NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Relationships Between Older Women and Younger Men - Part 2: Issues to Consider

When it comes to age difference, relationships between older men and younger women tend to be more common than relationships between older women and younger men. But relationships between older women and younger men aren't as unusual these days as they used to be in the past (see my articles:  Who Says Older Women Don't Enjoy Sex?, Many Older Women, Who Were at the Forefront of the Sexual Revolution, Remain Sexually Active and Relationships Between Older Woman and Younger Men - Part 1).

Relationships Between Older Woman and Younger Me
Relationships between older women and younger men have become increasingly more popular as people view age as less an indicator of compatibility as compared to compatibility with regard to interests, values and life goals.

With more high profile relationships of older women and younger men in public view, there's less of a stigma about these relationships than there used to be.  For instance, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, have a 25 year age difference and they've been married for over 10 years.

Questions to Consider When There is a Significant Difference in Age Between an Older Woman and a Younger Man
While it's important not to make generalizations about age difference because every couple is unique, there are some questions that an older woman and a younger man would be wise to consider, especially if they're considering a long term relationship, as opposed to casual dating, including:
  • Do they have compatible life goals?
  • Do they have similar values?
  • Are they compatible in terms of what each of them wants from the other (dating casually vs. a committed relationship)?
  • Are they sexually compatible?
  • Does the younger man, who gets into a relationship with an older woman who can no longer have children, still want children?
  • Does it make a difference to the older woman that the younger man might be less mature than the older woman?
  • Does the older woman take on primarily a motherly role with the younger man?
  • Does the older woman tend to act superior to the younger man because she has more life experience than he does?
  • How secure do each of them feel about a long term commitment as the woman gets older?
Although some of these questions, like whether each person wants to have children, could be an issue in any relationship, these issues are even more significant in a relationship between an older woman and a younger man.

A Clinical Vignette: A Relationship Between an Older Woman and a Younger Man:
The following fictionalized clinical vignette illustrates some of the issues that come up in a relationship between a younger man and an older woman:

Jane and Alex
When Jane and Alex met at a party, they hit it off immediately and they soon began dating casually. At first, neither of them were concerned about the 15 year age difference between them because they were enjoying each other's company and having fun.

But after a few months, as they developed deeper feelings for each other, Jane began to wonder if the age difference between them might make a difference in the long term.

When she raised the issue with Alex, he was somewhat surprised because he was hardly aware of their age difference.  From his perspective, "Age is only a number. Why should it matter how old either of us is if we care about each other and we're getting along?"  He told her that he didn't care that she was 57 and he was 42.  He said the age difference had no meaning to him.

Jane told him that she had no problems with the relationship at that point in time, but she worried that, in the long run, they might want different things in terms of their life goals.  So, they began having more in-depth talks about their life goals in terms of what each of them wanted in the future.

They each knew that they had similar values, so they focused their discussion on issues like family, differences in life experience and whether each of them saw the relationship working out in the long run.

Jane raised the issue that she was beyond her childbearing years, and she was concerned that Alex might want to have children one day.  In response, Alex told Jane that, although he liked children, he didn't want children of his own. He said he had always known this and it wasn't an issue for him.

Alex told Jane that he was concerned that she might become bored with him eventually since she had so much more life experience than he did.  He said he worried that she would see him as being "less manly" because of this.  In response, Jane said that she didn't mind that he had less life experience and, in fact, what she liked about him was that he was so open and enthusiastic about trying new things.

As they opened up more to each other, Jane told Alex she worried that, as she aged, he might become less attracted to her and he might prefer to be with a younger woman.  This surprised Alex because he thought Jane knew that his attraction to her went beyond looks and sex.  He told her that his attraction encompassed much more than physical attraction--it included everything about her.

As they continued their discussions, their relationship deepened and grew.  And the more they talked about these issues, the more committed each of them became to their relationship.

Even though they didn't have any major problems between them, Jane suggested that they attend couples therapy to delve deeper into these issues, and Alex readily agreed.

During their couples therapy sessions, they were able to go deeper into the issues that they were already discussing and they each developed insights they didn't have before.  They didn't need to have many sessions with their couples therapist because these sessions served to confirm to each of them that they were compatible for a long term relationship.

Since neither of them could see any reason why they shouldn't be together in a long term relationship, they decided to take their relationship to the next level and they moved in together.

Relationships between older women and younger men are more common today than ever before.

Every relationship, regardless of age, is different in terms of relationship goals, life goals and overall compatibility.

If an older woman and a younger man are considering the viability of a long term relationship, as opposed to a casual relationship, it's important that they communicate openly and honestly about issues that could become obstacles in the future.

Many couples find it worthwhile to explore these issues in couples therapy, even if they're not having major problems, because an experienced couples therapist can help them to delve deeper and develop new insights.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT (for couples), and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.