These relationships have traditionally been looked at with suspicion, with cliches abounding.

'She’s only after his money.' 'He’s old enough to be her father.' 'Cradle snatcher.' 'Sugar daddy.' 'Toy boy.' to mention but a few, and it’s usually been that way, always the man older than the woman. This is no longer the case, with many couples now having an age gap where the woman is older than the man, and again these relationships are often viewed with suspicion.

Celebrities such as Joan Collins marrying Percy, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, have gone some way to changing the way we consider ‘age gap relationships’. As have Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas and Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes, plus many more both in the public eye and in the community generally.

How many years constitutes an age gap that is considered a problem and whose problem is it?

Official statistics show that generally women in the UK marry men older than themselves, in 2000 the average age gap was just over two years. Many people we speak to think that a gap of 10 years is OK either way, but anything beyond this tends to raise a few eyebrows. However, couples where there is an age difference don’t appear to have the same doubts and concerns, believing that it is a problem for friends and family not the couple.

The couple themselves don’t consider the age difference but do sometimes feel they have to justify and explain themselves, to reassure others that their love is based on nothing more than a wish to be together, mutual respect and a want to make one another happy.

Different life stages and expectations

However there are some things that perhaps require more consideration in relationships where a there is an age gap of some note. For instance, having children, different life stages and expectations and health, different levels of fitness and social interests/attitudes; there are probably many more that are unique to the couple, and we mustn’t forget personal age sensitivities. But what really matters is the couple’s level of contentment.

It is also important to remember that as people get older so the age gap seems to matter less, a woman of 25 with a partner of 45 may get some strange looks but when they're 45 and 65, somehow the gap doesn’t seem so big.

As long as the couple have the same goals for the relationship then it can and does work... age should not be a deterrent to exploring an adult, healthy, respectful and loving relationship.

How we can help

If you're worried about your relationship, there are various ways we can help.