Is having a preference for significantly older partners indicative of daddy/mommy issues?

If that preference is borderline exclusive, does that set off alarm bells in your head? Do you they should be scrutinized to the same extent that a preference for significantly younger partners (who are still undoubtedly adults) is? Should one consider therapy if they find themselves only pursuing relationships with people old enough to be their parent?

No. None of my business.

Why do you ask?

Any time anyone appears to have a preference of any kind for anything which is quite far outside the norm, it is cause for a certain amount of interest. Just because.

In my experience, everyone has mommy/daddy issues, in that they tend to repeat the patterns which they experienced in childhood, in some way. It is almost always more subtle than the OP’s proposal however. You don’t have to find someone with gray hair to reiterate your experience of being subordinate or belittled or coddled. Or conversely, respected and delighted in.

This is from experience with people I know quite well: Yes indeed. No question.

Other people: who knows?

Note that a lot of marriages with large age gaps work out quite well. As long as people are happy for a long time, who cares?

(OTOH, one person I know who is on their 3rd such marriage does not fall into the previous category.)

It’s for a friend. :wink:

Weird, I’ve always read the opposite is true. Which is partially why I’m asking this question.

“Indicative” is too strong. Is nodding off indicative of being on drugs? Or does it merely suggest the possibility, like it also suggests the possibility of being a new parent, having sleep apnea, or recently arriving from a different time zone?

I very much agree. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be eccentric or do anything outside the norm, but there is usually a reason for it.

If a guy paints his house entirely in purple from top to bottom, that’s his business. It’s not illegal and he has every right to do it. But I’ll bet you a shiny nickel that there is something unusual going on in his brain.

It can be, but that’s only one of a myriad of possible explanations. Another is high intelligence. People who are highly intelligent, and who don’t regularly meet equals in their own age group, will often end up dating older, wiser, and more accomplished fellows. And there are may other possible examples. Young people sometimes simply prefer open and experienced sexual partners, for another . . .

What is far more indicative in my view is an acceptance of highly unequal relationships. Accepting or even preferring relationships in which the other has substantially more decision-making power tends to be the result of a dysfunctional parent-child bond. IANA Psychologist, this is just my observation.

Everybody has issues. Some have issues with alcohol, and will only consider an abstainer. Some have issues with fidelity and choose a shy introvert to feel secure, some fear poverty and only want a rich spouse at any sacrifice. Some only want a woman who is into having kids, some want something different. Again these may also arise from family history/experience.

Everybody has issues to get passed, to over come, to find a way to deal with. Whatever the nature of the issues, if they locate a partner who meshes and it addresses those issues, in some way, as long as both parties are happy, willing adults and not hurting each other, it’s no one else’s affair in my opinion.

I agree. Unresolved parent issues play a role. But so do issues like intelligence or maturity, or not finding people in your age bracket stimulating, intelligent or mature enough to keep your interest.

Also sometimes you really hit it off with someone and they aren’t your preferred age bracket, but the other benefits make you overlook it. I’ve met couples like this where neither was the other’s preferred age, but they said the other benefits are too large to ignore and they got together anyway.

Yes but sometimes those are voluntary agreements too, usually tied to various kink and BDSM groups. They aren’t just people repeating a childhood trauma against their will. Sometimes both parties like the imbalance and the age gap is part of that, and both parties find that fulfilling. In situations like that other kinds of power imbalances are also sought out like physical size (extremely small women look for extremely large men for example).

IMO, no it’s not a mommy or daddy issue, but I can only speak for myself. I dated a guy 11 years older than me for over 10 years. I’ve been married to a guy 15 months younger than me for 22 years. I had a good relationship with both my mom and dad, no issues with either.

Suppose that someone who only dates older men or women does indeed have severe issues with the parent that is the sex they are attracted to, but they insist that one has nothing to do with the other. Do you still believe them?

You can’t look for clinical psychosis under every rock.

Are you thinking you, or we, could know better than they do? That seems quite silly to me.

Maybe they just don’t see it that way yet. Maybe they never will. Do they really need to? Maybe it’s healthier for them NOT to frame it that way. How could anyone outside the life they’ve lived possibly know with certainty?

And where is the line anyway? We’ve probably all seen someone marrying a partner who seems remarkably like their Mom or their Dad characteristically. Does that deserve a pass just because they are closer in age?

Seems to me anything beyond being happy for them, at finding a partner that pleases them, is misguided. Regardless of the age difference.

I didn’t want to have to spell things out, but I didn’t create this thread because I think complete strangers in large age-gap relationships owe me an explanation…

I concur with the poll results and what most people have said about it not being inexorably indicative of issues - so rather than talk more about that, I will instead simply thank Og that these people DO exist, and are out there in noticeable numbers. :smiley:

Also the assumption this question would necessarily have the same answer for men with older women as women with older men strikes me as artificial. Traditionally, in general, women sought economic support and protection from men among other factors in a relationship. Older men tended to have more wealth and power. This IMO is not a zero factor in general even now considering all cases where the man in the relationship is much older, though to suggest this is the case in any given relationship is needlessly insulting people about something that’s not your problem.

Young man, older woman relationships don’t have that general societal background, though it could be true in a given case now or even in exceptional cases in the past. And they are, probably as a result of the lesser presence of that factor, much less common even now.

Someone could say ‘no, that’s just because society accepts one arrangement more than the other’, but I don’t think that’s really a different point than the one I made. A lot of things were socially accepted or not originally for practical reasons that have now become, or we anyway now see them as, arbitrary reasons.