how you treat each other. On the other hand, I want to say that age is just a number, but in some ways, your age difference can still get in the way.
So from my own experience, I want to share my own insights on how to handle a relationship with a big age gap.
Don’t play the age game.
Number 1 rule: Don’t play the age game.
This is where all hell breaks loose. Treat your partner with respect that age shouldn’t get in the way. The moment you pull out your age card, you’re immediately showing your insecurities – regardless if you’re the older or the younger partner.
Quit saying things like, “Well I’m older so I know better,” “I’m stupid because I’m young,” etc. It doesn’t only feed your insecurities, but it also hurts your partner. Instead, use your age difference to improve your relationship. If you’re the younger partner, get as much nuggets of wisdom as you can from your girlfriend/boyfriend. If you’re the older partner, learn to smell the flowers and not take life so seriously.
Explore each other’s world.
Like your typical same-age relationship, you have to put in the effort of exploring your partner’s world. Even people of the same age have different lifestyles. What more if you have a 10-year gap between you? From my experience, the more that you explore your partner’s world, the more that you will understand why s/he is this way and that.
It’s selfish if only one of you will adjust and adapt. Being with Jec meant me being able to meet his Heritage Conservation Society friends and hanging out with older people in general. For him, it meant entertaining my youthful thoughts and getting used to me being a blabbermouth. It meant going to the mall even if he wants to just stay at home and rest. It meant seeing beer more than coffee and hearing tito jokes – lots of tito jokes.
Learn to meet halfway.
In line with #2, you gotta meet halfway. It’s the only way you’ll find harmony in your relationship. Meeting halfway for us meant going to the mall but later in the afternoon so he could have more rest in the morning. It meant staying out on a Saturday night but going home by midnight because curfew. It meant agreeing to disagree on certain things because we have different beliefs.
Learn each other’s love language.
Learning each other’s love language means being more capable of serving each other.
There are 5 types of love languages.
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
And can I add 6. Sharing memes?
Kidding aside, my love language is Acts of Service. I always thought it was Quality Time until I took the test. But it makes sense because I highly appreciate when Jec does things for me even if it’s just getting me a glass of water or fixing my phone’s settings.
It’s important to know each other’s love language so you’d know what to do more or and lesser of. For me, I appreciate Quality Time next to Acts of Service while Receiving Gifts is at the bottom of my list because I’m a non-materialistic person. If anything, I like when Jec buys food before going to our house and even that can be considered an Act of Service.
On the other hand, his love language is Quality Time. That means undivided attention. That means putting down my phone while we’re talking, listening intently when he’s speaking, not doing anything random while we’re together, etc.
No matter what your partner’s love language is, it’s still a win-win because you don’t have to do everything all at the same time. You just need to exert more effort on particular love language.
Communication is the best love language.
But above everything else, communication is the best love language. It’s important that you and your partner are open to each other. It’s not enough that you both like the same things. You should understand and know each other really well and that can only be done when you communicate.
Regardless if you feel happy, disappointed, anxious, angry, etc., communicate it to your partner. S/he deserves to know how you feel and whatever’s going on with you. Most couples fight because of lack of communication. But once you open up to each other, you’ll slowly find ways to make your relationship work better.
And nothing feels more awesome than being able to open up to your partner because you trust each other.
Stand your ground, but also know when to stop and listen.
During the 1+ year of our relationship, I learned how to stick to my convictions and not be the underling just because I’m younger. To be fair, none of us is superior over the other. There are some things I know I’m more aware of and I stick to them. In my own ways, I try to educate him even if he’s older than me. But at the same time, there are times that I swallow my pride and listen to him.
Him being older meant having this feeling that he’s wiser than me, so it’s hard to “educate” him on some subjects, and me being younger sometimes make it hard for me to learn because I want to prove I’m not as naive as people think, and I tend to still be “rebellious.” So I end up learning things the hard way.
It’s not always easy especially since I’m emotional and I tend to feel that everything is against me, but it can be done. At the end of the day, I remind myself that he cares about my well-being. We just don’t agree on his speaking tone most of the time. LOL.
Respect each other’s coping mechanism.
One year is such a short time when it comes to romantic relationships. In fact, years later, you’re still discovering things about each other. Like other couples, Jec and I still have a lot to know about each other including our individual coping mechanisms for different occasions.
It’s important to know your partner’s reactions to things… sort of to set boundaries. Does he throw things when he’s mad? Does he shout at you in public? Do you physically or verbally hurt your partner? Do you walk away? How do you both handle your own frustrations? What do you do when you’re stressed out? What does your partner need to do when you’re having a panic attack? How does s/he cope with sadness?
When I’m stressed, I need to vent. When I’m overthinking, I need to be distracted. When I’m mad, I need space and quiet to sort my thoughts out.
When Jec has a lot of things in mind, he gets cranky even with the little things. When he’s pissed, he gives me the silent treatment. When he’s upset or offended, he gets confrontational.
That said, you need to know your partner’s coping mechanism and respect that. If you’re the confrontational type and your partner prefers to keep mum until the dust has settled, then you can still talk but AFTER s/he has had her space. You need to give as much as you take.
It’s all about meeting halfway and coming to an agreement on how you can handle things peacefully as a couple. Of course, also be a friend when your partner needs you to be. It’s not always about you. Sometimes your partner is not in a good mood, but it doesn’t mean it has to automatically affect the relationship. Capisce?
Relationships can be messy. I think only 0.01% of the world’s population find their happily ever after. It ain’t easy, but it could still be worth it, right? But only you can tell that.
When things are starting to get crooked, think long-term.
Why am I with this person?
What are we doing in this relationship?
What is our ultimate goal here?
Maybe you just overreacted. Maybe you were right. Maybe you were wrong. Maybe the argument had an underlying reason. Maybe it was just a small stuff. Maybe it’s not even worth the fight. Maybe you were just looking at completely different perspectives because of your age difference.
Sometimes you want to boil your partner. Sometimes you want to bury them alive. Sometimes you want to chop their heads off.
But we’re all humans. We make mistakes. We get frustrated. In relationships, forgiveness is a very huge factor. Whether it’s because your partner ate all the tacos or forgot your anniversary or accidentally threw an important piece of paper, you gotta learn to forgive.
Whatever argument you had, however intense the fight got, consider it a hiccup. All relationships have fights. All you gotta do is clear your heads, breathe, and sort it out.
Or maybe just stop eating all the tacos. Or at least replenish the stock.
Like what they say when you’re about to do something nerve-wracking, crazy, and difficult: Don’t forget to have fun!
I believe that the happiest couples are the ones who can act weird in front of each other – where you don’t need to put on a mask and try so had to always act decent. Regardless of your age, I’m sure you’ll find a good spot in between where you can let go of your inhibitions and be crazy together.
How to handle a relationship with a big age gap is not an easy feat, just like any other relationships. But in the end, relationships will always have its perks. It can be the most beautiful thing you have in your life as long as you know how to care for it.
Bae is a 20-something passion blogger from Manila. She likes hoarding hobbies and trying out new stuff, blogging about her mundane adventures, and tweeting about random realizations and musings.