My Partner is Older than Me and My Family Doesn't Accept It: What Can I Do?

It can be difficult for a family environment to accept a relationship with a big age difference. Find out how assertiveness, boundaries, and maturity can help you deal with the situation.
My Partner is Older than Me and My Family Doesn't Accept It: What Can I Do?
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 23 July, 2022

The age difference between two people in a relationship is one of the aspects that continues to cause most controversy at a social level. In general, people tend to believe that economic or sexual interest, the desire to take advantage of the other, or the injustice derived from a situation in which one seems to obtain greater benefit dominates this situation. Thus, if your partner is older than you, it’s likely that you may face reluctance and rejection from your family.

To a certain degree, it’s understandable that parents who want to protect their son or daughter and have this type of prejudice may be reluctant to accept the bond. However, as an adult, it’s your right to choose your partner and for your decision to be respected by your environment. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make certain approaches so that this rejection doesn’t end up undermining your relationships.

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Why does the opinion of our family members affect us so much?

First of all, it’s necessary to understand that you’re facing a delicate situation. The solution isn’t as simple as just turning a deaf ear to the opinion of parents and relatives or cutting off relations with them.

Even if we’re independent adults, it’s natural for us to want our family environment to approve of our partner. It’s also important that there’s a cordial and close relationship between them.

They’ve been our first attachment figures and have been crucial in the formation of our identity and our sense of belonging. They know us, they’ve seen us grow, and they’ve supported and accompanied us. We also tend to take it for granted that they’re looking for the best for us.

An attitude of rejection towards the partner will involve conflicts and fights, disillusionment, and disappointment on both sides. It’s likely to lead to estrangement. The person will be forced to choose between his or her life as a couple and the rest of his or her loved ones.

In order for this not to happen, you can apply some basic guidelines and tips.

What do I do if my partner is older than me and my family won’t accept it?

This won’t be an easy road, and nothing guarantees that you’ll get positive results. However, here are some steps you can take to deal with your family’s rejection of your relationship.

A family argument because of the daughter's relationship
Discussions about children’s partners are not something that can be resolved immediately or easily.

Talk, listen, and ask for explanations

First, it will be essential to have an open and honest conversation with your family. Meet with them (perhaps alone with each other if that is more comfortable) and ask them why they’re rejecting your bond. Don’t frame this as an affront or an attack, but as a genuine interest in knowing their opinion.

In this discussion, you’ll probably realize that their fears and reticence are based on prejudice. If so, ask them to open their minds and allow themselves to get to know the relationship and judge it for what it really is, not for what they assume it is.

If their rejection is based on concrete, logical, and respectable reasons, we can dialogue and persent our case.

Be assertive, set boundaries, and demand respect

Throughout the process, you must be patient and assertive, not lose your temper or your manners and not resort to shouting or insulting. This won’t solve anything and will only increase the emotional distance from your family. However, it’s important to be firm and assertive – that is, to make our decision and our partner be respected.

We can’t force any member of our family to love our partners, but we can demand respect. We must make it clear that we won’t tolerate insults or humiliation, malicious criticism or mistreatment towards us or our partner.

This may force us to take certain unpleasant measures, such as ending phone calls or leaving family gatherings where we are being disrespected. It may also lead us to have less contact with certain people for a while, but it’s very important to set boundaries.

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Create a united front with your partner

One key is to work as a team and create a united front. It’s hard to face rejection from family, but we can’t leave our romantic partners alone in this affront.

Parents and family members need to see that there’s unity, support and consensus. It should be noted that this is a healthy and solid relationship.

In this regard, it’s advisable to talk beforehand as a couple and discuss your own opinions and views regarding the age difference and what it may mean. Laying these foundations will make it easier to go out into the world afterwards, with clear ideas and a common front.

Encourages small approaches

Of course, everyone wants their environment to accept their partner from the start and without problems. However, if this doesn’t happen, it’s possible to plan small approaches that allow both parties to get to know each other better.

This will help to break down prejudices and allow your family to see the type of person who’s with their son or daughter, what his or her intentions are, and what your relationship is like. It’s likely that, over time, their view will soften and they’ll assume that the age difference doesn’t have to be a problem.

A couple with an age difference
Problems regarding the age difference in a couple are often a result of prejudice. You should work on breaking them down.

Be mature

Finally, remember that there’s little point in approaching the situation as a frontal fight against your relatives. Listening, understanding, and persuasion may be more appropriate tools.

Try to understand their fears and reluctance. Let them see that both of you (you and your partner) are aware of the age difference and the difficulties involved. Even so, show them that you’re fine with it.

You can explain the degree of affinity you have with your partner, your shared values and tastes, the projects in common, and how their presence contributes positively to your life. In light of this reality, your age difference becomes irrelevant, since you’re both adults.

My partner may be older than me, but the love between us is real

Ultimately, the solution is to help your family and friends to understand that this is a real relationship that’s mature and based on love and respect. In fact, it has been seen that couples with an age difference are particularly satisfied with their lives and their relationship.

As your family can see, understand and verify that both of you are aware of reality, are committed, and with a common project, it’s possible that their fears will dissipate. This process requires time and patience, understanding, and open-mindedness on both sides.

In any case, remember that if your partner is older and your environment doesn’t accept it, it’s your right to take steps to ensure that your decision and your relationship are respected.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Banks, C. A., & Arnold, P. (2001). Opinions towards sexual partners with a large age difference.
    Marriage & Family Review, 33(4), 5-18.
  • Collisson, B., & De Leon, L. P. (2020). Perceived inequity predicts prejudice towards age-gap relationships. Current Psychology39(6), 2108-2115.
  • Groot, W., & Van Den Brink, H. M. (2002). Age and education differences in marriages and their effects on life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 153-165.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.