Love Island has sparked a debate about age gap relationships - but can they ever work? 9 months ago

Love Island has sparked a debate about age gap relationships - but can they ever work?

Are big age differences in relationships ever appropriate?

The controversy surrounding age gap couples has been brought back to the forefront in recent weeks, thanks to Love Island.


The new found obsession with Gemma Owen, love her or hate her, is going strong and her appearance on the dating show has turned several heads over the past two weeks.

Many viewers became a little more than concerned when, in the show’s second episode, the 19-year-old coupled up and shared a kiss with Davide Sanclimenti, who is eight years her senior at 27.

Viewers described the whole thing as “creepy”, “uncomfortable”, and “embarrassing”. Despite the two being consenting adults, some tweets even went as far as to refer to Sanclimenti as predatory.


In fact, the whole thing saw 167 people complain to TV watchdog Ofcom. Others called for the show's age requirement to be set at 21 instead of 18.

It wasn't long before the romance between the pair fizzled out, and the conversation died down. But then Owen’s ex Jacques O’Neill, 23, entered the villa.

This, again, didn't sit right with fans, who were quick to pick up on another age gap - calculating that the two would have dated when Jacques was 21 and Gemma was roughly 17.


The massive reaction across social media has highlighted society's wider issue with age-gap relationships in general.

The backlash is nothing new, celebrity pairings or relationships in the public eye have always attracted unwanted attention - and when there's a big age difference its just more fuel for the fire.


There's lots of examples of age-gap couples that have thrived over the years, helping to erase the stigma around the concept. Just look at Ryan Reynolds, 45, and Blake Lively, 34, or Harry Styles, 28, and Olivia Wilde, 38, or Catherine Zeta-Jones, 52, and Michael Douglas, 77... the list goes on.

We know that couples with age differences can work, so why do we have such an aversion to them?

For a lot of people, an older man dating a younger woman is sleazy - it must reflect an imbalance of power and he must be trying to abuse this power on an impressionable person.

In a male-dominated society, it's understandable to have concerns about situations that leave young women in a vulnerable position. And while this is undoubtedly sometimes the case, it's an unfair stereotype to place on every age-gap couple.


When reversed, a woman dating someone younger than her is often seen as "gross", it essentially gives people the ick. In this way, our attitudes to age gap relationships also have roots in ageism and misogyny.

As many pointed out, while Love Island's Gemma and Davide's on-screen flirtation might have made people feel uncomfortable, it wasn't so much the kiss itself, but the presumed problems a relationship like this could present in the real world.

Ultimately, whether a relationship works or not, does not come down to just having similar ages. It's about both partners wanting the same things, seeing themselves as equals, working towards a common goal and having a genuine connection.