The challenges of dating someone older
A lot of people date people who are a few years older than them, and most of the time the age difference is no big deal. But sometimes, being in a relationship with someone who is much older than you can come with some challenges. Here are a few things that can affect relationships when there’s a big age difference.
Power should be shared equally in a relationship. However, if there is a big age gap between partners, the older person tends to have more power. Because they're older and more experienced, they may speak for the younger person or take a bigger role in making decisions. The younger person may find it more difficult to voice their opinion, especially when it comes to their concerns about the relationship. If the older person also has money, they may also display a sense of authority and ownership over the younger person, which results in controlling and possessive (demanding total attention and love) behaviour.
A big part of feeling good about your sexuality is being able to explore it at your own pace. When there’s a difference in age, the older person may have more experience and want to do things the younger person isn’t ready for. The younger person may feel pressured to have sex or do other sexual activities, which is never okay, Choma. You should always have sex when you want to and when you feel ready and know that no one has the right to demand sex from you, even if you are in a relationship.
If your partner holds the power in your relationship, they most likely also control how and when you have sex. This means that they can refuse to use a condom and put you at risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. Although someone’s age doesn’t mean that they will behave this way, someone who is much older than you is likely to believe that they should be in control in the relationship, resulting in this power imbalance and making you less able to negotiate and set boundaries when it comes to sex. Remember you have the right to safe sex at all times Choma.
Stealthing is a form of sexual assault where a person who was wearing a condom removes it during sex without the other person’s knowledge and consent. When you are in a relationship with someone who considers themselves more in control in the relationship, they are likely to disregard your right to making decisions when it comes to sex and therefore, they are more likely to engage in abusive acts like stealthing. They may do this as a way of ‘tricking’ you into having unprotected sex and may act like it is no big deal, but it could actually put you at risk of getting infected with STIs as well as unwanted pregnancy. If you have experienced this or any other form of sexual assault, contact the 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline on 021 447 9762.
The legal side
In South Africa, a person is considered legally old enough to make decisions about participating in sexual activities at the age of 16. This means that any adult (anyone who is 18 years and older) should not, by law, have sex with anyone younger than 16. If they do, it is considered statutory rape and they can go to jail for doing this. To report statutory rape you can visit your nearest police station or call SAPS on this number: 10111.
A partner who is the same age as you is more likely to share your interests and concerns. You go through similar life stages at the same time and can grow through these experiences together. You can also motivate each other to do better and chase your dreams together. Someone who is much older than you may not understand what you're going through, possibly leading to disagreements and misunderstandings.
We all have our preferences when it comes to relationships and although it’s okay if you prefer to date people who are a little bit older, it’s important to be aware of some of the challenges that could come with this so you can make a more informed choice.
Did you find this article helpful? Yes No