Age Gap Romance

This is a romantic relationship where there is a big difference in age between two lovers.

The age difference usually causes some raised eyebrows or disapproving comments from other characters in the story, like these: "He's old enough to be your father!" — "You could be his mother, or much... much older sister."

The age gap is often presented in the work as an obstacle that the couple must overcome as they might be judged by others. Some characters can assume that the younger one is only in it for the money or nice gifts, or that the older one only wants to score a hot piece of ass and is not interested in anything else.

The age gap is often not significant because of the specific number of years, but because of how the disparity in age is relative to each other in the couple. As a general rule, when an older character is dating a character less than two-third of their age, it becomes notable; for example, 9 and 14 is notable, 19 and 24 not so much; 18 and 30 is notable, 38 and 50 again not so much. Naturally, this means that as the characters grow older, their age gap becomes less and less significant. Generally, the man is the older one and the woman is the younger one, though it can be reversed as well. When the woman is older, she may be Mrs. Robinson. As a general rule, the difference should be noted in-universe as unusual.

May–December Romance is a subtrope and the extreme version — there is over 30 years difference between the lovers, and the younger is in the spring of their life, while the older one is a senior citizen, and they could easily be mistaken for a grandparent with their grandchild.

Jail Bait can be related related if the younger one in the couple is below the legally defined age of consent.

The ways in which these relationships can occur in media can vary:

Truth in Television. In older time, before romance became a major part of marriage and courtship, it was even more common. Men would try to become economically secured before starting a family, while women would get married much younger. Ten to fifteen years' difference was considered quite normal.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Junjou Romantica: It is a major point of conflict in the Junjou Terrorist sections featuring the 35-year-old Miyagi and his boss's son, the 18-year-old Shinobu. Miyagi worries about the relationship ruining his career and reputation if it gets out and Shinobu is self-conscious about his relative lack of sexual experience and the fear that Miyagi isn't taking him seriously.
  • The 1990s Sailor Moon anime gave Mamoru an Age Lift. Instead of a high schooler, he's a college student. He's still in love with the initially 14-year old Usagi.
  • Please Save My Earth: Rin and Alice, sort of- they are a Reincarnation Romance, and in their previous incarnation they were both adults. But because Alice died nine years before Rin, her new incarnation is fifteen while he is only six. In the Distant Finale, when he is 16 and she is 25, they are implied to be dating, and Rin suggests that he will marry her when he turns 18.

     Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: In the story "Terror", a 35-year old female college professor becomes romantically involved with a 21-year old male terrorist. When she's under interrogation by the Judges, they inquire if she "likes them young", but she points out that it's not a crime.

     Films - Live Action 
  • Flashdance: Nick is quite older than Alex. She's only recently become a legal adult, he's old enough to be an established industrialist and already gone through a divorce. Pointed out by critics who say that the age difference is WAY too big among both the charaters and the actors to be believable.
  • Prime: A 37-year-old divorced woman falls in love with the 23-year-old son of her therapist. They have a wonderful time together, but ultimately break up because of their fundamental differences in their life—she's divorced, established in her career, he's just starting out in life, etc.

  • Jane Austen:
    • Sense and Sensibility: Colonel Brandon, 35, falls in love with young Marianne Dashwood, 17. She thinks that he is extremely old and a bit offended that he thinks of her that way, and barely considers him a family friend. Her sister Elinor agrees that 17 and 35 is indeed a significant gap and not ideal age difference. When her mother starts supporting the relationship, she acknowledges the age difference as well, but thinks it might be a good thing that his principles are steady and fixed. After being disappointed with her First Love, Marianne eventually marries him.
    • Emma: When they decide to marry, Emma is 22 and Mr Knightley about 37 and the text suggests it's slightly unusual. Previously, when Mrs Weston thought Mr Knightley might marry Jane Fairfax who is the same age as Emma, she says there is "a little disparity of age" between them.
  • Jane Eyre: When they fall in love, Jane Eyre is 18 and Mr Rochester is over 40. Another problem is the Uptown Girl aspect of the relationship because she is a governess and he is a rich gentleman.
    "Mr. Rochester was about forty, and this governess not twenty; and you see, when gentlemen of his age fall in love with girls, they are often like as if they were bewitched."
  • Warren and Verna from the Sword of Truth books are actually both the same age, but due to Warren spending more time in a spell that slows aging, he looks much younger. Verna was at first really self-conscious about her apparent age.
    Verna: Warren, I love you. I mean I really truly love you.
    Warren: You have no idea how long I dreamed of hearing you say those words, Verna. I love you, too.
    Verna: What about my wrinkles?
    Warren: Someday, when you get wrinkles, I'll love them, too.
  • Island in the Sea of Time: Marian Alston is a captain in the Coast Guard and she is in her late thirties. Her love interest Swindapa is around 19 when they meet. They eventually get married according to their own rules since neither of their countries allows gay marriage.
  • The Immortals controversially ends with the sixteen-year-old Daine finally winning over the thirty-year-old teacher she'd been crushing on since she was thirteen.
  • In Harry Potter, Tonks and Lupin have an age gap of around thirteen years; she's in her early twenties and he's in his late thirties when they fall in love. Lupin spends some time angsting over it, believing he's too old for Tonks and she'd be better off with someone closer to her own age, though they ultimately end up together.
  • Books by Mary Higgins Clark:
    • In novel I Heard That Song Before, protagonist Kay Lansing is twenty-seven when she marries her husband, forty-two year old Peter Carrington. The age gap between them, in addition to the fact Peter is very wealthy and that they married after only dating for a short time, leads many people to assume Kay is a Gold Digger, though in actual fact she's Not with Them for the Money and genuinely loves Peter.
    • In novel Literature/Stillwatch, the heroine nixes her budding romance with a politician given that he's 25 years older than she and married. They rekindle things after his wife dies and agree to work through any qualms about their age difference.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the first novel in the series, thirteen year old Daenerys Targaryen is married off to Khal Drogo, who's said to be around thirty, giving them an age gap of around seventeen years. Despite this, it ends up being a Perfectly Arranged Marriage (until he died). In the television adaption, Daenerys is aged up to sixteen, though there's still a gap of nearly fifteen years between them.
    • Ser Jorah Mormont, who is said to be middle-aged and in his forties at the least, is in love with Daenerys, though she only sees him as a friend and advisor.
  • The Collector: Miranda is in love with G.P., her mentor from art school. He is 21 years older than her.

     Live Action TV 
  • Friends:
    • Monica's boyfriend Richard was "a person who can drink" older than her and friends with her parents. His friends are impressed that he's dating a twinkie. Her friends freak out at first, but Rachel and Phoebe admit that he's very hot. They eventually broke up because they were at such different stages of their lives. Specifically, Monica really longed to have children and Richard was only willing to consider it because of her wish.
      Monica: I used to pee in your pool!
    • Phoebe's younger half-brother Frank marries his former teacher Alice. He is 18 and she is 44. When Phoebe found out about them dating, she tried to break it off and wanted to convince Frank he needs to have fun and enjoy his youth, but he was just too unhappy without Alice.
    • Ross and Elizabeth, who was ten years younger than him and his student to boot. Rude jokes aside, Monica eventually pointed out that there were legitimate issues despite such a small age gap, namely that Ross was established in his life and career while Elizabeth was still in college and hadn't even started out yet.
  • In the made-for-HBO movie The Girl in the Cafe, the girl from the title (early 20's) falls in love with a 46-year-old diplomat. They are in denial of this until they very end, even though he invites her to a conference in Iceland with him. They pull a bit of She Is Not My Girlfriend until they admit their feelings.
  • In the British House of Cards, there is a distinctly creepy relationship between Francis Urquhart (53 at the beginning of the series) and Mattie Storin (23 or 24). She actually calls him "Daddy," and although he's clearly using her for his own ends, it seems both are into this whole father/daughter dynamic for their own, twisted reasons (although we never quite fully figure out what they are).
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Daenerys Targaryen is forced by her brother into an Arranged Marriage to a Dothraki leader and slaver Khal Drogo who is around thirty. Daenerys is aged up to sixteen so there's about gap of nearly fifteen years between them. She later falls in love with him and suffers a lot when he dies and she loses their child in still-birth, however, she still remembers the beginnings of her love and amazing rise as being sold off by her brother and having been raped repeatedly by her husband
    • Ser Jorah Mormont is a middle-aged knight, sentenced to death for slavery and living in exile, who starts serving and advising teenaged Daenerys Targaryen, an exiled princess whose family was murdered during Robert Baratheon's rebellion. Jorah was working as a spy for Varys, King Robert's spymaster, but he grows to genuinely respect and admire Daenerys. He falls in love with her, but his feelings are unrequited.
    • Lord Petyr Baelish aka "Littlefinger" is creepily obsessed with Lady Sansa Stark and loves her in his twisted way. She is a daughter of his first love Catelyn Tully and he views Sansa as a suitable replacement.
      Shae: Men only want one thing from a pretty girl.
      Sansa: Littlefinger's not in love with me.
      Shae: Love is not the thing he wants.
      Sansa: He's too old.
      Shae: They never see it that way.
    • Tyrion Lannister (about 40) and Sansa Stark (14) are forced to get married. Tyrion is unsettled that she is so young, and she is unhappy that she has to marry a dwarf from a family that killed her father and holds her hostage. He promises her not to force her to consummate the marriage unless she wants to. They later start to bond, but the relationship suffers another blow when his father orchestrates murder of her eldest brother and mother.
      Tyrion: She's a child.
      Bronn: She's a foot taller than you.
      Tyrion: A tall child.
  • In The Last Kingdom, middle-aged father Beocca tries to help a young traumatized girl Thyra who was imprisoned as a sex slave to Sven, and he falls in love with her. She seems to have found her safe place with him. Uhtred advises his friend Beocca to ask her to marry him. Beocca says that he knows he could be her much, much older brother, and he is a Saxon while she is a Dane. They get married and seem very happy together.
  • Community:
    • There are some feelings and series-long Ship Tease between Annie (in her late teens at the beginning of the series) and Jeff (a thirty-something guy). They occassionaly act on their feelings and kiss or act like they are a couple on a date, but they always realize that them dating would be too weird and rather creepy, and the full relationship does not happen.
    • Evil Annie & Evil Jeff are together in the Darkest Timeline. When Evil Annie asks if he has a problem with the age difference, Evil Jeff says he wishes she was younger.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • In a flashback, viewers learn that Barney's first serious girlfriend Shannon broke up with him to be with an older suit. She was around twenty and Greg the suit was about forty.
      Barney: We're breaking up? But what about the Peace Corps?
      Shannon: Yeah, all this granola business, it was just a phase. Greg's older. He's successful. He buys me all this cool stuff. (smiles and laughs)
      Barney: But I love you.
      Shannon: He has a boat.
    • In one Thanksgiving episode, Robin (in her twenties) dated Bob (about forty). However, as Ted is telling the story, he pictures him much older and he's portrayed by Orson Bean who was 79.
    • Ted dates Carly, and while they don't fit this trope (he's in his early 30s, she's 21), she seems to only be dating him because she thinks he's really old (remarking that he "still goes at it like he's in his 50s"). She describes being turned on by watching 60 Minutes with him and playing shuffleboard.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • Lady Edith Crawley (in her 20s) and Sir Anthony Strallan (in his 50s, and widowed). Within her family, this was actually considered a fairly decent match for Edith before the War, in large part because her family thought Edith, being "less pretty" than her sisters and a bit tomboyish and abrasive, couldn't do any better than a middle-aged widower. After the War, though, Sir Anthony came back with a crippled arm, and the family decided—and Sir Anthony recognised—that the match was no longer any good, as Edith would have to be a nursemaid to him rather than a wife. Edith refused to believe this until Sir Anthony jilted her at the altar.
    • Anna Smith, a head maid, falls in love with and later marries John Bates, the valet to the Earl. He is about two decades older than her. He is troubled by his past, but they are both very happy together.
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • Intern Meredith Grey begins dating attending Dr Shepherd, and eventually marries him. Their age gap is no more than 10 years, but it still causes amusement with Shepherd's friends, who call her "the 12 year old".
    • One of Dr Shepherd's friends, Dr Sloan, starts dating Lexie Grey, Meredith's little sister. There's a twelve year age gap between them, but they joke that they have to call her "the fetus".
  • Mad Men:
    • Office manager Joan Holloway and one of the partners Roger Sterling have a long love affair. She's in her early thirties, he is in his mid-to-late forties. Most people in the office don't know about it. Bert Cooper advises Joan she could "do a lot better" — She thinks he means a professor she had a date with and Joan explains "he's just a friend", Cooper insists, "that's not what I'm talking about, my dear. Don't waste your youth on age."
    • Betty's second husband Henry Francis is about two decades older than her. Henry met Betty when she was married and pregnant with her third baby and he was simply charmed with her beauty. His mother doesn't approve of the relationship, thinking he need not marry her.
      Pauline Francis: Well, I know what you see in her. And you could have gotten it without marrying.
    • Roger started an affair with Jane Siegel, a college graduate and new secretary, and later they got married. One day she told him that their souls were the same age. At a country club party hosted by Roger to help Jane socialize with his colleagues and friends, Jane becomes wildly drunk and expresses her frustration at not being accepted. Roger's mother confused Jane with his daughter from his first marriage Margaret. Margaret was very upset by Jane's attempts to befriend her and she did not want Jane to attend her wedding
    • Peggy Olson had an affair with Duck Phillips. She was a young talented copywriter at her early twenties and he was a middle-aged guy. They met at Sterling Cooper and he later tried to get her to work for another company. She refused, but they started to sleep together in secret.
    • Don Draper and Megan. After they get married and Megan throws Don a surprise birthday party, we find out that Don is forty while Megan is in her mid-to-late twenties. Don is not super excited about Magan's younger friends and her modern ideas.
  • The Masterpiece Theatre Mini Series Reckless features a young doctor falling in love with his boss' wife. This is the main focus and conflict of the story. That she's 10-15 years older than him is completely unimportant to him. She's more affected by it in the sequel where she's reluctant to marry him, lest he dump her for a younger woman like her husband did.

  • The Spanish songwriter Jose Jose has a song called "Cuarenta y Veinte" ("Forty and twenty"). The song is about the protagonist who is in his 40s and has fallen in love with a young twenty-something girl, and it deals with the obstacles the couple has to face, including other people's disapproving comments.
    Cuarenta y veinte, cuarenta y veinte. Es el amor lo que importa y no lo que diga la gente.
    Forty and twenty, forty and twenty. It's the love that matters and not what people say.
  • The '90s Chilean group Sexual Democracia has a song called "Profanador de Cunas" (in English "Cradle Desecration"). The song tells a story of a guy (and a friend of the narrator) that likes to date young girls in high school, but this guy is implied to be over thirty. The chorus has various local expressions about these relationships, including the Title Drop "profanador de cunas".

     Mythology & Religion 
  • At times Christian art has traditionally depicted Mary as a young woman of about 16 and Joseph as an old man at the time of the Nativity. If one applies historical context to the story, Mary was probably between 14 and 18, with Joseph in at least his mid-twenties. The depictions of Joseph as an old man aren't without basis, though. The fact that Joseph doesn't appear again after finding Jesus in the Temple suggests that he died somewhere between then and the Wedding at Cana. Furthermore, many early Christian sources suggest that Joseph was a widower, explaining the references to siblings of Jesus as the children of Joseph and his first wife (most likely in support of Mary being a perpetual virgin after giving birth to Jesus, according to Catholic doctrine).

  • In the William Shakespeare play Othello, the title character (age unspecified, but getting up there) marries the young beautiful Desdemona. Their age difference is one of the many reasons Othello suspects her of cheating on him: The man he thinks she's sleeping with is closer to her own age. She's actually perfectly loving and innocent, but the play is a tragedy and they all end up dead.
  • In the Mrs Hawking play series: In part four, Gilded Cages, we see Reginald Hawking falls for Victoria Stanton when he is 31 and she is 19. Though not an unusual age gap in the Victorian period in which the story is set, it is made clear to the audience that he is an adult and she is still a child— one of many subtle indicators that the match is a bad one.

  • Beloved: Ding Yi is sixteen years old while her lover is thirty-four. Wei Wei thought she was older because they were both at a bar when they met.
  • Friendly Hostility: Derringer is 25 and has a crush on his boss, Leslie Rudd, who is in his late 40s. Kitty, who is 23, also has a crush on Leslie (who is apparently very attractive to younger people). Leslie eventually does go out with Derringer. ... And also possibly with Kitty as well, making this Age Gap Romance also a case of polyamory.

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: "Rome-Old and Juli-Eh" revolves around the romance and marriage of Abe Simpson and Selma Bouvier, their ages separated by nearly four decades (she was in her forties, he was in his eighties). Their marriage didn't work out, due to Abe's senility leading to the ruination of their kitchen and Selma finding her new job as a department manager too stressful.
  • BoJack Horseman:
    • Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter have an age gap minimum of 15, she is at 34 in the beginning of the series and he is in his early 50's. As everything else, this does ends up with them facing troubles in their marriage as she is facing her last chances to try new things in her life while he is already used to a certain lifestyle and has a hard time adapting to her younger way of thinking.
    • Penny and BoJack at the end of season 2, in which she falls for him and they briefly almost sleep together. She is 17 and he is in his early 50's. Although nothing ends up happening, the event severely made them feel guilt ridden.
    • BoJack and Sarah Lynn briefly sleep together on season 1, the age difference is around 20 years. He knew her when she was a child actor before she hit puberty. They get together in episode "Prickly Muffin", but their relationship is a short one.