Mind the gap
Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas (25 years). Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford (22 years). Susan Quilliam explains the dangers of age-gap relationships and suggests a five-point plan for success
Maybe, if you yourself are in an age-gap relationship, you won't have any doubts about them. You'll see your man - whether younger or older - as perfect. But there are hidden traps, and some are more dangerous than others. Here's our five-point plan to help make age-gap relationships work for you:
Danger 1: Family and friends are horrified
You're seeing a wonderful man who loves you and your family and friends panic. If he's older, they may fail to see how you can fancy him. If he's younger, they're concerned that he'll up and leave when you grow old. They feel that there's something not quite right about a big age difference and worry that you'll be hurt.
You have to stand firm here, however much your nearest and dearest try to warn you off. In other words, if this is the right man for you, don't let anyone tell you that the relationship is a mistake. Yes, age-gap relationship have more challenges than ones where the couple are similar ages - but they can be just as rewarding.
Danger 2: You've chosen him for the wrong reasons
The younger partner in an age-gap relationship will usually praise the older one's maturity, sensitivity, knowledge and experience - while the older partner loves the younger one's liveliness, fresh approach, energy and flexibility. Good on them.
But there may be other, more harmful motives. If you are drawn to your 'older man' because you want a father figure you can always lean on - or to your toy-boy because you want to mother him - then these reasons may rebound on you. Sooner or later your father figure may want you to support him, or your toy boy may want to make his own decisions. Then the rows may start.
From the very beginning, aim for a relationship of equals, where neither of you pulls age rank over the other and where you take joint responsibility in the relationship.