There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all formula for making an age gap relationship work. Not all May-December couples are the same and because of that, every long-term relationship needs to be fostered in a different way. That being said, there are still certain things you can do to help ensure that your age gap relationship is able to stand the test of time.
One of the best things May-December couples—or all couples, for that matter—can do to sustain their relationship is keep it exciting by trying new things, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Researchers surveyed 500 people between the ages of 18 and 92 who were in a long-term relationship (the median duration was 17 years) to try and measure how much individuals integrated their partners’ qualities into themselves, and how much of a “group identity” the couples shared, meaning how much of a “team” dynamic there was between the partners.
The findings showed that the longer a couple was together, the less “group identity” there was. This makes sense, because the longer you’re in the age gap relationship, the more likely you are to get comfortable and stop investing as much effort. However, the couples who continued to try new experiences together actually reported feeling more attracted to each other, compared to those participants who no longer felt like their partner helped them grow as a person.
“If you are supportive of each other and feel like you grow as your partner improves, you gain,” explained the study’s lead author. Going on regular date nights is one way to do that, because it encourages May-December couples to set aside time that’s dedicated solely to one another, which in turn can help maintain the passion and attraction that brought you together in the first place.
The quality of your dates does make a difference though. Spending two hours in silence watching a movie in your sweats isn’t quite the same as getting dressed up and going out for an intimate dinner. To really benefit your age gap relationship, you’ll need to invest a little more time and effort into your dates. For instance, try doing new and exciting things that the two of you can experience together—this has been shown to help sustain relationships.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s also important to plan dates and activities that are mutually satisfying for both of you. For instance, by forcing him to do something he doesn’t want to, neither of you will be happy. Whether you plan weekly or monthly dates, the trick is to do something that interests both of you.
Hakala, K., “Why The Happiest Couples Are the Ones Who Never Stop Dating,” Mic web site, March 19, 2015; http://goo.gl/JlVmvT.