‘We can’t choose who we fall in love with’ (Picture: Getty Images)
‘We can’t choose who we fall in love with’ (Picture: Getty Images)

It can be easy to judge an age-gap relationship from the outside looking in.

But the experts say that – as long as everything is legal, of course – there’s no ‘ideal’ number of years to have between yourself and your partner.

‘We can’t choose who we fall in love with,’ counsellor Sedef Salim tells Metro.co.uk.

‘While there can be societal and cultural biases around relationships with significant age gaps, this really falls down to the two people within that unique connection and relationship.

‘If there is love, trust, acceptance, and responsibility for the possible implication of being in that relationship, then the ideal age gap can mean different things for each unique couple.’

So, what about an upper age gap limit?

Toby Ingham, a psychotherapist and author of Retroactive Jealousy, Making Sense of It, says it would be difficult to give an exact number.

‘There used to be an idea that, as a rule of thumb, half your age plus seven was the guide to the younger age a partner should be,’ he tells us. ‘That may now be outdated.

‘From one point of view, we might prefer that our partners were peers – contemporaries of us. That if the gap was too big there would be problems in terms of cultural values, interest, etc.

‘Now, the [societal] accent being on inclusivity and normalising difference might eradicate such ideas.’

Lovely couple having their mornng coffee together
‘The ideal age gap can mean different things for each unique couple’ (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

But he also adds that, in a professional capacity, he’s seen intergenerational relationships struggle.

‘In my work,’ he says, ‘age gaps that resemble parental age differences, or different generations, can create complications that breed problems over time.

‘There might be children from former marriages that are the same age as our new partners.’

So how can people in age-gap relationships keep the numbers from getting in the way and make it work?

Sedef said there are key things people should consider if you want to get serious about a relationship like this.

‘For instance,’ she explains, ‘conversations around having children together might be a complex subject to navigate.

‘Has your partner (who is older) already had, and raised their children from a previous relationship? Does your partner feel at a comfortable and responsible age to start that process all over again with you? Or perhaps your partner’s age may impact their fertility?

‘Perhaps the concern is more around health implications. Have you both met at a chapter of your lives where the age gap will become more noticeable in the future, due to age impacting health and mobility? This can maybe bring the phrase “in sickness and in health” closer into focus, as opposed to two similar-aged individuals choosing to spend the rest of their lives together.’

Yes, these are hard topics to cover, but that doesn’t change the fact that having these discussions is pretty vital if you want the relationship to work.

And, in return, you could be rewarded with a loving partner whose differences from you make the time you spend together all the more special.

‘While there can be some tricky discussions and dealbreakers that may come up for couples with a significant age gap, [a] life together, can be very satisfactory and joyful for couples,’ Sedef says.

‘They can explore a completely different and fresh perspective within one another.’