Personality Before Age
Although older women dating younger men has been going on for centuries, it’s not been mainstream in any capacity. Shakespeare was with a women 8 years his senior, the prophet Mohammed with one 15 years his senior. These are high profile examples, obviously, but these relationships are woven throughout history.
However, the recent surge in popularity of “cougars” (we have never favored that description at Toyboy Warehouse!), or women who prefer to date younger men, is largely due to its increase in the media and entertainment industries. This rise has enabled women who get on better with younger men to buck the status quo, that the man should be older, and pursue what makes them happy.
Many older women have tried to date guys their age and older, but it hasn’t made them happy. Despite sharing similar life experiences, men their own ages and older were looking for different things. Some were rediscovering their freedom, some still very damaged and recovering from loss, and others, just not a “match”. When you’re not on the same page, entering a relationship post-divorce can complicate things even more.
In fact, there are five main ways of being imcompatibile, and not one of them has to do with age gaps – of any kind. It’s personality that plays a role in each case:
1. A difference in ambition. If one of the two people is insanely driven and the other one totally laid-back, the relationship won’t work. One would regard the other one as “type A” and too intense, and the other would regard him or her as too lazy and possibly even a freeloader. Thus career focus and achievement motivation should be fairly balanced among daters (i.e. if they have different careers, they should be equally ambitious).
2. A difference in openness. If one of them has a “hungry mind” but the other one has no interest in culture or knowledge, they will struggle. Indeed, highly open people are constantly trying out new things: they love travelling to new places, trying out new foods, and doing unusual things. Conversely, people with low openness are conservative, risk-averse, and will end up seeming boring to their more curious partners.
3. A difference in emotional intelligence. If this difference is minor, it will be tolerated. However big differences will cause one of the partners (the less emotionally stable one) to use the other one as a psychotherapist. Indeed, stable people are the perfect target for neurotic partners, because they have sedative effects on them. So, if you are highly emotionally stable and single, beware of needy, neurotic, people.
4. A difference in sociability. Again, reasonable differences may be tolerated – and most couples, even successful ones, have partners with different levels of extraversion. However if one of the two is much more sociable than the other, s/he will be much more interested in meeting new people, going out to bars and parties, and spending a great deal of time advertising his/her private life on Facebook. In contrast, the other person will want a private, quiet and personal relationship (which will severely bore the extraverted partner!)
5. A difference in altruism or agreeableness. Indeed, if one of them has high interpersonal sensitivity but the other one has low empathy levels, they will end up behaving in very different ways – and, especially the more sensitive partner, will find the selfish behaviour of his/her partner pretty borderline immoral: whether it’s recycling or cycling, giving to charity or donating blood, partners should be equally predisposed to helping others or there will be cognitive dissonance.
The question, then, is not how to predict compatibility, but how best to define it… Probably the first step to answer this question is to look at whether the two people in a relationship share compatible views on what a successful relationship should be.
It would be unrealistic to say that age doesn’t matter at all. Age gaps can bring out a lot of insecurities and increase the risk of mismatched expectations.
But, life experience is a much better gauge of compatibility than a mere number, and good communication can solve most of the problems that age presents.
Written by a TBW user