Pic from "People": http://bit.ly/doRv3M
_Rachel Maddow and her partner, Susan Mikula (both pictured left) are 15 years apart. So are Ellen and Portia. My DGF 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.
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:
Six Relationship Tips for Couples with Age Differences:
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?