Can Love Work If One Half Of The Couple Is 34 Years Older Than The Other?

Even these two don't have 34 years between them...

Being in New England for our family vacation has, much to my dismay, subjected me to a handful of people from my past. I’m not talking about ex-boyfriends or anything that could lead into an entertaining moment as I pretend I’m not me and immediately start speaking French at some wonky attempt to further prove that hell no, bitches, you don’t know me, but other blasts from the past instead.

The end of our vacation brought us back up to NH, and since it’s summer and for some reason people like to hang around their parents’ home this time of year, I ran into a girl, or rather a woman at this point, whom I used to babysit. If that doesn’t make you feel ancient, I don’t know what will.

I babysat Megan when I was in high school when she was probably about five or six years old. Although I didn’t inquire about her exact age now, it’s safe to say there’s at least a good decade between us, especially when she mentioned that she graduated from college just last year. I didn’t recognize the kid at all. It was she who, while I was walking Hubbell, came running up to me because, and I quote “I knew it was you right away! Except your hair is no longer pink.” Oh, youth during the grunge era — so cool.

I played along and listened to her tell me about her life that mostly consisted of trying to figure out exactly what she should be doing with her degree in Anthropology. Oh, youth in their early 20′s — I’m so jealous. She also told me that she had recently started a fella and her parents weren’t too keen on the age difference. I assumed he was either 10 years older, or maybe 18 and a bit on the young side. Nope. Megan, the kid I used to babysit and pray that she wouldn’t drown every time she dramatically threw herself in the pool while screaming “Mandy! Look! Someone shot me!” is dating a man 34 years older than herself. Had I been drinking a beverage or chowing down on food, I would have choked. He’s also four years older than her parents.

I asked her how that was working out and she gushed that she was madly in love, had never felt like this before (well, she is about 22 or so), and they have so much in common. I’m in my early 30′s, and I don’t have anything in common with someone who is 34 years older than me — well, except for my parents, but that’s just because they brought me into this world and raised me. Other than that, I have a hard enough time relating to people in their early 40′s and that’s not that far away from me.

Can it possibly work with such a huge age difference? That’s an entire lifetime of a difference. Am I missing the point of love? Should age never ever be a factor? Is it wrong that I think this guy is a total pervert and loves having the upper hand in this relationship, which I’m assuming he must, considering he’s old enough to be her dad?

I gave Megan my email and told her if she was ever in NYC, we should get a drink. I also told her, in all honesty, that I’m really curious how long this relationship of hers will last since they had only been dating for six months. Did I mention that the guy has two daughters of his own who are almost ten years older than Megan? She had hoped they’d want to be her friend, but they refuse to talk to her which, according to Megan, is “really confusing, because I think we’d be great friends!” I tried not to roll my eyes. But 34 fucking years? That’s pushing it, right? Or is Chatel just a jaded gal?

I love referring to myself in the third person.


Photo: Dan Jackman/

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    • Maggie

      I can see why she’d want to date an older man. Men in their early 20′s, at least the majority of them, are immature and have no idea what women want (I know I’m generalizing, but as a 23-year-old, most guys my age suck), so dating someone vastly more mature and experienced has its’ draws. By the sounds of it, the man has already done the whole marriage and kids thing, so this relationship could just be a learning curve for her to figure out who and what she wants in life. And look on the bright side, dating a fossil gives her something to do with her Anthropology degree! Oh snap.

      • MM

        I’m 22, and I totally agree that guys our age aren’t very mature. The last guy I dated was 23 and I wasn’t feeling it because I felt like he was much, much younger than me. I usually date men in their late 20s/early 30s, though. Someone in their 50s? No way.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Ha! Great observation, Maggie! When she was telling me about him (his name is Arthur by the way), I just couldn’t stop thinking about that saggy old man butt scene from Sex and the City when Samantha was fucking the old dude. Scary!

    • porkchop

      Don’t even ask why I have these facts at my fingertips, but film editor Thelma Schoonmaker fell in love with Michael Powell after seeing The Red Shoes when she was in grade school. Eventually, Martin Scorsese introduced them, and they got married when she was 44 and he was 79 and stayed together until he died.

      Even though they had a happy ending, that story wierds me out. My own policy was that if I was dating someone who wasn’t born in the same basic decade as I was, I should ask if there was a really good reason.

      • Amanda Chatel

        But at least at 44 she’s definitely an adult. I’m not knocking women in their early 20′s at all — some of my closest friends are that age, but it’s soooo young. And yeah, that story is on the weird side.

    • Kimberly @ Twen-Teen

      “If that doesn’t make you feel ancient, I don’t know what will.”

      Story of my life! Everyone I used to babysit is in college!

    • Claire

      My boyfriend’s dad is 17 years older than his mom and they’ve been together for like 30 years… so I believe that would work. But 34 years is literally TWICE that difference. Sounds shady. Also, do the math: women die 7 years older than men on average, so you’re setting yourself to have a spouse that dies 41 years before you.

    • Lo

      What I’ve learnt so far: age becomes less and less relevant to maturity. If they’re able to consent and they want the same things out of the relationship and life in general, it doesn’t matter if they creep out the onlookers.

    • Anne Walterich

      My fiancee is 30 years older than me; we’re getting married in September after 6 years together. He definitely makes more money than I do and that could lead to a power imbalance and other issues, especially combined with his age, but we’re both very careful about that.

      The “trophy wife” assumption is asinine, but the “stepmom” jokes from his kids (older than me) are a constant source of amusement. Nothing quite like telling a 33-year-old peer “You’re grounded! Go to your room!”

      Her age could be problematic, but, meh- I was 23 when I married the first time. Not to mention, have you SEEN 22-year-old guys lately? Not much to pick from there.

      Also: true love.

      • Anne Walterich

        Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you: I NEVER would have believed it was possible before I started living it. Not in a million years. Sometimes, it’s good to be proven wrong about pre-existing assumptions.

    • bestiolina

      I am in my early 20′s and have been dating a man 18 years my senior for almost two years now. I love him so much, but definitely have my reservations (still!) about our age difference. When we first got together, I was very hesitant but as time passed, it started to matter less and less. When we are together just the two of us, it’s easy to forget. But, when I am with my friends or his friends, I become very conscious of our age difference and sometimes envy my friends who have found those rare birds that are acceptable guys near my age. Now, as we are becoming more serious, I have to make a decision about how I really feel about the issue, because he is ready to make a serious commitment, and is waiting for me to make up my mind. I can’t imagine being without him, but the thought of a long future together scares me a bit.

      • Anne Walterich

        Either one of you could get hit by the bus of life tomorrow. If he was closer to your age, would you? The most important things are how he treats you and does he have his life together.

    • Sabrina

      I can completely understand wanting to date an older man right now at the age of 25 because they would be (hopefully) much more mature and know what they actually want out of life and wouldn’t drag you through the mud trying to figure it all out… but, I think I would stay away from it in the end because I wouldn’t want to be 60 years old (which I consider still relatively young, you can dance, and exercise, and carry your grandkids, etc.) married to a 74 year old senior citizen. That might sound harsh, but I just don’t think I could physically still be attracted to someone who looks like my grandpa.

    • MR

      Again one guy’s view. When I was in my early 20s I slept with 3 women who were 8 yrs older than me. I was bored with women who were closer to my age at the time. In the other direction the youngest women I’ve ever slept with were 8 years younger than me. I think that’s a reasonable range, cause you are not crossing over into another generation. I’m not saying it can’t work. The truth is love decides it and always will. Lastly, it’s interesting that the Chinese believe the best compatibility is tied to four year and eight year intervals between birth years. I found those women born in ’54, ’58 and ’70 very much on the same wavelength as me, born in ’62. My current girlfriend was born in ’66. Your couples 34 years difference doesn’t divide evenly by 4 or 8. I know too much, but just figured I’d put it out there.