Dating Someone 10 Years Older

Sunday marks the day Jordan and I first met. Okay, we technically met at my birthday party last year, but let’s just say I had a little too much champagne and therefore spent way more time dancing to Blank Space and dipping cheese in ranch dressing and virtually no time talking to my soon-to-be boyfriend. Just a week after my 23rd birthday we were invited skiing with our two friends who had just started dating, my friend broke her wrist, and Jordan and I spent a great deal of the day talking to one another. Not long after we took a road trip to California together, said “I love you” for the first time on Valentine’s day and the rest…it’s not so distant history.

Looking back there are a lot of reasons Jordan and I shouldn’t have met. We both didn’t want to go up to the mountain that day, we both almost flaked out, we both were sort of seeing other people (casually) and we are ten years apart. For Jordan, the latter was less of a big deal than it was to me. Initially when we met I completely ruled out the idea of dating him. It wasn’t because I wasn’t attracted to him (I was!), but rather that I couldn’t imagine our lives would mesh well together. I was a full time nanny, he was the owner of a construction company. I didn’t know how to pay my bills on time, or clean an oven and my bedspread was from the children’s section of Target. Though I’d always thought of myself as mentally and emotionally mature I still saw 30 as “grown-up” and on the inside I felt too similar to a lost little girl.

As Jordan and I got to know each other better I realized how comfortable I was around him, he made me laugh, he never pressured of pushed me physically (in fact our first few dates I didn’t even realize were dates, oops) and I felt as if he understood me on a deeper level. As someone who always feels misunderstood and misrepresented that last part was huge. I was sick of guys who saw me as a blonde barbie kind of girl, and Jordan was just the opposite. He saw past everything superficial and seemingly appreciated my soul.

At first people would ask me if our age difference was bothersome, if it was difficult and/or how it affected our relationship. I would roll my eyes and scoff that it didn’t make difference other than that Jordan was more established in his life and career. At the time, I was telling the truth and I wondered why I had been so judgmental of dating a guy even 5 years older than me before (I often refused). As time went on and our lives became more intertwined my opinion shifted once again.

How does a ten year age gap affect our relationship? I think the answer depends on the stages of our relationship. When we first met it was a minor adjustment, in the initial dating period it didn’t matter at all, and now that we’re settled into a serious and committed relationship the difference is more substantial. Jordan wants to buy a house, while I’m still feeling stoked to have my own apartment. Jordan is so focused on his career while I still want to drop everything to travel the world. I don’t feel any sense of urgency when it comes to investments and house hunting and owning furniture not from Ikea. Luckily he doesn’t feel compelled to start a family or else our age gap could be a deal breaker. I have a feeling that as I become more settled in my career, my finances and adulthood the age difference will matter less (once again). It helps that I am ever so slightly more mature and Jordan is so youthful and playful.

For those of you that hung in there, that’s my story (or I guess I should say “our story“), but I’ve learned a few lessons that transcend my relationship and apply to anyone dating someone outside of the realm of “someone they could have known in high school” (that is plus or minus three years).

when your partner is older than you

Common differences you’re likely to encounter when your Partner is five or more years older than you:

One| Your Partner may not be able to Relate to your Day to Day Struggles:

While I’m debating whether or not I should pack lunch for work to save money instead of buying a sandwich at the grocery store deli, my boyfriend is eating out at “real” sit down restaurants each day. When one of my friend’s gets engaged I’m freaking out (because NONE of my friends has been engaged yet) while half of his friends are married. I get insecure if his ex girlfriend likes a bunch of his photos on instagram, but he doesn’t understand because some of his friends are dealing with divorces and child support. Our problems are relative and the reality is, a lot of the day to day struggles you encounter in your early twenties may be different in your early thirties. It can be difficult for your significant other to fully understand your perspective if they have been removed from the same struggles for years. It isn’t necessarily wrong that the two of you don’t share the same issues, but it takes recognition and understanding to provide the proper level of support. You don’t have the right to belittle your partner’s problems and he/she should give you the same respect.

Two| Your Partner is more Financially Savvy than You:

Occasionally Jordan will talk about buying a house, in Seattle the housing market is quite high, and though I know it is realistic for early twenty somethings in other parts of the country to invest in property, in the Seattle metro area it is quite likely you’ll be renting through your mid twenties if you want to live in the city. Jordan and I can both daydream about purchasing a house or condo, however, his ambitions are rooted in reality while mine seem like an idea for the distant future. Similarly, Jordan discusses buying a new car, expanding his business, even just heading into the grocery store and buying whatever catches his eye without feeling slightly guilty about shopping at Whole Foods. Depending on your partner’s spending habits and relationship with money this financial difference may be more or less obvious. Even if your partner works in an industry that doesn’t allow for  many pay increases over time, your partner still has years of working experience on you. At first I declined talking about money at all with Jordan because I felt like we weren’t in the same chapter let alone on the same page. As we became more serious (and moved in together) I realized I couldn’t avoid discussing money every now and then even if it felt uncomfortable at first.

Three| Your Partner’s Relationships are at Different places:

Maybe you call your Mom every time you need to bake a potato or get a stain out of a silk shirt or perhaps the highlight of your weekend was when your Grandma took you out for brunch and took you shopping. In your early twenties you are still adjusting to adulthood, which often means your family members are still transitioning into fully treating you like an adult. Your older significant other probably isn’t in the same relationship with his or her family emotionally or financially. I have three younger siblings who I don’t think of yet as adults, while Jordan’s brother is married with two children. Understandably these relationships are different.  Your version of independence could be drastically different than your partner’s and it is important to understand these differences when your relationship becomes serious.

Four| Your Partner Prioritizes Life Experiences Differently:

Whisking away on a whim for the weekend, playing hooky from work to celebrate your anniversary, or taking off a month for the summer to backpack through Europe might sound like great ideas to you. Like any couple chances are you will value certain activities more than others. It is likely your age gap will enhance these differences. As a generalization men and women in their twenties tend to be more impetuous, while men and women in their thirties are more likely to tie themselves to additional responsibilities. Each person’s personality is unique meaning your boyfriend could be just as spontaneous at 36 as you were at 19, however, the prioritization of life experiences will become apparent at some point. Maybe you can’t wait to attend your first friend’s wedding (he’s already been to eight), maybe you are freaking out about buying your first couch from Ikea (while he’s already gone through two sets of furniture). Regardless of your differences in perspective it is important to respect and support one another’s ambitions and even the little joys.

Five| Your Partner has Years of Experiences you Haven’t Encountered yet:

Perhaps the greatest difference your age gap will accentuate is the most obvious, your partner no matter how shockingly similar to you has additional years of life you have yet to experience. I used to cringe when Jordan would say to me “when I was 23 & 24 this was how I felt/what I experienced/etc…” Initially the comparison made me feel childlike, I didn’t want to recognize that he had lived ten years since that time. Now, I realize I was just being self conscious, it’s ridiculous not to acknowledge that my boyfriend has ten years of friendship, heartbreak, work experience, bad dates, falling in love (and more) that I couldn’t possibly have. This isn’t to say I don’t offer diverse experiences or unique perspectives to our relationship, the fact of the matter is he has just lived longer!


I’m confident that the older I get the less apparent the differences I mentioned will become. In early adulthood many individuals face a transitionary period in life. As I have adjusted to paying all my own bills, securing a “grown-up” job and  settling into my own apartment, Jordan has viewed these experiences differently. It has never mattered that he has already experienced many of the exciting new changes I am going through for the first time because he still makes our experience together feel special. At the end of the day it is up to you and your partner to decipher if your age gap is complimentary or just too different. What is important to me is being with someone who values my need to overanalyze my feelings, who can be totally silly with me in public, and who will love the people I care most deeply for. In Jordan I have found a best friend and so much more.

If you’ve dated someone outside of your “We could have gone to high school together” age range what did you notice? What was difficult? Did you find out the age gap mattered more or less than you initially thought it would?

 

Read More: The Smart Girl’s Guide to “Making” an Age Difference Work.

  1. I think you’re right that you will find the differences matter a little less as you get older. When I was in my early 20’s I couldn’t imagine dating someone 10 years older. Now that I’m 27 the differences aren’t as big. I’m financially sound and have more of my life figured out at this point.

  2. I’m 29 and STILL think dating somebody who is 39 would seem crazy! Really, it probably wouldn’t be, especially now that I’m about to have a baby, have owned my condo for 2 years (which I bought before my husband and I were even back together), bought my first car almost 5 years ago, and have been working full time for years and am in grad school… But I totally still feel like a child, even if I’ve accomplished all these things that I felt like were such adult tasks before. My husband has older friends (in their 40s and a few in their 50s) and while most of them are single and still go out and party while I just sit on my couch, fat and pregnant, and eat tortilla chips, I am just BARELY feeling old enough to hang out with them. Although really, if I was single, I’d probably barely even notice the differences now in somebody who was 39. I’m probably older than I think I am, haha. It is crazy though, cause I work with girls who are 24 and 25 and I never notice it in our work relationship, but if I’m in the break room at the same time as a bunch of them, I definitely feel “old.” The things they talk about really are things I went through so long ago and I always feel like their conversations are so dumb, even though I was probably just like that when I was their age! Your 20s are a weird time. You go through a HUGE transition during that time and it really is crazy looking back now and thinking about what I’ve done and how much I’ve changed (THANKFULLY!) in the last 9 years!

  3. #2 is so true. My husband is 5 years older than me & that’s definitely the one I see the most. I’m a saver, but he’s got the budget for our whole life practically mapped out. He’s been planning for retirement forever & anytime we get any kind of “extra income,” he uses it to pay more on the mortgage that month. I love being with someone older than me though. He keeps me calm because he has gone through more life experiences than I have. And after about 3 months of us dating, age didn’t even feel like much of a difference anymore. I also think the older we all get, the less “age” really matters.. That is unless you’re dating someone under 18 haha.

  4. This is so interesting! I actually have never dated anyone too much older than me (maybe a year or two) and I struggle with age even though I’m in my late twenties (eew)! Like, I can’t imagine dating someone with children or divorced, but that’s becoming my reality since unfortunately a lot of the single guys my age or a little older are single again because something else didn’t work out (at least in my current area). It was different when I lived in Milwaukee because guys waited awhile to get married and focused on their career (like I’ve done) so they were still single in their early thirties, where here in GB I feel like half of the guys are divorced with kids and they’re like 28! –> Not that there’s anything wrong with anyone divorced or with children, I’m just not sure I’m ready for the responsibility of kids. Anyways, I’m getting off on a tangent, but I can see where you’re coming from. I can’t imagine dating someone in their mid-thirties because I feel like they’re “so much more mature” than me in life, but really, it’s not that much older! :)

    P.S. I’m glad you two are still doing well!

  5. I love your story! Congrats on almost 1 years! Time flies when your with someone you love! I love how honest you are about your struggles. Seeing other couples work through it often helps others. As someone in a long distance relationship I know that unusual dating set ups can be judged harshly or unfairly. You have a beautiful love story, and I wish you both so many more years of happiness!
    xoxo

  6. It’s really cool that you’re able to look at your differences and see how they enhance your relationship. My boyfriend and I are only 3 years apart and I still notice little differences. I remember one time we got an email from our landlord shortly after I moved in with him saying our renters insurance had expired. I completely freaked out and thought we were being evicted or something. It turned out my boyfriend had already renewed the insurance so he just sent the forms over again. I felt like a total child for not knowing how our lease worked and for freaking out over nothing. It’s so nice to be with someone who knows how how the real world works as I’m still learning. You’re so right that the differences will be less and less apparent as the years go by.

  7. So good. Both my sisters are in relationships that are at least ten years difference. It has been really interesting to watch the wins and struggles of an “age-gap-couple” Love is love is love however. And as I can see you can attest to it works in all shapes and sizes.

  8. I think relationships are all about the couple. These are all things that people with age differences experience, but it seems like you all are able to work together to handle them. It sounds like fate was working in your favor. Happy anniversary!

  9. Congrats, Jordyn!
    Michael is only one year older than me but I feel like he’s miles ahead of me in the workforce since he’s been working since his first year of college haha.

    xoxo, Jenny

  10. Dane is only 3 years older than me, but sometimes I feel like it’s an eternity. I love this post and you bring up so many good points. It’s true what they say about finding your soul mate and age not mattering :)

  11. This is so interesting. I never really took a long time to think about what the age difference would be like. You guys seem to have such a beautiful relationship and you know I always love your personal, reflective pieces. xo

  12. thanks for sharing! girl I am constantly amazed by how you bare your soul with really good posts here multiple times per week! you’re an inspiration :)

  13. Hey girl! first of all, I love your blog! My fiance is 5 years older than me and I give him crap all of the time. The fact that when we marry, he will be 30!!! He’s mildly freaking out, where I’m just trying to enjoy being 24. lol!! When we first started dating one of our friends jokingly called him a “Cradle robber” and I think that hurt pretty bad at the time! Now it’s funny because other than financial differences, I don’t feel like the age matters at all.

  14. i don’t think i’m at a place in my life where i could date someone ten years older but these are definitely things for me to consider should i find myself in that situation. i wouldn’t say no automatically to someone older

  15. Somehow I feel like it’s still in the acceptable range to date someone ten years your senior… As long as the older one is male! I’ve never met a woman (openly and seriously) dating a man ten years younger than her.

  16. This is so sweet! I love how you just do your own thing, it’s a trait that I really admire. I feel like since guys are usually less mature than women, it’s so much easier for a mature woman to date a man who is quite a bit older.
    #2 really resonates with me. The market is SO high in Dallas, yet I see people in other parts of the country who are even younger than I am and can afford huge houses. That just doesn’t happen here, and it’s just not feasible.

  17. Love this so much! I’ve definitely been there with dating someone older. A lot of the time, it usually works out REALLY well since guys mature at a slower pace than women!

  18. This is so true! My dad is 10 years older than my mom and they have been married almost 25 years. My mom says it works because my dad still acts like a 15 year old. ha ha!

  19. My husband is 11 years older than me. The only issue with age we’ve ever had is when my parents were to first meet him. They were very curious as to what a 33 year old wanted with a 22 year old. But as soon as they met him they loved him. age is just a number to us, and now we’ve been happily together for 13 years. ❤️

  20. My first relationship was like this, but we were really young and the gap wasn’t as large. But there were still obstacles, as with any relationship! I’m glad you found your happiness! Xoxo, ganeeban

  21. This is such a beautiful post. I love the sweet relationship you two have and I appreciate you sharing the fun and not so fun parts of the age difference. I never cared about age, because if you love someone, then love always wins.

    Nicole // Chronicling Home

  22. My husband is five years older than I am, but I’ve never viewed this fact as an issue, even in the three years we dated. We all come from a completely unique background, brought up in a completely unique family, so I do think it all depends on the two people and whether or not they make it work. I have friends who date (and marry) men younger than themselves, and it seems to work for them just fine. To each their own, as they say!

    XO, Oksana from FOXYOXIE.com

  23. I went through a phase of only dating men 8+ years or older, and as much as I loved the lack of bullshit that comes with younger guys, for me I found over time that the day to day struggles and differing experiences really got to me.

    this is an awesome break down of a really common theme though, and it sounds like you have a really good setup in your relationship! thanks for sharing these :)

    xo christina

  24. I am just starting to see someone who is just about 10 years older than me. I’m only 22 but very career driven and done with school….dating that much of an older man worries me. I have yet to become comfortable with it. He is perfectly fine.

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