It can be difficult dealing with strangers or the public when you are in an age gap relationship. This article includes tips for managing different types of challenges, including negative reactions to your age difference.
You might be wondering what types of situations are there when you will have to deal with strangers or the public? It can be very varied depending on your lifestyle.
If you go out to restaurants a lot, then you’ll probably get more attention from strangers. Alan and I more often go to lunch rather than dinner, so we think that most people assume we are a father and daughter going to lunch together.
On the other hand, when we used to live in a big city and would go out more often, I do recall getting a lot more looks when we would go out for dinner or would be in situations like Valentine’s Day when it’s unlikely you would be with a family member.
Other situations where you may encounter strangers or the public with your age gap partner include: traveling, social media, work social events, parties, and other types of events like concerts, etc.
Dealing with Negative Reactions
Specifically, here are other challenges you may face in an age gap relationship.
1. Negative stereotyping
Some of the common negative stereotypes around age gap couples are that one is a “gold digger,” one is just looking for sex, one is taking advantage of the other, or that one is submissive.
Alan and I experienced this recently when our story was picked up by the British tabloids. Some of the comments from the public to the article were supportive, but some were incredibly rude and show what people are really thinking.
How to deal with negative stereotyping? Don’t give them any value and understand that it’s not you, it’s about them. Be genuine. Be your own person and don’t believe that you have to be what people want or expect you to be.
2. Rude comments
We are of the mindset that everyone has the freedom to choose their partner and lifestyle. We also know that it can be intimidating to be yourself in a world where people want you to be the same as them. So, it’s an individual choice as to how obvious you want to be with your relationship. We never want anyone to put themselves at risk, so you need to make your own wise decisions.
We also believe in the principles of “non violent communication” which can be a great strategy for dealing with difficult people. I will link to the Center for Nonviolent Communication below. Another example is using language that is non-engaging. This can be responding to something negative with, “you have the right to your opinion” which usually shuts someone down.
3. Stares or whispers
Likely the best response in this situation where people are staring at you or obviously whispering about your age gap relationship is to ignore it or to use humor to diffuse the situation.
The rule to keep in mind is to give yourself space if you feel yourself getting emotional or angry. Remember that other people’s stares or whispers are more about their own ignorance than anything that you have done.
4. Hurtful comments online
It is best to ignore rude comments rather than confront. Another way is to “kill them with kindness.” I found a good quote about dealing with judgment that might also help.
“When they judge you, yawn.
When they misunderstand you, smile.
When they underestimate you, laugh.
When they condemn you, ignore.
When they envy you, rejoice.
When they oppose you, prevail.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
5. Sense of isolation
Alan and I know what it’s like to feel isolated in an age gap relationship. That’s why we started Age Gap Love Story!
Find people who really care about you and can be supportive. Find new friends or people in the same situation who can help you. Really make an effort to become involved in a group or organization so people can get to know you either as an individual or a couple. This can really help diffuse the ignorance and judgement. You DON’T have to feel alone nor should you be alone for your decision.
6. Rejection from family or friends
Consider family therapy if you experience rejection from your family due to your age gap relationship. Be willing to give them to adjust and get to know your partners. Plan small interactions rather than a whole day together.
At a certain point, it’s okay to admit that the relationship may have run its course and it’s okay to end the relationship and move on. It’s even okay to break off communication with a family member if he or she routinely hurts you or won’t accept your relationship.
7. Loss of friends or family who disapprove
It can be incredibly hurtful to lose friends or even family who disapprove of your age gap relationship. The best way to deal with this is to make a new family using friends that you choose.
Or, create new traditions with your partner. Plan something amazing for the holidays so they feel special to you. Even a day out hiking or something unconventional is a good idea.
Listen or Watch
Alan and I recorded a podcast episode on this topic. Listen below or watch this episode on YouTube.
Article about dealing with interracial marriage issues: https://www.verywellmind.com/interracial-marriage-challenges-2303129
Tabloid article featuring Carrie and Alan: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8548607/Couple-32-year-age-gap-regularly-mistaken-father-daughter.html
Center for Nonviolent Communication: https://www.cnvc.org/learn-nvc/what-is-nvc
As always, we want to remind you that we are not offering professional advice. The content on this website is meant as purely informational. Please consult a therapist, attorney, financial advisor, or other appropriate professional to help with your individual situation.
Age Gap Love Story is a website, podcast, YouTube channel, and community created to support people who are in a relationship with a large age difference. Join our email list to learn more!
Hey thanks for this! I’m in an AGR myself (22F 40M). I’ve just had someone on the internet tell me I’m being groomed and victimized. They don’t know me or my relationship, they just gave that based on the age gap. It really hurts. We’ve been together long enough for our friends and family to see that no one is being victimized, or groomed. Even when I asked my friends and family, no one said I’m being manipulated. I’m tired of the assumptions people make just because of our age or looks. Thank you so much!