Thinking of dating someone much younger?

Dos and don’ts of age gap relationships

Senior man looking at woman

Before you start entertaining the idea of dating a much younger man or women, it's worth being realistic about your expectations. May-December relationships can and do work out - but there's a reason why dating someone your own age can often be more successful.

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See also: Five reasons why you're not getting a second date

See also: Dating after divorce - dos and don'ts

Don't: Think younger means easier
Don't presume that because you're dating someone in their twenties or thirties, that they'll have no hang-ups. Just because he's never had his heart broken doesn't mean he won't have intimacy issues. She might not hear the ticking of her biological clock yet, but she may well be insecure and needy.

While most of us accrue more baggage as we get older (more ex partners and children), experience gives us the tools we need to handle the ups and downs of a relationship and life in general. Expect a younger date to be easier or more carefree and you may be disappointed. It's often the case that we mellow out as we get older.

Do: Play to your strengths when it comes to sex
Women tend to reach their sexual prime in their 30s and 40s, while men reach theirs in their twenties due to a spike in testosterone. If you're a mature woman dating a younger man, that combination can be heavenly. Age gap sex can still work well for an older man and a younger woman - just play to your strengths. Impress her with your experience and confidence, rather than trying to swing from the chandeliers or take Viagra every night.

Whatever your ages, the best sex happens when you're confident and relaxed in each other's company and communicate openly. Sex is rarely why age gap relationships fail – don't make it an issue, and it won't be.

Don't: Go into it if you want vastly different things
If your views on having a family are wildly different, think twice before you get involved. It may start out as a bit of fun, but things can quickly become serious – and if one of you wants children and the other doesn't, the relationship is unlikely to work out.

Whether you're older and already have a family (with no desire to start a new one) or dating someone who feels it's "now or never" to have kids, the issue won't go away. Even if one of you compromises, the result can be resentment. Make the tough decision now, or you risk wasting years of your life or it ending in heart break.

Do: Treat the person as an individual
Despite the negative judgements in wider society, age gap relationships can and do work out. Ditch the stereotypes about what it means to be older or younger and focus on the person as an individual, and you stand a greater chance of your relationship lasting the distance.

Highlighting the age gap between you, by saying things like: "When I was your age..." or "Young people are so...." won't help.

Don't: Flash the cash too freely
You might earn three times as much as them, but flashing the cash can make your younger date feel uncomfortable. Paying for everything sets up a weird dynamic in the relationship. It's far better if you treat each other on dates - and if they don't have the money to buy you a fancy dinner, don't complain or be sniffy when they buy you breakfast at the local café.

If you're tempted to flash the cash ask yourself why – do you feel so insecure about your age that you need to buy someone's affection? Unless you're happy to date an all-out gold digger (who will dump you when something better comes along) think twice before you go down that route.

Do: Watch your tone
Having lived for longer gives you a different perspective on many things, and not just your taste in music. If your date's worries seem inconsequential or overblown, think twice before you offer advice. You might think you know better but adopting the tone of Mr or Mrs Wordly Wise can soon wear thin – and nobody likes to be patronised.