Mind The (Age) Gap: How to Do a May/December Lesbian Relationship

partners Rachel Maddow & Susan Mikula (Age Gap: 15 years) via People

Rachel Maddow and her partner, Susan Mikula, are 15 years apart. So are Ellen and Portia. My dear girlfriend and I also have an age gap of over a decade. While May-December (or even May-October) romances can present occasional challenges, they can also be awesome.

How big of an age difference is too big?

The unofficial formula is the “half your age plus seven” rule.

So if you’re 30, the rule goes, the youngest person you should date is 22 (since 30/2 = 15, and 15+7 = 22).

When you’re 44, the cutoff would be 29.

At 58, it would be 36, and so on.

And while this is a silly formula, it reveals an interesting truth: the older you get, the less age differences matter. An 18-year-old and a 32-year-old are 14 years apart, but these 14 years encompass a huge gap in experiences. Take those same 14 years, 30 years later, and you’ve got a 48-year-old and a 62-year-old. Sure, there are still some differences, but the gap has definitely shrunk.

Ex-Girlfriends Sarah Paulson & Cherry Jones (age gap: 22 years)

Age gaps tend to be more accepted in the queer community than they are in general. Maybe this is because we’re already doing something that differs from the norm, so an age difference on top of it is just icing on the deviance cake. Or maybe it has to do with the gendered tendency in age differences among heterosexual couples. Demi and Ashton notwithstanding, the “older man, younger woman” scenario is much more common than the reverse. This pattern tends to reinforce gender inequalities and stereotypes in a way that queer relationships can’t. Or maybe it has something to do with child-rearing. On average, fewer queers (especially gay men) have kids, so maybe people care less about age gaps when no little kidlets are involved.

As far as I’m concerned, barring illegality, there’s no such thing as an age difference being “too big” unless it presents problems for the couple. The bigger the differences, the more potential problems. But the key word is potential. Particular problems may or may not materialize for any given couple. Here are a few of the most common ones:

+ Differences in energy levels.
If one partner wants to climb mountains and the other can barely climb stairs, this may be an Issue. Of course, age doesn’t necessarily dictate energy levels. My mom told me recently about her 70-something friend who was complaining one day about being sore. My mom thought, “Oh, that poor thing… the aches and pains of getting old.” But then the woman continued, “I really need to avoid doing my five-mile hikes on consecutive days”(!)

+ Health problems
The older you get, the more likely you are to have health problems. This is a generality, but on average, it’s true. If you end up with someone much older than you are, chances are that your partner will face a serious health concern before you do. This worry may or may not be a deal breaker. My DGF asked me once, “Are you going to want to change my diapers in 30 years?” My answer: “If we’ve been together for 30 years, of course I’ll change your diapers.”

Wives Ellen Degeneres & Portia DeRossi (age gap: 15 years)

+ Cultural differences
Maybe you grew up on “Barney,” but she remembers “Captain Kangaroo.” Maybe you slow-danced to Color Me Badd in sixth grade, while she danced to it at her first marriage. These kinds of cultural differences can be funny, bizarre, or depressing — it all depends how you interpret them. Personally, I love that my DGF and I were raised in different decades. It gives us even more to learn from each other. Sounds trite, but it’s true.

+ Life Stages
Like differences in health, life stages are correlated with age. (But “are correlated” doesn’t mean “correspond perfectly.”) If one of you is hitting your stride in your career and the other is just starting grad school, it may take a little extra effort to appreciate where your sweetheart’s at.

Bottom line: Age is not “all in your head” — but what you make of it is. It’s a factor that may or may not have important implications. Like differences of religion, social class, or cultural background, it’s worth taking seriously to help you understand and strengthen your relationship.

Girlfriends Eileen Myles & Leopoldine Core

Six Relationship Tips for Couples with Age Differences:

1. Hang out with other couples that are both your ages. If one of you is 31 and the other is 49, make sure to spend time with couples in their early thirties and in their mid-to-late forties. This way, neither of you will feel habitually left out because of age, and you might also gain some additional perspective about your partner by seeing where her peers are at, what interests them, etc. (You might also try hanging out with people whose ages or lifestyles are very different from both of yours — it will underscore how much you have in common!)

2.  Don’t cast your own age as superior. If you’re the older partner, a “been there, done that” attitude toward your partner’s experiences is not useful. Maybe you have extra insight, but that doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about your partner’s situation. Similarly, if you’re the younger partner, don’t assume you’re inherently cooler or more savvy. Treat each other as equals. Your own experience is not better or more valid simply because it happened more recently (or longer ago). And relatedly:

Wives Chely Wright & Lauren Blitzer (age gap: 10 years)

3.  Embrace your different experiences. Talk about each others’ childhoods, music preferences, school experiences, etc. You have a lot to learn from each other. Be open to each others’ cultural preferences. Maybe this means you take turns deciding what movie to watch or what music to listen to. Try to understand and appreciate your partner’s aesthetic sensibilities, even if you don’t always share them.

4.  Talk about your goals. This is good advice for all couples, but it’s especially important for May-December (or even July-October) pairs. Do you want to have kids? Buy a house? Retire? Travel? Make sure your partner knows what’s important to you, and where you see yourself in one year, or five, or ten. Just because someone is 39 doesn’t mean her biological clock is ticking, and just because someone is 22 doesn’t mean she wants to go clubbing. Make sure your ideas about your partner’s goals and desires don’t rest on assumptions.

5.  Listen to everyone else, then ignore them. Your daughter may be uncomfortable that you’re dating someone her age. Your friends may not see why you’d be with a woman who hasn’t gone dancing since Tribe 8 was hot. They may openly question your motives, or your partner’s motives, or your sanity. Listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and completely disregard their judgments. Only you know what makes you happy.

6.  Don’t hide your partner away. To avoid people’s judgments and criticism, it may be tempting not to socialize with your partner as much as you might if you were the same age. Early in the relationship, fine: you want to make sure it’s working for you. But once you see that it is, don’t hesitate to show your partner around town and introduce her to your friends and family. If she makes you happy, the people who really care about you will eventually recognize this, and will get to know your partner for who she is.

Your turn, readers: have you ever been in a relationship with an age difference? Did the age gap bring any special perks or challenges? What do you think about big age differences in relationships?

Originally published on Butch Wonders. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.


About the author
: BW is a lesbian in her early 30s who reads a lot, writes a lot, and eats more cheese than is prudent. Her other non-day-job hobbies include hiking, doing art, hanging out with her dog, and watching “Breaking Bad” with her girlfriend. BW used to be married to a biodude, and writes about that and other things on her blog, Butch Wonders, which you should totally check out.

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  1. Dammit– your formula reveals that I am too young for Rachel Maddow by just 3 years! Cause otherwise, you know, everything could work out for us…

  2. well miranda priestly change it for me and i’ve always been attracted to older women, never been in a relationship though, so who knows what’ll happen.
    if it makes you happy you should do it, that’s what i think.

  3. I was 19..She was 32..It didn’t last but I wouldn’t trade it for anything..Plus..She knew stuff..I mean reeeeeally knew “stuff”..And I was an eager student.

    • I’m in a similar boat… 23 to her 34. and uh, she knows stuff too ;) unfortunately I don’t think she believes age gaps can work. But like you, I doubt it will last much longer and I wouldn’t trade it for anything either.

  4. How much of a role does sex drive play in these sort of relationships? Especially for the late 20’s/Early 30’s dating late teen/early 20’s girl type relationship? Can it considered to be a twink type of dynamic in some relationships? As Dara from AE said about Jenny in Season 5: She’ll do anything she wants cause she doesn’t want the daily sexy time (according to what Tina told Bette) to stop!

    But, if you put it as a serious question: Do you think the lesbian community has many twink/older woman relationships in the same way the gay/bi men community does? I’m curious to know what people think. Cause in the gay male community, the twink seems to be really fetishized, from what I’ve seen.

    • Great question, AJS. The short answer, though, is that I don’t think so. I’ve encountered several of this kind of relationship in the gay male community, but very, very rarely among lesbians–even in butch/butch or stud/stud relationships, which sometimes adopt certain conventions that we usually associate with gay male relationships.

      As for sex drive: also a good question. Some women’s sex drives dampen (HAHAHA, accidentally ironic) with age, but other women’s actually increases.

      Anyone else want to weigh in on whether the twink thing exists much in the dyke/queer women’s world?

      • i don’t know if “twink” is the right word, or what the parallel would be — but definitely most power lesbians in hollywood have or have had younger girlfriends/partners at some point — rosie, ellen, melissa etheridge, kd lang, linda perry, chely wright, etc. but again i’m not sure what “twink” means or if i am answering a different question altogether.

        i think the reason is, though, that the dating pool is so much smaller that you can’t care about all the same criteria as much as maybe straight people can/do?

        • I probably should’ve clarified. Apologies. I know it’s not really a term used in a lesbian context. My understanding is that among gay men, it is basically when an older man dates a young guy (a ‘twink’) cause he has a hot young body, likes to party and have fun, and have sex. Not because he finds him to be intellectually stimulating or very mature. Young and hot and uncomplicated.

      • When I was younger, I dated older women because I felt others my own age were rather vapid..Now that I’m older I keep meeting women my own age who have so much angry baggage that I find myself looking more and more at younger women with fewer..issues.

      • I’ve heard that line: Young, fun and full of…you know the rest, about twink/older man relationships and in high school, parents of girls who were dating older boys would insinuate that the boy must be doing it for sexual reasons.

        I find it interesting. Cause in the gay male community, it seems to be openly accepted and considered a rite of passage by some. And there is the assumption that the twink would have a high sex drive and that this would be at least one reason the older man would have such a relationship.
        Among straight people, it’s sometimes looked down upon when it concerns a young girl and an older boy or man or a much older woman a young guy.

        However, when it comes to lesbian relationships, I’ve never heard sex drive talked about as being a driving or main factor in a relationship when it comes to a teen/early 20’s girl and a woman more than 10 years older. I guess things like maturity and stages of life are talked about as being the main factors.

        • Old post but need to say…
          I am a 45 yr young female. I have had a relationship with a 22 year old female for the last year.She actually approached me in a friendshipy way about a year and a half ago. We found we had a lot in common actually.
          I have also had a previous relationship that was more of a friend’s with wonderful benifits with a guy who had just turned 18 as I was 40… we last had intact just over a year ago.
          We can’t help who we enjoy spending are time with… I love to hike, camp, bike, chill with friends, I love current music. I am certainly not a super fit hottie, I’m not rich by any means… I’m just likable.

    • I’m no expert on gay males, but when I lived in SF twinks were always referred to in the context of trade: the twink gets a Daddy (financial / social support) and the Daddy gets to recapture his youth with eye candy. They both get sex. (As opposed to chicken hawks and chickens, where older guys just want to have sex with the youngest male possible.)

      In the people I saw, it was very much a case of the older guy fearing getting older and “buying” some youth. Ageism / fear of aging was a big factor among these gay men. I don’t see that with the women I know.

      I now live in the lesbian capital of the US. I’ve seen a several May-Oct / Nov / Dec romances. I wouldn’t consider any of the young women twinks, because the older woman was never dating younger out of fear, and the younger didn’t date older for financial gain. (I’m sure it happens; I just haven’t seen it.) In every case I’m personally familiar with, the younger person pursued the older one.

      • Hey, Aris – I wonder if you’ve met me!

        My lady and I are approximately a generation apart, and since you’re in western MA, we might well be one of the May-December couples you know.

      • Ah yes! Lesbianville, USA… I, too, am from Western MA… love Northampton, although I live in a surrounding city. My girlfriend is 7 years older than me, and even though I tease her about it sometimes, I really couldn’t care less about an age difference. And friends and family don’t care, either. She’s like a big kid most of the time, anyway. :)

    • My girlfriend is in her early 30s whereas I’m in my early 20s–and she has a sex drive much higher than mine. It’s exhausting! :P

    • My partner is 45 and I am 25. Her sex drive is more intense than mine…I think it all depends on the person, who they are, and where they are in their life

  5. First, love this article. Second, I have found that I get the most pleasure out of relationships with older women, especially emotionally. I am 25, and have two casual partners who are in their mid and late thirties. I date up into the 50’s. For me, communication is huge, and “older” women seem to be able to communicate their needs, wants, and concerns more effectively than women my own age. Not that I wouldn’t give a lovely lady a chance if she’s in her twenties…it’s just, damn–girl, communicate and give a bit. I like to boil this down to the “old soul” theory.

  6. Hm Well I’m 20 and I’d say the highest I could go is 29ish. Mostly due to where my life is right now. I would like to date a girl in the 23-25 range, however there is a lot of assumption that I’m immature. Which they would learn is untrue if they talked to me but their loss.

  7. I’ve always felt a lot older than my age and most of my girlfriends/crushes/dates are significantly older than me. I just have more chemistry with them. They’re also super hot. ;D

    Not that I’m strictly cougar bait. I just want a partner that is confident, following a career/passion she feels strongly about or at least has something she’s passionate about, who is independent and capable of taking care of herself in the world. I’ve already lived a pretty eventful life and I find when I date around my age we either don’t have anything to talk about or she puts me on a pedestal because she thinks I know more/have lived more/am more capable than she is. I think it’s kinda hot when the woman I’m with has new things to teach me and challenges me to do more and be better. Who sees me as an equal, not more or less than she is. That just normally translates into an older woman.

  8. my girlfriend and i have a may/december relationship…in the sense that i was born in may and she was born in december. ha. ha. we’re actually only 7 months apart…i guess that’s not really at all relevant to this article.

  9. I’ve just turned 23 and my fiancee is 35 in a month. What we (and everyone else) finds funny is that we both act opposite to our age in a sense. I’m more content staying in instead of going out all the time and my fiancée would be happy to go out whenever. A lot of people see me as the more ‘serious’ and mature one, and they see her as the fun and silly one. We’re a good balance for each other :-)

  10. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for age gaps but Eileen looks 60 and Leopoldine looks about 20 or younger, hoping thats just the lighting of the photo.

  11. I am still in high school, but going onto my senior year. With not many options for dating (3 girlfriends) I think that when I start out on my own I will be interested in older woman.

    I would love to learn more from an older woman emotionally and sexually. And I agree with riese that in a gay community its probably more understandable to be in a younger/older relationship simply because theres a much smaller pool for options.

    Awesome read :)

    • Just be careful… Older not always means mature emotionally or sexually… xD and like the writer said you don’t want a “been there/done that” partner, it’s really annoying…
      I normally date older women because of what Launa said but when i started dating girls, i did it with a girl my young age, we didn’t have a clue of what we were doing so we learned out of experimenting, curiosity and instinct i guess, it was fun and cute! Plus we didn’t feel that pressure of trying to impress the other because she knows a lot and you don’t…
      Anyway good luck in the dating world! Have fun!! :-)

  12. My wife and I are 6 years apart (I’m 30, she’s 36.) Most of the time, it’s not noticeable, and I frequently forget how old I am or how old she is. It was of more note when we met, and I was 24 and she was 30 (especially since she had been self-employed for 9 years at that point, and I was just starting my career). Oddly enough, her parents are 6 years apart, and her sister and her husband are 5 years apart. Evidently it runs in the family. The only time our age gap comes up is in referencing specific dates in the 80s and 90s (when we realize that I was in elementary school when she was in high school) and when she suddenly gets afraid that she’ll be too old to parent our child, should we have one in the next couple of years. Interestingly enough, we flip a few of the assumptions of an age-gap relationship, because I am the more sexually and romantically experienced one.

  13. My parents got together when my mum was 16 and my dad was 30 (and was married. and had 3 kids. and was a church minister). They were together 35 years and now my dad (aged 70) is married to a 26 year old. In terms of straight relationships, eww. Though I may be biased.
    With girls, anything goes! ;)

  14. I have recently been hanging around an older woman who is 55, and I am 23, so far our relationship has been sexual in nature. I am unsure about it because of our age difference (it even breaks the rule stated above). I feel like we are compatible (definitely more compatible than other relationships I have been in).

    I have never noticed it before but she does that I have more life experience thing that is mentioned above within our conversations.

    I think only time will tell, but I find it really interesting that she respects what I think and takes what I say so seriously when at work (I just started my career) no one listens to me because I am younger than them, but she is older than them.

  15. When I was 22, I had a relationship with someone who was 36, 14 years older. Most of the problems that we had in our relationship and finally ended it after being on again off again for 2 1/2 years had no bearing to our ages, we both had adopted sons only a year apart and wanted the same things out of life. Actually, with one exception, all the people I have dated, talked to etc.. have been older, between 7-18 years older, I guess I have always been more settled in life and know where I am going, and don’t have a lot in common with people at are my age or younger. Although the best relationship I ever had was with someone younger!

  16. Thanks for posting this! I never thought I could really do the May-December thing, and then I wound up very much interested in someone much older – even though it didn’t go anywhere, it’s nice to have a few tips if an interest like that ever happens again.

  17. I was in two relationships with older women, once when I was 18 and she 35 and again when I was 28 and my partner was 4o. I think I was attracted to older women at the time becasue it felt like we could communicate on a more ‘mature ‘ level than i found I could with women my own age.
    Unfortunately they were difficult relationships and I believe the difference between 18 and 35 was too huge a gap and I in fact was probably not as mature as I thought I was after all. I would say it was an emotionally abusive relationship and I had no experience at all to even deal with this.
    That was my experience and I would say from that that relationship age gaps are probably safer and healthier at older ages.
    Would be interesting to know if there is a difference in may december relationships amongst lesbians vs straight male female couple. I don’t think a ‘twink’ is found very often in lesbian community. But I do think may dec. relationships are not unusual. this was a great article and pretty right on.

  18. I also have a 15 year age difference with Rachel Maddow. In my mind, this means that I could totally have a shot with her.

    • Because it denotes a significant age difference: as a rough rule of thumb, each month of difference is about 3 years so May->Dec equals a 20 year or greater age difference.

      • oooh, I had always wondered about the difference between May-December and May-October, never heard about the each month = 3 years thing

        Another question then, why when describing relationships with large age differences do we say May-X and not Jan, Feb, March, or April?

        • I’m guessing here, but I think I think starting with May suggests that everyone is past the age of consent.

          I’ve always heard the term used as May = early to mid 20s and December = mid 40s to 60s and beyond so I guess you could make each month represent any number of years you want.

      • I have never heard it explained that way before! Makes sense, though.

        I always thought it was just a poetic way of describing someone in the spring of their life dating someone in the autumn of their life. idk, maybe I just made it up at some point b/c I liked the way it sounded.

        • Hahahahahaha!! Your way to see it is a lot more romantic but I’m glad you both explained it because i had no idea! I learned something new today, now i can go to sleep the rest of the day hahahahahaha!! (i wish…)

    • I’ve always heard it’s because one is in the spring of their life (May) and the other is in the winter of their life (December).

      • It is. I’ve never heard any of the stuff Arls is talking about. And I’m old relative to the demo around here so I would think I would have heard it by now.

        • I always hear May – December used to describe a spring (early 20s) and winter (60+) relationship. I hear it more commonly used, though, to indicate a 20+ year age difference. Someone in her 20s dating someone in her 40s is described as having a May-December romance yet 40s is hardly the winter of life. Either the usage is changing or the people I’m exposed to are consistently using the phrase incorrectly (entirely possible).

          When people start getting specific about which months it’s generally to suggest how big of an age difference. I hear May – October used to indicate a 12-15 year age difference and May – December used for 20+ years.

          @JMo, I’m surprised by your suggestion that because you’re older than many if you haven’t heard it used this way then it can’t have merit. Are you saying a May – December romance can only refer to seasons of life rather than suggesting the size of an age difference? If so, at about what ages do spring end and winter begin? And how would you answer the question about why January – April aren’t used the way, say, October is?

    • It’s also a theme found frequently in medieval lit. Example Chaucer. Where the older person is usually associated with December and the younger fresher woman associated with may.

  19. I get such a slagging/mocking from my mates because every person I have dated or have been going out with has been older than me, always by more than 7 or 8 years….and you know, we all slag each other, and that’s fine….but this is sort of pissing me off lately, do you any of you Autostraddlers have the same issue?! I just find it so much easier to engage with and enjoy the company of older women….so it’s my thing, and I love that, and I dont think it deserves continuous mocking…but maybe that’s just my mates! Anyway….rant over, apologies! :-D

    • God, far too many exclamation points in that pointless ramble above, mortified for myself!…I must be tipsy! (but bear in mind it’s 4.35am here so it’s fine…and yes it is a Wednesday, but that kind of thing is fine here too)

    • Yeah, all my friends make fun of me as well. Mainly because I had a major crush on my English professor last semester, and I’m pretty sure she was well into her sixties. Also one of my classmates who was also significantly older stole my attention. College women. Gah.

  20. Hi BW! I LOVE your blog and am so happy to see your work here on Autostraddle. This was a great piece – thoughtful, well-written and interesting, as always.

  21. Sorry, been there, done that. Don’t think I would do it again. I generally don’t see much issue with around 10 years of a age difference. It just depends on the women and their own life experiences and personalities.

    I do love the higher energy level of a younger person, overall, younger people can be more attractive physically….but for me the stage of life ends up mattering more. In hindsite, my relationship with a much younger woman was related to me regaining some of my youth and not totally being appreciative of my life stage. Now, I am excited about women who are around my age or older who are living life to the fullest and have the wisdom and skills of a mature woman. I am not into women who act like (or look like) they are much older than they are, or who are focused on their health issues ….I still like ‘life’ in my woman….and maturity, insight and the ability to know when to be a grown up and when to play. ;)

  22. Most of the women I know follow The Period Rule: if one of you already had your period when the other one was born, it’s a non-starter because the generational difficulties become too pronounced.

    Of course, every rule is made to be broken.

  23. Where did that comment about Rachel Maddow’s stance on gay marriage go? I came back especially. Something along the lines of ‘I love queer culture…’. I thought that was a cool way to put it, if it’s true!

  24. I always think that young and old (gay) people get together because ya know… it’s not like we’re that many, and it’s not that easy to find each other. But def. wouldn’t be the only reason.

    Personally, while I think that ladies in their 30s are awfully hawt, I can’t really see myself dating one. Maybe having a fling, but I’d be too concerned with the age gaps. I mean, I wanna have children one day (I’m 20), and maybe they’ve already had them/are not interested/will be old by the time I’d want to have them and won’t want to/will want children when I’m not ready yet because I won’t have a steady job.
    I also fear that maybe I wouldn’t be able to live the life of a 20something if I hook up with someone older. Of course, if we fall in love I’ll deal with it, but ideally I’d prefer someone my age, or slightly younger.

  25. I’m 21 and am in a relationship with a girl who is only 2 months older than me. I like it this way, not that I have really known anything else. I like that we are both immature, both soon-to-be college graduates, both terrified. I can’t imagine being with someone who isn’t going through these things with me, the oh-my-god-what-am-I-going-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life type things. There is too much instability in my next few years, and oddly, I want someone who is equally unsure. There’s a strange sort of camaraderie to it that I don’t think would be there with someone even just a few years older.

  26. My last girlfriend was younger than I am, but her last girlfriend was much much older and I think in a lot of ways that aged my girlfriend. It was a weird dynamic where I wanted to go out and do things and party and she was more about staying at home and gardening.

  27. I have a crush on a girl seven years younger than me.

    That’s not a huge gap, but I’m pretty young, so yes it is. She’s still in high school. Ffffuuuu

  28. Completely off-topic, but the 70-year-old doing the 5-mile hikes sounds like my nan. The woman’s a superhero, I swear.

  29. My wife and I have an 18 year age difference. We started our relationship when I was 18 (she 36) – woops, I guess we did not know about the + 7 rule. 12 years and two kids later we’re still together. When it’s just the two of us, we never think about/notice our age difference but other people – especially people who we have just met – have an annoying tendency to talk about it or ask inappropriate questions.

    • (I know your comment is from a long time ago)
      How do you respond to those inappropriate questions? I am searching for some guidance. The most annoying thing for me is when people approach me and ask our ages, just straight out. I never know how to respond.

  30. Well I am going to be 22 soon, so I could go for a girl who’s 18, but I think I’m gonna look for a 30 year old instead. I like older ladies. ;)

  31. I guess it just depends on what each person wants out of a relationship really…. my current girlfriend is a year older than me and we’re pretty much going through the exact same shit (schoolwork, stress, etc) in college. So we relate to each other really well, moan about life together, suck it up together, basically just grow up together.

    I guess the bad part of this is that there is a risk that my gf and I screw up life together by wallowing in our own self pity, and it would be good to have a grown up to sort of take you through life. So for those who prefer a more stable source of support, they would probably want prefer an older woman.

    We’ve heard a lot from younger women dating older women. Any older women keen on sharing the experience from their perspective?

  32. I’m 27 and my girlfriend is 20. I tend to date younger women–not purposely, it just keeps happening that way. I like to try new things, go to new places, travel, etc and so I get along better with younger women. The relationship I have now is the best one i’ve ever had and also with the largest gap.

    What’s interesting is that she’s the 20 year old who doesn’t like to go clubbing or do crazy stuff and I’m the fun one so it’s reversed but I love it.

    However, it’s not all rainbows ;) I have gotten a lot of crap from close “friends” of mine about the age difference. They have told me i’m “crazy” and have treated my gf with little/no respect. They are no longer my friends.

    It works for us because we are both in similar stages of life. We met in college: I was working my way through and she was on the fast track. It took me 9 years to graduate-her only 3. SO we are both starting out in life. I’d say the older woman/younger woman thing can work, but it takes an open mind.

    • Hey how are you?! I know you posted this yearsss ago lol. Just wondering if you were still with her .. As I am in a similar situation ( I’m 27, she’s 22) . Feel free to email me at [email protected]

      • ABSOLUTELY!!! In fact, we just had dinner last night with some of my friends as I was someone’s birthday. We had a great to me! I think we will head to Provincetown for a beach wedding in 2016 for our 10 year anniversary!!

  33. I’m not sure that you get more mature with age. Definitely less insecure than someone just hitting their teens, but as far as I can see, people just get more and more like themselves (which can be good or bad), more rigid, as they get older.

  34. I think I always felt older than I was until I hit 18, so until then I always had relationships with older girls, and now I find myself still in relationships with slightly older girls but am now attracted to girls my own age, too.

    I’m also a flaaaaming hypocrit, because I’m a little uncomfortable when I see couples with a big age gap. My friend is 21, and his boyfriend is 38, and I do find that a little weird until I tell myself “OH HEY IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS THEY LIKE EACH OTHER OKAY? OKAY!!”

  35. Hmm – I uncomfortably hesitate at the picture of Eileen Myles and Leopoldine Core. She almost looks like she could be her grandmother.

    But I’m guessing that reaction is the result of internal ageist prejudice, because I also realize that they can totally do whatever they want, even if it creeps me out a little to think about. However, I may also be a hypocrite because I totally had a mad crush on my internship boss who is in his forties and has a thirteen-year-old child.

    I admit to feeling like a creepster when I admire cute freshmen at my college (I’m a senior) because they’re younger than my little bro and his friends.

    I guess that means age is kind of a hang-up for me – I’ve never dated anyone more than a year older than me, though, so I have no idea. It’s interesting to hear so many people who have stories to share about this kind of thing.

    • I have to confess to the same reaction. But then I thought, well Leopoldine is older than me, and I’m old enough to decide who I want to date, so she is old enough to date Eileen Myles and we should all probably stfu about it.

      I’m wondering if the sibling thing is a thing? Once I dated this girl who was four years younger than me, and it was just bad, as in while I was kissing her I was thinking “wow, you remind me of my little sisters” bad. But recently I had a fling with a guy who was three years younger than me, and that didn’t squick me out. Thinking about it I decided it must be because I have younger sisters I could associate the girl with (she was the same age as one of them). On the other hand, I don’t have any brothers to compare the guy to.

  36. My girlfriend and i are 7 years apart, and we had been together for 3 years now, the second round, the first round was when she was 17 and myself 25, it was illegal, but we didnt care.

    I think that get together again when she was 23 and i was 30 was the best decision we’re having now a more mature, fun an better relation than before.

  37. My partner and I have a 29 year age difference, and have been happily together for 5 years now. I’m 32, she’s 61. But people never have any idea that we have this kind of a gap in our age — we gel so perfectly. She also doesn’t look like what society says a 61-year-old is “supposed” to look like, and I’m in that sort-of “ageless” spot that happens to a lot of women around my age, where you have no idea how old I am. We’re also both vegans, and I think our shared worldview bonds us so deeply and strongly that our age difference becomes a near non-issue. Our age difference informs our relationship, adding to it’s richness, not taking away anything. Our families are very supportive of us (and my mom is the same age as my partner!). I can’t imagine being with anyone else. I think that this was a really thoughtful article, in that it truly does depend on the couple. And, according to your calculations, by the time my partner is in her mid-70’s, we’ll be the right age difference. Until then, I think we’ll make our own rules. ;-)

  38. My girlfriend and I have a 33 year age difference, that’s more years that some of your ‘older’ partners are old :)


  39. Thanks for this, my girlfriend is 52 and I am 28. We met when I was 25 and she was 50. I have often looked for some verification that I wasn’t the only one in this situation, and all I found was the Eileen Leopoldine thing. xoxox

  40. wow …..you guys are like an oracle. anyway this is very much in my interest iat the moment, but my biggest concern is not so much ages but stages.
    what if future gf is already at the point in life where they’re main focus is their child. i mean it’s not so much that i feel “well, im definitely not ready for kids,” it’s more like……..am i think i maybe too young/immature to help another human creature learn about themselves and the world as they grow…..i guess it’s more like an insecurity about how much experience in life i have compared to the other person. im guessing it’s normal, but does it become more of a questionable concern once a kid is in the mix? does that make sense ?

  41. This is a good one! The advice is very applicable to all relationship differences.

    My first crush was on one of my sixth grade teachers, then subsequent crushes were also on teachers, so I’ve been attracted to older women from the get-go. (I remember thinking my attractions weren’t a “problem” until I liked someone my own age. Even then… it didn’t freak me out.) I’ve never been in a relationship with someone older than me though.

  42. i’ve been dating older people since i was 16 (the people i dated were around 25). and having gone through those experiences i now believe that if someone is underaged or in high school, large age gaps in relationships are inappropriate because of the opportunity for the younger person to be taken advantage of. and it just looks really immature for someone in their mid 20’s to be messing around with kids in high school (i know in hindsight the people i dated were DEFINITELY immature). but if everyone involved is at least 18 i say go for it. the women i usually date have been 10 to 20 years older then me, because i like the fact that they’re usually more settled in their lives and are more experienced then people in my age group. the oldest i’ve dated was when i was 20 and she was 49. eventually, i could tell she was ashamed of the 29 year age gap and it didn’t last. the youngest i’ve dated was 2 years younger then me. any lower and i’ve literally felt like i was baby sitting. i recently met a 21 year old i thought was attractive, and she was so immature that it reaffirmed my thoughts that i can’t really take people younger then me seriously when it comes to dating.

    and did anyone else think eileen looked like leopoldine’s grandmother? to be honest, it was slightly off putting imagining them as a couple.

  43. I’m 43; the woman I’m dating is 31. I think that things have more to do with matching energy levels and maturity. I’m in better shape than most women my age, I listen to hip hop and R&B, I still like to go clubbing and stay out late. I’m established in my career. She’s pretty mature (IMO)and pretty self-assured and has her own goals and interests. Our libidos are pretty evenly matched and sexual chemistry is complimentary. So I think this can work.

  44. Love it. Age has never mattered to me. I often find that I’m attracted to older woman as much as, or sometimes even more than, women my age, because I came out super early and have generally been too mature and focused than my peers. I also appreciate the sharing of different growing up experiences due to age differences. Good stuff… :-)

  45. Last year I was 20 and dating a woman who was 34. It was fine, the age difference didn’t seem like a big deal at all. We would talk about the cultural different sometimes (she was a teenager and early 20-something in the 90s, I was a teen in the 2000 decade), but it was just interesting and fun, not depressing or bizarre or anything. We had the advantage of being in a similar stage of life though, both being undergrads, which makes a big difference, I think. If she’d been like a professional and I’d been an undergrad, the age difference would have played out very differently.

  46. Thanks for all this discussion, it’s very helpful for me. There’s a young woman who seems to be interested in me but I really didn’t know if it would be appropriate to respond. She’s no more than 24 and I’m 59. At first I really thought I was delusional – she’s very cute and sexy and quite inspiring for me – but now I believe she’s trying to reach out and connect. She came up to talk to me on the weekend and I pretty much ran in the opposite direction. But the picture above of those two women 36 years apart – that’s a beautiful thing.

    However, I don’t see this a long-term relationship – she’s an international university student and won’t be around much longer.

    I really just didn’t know if I should even talk to her – and you know, there really are a lot of things to consider in terms of her safety and well-being. She seems so young and vulnerable. But likely I’m underestimating her – heck, when I was her age I already had two children, was in the middle my 3rd doomed relationship

    • Hi there – just read this, as I am in the same situation, but on the reverse end – I’m the student. I can only say – if she’s brave enough to talk to you and to show interest, she’s not scared of the situation, and would probably be willing to have a mature conversation about it. There is someone who has completely stunned me – a professor where I attend University – she’s not quite 30 years older than I am – I can only tell you that I am fully aware of the messiness this can cause in a workplace/student/teacher environment, which is why I haven’t completely pursued a conversation – but I would be frustrated to know if this person felt a bit lit up about me, and didn’t pursue it or take me seriously. I’d be very sad about that. Just some thoughts. Good luck.

  47. Well according to the ” formula” I’m too young for my fiancé. She’s 37 and I’m 20. The youngest she ” should” date is 22. Oh well I don’t care. I say love who you want. Age shouldn’t matter as long as you’re happy! So screw it my 17 year age gap relationship is perfect and were happy together. That’s all that should matter.

  48. My ex girlfriend is 47 and I am 25. She finished with me just two days ago, as although she is in love with me and loves me so much she just cannot feel ‘right’ in our relationship. We were together almost three years, and went through an awful lot to be together, but were desperately in love and have had amazing times together. She says she has really tried again and again but struggled too much with the age gap and difference in our life experience, and doesn’t want to feel that struggle anymore, or to hurt me any longer when I can see a perfect future with her but she just can’t. We are both heartbroken, and I feel that I will never move on, whilst knowing that I am ‘always in her heart’ and she still loves me. If I was immature, I would understand, but I’m a very mature and grounded person, working as a lecturer. I have no interest in partying, and only want a settled life with her.

    • Argh, that’s super tough, and I’m sorry to hear it. :( It sounds like the age thing is really her issue, not yours. I dated someone myself once who just couldn’t get over it. It sucks.

      I wanted to ask: have you two ever tried counseling? If you’re really in love, it might help isolate exactly what she’s afraid of…

      One other possibility is that she fears that when she’s old, you’re going to leave her for someone your own age. Sigh.

  49. I recently fell for a woman fifteen years my senior (I’m seventeen) and I honestly can’t help but think that she is the one. We share similar interests and whilst she has a career and is well into her life I am sat in Secondary school. I feel torn, because I feel so much older than I am- I am hoping that in a few years time I can get her attention, because I seriously doubt I’ll be able to get it now. I could try but I can’t help thinking that waiting a bit will give me my best chance, although if she did offer me a place in her heart I would occupy it without hesitation. Some people would say that it’s just infatuation, but I’ve known infatuation and it’s definitely not this. This feels different. Should I leave it? Or should I drop her a hint?

      • I suppose if Ellen and Portia can do it, so can we. (Ellen is amazing, I love that woman. If I ever visit the US I am so getting tickets to her show (if I can)). Next time I see her I’ll try and drop the hint. Maybe it’ll work out. I don’t know. I’ll keep you posted

  50. I loved this article. I have been with my girlfriend now for a few years, i am 21 and she is 43. We have an amazing relationship.
    We were friends for years first so we knew each other really well and just grew closer.I am not the typical 21 year old, no interest in partying etc, and she is not the typical 43 year old, so we meet in the middle. We are always learning from each other, but our goals, values and beliefs are very similar which i think is the most important thing. Ill admit, sometimes it is frustrating when strangers think shes my mum, but thats not their fault, it is what most ppl would assume. And, sadly, by being afraid to tell people, we only perpetuate that issue. We have kept our relationship a secret from my parents thus far, which is also not ideal. It is scary because im pretty sure they wont approve, at least initially. However, i realise that hiding it achieves nothing. the more people are brave and tell the others the truth, the more accepting people will become. if we hide who we are, were not even giving the people around us a chance to be open minded.
    im currently working on gathering up the courage! :)

  51. This article definitely helped me a little with my situation. I was really worried that my realtionship would be effected due to the age difference but at least its people out there who have the same issues and some who have proven to be successful. Only time will tell. :-)

  52. Besides it comes as a natural instinct to me to be attracted to older women. (I think i get it from my mother. Literally.) lol

  53. My woman and I have a 9 year gap to the same month. It does not present any significant issues except when broaching the subject of life goals and how time seems to be running away from her. We very much value our relationship and have learned plenty from each other. =)

  54. i turn 17 in a month and have a really intense crush on a 29 year old. she’s so rad and inspiring and friendly and magic. any thoughts on how i should deal? in about 1 more year it will be legal for us to date, and thats the year i go to college and she works at the admissions office of that college… should i wait til then to feel it out? i’m just impatient and just want her already! any suggestions on how to go about this??

  55. I am 30 – my partner, my soul mate, the love of my life is 59. We met and had “an affair” 11 years ago = me being 19 and her being 48 did NOT work. Now that I am older and more refined, and she, still eternally youthful and beautiful, our relationship is PERFECT! Age doesn’t mean anything and it certainly does not define either of us, in any respect.

  56. I am currently in a relationship with a woman who is 39, I am 23. It seems as if we have encountered lesbian bed death. I love her very much, but regardless of age….this sucks. We have not had sex in almost three months, and the only time she seems to be into sex is when I am dead to the world asleep!!! I really don’t know what to do. The other thing is, because I make less money than she does, she treats me like a sugar baby. To me, at least in this case, the vast age difference is complicated. I’m ready to start applying to grad school, and she already has a career. Is this relationship over, dead, or impossible?

  57. Pingback: Età del consenso e pedofilia immaginaria « Sex Libertatis

  58. Whilst the running theme of ‘love knows no age’ is strikingly wonderful, I am sixteen. Though feeling and acting much older for my age may be apparent to those close to me, do you feel there should be a ‘cut-off’ age for a person like me to date? Also, those who are of an older age, what are you thoughts on being romantic with someone between the age of sixteen-eighteen?

    I’m simply asking out of curiosity and hope for no harsh replies.

  59. I wonder what psychologist would make of this? I have always dated older. My ex-fiance was 9 years older (when we got together I was 18 and she was 27), my current is 6 years older (when we got together I was 23 and she was 29) but I have dated some 20 years older in the past. I suppose I didn’t notice a trend in the general community.

  60. My gf of three years is 16 years older than me, and in terms of energy she can run circles around me. I have a chronic illness that slows me down, so often I end up feeling like the older one in this equation. Gotta love irony! ;)

  61. I’m very much into a woman who is 13 years younger than me. I didn’t know it when we hooked up the first time as she very mature and I always assume everyone is around my age for some reason, even though I know all these other artists are younger than me! I’m currently at Grad school, so not your usual 34 year old and I’m hoping that we have more similarities than differences (we both got the exact same Roller Derby injury on the same leg…)
    I do tend to gravitate towards people a bit younger than me, but then I’m an out and about, very social kind of person and need someone wo can keep up.
    Good advice above about listening to people’s opinions and then disregarding them, the only thing I worry about is her being so ridiculously clever – she could probably run rings around me!!!

  62. I’ve just recently entered into a hazily-defined “non”-relationship with a woman 14 years older than myself. And for anyone concerned with lower sex drive, well. It’s not been an issue for us. At all. We pretty much had sex for ten days straight over this recent holiday break – multiple times a day. Sometimes not leaving the bed at all. She called it the “lust fog.” And boy, I couldn’t be more satisfied. Sexually. Intellectually. Cuddlingly. Is that a word? It should be.

  63. Loved this article.

    My partner and I are 28 years apart and we often get the “Is that your mom?” comment (which bothers both of us equally). I never see her age. I feel and act older than I am, and she is so young at heart. We level each other out pretty well.

    • Exactly! I’m almost 24 and my girlfriend is 36 (12 1/2 years). I look young for my age so I’m pretty sure people wonder if we’re mother-daughter but I don’t worry about it. I feel like I’m 30 and she wishes she was 30 so we balance out, haha. I worried about the age gap in the beginning and what people (most of all my parents) would think but I realized that it didn’t matter because we are truly perfect for each other and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful woman! My parents also love her! My girlfriend once told me (about why she didn’t date for 10 years and couldn’t find anyone): “I was just waiting for you to become the right age!”

  64. so nice to see im not the only one!! my last relationship was a 16 year age gap (i was 19,she was 35) we were together for 7 years im now 27 and my new gf is 50.

  65. We don’t have any children together. She has a son that is only a few years younger than I am. I was married to a man for a few years and didn’t have any kids with him (thankfully).

  66. I don’t know if anybody’s mentioned this or not, but another difference to watch out for is difference in sexual experience. My partner is WAY more experienced than I am, and sometimes I used to get a little insecure (not so much now, but much more in the early days.)

  67. My partner and I are 20 years apart in age. I am 36 and she is 56…we have known each other and actually worked together for 14 years. She and her ex-GF used to go out with me and my ex-husband, we were 42 and 22 then. We had vacationed together and been friends long before our romantic relationship. I came out at 29 and she was the person I relied upon for advice and a way to ease into this new world. We are now together 6 or 7 tears, depending on which one of us you ask!
    She is from Brooklyn, NY and I am from rural Maine. She is black and I am white. She has a son who is 28 and just had twin daughters! I have had a cat for 14 years who lives with us. We have 2 dogs and a bird. We do things with both age groups, we talk about our childhoods, and our goals. I tell her I am keeping her young and she is my source for wisdom. My parents had a large age gap too, and I don’t have a problem with it. Sometimes, I worry too much about what friends think. But, as she points out frequently, I over think things and that doesn’t help anyone. She makes me feel like the most special person when we are together. Our sexual compatibility is amazing! Live and let live?

  68. I’m 16 and crushing pretty hard on a 30 year old. I almost always like people older than me (although usually not 14 years older, haha).

  69. I am an almost-27-yr old dating an amazing, sexy, 40 yr old woman. I have to say our 13 year age difference initially cast her off my radar..but luckily she pursued me and I am so thankful she did. Now I think every woman in her mid twenties NEEDS to get down with a gal around her age, for so many reasons. If we are going by that “half age plus 7 rule”…I guess we just make it, fyi. She’s got it all baby.

  70. I haven’t always dated older women but things change. Life in the military and several deployments later I have been forced to mature faster than many of the just turning 30 crowd. After learning to readjust to a civilian world I met my girl friend who is 49. I am 31 (a 18yr age gap). I never been happier because I met someone who I can talk to and relate to. It’s nice to know that relationship like our’s is not original and have worked.

  71. I’m 23 and my wife is 37. We had an instant connection the moment we started talking, and it’s not like either of us stopped the conversation to ask how old the other was, and by the time it naturally came up, it wasn’t really important anymore. I initially thought she was younger and she thought I was older ha. People were a little skeptical at first, with the whole, “But what could y’all possibly have in common?” And our response was basically, “Um, everything, actually.” Then when our friends and family started to spend time with us as a couple, the questioning stopped and everyone was on board with our relationship. It’s funny when we talk about things that happened in the ’90s and early ’00s because live through the same culture shifts and events, except she was in college and I was a kid haha, but that doesn’t bother us at all. It’s just a different perspective.

    All I know is that I think she is the most beautiful woman in the world and every day with her is the best day of my life. Like we in the LGBT community always say, love is love. And it is really just that simple when it comes to age.

  72. Well…this was an interesting an article and absolutely pertains to me and my girlfriend. I see a lot of comments from the younger half of relationships so, I’m going to give my opinion and experiences as being the “older” woman.

    I am 39 (just turned that age yesterday) and my girlfriend is 23. We have been together just over a year and a half. We’ve discussed age differences and such but it is not the glaring issue to us that people seem to think it is. In actuality, we find that other people have way more of an issue with it than we do. There are other hurdles and difficulties (that come with any relationship) that we have chosen to focus on and we find that we are on the same page on just about all of those issues.

    Race is more of an issue (again…for others, moreso than us). I am a black 3/4 Jamaican and 1/4 American Indian and she is white of Irish decent. So, there are some cultural differences but they are fun to talk about. Then again, we’re both kind of nerdish so we like talking about these things.

    I believe that part of what makes our relationship work so well is that I tend to be a bit younger in my views and she is a bit older. Now…when I say that, I don’t mean to say that there aren’t moments when I’m not thinking, “I’m so much older and maybe she won’t want to be with me in 20 years” or “I can’t believe she said that…that was kind of an immature thing to say”…or she doesn’t think of equally annoying things that I may say or do to her. However, I know that we have grown up in different generations and she hasn’t experienced things I have experienced but I know she has experienced way more than someone her age should have had to experience. She is a strong individual and I see that in her every moment of every day…and I love her for her perseverance, strength, her knowledge, her willingness to learn and to be my support. I know that, around her, I can be weak when I need to be and she will be there supporting me as I will her.

    As far as where people are in their life…I think we fit each other like a glove. She recently graduated from college and is job hunting. It’s been a struggle because it’s difficult to get your foot in the door for some careers and she struggles with not being able to support herself yet as some of her friends do. I, on the other hand, am in the middle of a career transition and I believe that makes us a bit more on even footing. I am, by no means, settled. I lost my job back in 2011 and found a new one in 2012. However, it is working for a non-profit and isn’t exactly what I want to be doing but is helping me refocus my skills in the direction I want to head. In the midst of this, I am job hunting, working a 2nd job and going to school to get my MBA. So, because of this, we are both working to establish or reestablish our lives. There is no “sugar mama” or anything like that…we’re both working our butts off for what we want.

    Also, I am the one who likes to go out and do things. I like to go out dancing or out to the bar to grab a drink or whatever. She is not like that but she will go with me if I ask nicely. How did we solve this difference? We found things that we like to do together. We both like to sing and, in the future, are planning to join a choir together. I got her hooked on Doctor Who, John Green books (the older one introduces the younger one to John Green…lol…that is irony), we like to cook together and come up with new ideas for meals. We have some great ideas for a cook book! ;) Anyway, you can see that if you want a relationship to work, you can make it work…if you have a foundation with which to begin.

    All relationships are work…you’re going to have good days and you’re going to have bad days. It’s just the nature of relationships. My girlfriend and I not only love each other like crazy but we also have immense respect for who the other person is and we always remember that the other person’s thoughts, feelings and emotions are valid. We’re not going to feel the same about every situation…and that’s okay…as long as we continue to be one another’s biggest cheerleader and best support.

  73. I’ve had relationships with different age gaps. Here’s the real deal. If both parties are legal adults and both parties have an interest in each other, GO FOR IT.

    Take your “formulas” and burn them. There is no formula for love. Love is organic, it’s either there or it’s not.

    To hell with people and their judgments. To hell with lesbians who judge and shake their finger at other lesbians and other women in general, and insinuate, blame or guilt them into thinking they have “mid-life crisis” or “mother complex” or “daughter complex”. Such thinking completely feeds into taking away our power and our freedom as women.

    If a 60 year old wants to go out with a 21 year old – so be it. If a 40 year old wants to date an 80 year old – so be it. No one has a right to judge their love. No one.

    If a 70 year old man dates or marries a 22 year old woman, he might get a few sneers but mostly he gets a HIGH FIVE. If that same man fathers children with that 22 year old, he’s looked upon as incredibly virile.

    Lesbians and all women deserve the same freedom to love who they want without further anti-feminist thought.

    There are plenty of younger women who genuinely like and desire older women and vice versa, they should be encouraged. The dating pool for lesbians is small enough as it is, don’t make it any worse for other lesbians by imposing ridiculous ideas about age gaps onto two people with common interests and affection for each other. Lesbians need more opportunities to love each other, not less.

    As for me, if I like you and you like me and you’re between the ages of 21 years old and 121 years old – fair game.

    Make your move! Ask that older/younger person out! Be brave! Be bold! Take a chance!

    Stop the nonsense about age gaps in relationships.

  74. The point in the article about “don’t hide your partner” is an important one. Whether you want to live in fantasyland and cast the experience as a fling vs choosing it as a publicly acknowledged relationship should be consciously approached from the very beginning and shared with the partner. An open discussion on this may lead to a much more fulfilling relationship as opposed to “hurt feelings” later.

  75. I fell in love with a 40 year old woman, and I’m 20. I love her dearly, and she’s brilliant and talented and quite funny. I feel exceptionally lucky in this.

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