Relationship age gap: How much is too much? As it turns out, when it comes to the age gap between you and your partner, can be said about how long the relationship will last. Well, sort of. A new study claims that the age gap in your relationship can more or less predict your future risk of divorce. Intrigued? Learn more below.
The study. Several years ago, researchers from Emory University polled more than 3,000 men and women in order to find out whether there actually is an ideal age difference for a relationship. And if so, what is it? Is it five years? Seven? Hell, 10+?
Findings. So, what’d the researchers find? Well, they discovered that even a five-year age difference impacted a couple’s chances of divorce. In fact, a five-year age difference resulted in an 18 percent higher likelihood of breaking up compared to couples who were the same age, s*x and relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D., explained to Women’s Health.
Findings. Moreover, the researchers also found that a decade age gap increased a couple’s chance of divorce by a staggering 39 percent. We repeat: Being 10 years apart boosted lovers’ chances of splitting up by 39 percent. Talk about brutal.
Findings. But what about a 20-year age gap? How did that impact a couple’s chance of divorce? According to the researchers, a 20-year span led to a — wait for it — 95 percent increase in the chances of splitting up. Harsh.
Findings. Conversely, a one-year age difference meant good news for couples: The study found that a one-year span only resulted in a 3 percent higher chance for divorce. In comparison to 95 percent, 3 percent looks pretty darn good right about now, eh?
Overstated. That said, the survey may have overstated its results, O’Reilly revealed to Women’s Health. “More recent research has shown that the Emory University researchers’ data can’t accurately predict a couple’s likelihood of divorce based on their age gap alone,” she told the magazine.
Overstated. What’s more, the study authors later confessed that while there was a correlation between being the same age as your partner and divorce, they couldn’t 100 percent predict a couple’s risk of splitting. In other words, while the study did, in fact, find some relationship between age gap and divorce, it wasn’t definitive. Thanks for nothin’, science.
Other factors. Still, it makes sense that the study authors wouldn’t be able to gather conclusive data from the study. Why? Because there are a slew of other factors that come into play when it comes to determining how stable a marriage is — or isn’t.
Other factors. “There are so many other factors that differentiate you from your partner,” O’Reilly explained to Women’s Health. For instance, there’s education. Think of it this way: If you’re a Ph.D. marrying a high school dropout, it’s safe to say your marriage is going to be not as stable than a marriage between two university grads.
Benefits. However, that’s not to say that age gaps can’t be a good thing. Because they totally can. “This offers the opportunity for the younger partner to bring vitality into the relationship, balanced by the older person bringing wisdom and experience,” Jane Greer, Ph.D., explained to Women’s Health.
Evidence. That said, is there any insight on the perfect age gap in a relationship? Unfortunately, no. In fact, beyond anecdotal evidence from experts int he field and Emory University’s findings, there isn’t much research on the matter.
Research. We know what you must be wondering: But why isn’t there any research on the matter? It’s a good question, and one we had ourselves. And as it turns out, the answer is pretty frickin’ simple.
Research. Insight on the perfect age gap is super scarce because there’s simply no way to make a definitive prediction about the success of a relationship based on age alone. “No matter how much data you collect, you can’t predict how future marriages will unfold,” O’Reilly explained to Women’s Health. In short, science just can’t do this.
Impending doom. However, there is one thing we don’t need science for: to tell us how to doom a relationship. And one easy way to do is that to get hung up on the age difference, psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., explained to Women’s Health.
Impending doom. “If you get along, have good communication and problem-solving skills, and you love each other, that’s far more important than your ages,” Tessina told Women’s Health. And what if other people have an issue with it? Let them.