Dear Barb – Compatibility Matters More Than Age

Dear Barb:

I’m in my mid-thirties and have been divorced for quite a while. I share custody of my two children with my ex. I would like to have a partner to share my life with, but I’m finding it very difficult to meet men with whom I have anything in common. I’m a successful woman and find a lot of men my age are intimated by my success, or they compete with me.

A couple of months ago I met a man who is 12 years older than me. We have a great time together for the most part. Unfortunately, as time goes by I’m finding a lot of differences between us that my friends are saying are because of our age difference. For example, he is not very demonstrative, which leaves me wondering where I stand with him. Also, he’s talking about retirement, while I feel my career is just beginning. He has a son in college while my children are eight and 10 years old. When he’s around my children for long periods of time I can see him becoming agitated. I just don’t know what to do. I enjoy his company, but I don’t know if we have a future together.


Hi, Christine. Thanks for your great question. Age can be a factor in many relationships and often people are able to adjust and work through these issues. Twelve years is not a tremendous amount of time. Remember Anna Nicole Smith, who was in her twenties when she married J. Howard Marshall, who was 89 and just happened to be a millionaire. That’s an extreme situation to say the least.

If you have found someone with whom you get along and have a good time I would suggest you don’t give up just because of age. As far as him not being demonstrative, men and women in their twenties can be that way too; it is a personality trait and not really related to age. All relationships require some adjusting, more so as we become older and set in our ways.

Since you share custody of your children with their father, your partner will not have to be with them 24/7, so that shouldn’t be a problem. As for him talking about retirement and you being in a different phase of your life that could become a problem, but it doesn’t have to. If he wants a companion to travel with and you are not able to, you will have to work out a compromise. Really these are issues that are quite a way down the road. A lot of things may change by then.

Why don’t you just enjoy the relationship and see where it takes you? If two people love each other enough they can overcome almost anything. Hope I was helpful, Christine.

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