May-December Relationships: Can Big Age Gaps Work?


Celebrity news stories are filled with May-December romances. In September 2023, Chris Evans and Alba Baptista tied the knot, according to Page Six — their 16-year age difference highlighting the fact that he could have driven to the hospital the day she was born. In the same month, Josh Duhamel and his wife Audra Mari (who have a 21-year age difference) announced on Instagram that they’re expecting their first child together. Then, of course, there’s Leonardo DiCaprio, who at 49 years old is known for dating much younger women, including his current girlfriend, 25-year-old model Vittoria Ceretti, per Us Magazine.

While couples with big age gaps can certainly work (just look at Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, whose 21-year relationship almost matches their 22-year age gap), they’re often subjected to a lot of criticism. Individuals who are in such relationships are often tagged with monikers like “cougar,” “cradle robber,” or “gold digger,” and according to research, the relationships are often viewed as inequitable, with the older partner reaping more benefits than the younger partner.

But just as the staying power of any relationship can’t be boiled down to a single factor, social stigmas surrounding May-December romances don’t indicate that such relationships are doomed to fail. “The healthiness of a partnership is based on both partners having shared values, respect, strong communication, and the desire to learn, grow, and continue to be curious about one another,” says Naomi Pharr, LMSW, who specializes in relationship therapy at the New York City Psychotherapy Collective. That said, age-gap relationships may have a few extra challenges to consider — here’s what you should know.

RELATED: 9 Signs You’re in a Healthy Relationship


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