When you've just started dating someone who's significantly younger than you, chances are you'll have a few fears and misconceptions about how things may pan out.
'No matter how we feel about ourselves, it's natural to feel a bit anxious and self-conscious at the start of a relationship,' says life coach Olga Levancuka. 'And while an age difference may be completely irrelevant to dating mishaps, it's often the most obvious issue – so it's an easy excuse to use when things go wrong.'
So should you deliberately draw attention to the age gap on a first date? 'I don't think it's necessary,' says Levancuka. 'But if you do feel you should mention it, reverse the issue and ask your date directly: “Knowing there's an age gap, do you feel you have enough confidence to date me?” Be bold. Be brave. And know your value.'
Our advice? Relax! But if you don't want the age difference to become an issue, and simply want to get to know one another better, there are a few key phrases to avoid...
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'When I was your age...'
Now, why would you say that? Phrases that draw attention to the age gap in this way can sound incredibly patronising. You may simply be making a throwaway observation – but you can easily give the impression that you consider your date to be far less experienced and worldly than you. Whisper it: you run the risk of sounding like their parent.
'In my day...'
What do you mean? It's still 'your day' now. You didn't throw in the towel as soon as you turned 50, did you? Besides, this is another phrase that can sound hugely patronising.
'This is a bit before your time, but...'
It's a common misconception that younger people know nothing about the politics and popular culture of the decades before they were born. Nonsense! You don't have to have been eligible to vote in 1979 to have heard of Margaret Thatcher and you don't need to have been a Cavern Club regular to appreciate the music of The Beatles.
'I think the age gap is going to be too much of an issue here'
If that was the case, why did you go on the date in the first place? Chances are you're blaming the age gap when something else is the real cause for concern here.
'You might be surprised to discover there are other issues to consider,' Levancuka advises. 'You've just come out of a serious relationship and don't want to get hurt again, for example. Or maybe there's just no spark between you. Once you identify the real reason behind your doubts, you'll realise the age gap is the least of your worries.'
Find out about the common dating mistakes to avoid
'My first husband/wife always said...'
It stands to reason that you'll probably have more emotional baggage and relationship experience than your date, simply because you've been around for longer – but why remind your date of this? Besides, talking about ex-partners when you're in the first throes of a new romance is always a real passion-killer.
'So where did you go to school? And what did you study? Have you got any pets?'
Being bombarded with questions can soon make a date seem more like a job interview, regardless of your ages. A word to the wise: if you still feel the urge to keep asking questions, it's likely you're doing so to keep a lagging conversation going, according to US researchers. And if that continues to be the case, maybe the spark simply isn't there.
'Snapchat me later in the week, yeah?'
Really? Do you mean this? Don't attempt to sound 'down with the kids' unless you honestly know what you're talking about.
'I've got 10 GCSEs'
No, it's not the academic bragging we're taking issue with here. It's the fact that you've deliberately said 'GCSEs' instead of 'O-levels'. Come on: admit it. If you catch yourself making conversational tweaks to give the impression you're a few years younger than you actually are, ask yourself why you're doing it. Are you really so ashamed of your age? And if the relationship progresses, at what point will you reveal the truth?
'Whether you disclose your true age is a very personal choice,' says Levancuka. 'There's no need to reveal it if you're not sure whether you actually want to be in a relationship with the person you're meeting for the first time. If you're looking for a long-term romance, however, it's advisable to be honest.'
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