When news broke that Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence had called it quits with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, we can’t say we were completely shocked. The Hunger Games star, 24, had been dating the 37-year-old musician since June, shortly after his “conscious uncoupling” from Gwyneth Paltrow, his ex-wife of 10 years, in late March.
One insider told US Weekly that the reason for the breakup was due to their “insane” work schedules, which made their relationship “rocky.” And while we admit that the pair seemed unlikely from the start, we did have high hopes for the likable actress and her new beau.
But now that the couple is kaput, we have to question Lawrence’s wisdom of not only choosing a partner 13 years your senior, but also a man who’s recently gotten out of a long-term marriage (with children). We talked to two relationship experts on what we all should keep in mind if you’re dating older, and/or recently divorced, men.
1. Realize he may not have it all together. Sure, it’s tempting to think that dating an older man means more maturity and stability by default, but you may need to reset your expectations—age is just a number, after all. “Don’t assume he is more mature or has all the answers just because he’s older,” says April Beyer, a dating and relationship expert.
2. Have your own life. “I’ve seen many women who got caught up into the fantasy of being taken care of, only to delay their individual path that would have brought them confidence and stability,” says Beyer. Make sure you’re on solid ground on your own, emotionally and financially, so you can stand on your own two feet if the partnership dissolves.
3. Rebounds are a real thing. “If a person is recently divorced or separated from a long-term partnership, it will take time to process the loss,” explains Kelly Campbell, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernadino. If they move on too quickly, they may not be emotionally available for the next partner. One warning sign: refusing to talk about his ex—or getting highly emotional about it—could be a red flag that he hasn’t processed the end of that union. What you want to look for is a neutral, candid tone when he talks about it, signifying he is at peace.
4. His kids come with him. “You need to realize that his children—and ex—will become a part of your life if you end up with him,” says Campbell. And if you’re still in your 20s, you should consider what this means to essentially become a step-parent. Since those years are best spent discovering who you are as an adult, bringing children into the mix before you’re ready could spell trouble.
5. Looking for a fling? Go for it. A recently single person could provide a lot of fun for a short period of time, says Campbell. Plus, if you’re recently “uncoupled” yourself (like Lawrence, who recently split from her boyfriend of three years), you and your new man could have a mutual understanding about the emotions you’re both experiencing, she adds. Partners who have a lot of similarities tend to be happier, so at least this would be one area of similarity.