The Most Successful Age Gap Relationships

Despite how far we've come as a society, eyebrow raising still results from any pairing where one partner is significantly older. "With relationships, there will always be people on the outside looking in. Maybe even more so when outsiders visually see the age difference," said licensed professional counselor Brandy Porche.

Per the 2014 Current Population Survey (via FiveThirtyEight), only about 8% of American heterosexual couples have an age gap of a decade or more, though the gap widens with same-sex couples.

According to PsychCentral, an age gap can impact a relationship in different ways. "The bigger the gap between partners, the more likely the relationship will struggle with phase-of-life related challenges," said licensed mental health counselor GinaMarie Guarino. "When there is a significant difference in age," added Porche, "life experiences can be vastly different."

Despite the research, many Hollywood couples have overcome the stigma. From Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones to George and Amal Clooney, here are some of the most successful age gap relationships.

Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart

Despite seeming like an odd pairing at the time, Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart have been going strong for over two decades since meeting at the 2002 Golden Globes when Ford was 60 and Flockhart, 38. They married in 2010 and successfully blended their two families: Ford has three sons and a daughter from his previous two marriages and also became dad to Flockhart's adopted son. The actress spoke to Red magazine (via Us Weekly) of Harrison's "wonderful" parenting skills, saying, "He's funny and warm and loving."

In a 2003 People interview, Ford spoke about their love. "Romantic love is one of the most exciting and fulfilling kinds of love and I think there is a potential for it at any stage of your life. I was not surprised that I was able to fall in love, and I wasn't surprised that I did." And, in 2009, he shared with Hello! (via Us Weekly), "What surprised me most was that I was still capable of establishing a long-lasting relationship ... With my children, in my private life or my work, I try to learn from my mistakes and evolve."

The couple is known for being super private, which could be key to their longevity.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones

Though they've experienced ups and downs, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are the epitome of a successful age gap relationship after first meeting in 1998. "I looked at her, and I said, 'Catherine, I'm going to be the father of your children,'" Douglas said at a 2019 event of the night he met his wife at a French film festival (via The Hollywood Reporter). "The first time I met her!"

They married in 2000 after welcoming a son that year, followed by a daughter in 2003. Zeta-Jones is also stepmom to Cameron Douglas, Douglas' son from his previous marriage (via People).

Zeta-Jones credits honesty for their lasting marriage. "Both Michael and I have a very open relationship," she once shared with "Today." "When you have kids that didn't ask to be born into a world where [the marriage is] scrutinized or looked into, you've got to be open and honest." In 2016, Zeta-Jones told Good Housekeeping (via the Daily Mail), "You have to give it your best shot and not give up when the first problem arises, because that won't be the last," she said, alluding to Douglas' throat cancer and her bipolar disorder diagnoses and their subsequent 2013 separation before reconciling.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Warren Beatty and Annette Bening

Warren Beatty and Annette Bening have been married since 1992. The couple, who are 21 years apart, share two sons and two daughters. "There is no secret as anyone who's been married knows," Bening told Us Weekly in April 2019. "We have an incredible family, we have beautiful children. We've been through a lot."

In a 2010 Parade interview, Bening addressed their age gap. "There are times you just have to address it because you're at different stages of life. You need a foundation of fundamental love and mutual respect and understanding," she said. "My husband and I have very similar backgrounds even though we're years apart. So there are a lot of things that we basically share."

However, Bening admitted on "The Tonight Show" where their age difference may be evident: their communication styles. "He does this weird thing, he likes to talk," she joked to host Jimmy Fallon in 2017 (via Parade). "He likes to talk on the phone, and if you do text him, you get a heart — maybe."

Jeff Goldblum and Emilie Livingston

In 2014, Jeff Goldblum married Emilie Livingston, a retired Canadian Olympic gymnast (via Us Weekly) after meeting at the gym. "I saw her from across a crowded room, and I marched up to her, entranced, and began some kind of conversation," the actor told Wired.

Goldblum, who's 31 years older than Livingston, became a first-time father in 2015 before welcoming another son in April 2017. Livingston shared a sweet photo of the family to Instagram. "We couldn't be happier!!!" she captioned the pic, referring to Goldblum as "our rock."

Goldblum, who previously was married to actresses Patricia Gaul and Geena Davis, has spoken about becoming a dad later in life, telling Us Weekly, "I feel right on schedule and I love our two boys. Everything seemed to happen perfectly. I appreciate it wildly." To Britain's iNews, he said, "I'm glad I waited. It feels great to do it right now, because all the things I'm considering are perfectly suited to the big questions and challenges of having kids, and what you want to expose them to."

Goldblum told Us that he and Livingston are "very focused" on their marriage and spend time together every night after putting the kids to bed. "We have nice people who help us and they allow us to go on a sweet date night here and there," he said.

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness

Hugh Jackman and wife Debora-Lee Furness are 13 years apart, she being older. Jackman relayed to Jess Cagle, People's editor-in-chief, that they met while co-starring in the Australian TV mini-series "Correlli" in the mid-1990s. "She was the star. I had this major crush on her," he told Ellen DeGeneres in 2016 (via "Today").

After finally asking his co-star out six weeks later, Jackman learned that she felt the same. "I knew two weeks [into] meeting Deb that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives," Jackman told "Today." "In the end, what do you want from your life partner? You want to be fully seen and you want to be able to fully see them for exactly who (they) really are. And Deb and I had that from the beginning."

As for why their age difference works, Jackman told Cagle, "I'm literally the adult in the relationship. She's just like a little kid. I'm the [one saying], 'Babe, this is not a legal parking spot.' [She'll say], 'Oh, come on, Mr. Goody-Goody.'"

The longtime couple married in 1996 (per "Today") and adopted a son and daughter after years of infertility (via People). Today, they advocate for adoption through Furness' nonprofit, Hopeland.

Alec and Hilaria Baldwin

Alec and Hilaria Baldwin are known for their ever-growing brood — seven kids, as of publication. When they married in 2012, she was 27; he was 53. She admitted on her podcast, "Witches Anonymous" (via People), that, before marriage, she was judgmental of couples with large age gaps and questioned their motives. "Now that I'm in that relationship and people will say those things about me regularly, I realize, what was this trained into my head?" she said. "Maybe their love looks different from you and from your love or what I thought love would be but it doesn't make it not valid."

Interestingly, Hilaria — who's also stepmom to Alec's daughter, Ireland Baldwin, from his first marriage to Kim Basinger — never planned on a big family; it just "kind of crept up" on her, she told PopSugar. "It was important to him to have kids soon, which I think was mostly because of our age difference," she said. She was content on waiting when she learned she was pregnant five months after they married and soon became pregnant twice more. "Once you get to three," she explained, "it's wild all the time, and we embraced the wildness and decided to try to have another baby."

Though they love their large family, she admitted it's not easy, saying, "You always feel like you're going to disappoint somebody."

George and Amal Clooney

Longtime bachelor George Clooney shocked everyone when he fell in love with human rights attorney Amal Alamuddin, who is 17 years younger, after first meeting in Lake Como, Italy, in July 2013. "I thought she was beautiful ... funny and obviously smart," he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. In a joint interview for Vogue with his wife, he said, "Her life was incredibly exciting—the clients she was taking on and the superhuman work that she was doing. I was taken with her from the moment I saw her."

The two kept in touch; that October, he invited her to visit him in London, per The Hollywood Reporter. The couple married in 2014 and welcomed twins Ella and Alexander in June 2017.

Clooney, who was briefly married previously in his younger years, said building a family later in life was good for him. "We agree on most things," he explained to E! News in 2022. "As you get older, you're kind of looking at things a little differently."

Amal is equally happy. "Marriage has been wonderful. I have in my husband a partner who is incredibly inspirational and supportive, and we have a home filled with love and laughter," she shared with Time the same year.

Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner

Kevin Costner first met his wife, handbag designer Christine Baumgartner, who's nearly 20 years younger, on the golf course while filming his 1996 movie "Tin Cup." Though he was married at the time, they crossed paths again in 1998 and began dating (per People). However, the pair almost didn't work out when Baumgartner told the actor that she wanted to have kids of her own, something that was a dealbreaker for her if he didn't want the same, he confirmed to "Extra." Not wanting to lose her, the two married at his 160-acre ranch in Aspen, Colorado, in 2004.

According to People, they welcomed two sons and a daughter. Costner also has a son and two daughters from his first marriage to Cindy Silva and a son from a brief relationship following his divorce.

Costner said that experiencing quarantine with Baumgartner in 2020 only strengthened their relationship. "Our partnership has really come into focus about what we do for each other and how we deal with our family," he told People in 2020. He said he's "thankful for Christine as a partner," as he couldn't help the kids with schoolwork during the pandemic due to his lack of computer skills — just one way their age gap may benefit them.

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves

Matthew McConaughey thought he might never meet "the one." Then, in 2006, he met then-model Camila Alves at a club, and, despite their 13-year age difference, he knew he'd found something special. "Since that evening I have not wanted to spend time with any other woman," he told People in 2020. "I've not wanted to have children with anyone else other than her. We have a love that we never question."

McConaughey and Alves, now an entrepreneur who founded an online community called "Women of Today," married in 2012 and are parents to three children. "Being a dad was always my only dream ... I can't think of anything being more important," he shared with People. The father of three is a proud dad. "All three are very, very caring and kind individuals," he said, adding, "I'm happy and confident to say our kids do not question the love we have in our family."

Bruce Willis and Emma Heming

Bruce Willis found love again with model-turned-children's philanthropist Emma Heming, younger by 23 years. "When we first met, I was surprised at how charming and how funny he was – and extremely handsome," Heming said in a joint interview with Willis for "People's List" (via People). Added Willis: "I was already in love with her." In 2019, Heming told Us Weekly that they have "a lot of respect for each other, which has really helped build a great foundation."

Per Us, Willis and Heming married in 2009 in Turks & Caicos, followed by a second legally-binding ceremony a week later, after first meeting in 2007 through their trainer. They have two daughters together, which makes five for Willis, who shares three grown daughters with ex-wife Demi Moore. In 2019, the couple renewed their vows for their 10th wedding anniversary, an event which included her three stepdaughters and Moore. "She welcomed me into her family like I welcomed her into ours," Heming explained to Us Weekly of the actress. "It was important for her to be there."

Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld

Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld have been married for over two decades, showing that their 17-year age gap (via the Daily Mail) made no difference. The key to their longevity: humor. The couple spoke to Closer Weekly during a 2019 event for Jessica's Good+ Foundation. "From the day I met her, that was really our connection," he said. "We always have fun and we laugh and she's got a great sense of humor."

Jessica also credits their mutual respect and support for one another's work as key to their marital bliss. "We both have a very strong work ethic and a huge passion for our work," she shared with People, explaining that they are not "codependent." "I support his work and he has really responded to the work that we do and has been there from the beginning and has heard me and watched me and listened to me," she told Closer Weekly.

Jessica, who shares three children with the comedian, credits her husband's communication skills, while he said they enjoy each other's company regardless of what they're doing (per People). "Every night for us is date night. We just like to hang out and it's not like a big deal for us to go to a restaurant," he said. "We love being in the same room."

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia deRossi

Ellen DeGeneres found her soulmate in Portia deRossi, her partner since 2004. "I'm so grateful for the love in my life," DeGeneres told People in 2016. "Not everybody finds that best friend."

DeGeneres, who is 15 years older than her wife (via a 2007 People story), first met deRossi in 2000. However, they didn't start dating until crossing paths again in 2004 at an awards show, after which deRossi became more open about her sexuality, and married in 2008 (via Us Weekly). 

The former talk show host said she's learned to never take anything for granted. She explained how the two regularly let each other know how much they appreciate one another, telling People in 2016, "Portia and I constantly say to each other, 'We are so lucky.' Sometimes it's lying in bed at night before I go to sleep, and I just say thank you to whatever, whoever is out there."

Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy

Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy were not always the epitome of Hollywood marriage envy. They met in the early '80s while doing theater in New York and dated on-and-off for 15 years before marrying in 1997, as Huffman feared marriage, as she shared with TribLive.

The secret to their long-lasting union? "We grew up in the theater together, we have shared interests, and she's a good woman to her core and evolving always. And no one has ever seen me the way she sees me," Macy told Us Weekly in 2017, adding that they help each other out with roles.

The couple's marriage seemed smooth sailing until Huffman's shocking 2019 arrest in connection with the college admissions scandal. The headlines and Huffman's subsequent jail stint surely weren't easy on their marriage, but they've made it through. That year, E! News shared an excerpt of a letter Macy wrote to the judge about his wife. "Felicity found a wonderful family therapist and we've all been going ... We are making progress," he wrote. "If I may I'd like to tell you one more thing: every good thing in my life is because of Felicity Huffman."

Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade

Actress Gabrielle Union and retired NBA player Dwayne Wade, who are nearly a decade apart, have been together since 2009 after first meeting in 2007 (via Yahoo!). However, Union admitted to Glamour that Wade didn't initially seem like her perfect match. "When I met Dwyane, his 'résumé' looked like crap: athlete, going through a divorce, nine years younger than me. None of that screamed, 'Let's have a lasting relationship,'" she explained. Eventually, she "put [her] preconceived notions to the side." "Turned out he'd been on his own since he was 15. He had wisdom that comes with facing an insane amount of adversity. He's sweet, funny, honest about his shortcomings," she described of Wade.

One key to their marital bliss? Regular compliments. "Dwyane generally gets up before I do ... and he's never left without kissing me and telling me he loves me," she told Glamour, adding that she is equally, if not more, complimentary.

Over the years, they've weathered their fair share of storms, including infertility and Wade's admission to fathering a child with another woman during their brief 2013 split (via USA Today). The couple worked through it, though, marrying in 2014 before welcoming a baby girl via surrogacy in 2018.