How to Navigate an Age Gap Relationship, According to Experts 

A couple sitting together staring into each other's eyes. The man is wearing an orange sweatshirt and the woman is wearing a stripped top.

By Wendy Rose Gould

So you’ve found a connection you click with effortlessly on Bumble. But it just so happens that this wonderful new match falls outside your usual age range. What now?

As long as we’re talking about two consenting adults who are equally excited about each other, a relationship with an age gap can absolutely succeed. What’s more, dating someone notably older or younger has become increasingly common. Bumble’s dating trends research shows that daters are widening their age range filters, with 63 percent of those surveyed saying that age isn’t a defining factor when dating, and 59 percent of women surveyed noting that they’d be open to dating someone younger. 

Every relationship will have its ups and downs, but one with an age gap might be prone to a different set of considerations. We spoke to experts about how to navigate a partnership where an age difference comes into play, including communicating life goals, dealing with naysayers, and working through generational disparities.  

Learn to embrace generational differences 

Being in a relationship with an age gap will undoubtedly present differences in cultural touchstones. You’ll reference a famous celebrity and your partner will have no idea who you’re talking about, or they’ll use slang that means nothing to you. This doesn’t have to be a problem, though. “It can actually be a feature instead of a bug if partners are interested in influencing each other,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Stan Tatkin. “It’s a way to expand your cultural references and even introduce each other to their interests.” In other words: accepting and embracing each other’s differences can serve as a superpower instead of a weakness. Let these differences bring excitement and laughter to your relationship and see what you learn from each other.

Discuss short and long-term life goals 

Discussing life goals is tricky whether you’re one year or one decade apart. However, it becomes more urgent when there’s a larger age difference. “Discussing short and long-term life goals can be challenging, especially when factors like having children, marriage, or potential relocations come into play,” says psychotherapist Gayane Aramyan. “My recommendation is to foster open and honest communication from the beginning.”

While these topics may be sensitive, openly sharing relationship ideals and aspirations is essential for ensuring you’re both on the same page and have aligned values. It sets a foundation for understanding each other’s perspectives and lets you work toward sharing a life together, if that’s your goal. 

Put naysayers to rest

You may get remarks about your age difference from friends and family, but for those who truly care about you, these opinions should fall away when they start to see the positives of your relationship. If it’s your bestie making a light-hearted joke, you may decide to let that slide. In cases where someone has legitimate concerns (and you trust them), it’s OK to engage in those conversations, says Clara Zelleroth, a licensed psychologist and couples therapist. “A general rule is to try to focus on your own experience, feelings, and emotions while making an active effort to listen to their arguments with curiosity and openness,” Zelleroth says. “Acknowledge those external worries and concerns, but ultimately the decision to date the person lies within you.”

As is the case in any relationship, it’s important to have a team mindset. You two are in this together, and you’ve chosen each other for good reasons. Zelleroth says there are three prongs of romantic success: acceptance, understanding, and communication. If you can embrace all three, your relationship has every chance of succeeding, whether there’s an age gap or not.