Mark, 57, met Sarah, 45, at a conference when he was 33 and she was 22, and they hit it off immediately in spite of an 11-year age difference. At the time, they were living on opposite coasts, so they did long-distance for several years before deciding to get married. For a long time, their age gap didn’t seem to be an issue. They both wanted/were young enough to have kids, their sex life was amazing, and they connected on “every level.”
“When we first met, I was sort of immature for my age and she was quite mature for her age, so we sort of met in the middle,” he says.
But after almost 25 years of marriage, it all came crashing down. Read on to find out what challenges Mark faced as a man who married a much younger woman, and why he ultimately harbors regrets.
“I had to deal with a lot of social stigma.”
Studies have shown that there’s still a lot of social stigma surrounding age gap relationships, and that younger people, somewhat surprisingly, are more likely than older people to assume that the pairing of partners in different life stages is an exchange-based relationship (i.e. sex in exchange for resources) rather than one based on love.
“She came from a much wealthier family than me, so I didn’t have resources to bring to the table,” he says. “But I definitely felt that judgment the first year we were together. When I talked about her, there was definitely this sense from my friends of, ‘Come on, she’s 12 years younger than you. What are you doing here?’ There was less of that when we got married because by then we had been together a number of years, and then we moved to a city where most of our friends were artists who were leading all sorts of alternative lifestyles and were more open-minded about the gap.”