How big is love when it is big

Psychologist gives tips: Large age differences in relationships also have advantages

He 49, she 28. Or: She 54 and he just 24. Couples who are very different in age live with stamps like "father complex" or "toy boy". But such relationships also have advantages.

Couples shouldn't be separated for more than five years - no matter in which direction, says Christine Backhaus, psychologist and relationship coach from Frankfurt am Main. Otherwise it could happen that the older or younger partner is an external crutch for something that you don't actually have yourself.

Dangerous psychological reasons

"For example, when the man is older, the woman may see the absent father in him. The one she never really had in her childhood." That is dangerous. Because if the relationship ends at some point, one of the two falls into a deep hole.

Such a constellation is commonly called a "father complex". "But who of us doesn't have a father complex?" Asks Wanja Kunstleben, psychological couple therapist from Freiburg, and laughs: "We all have issues like this in partnerships, even in people of the same age."

Partners from different cultures

In his opinion, the relationship between parents is the most important and first level of relationship that we know, "and we are always related to it". Nevertheless, it is also a challenge if one of the partners has already arrived at a different stage of life than the other due to his age. "Realistically speaking, both partners grew up in different cultures, which can and should be seen in everyday life," says Dominik Borde, relationship coach from Vienna.

This is what the couple should then deal with and, in the best case scenario, develop a confident attitude, believes Kunstleben. Because hostility or criticism can always arise if a couple does not match at first glance due to their age. "But why shouldn't you be allowed to have the relationship?", Says Kunstleben. The most important thing always remains how the couple themselves deal with it.

Borde also thinks that couples shouldn't attach too much importance to the opinion of others: "Assuming common sense and reflective knowledge of human nature, everyone has the potential to assess the chances and risks of their relationship." When asked whether a relationship will work or not, it makes little sense to listen to the opinions of others. Because in the end it is everyone's responsibility to make the best of a relationship. And learn.

When there is outrage, subconscious fears resonate

However, there can be outrage about a love with a large age difference. Quite simply because it is deeply human to be indignant, to get excited and to comment on and qualify anything that does not meet the norm, according to the ideas of some traditions, according to Borde. He is not alone with his statement that unconscious fears often also resonate because otherness is irritating.

Backhaus also says: "What I don't allow myself to do, I often don't like others either." Of course, envy can also play a role in the subject: A young woman takes a well-off man with a lot of life experience and maturity, who has both feet firmly in life. "Maybe you would like that too," said Backhaus. Often the outrage at others also fills an inner void, which distracts from one's own life or one's own problems, adds Borde.

He also finds that biological age often says little about actual age: "Therefore, a large biological age difference is not per se an exclusion criterion for a relationship, however large it may be." Because a partner who is not the same age as you also brings positive things with it, art life knows.

When the younger ones push the older ones

In this way, the younger part can benefit from the maturity of the older one. "While older people can perhaps live their personality more intensely with a younger partner, they are positively challenged," explains the couple therapist. If you deal with it correctly, a very fruitful relationship can develop.

But of course this also includes accepting your partner as he is - including his or her life situation, which is often different from your own, perhaps already divorced, probably with children. "Of course you are in a different place in life, you have different living standards and other questions about life," says Kunstleben. But he doesn't think that this has to be a stumbling block: "Both partners should look together to see which space each needs, which areas one can share and what can be experienced together."

And: "Anyone who has decided on a partner who has children has inevitably also decided on their children," says Borde. However, that does not mean that he should take on the role of the parent. This is already taken anyway.

But one could take on the role of the children's maternal or paternal friend. And the ex-partner is also part of the system, says Backhaus: "He has to be valued, he has a role and has contributed to the other person becoming who he is."