14 February 2020 Middlesbrough, UK

Happy Valentines Day!

In direct terms, I've talked very little about mine and Olivia's relationship on this blog; aside from the little references to things we've done and links to her fabulous blog.

In fact I've never talked too much about that kind of thing on here, preferring to stick to news and review type articles inline with my journalistic nature.

However, having recently revisited The Northernist's very popular bog blog post - 'What It's Like To Be In An Age Gap Relationship In Your Twenties' (I believe it's one of her most viewed) - it became apparent that the promised update from my side was long overdue.

So, exactly a year on, here is my take on what it was like to be in an age gap relationship.

A clue in the title

Now the first thing that you've probably noticed is the past tense phrasing within the title, indicating that this age gap relationship is no more.

And sadly that has been the case for a little time now.

For regulars who flicked between our blogs, this situation was probably subtly apparent anyway. The direct mentions have become less, as has the feature of my beautiful hand modelling for certain deliciously photogenic shots.

Of course, given our very public courtship it is impossible to not look back on our time together personally and be twinged with feelings of regret, frustration and disappointment - when on song we were the most excellent team.

But it has to be said - especially as I'm sure Olivia will end up reading this - my post is not an attempt at point scoring or been created as some sort of vendetta.

More so, it is a post to promote some inner reflection, self-healing and personal growth, whilst providing some intrigue and learning points for those reading who are in any kind of relationship, not just an age gap one.

Did the age gap contribute to the breakup? 

With introductions made, the obvious question to go forward with is 'why didn't the relationship work?'

Was it the age gap that proved too much in the end?

And in some respects, that is undeniably the case.

Looking back at Olivia's original post, clues as to our future difficulties were abound within and seem so clear now.

Having at the time pointed to her feeling of insecurity and pressure with regards to my advance age and expectations that we would need to settle down quickly, my estimations are that those thoughts never really left her and were always a constant weight on her mind, despite my best efforts to reassure her to the contrary.

Olivia would often voice to me that she felt she wasn't the right person for me. That I should be with someone older, who had kids already, that she wasn't good enough for me, which would frustrate me to high heaven because there was no-one else in the world I wanted to be with more and it seemed impossible to relay that sentiment as a permanent reassurance in her mind.

Another thing Olivia talked about in her article was our life stages, with reference to an article from Insider and in hindsight, this too appears to have been a forewarning.

Having entered University at an unusual life stage, whilst it did give me the opportunity to meet Olivia in the first place, it also created what was to become a difficult scenario for me to deal with personally.

With her completing her Masters shortly after us getting together, Olivia was faced with the daunting task of entering into the world of work and putting her passion for social media and exception talent into cash earning practice.

I on the other-hand, was only just entering my second-year of a three-year journalism degree, so had much more of the constrained life on a student budget to live through.

With Olivia finding the initial months of job hunting very difficult and combined with an unfortunate trampolining accident the need for me to provide support and reassurance was at its most prevalent.

Naturally, given my deep love for her, I was all too happy to provide this and be her rock in a time of crisis, but what developed as a result was an inescapable concern about how far behind I was in our respective life cycles - ironic given my position as the elder statesmen.

Latching on to the social trait prevalent across many relationship on the male side, the need to be the provider, the breadwinner was clearly as inert within me; but how could I do this whilst continuing to follow my new found ambition to become a journalist?

It felt like the end of my degree couldn't come soon enough and devoid of firm answers I regrettably relapsed into a stupid situation, getting myself into my own personal difficulties - something that would ultimately end up laying a path to destruction to the future I had hoped to build with Olivia.

Communication and balance

Yet whilst the situations described before could be ascribed to being as a result of our age gap, there is an argument to say that the reason we are no longer together are down to reasons that can derail any relationship - a loss of communication and balance.

With us both sharing the trait of being 'people pleasers' and looking to put each other before ourselves, I reflect that neither of us - especially towards the later months of our relationship - were as open in terms of communication with each other than we could and should have been.

Having struggled with depression for a long time now, I'm well aware that my default reaction to difficulties is to fold inwards on myself, close myself up to human contact and wish that the things that trouble me simply go away.

That meant that at deeply difficult times, I would simply shut Olivia out and I have no doubt this left her both feeling deeply concerned and helpless and was of great detriment to the life we had been building together.

Likewise, with Olivia's long-standing feeling of inferiority in the relationship - apparently I'm a 'hotty' - alongside the issue of my depression I just touched on, I estimate that she began moving to a position of not wanting to fully burden me with her concerns and worries.

If true, this outcome was surely not helped by my method of trying to find solutions to the problems she voiced to me on the occasions she did choose to confide in me.

Naturally gravitating toward being a 'fixer' I would always want to find ways to overcome the difficulties my loved one was facing and having plentiful life experience behind me, I was well equipped with numerous solutions that I thought were helpful.

But in a recent revelation, I've learned that when women complain to you about things in their lives, on the whole they want emotional not practical support!

They want your comfort, your arms for an embrace and for you to simply tell them it will be alright and then eventually they will find their own way to an answer.

But a further realisation within these reflections on our broken lines of communication are that these issues also brought about individual feelings of imbalance within our relationship.

Having had difficulties in past relationships through wearing my heart on my sleeve and being way too forward, I had developed a tendency to conceal my love and play it much cooler.

Now generally speaking, I've found that is the much more effective approach towards dating; over bearing keenness is one of the biggest turn offs for women.

However, Olivia would often comment that she felt she loved me more than I did her.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with this assertion, but given this was what she thought and there was little changing that, perhaps this was 'ok' when I was providing sufficent emotional and sexual attention to her.

But at my lowest personal points during the relationship, I quite frankly wasn't and this no doubt lead Olivia to feel she was giving much more to me than she was getting back, in turn making her feel undervalued, unattractive and unloved.

This obviously presents a critical situation in any relationship and despite noticing the horrible signs that we were drifting apart, regrettably my efforts to rectify the situation were largely misplaced.

Rather than channelling focus on improving myself and my own prospects, so that I re-established the man she fell in love with, my immediate concerns were what I could do for her, which perpetuated an unhealthy role reversal and developed a return feeling of imbalance in the relationship on my part.

Say what you like about modern dating - an incorrigible fact between couples is that they will assign themselves masculine and feminine roles and there is then a need to largely stick to them throughout.

We, however, had seemingly switched positions.

Olivia was the bread winner, coming home after a hard days work; I was the supportive housewife, making sure tea was ready, clothes cleaned and the house remained reasonably tidy - and whilst I like cooking and find cleaning cathartic, this did nothing for my own feelings of masculinity and no doubt Olivia's perceptions of me as a man.

In conclusion

So what can be drawn from this exploratory mental outpouring of why our age gap relationship failed?

I wouldn't wish to suggest that our experience means in any way that maintaining an age gap relationships isn't possible. There were clearly distinct reasons and circumstances that contributed to why things ended the way they did.

If you are looking for things to take to apply to your own relationships, I would have to reiterate how important it is to maintain open communication between each other and ensure that balance is maintained within a relationship; regardless of whatever age gap there maybe.

And certainly, if you find yourself feeling like you are doing everything for your partner and nothing for yourself and in the process sense you're not getting the same value back - pull back - focus on yourself, because showing continued personal development to your loved one is a huge source of attraction as well as an important factor in maintaining a positive self image (which becomes cyclical to attraction).

On a personal level, I have at least identified areas of change I need to address within myself in respect of my emotional resilience and intelligence, so these are at positives to take in terms of personal growth.

I will also take with my plentiful fond memories of the time we spent together and cherish them for the beautiful times they were - and I'm sure the same can be said for Olivia.

But perhaps one final question remains with you the reader...

...with this all out in the open now, could there remain a future between us? Is there a chance of reconciliation?

Regrettably, I think the chances are slim to remote.

Too much water has passed in the process of us separating, creating a level of hurt and depth of feeling towards each other that would be difficult to overcome if we were ever try again.

Not that I would ever wish to say never to anything.

Time is a healer after all and there is no doubt that what we did have was a love so pure.

But the acceptance at this moment from within is, despite what at the time felt like a situation where mystic forces had combined to draw us towards each other, ultimately we weren't to be.

And so sadly, it seems The Northernist and The Southernist will be charting separate courses from now on.

Wishing you all love and happiness on this Valentines Day.

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