Age

(Maybe this isn't the right place, but...)

What sort of age difference do you (collectively) believe is acceptable? What is too much? When does it increase? Do you go with the "half-your-age-plus-seven" rule?

(I ask this because of a recent uh, crush/infatuation/attraction of mine. Who is much too old for me, really, but.)

Also, does it change with gender? Does older man, younger woman seem more or less offensive than older woman, younger man?

What's your opinion?

(Myself, I'd like to agree with, generally, "half-your-age-plus-seven" depending on, of course, those involved. But, as a general rule. But then again, I suppose it depends on the nature of the relationship, if it's uh, superficial, short term, purely-physical, or what have you.

I don't really know what I think actually. I'm kind of drunk Wink

Forums: 
MeiLin's picture

Most High

Love is love is love. I am almost exactly ten years older than Sir, and few people realize it. WE don't realize it most of the time, especially once Sir turned 30.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

I find myself thinking that... or wanting to, at least, but then I think "50 year old and 18 year old" and squick out.

Also, for some reason (societal pressure?) I find myself more squicked out by older man, younger woman, for no real reason. It's quite strange, and... visceral?

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... I agree with x/2+7. OTOH, I only take it as a guideline, there are no hard and fast rules, and if it works, it works. Considering that there are two relationships with 20+ year age differences in the immediate family that seem to work well for the people involved, I would tend to be somewhat non-judgmental about this, I'd say. Smile In both of those, the male partner is the younger one, although gender doesn't really play a role for me here.

What kind of disturbs me about 18/50 pairings is the assumed relative immaturity of the younger partner (or both partners, as the case may be), and the significant power differential (and hence abuse potential) deriving from that. But again, if it works, it works.

Oddfish's picture

Postulant

to agree. I take this kind of thing on a case-by-case basis anyway, because any problem you can have with an age gap is a problem you could have with distance, culture clashes, strict families, different work schedules or whatnot. While a big age difference tends to exacerbate things (at least while you're still living with parents), it's not inherently make-or-break the way a lot of people seem to think. Crappy relationships and good relationships come in all flavors, and I've seen enough of both to have only the vaguest, general umbrella terms about them.

Although I have to admit I never really thought about what MsGamgee mentioned because I'm childfree and none of my friends have kids yet. I think she makes a good point, though; having kids when you're pushing or over that limit could really mess them up.

Marri's picture

Supplicant

I've got friends- twins, who also have a younger sister- who are 20 (their sister is 17). Their mother is 56 and their father is 87. Doubt it helps that their half aunt is 59. Well, I actually don't think it normally bothers them all that much, but everyone in the family (except the father) has very serious and incurable Lyme disease and they will occasionally comment bitterly about how despite the age difference they "don't know which parent will die first". Particularly when trying to figure out what will happen to their little sister.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Is what gets me. And it especially is strange in my situation because I am, in fact, quite young, and am often attracted to those significantly older than me. And I think back to old boyfriends, and realize "ew, I was 16 and he was 22," or 18 and 28, and I realize how... Immature I was then and it's really dasturbing. Desterbing? Dusterbing? Fuck. My iPod doesn't have a really spell check and it makes me paranoid.

Anyway, I guess it comes down to maturity levels, but how does one measure that?

I'd also like to put in, that things are quite different when you are say, under 20?

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

Mith wrote:
I am, in fact, quite young, and am often attracted to those significantly older than me.

... Dusterbing. Biggrin Anyway, it looks to me like that power difference may be one of the things that in fact attracts you to older men. (And then again maybe not - I'm so not a family therapist or psychologist.)

Mith wrote:
I'd also like to put in, that things are quite different when you are say, under 20?

Sure, because it's generally the late teens/early twenties when most people acquire a lot of experience from all their failed relationships and generally develop into something resembling an actual grown up person. Wink

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Gudy wrote:
...it looks to me like that power difference may be one of the things that in fact attracts you to older men.

Actually, this is something I've thought about rather a lot. I think actually it's one of those things for me, like glasses, where it's just a common physical uh, symptom? of a personality trait.

I like people who have world experience, and interesting things to talk about, and can... teach/tell stories/etc to me.

In general, these people are older than me.

Of course, then I always wonder if, though, I really want to date a 28 year old who is attracted to 17 year olds. Cause that's, well... weird sometimes.

Yeah.

(My other... fixation, currently, is well, accents. And I am sort of surrounded by older english men- who enjoy traveling to... weird places. And that's a real temptation for me. But nothing will come of it, this is all pretty theoretical.)

Also-

Gudy wrote:
...develop into something resembling an actual grown up person. ;-)

Sadly true...

Another reason I am usually around those older than me. Wink

MsGamgee's picture

Embodiment

Are we talking for love, or for procreation?

For love, I don't care. You might be in for some heartbreak if you're 18 and fall in love with a 60-year-old, because that person won't be around forever, but that's your choice and your loss.

For procreation, no more than a 10 year difference, and that's pushing it. My parents are 25 years apart, and now that I'm 20 years old, my father is 76 and dying a slow, painful death in front of me. Most people don't go through that until they're more like 35 or 40 at least, and some even later. I would never wish that on a child.

Basically, as long as you're the only one to worry about, then go for whatever you want. Huge age difference when you're having children, however, I see as most selfish. Get a puppy, but don't have a baby.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

I think, in that case, I would consider it more uh, age at having children, than age difference necessarily. Although it certainly is a problem in those situations, it is also one in others, if you understand what I'm saying- I'm not really explaining it well. But my parents are not as much older than me than your dad is older than you, but enough that it's... Difficult. They are both just shy of sixty, and yes, they have health problems that my friends parents won't have for ten or twenty years. On my dads side, his parents were older when they had him, and that combined with my parents late start having babies, means they died when I was very young.

It's not good to have children too young, yes, but not too old either :/

of course, in a relationship with a significantly older man, you have even longer that it's possible to wait...

So what I'm saying, in a long, tangetial, anecdotal way, is yes. I agree with you. Dealing with a sick parent is really hard for everyone, when you are still... Young, not established on your own, and in ways still dependant in them it's hard.

Not to meantion of course, you lose the "adult" relationship/friendship with your parents really fast...

Bleh.

packrat's picture

Petitioner

Any age difference is fine and dandy as long as IT IS LEGAL. 18/50 is legal, so it's your own business and no one else's. (Assuming that the 50 year old is not married and cheating on his wife which brings in a set of problems unrelated to age but related to general fidelity.)

It's kind of funny that this post came up now, as I just discovered that a friend of mine who is an adult (grad student) has just started dating someone underage (well under 16 by a couple years). His response is that he's in love, but I think that some love has to be put on hold.

This doesn't seem to be your situation though so good luck to you.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Yeah, that's... by a couple years?

Squicky.

I also think that well, you mature at different rates, and so the difference in… growing up from 15 to 16 is, I think, more than 35 to 36, and so for a long term relationship, there’s a significant problem with the whole “not dating the same person” thing.

Also lol, I don’t really have a situation Wink

(In fact, I am trying not to :/ It would be… bad for various reason. Of course this makes me even more tempted… )

MeiLin's picture

Most High

but immoral. What does a man that age want anything to do with a child? Yeah, under 16 is a child, I don't care how "adult" s/he seems. 18-year-old/14-year-old, OK, it's sub-optimal but a little more understandable. 21+/14? That's majorly fucked up. Tell him he's going to get in serious, serious trouble if he doesn't drop the relationship. As in child molestation charges. If he's so "in love," wait till s/he's 18. The age difference in time will become negligible; it's, what, 6-10 years? Nothing--when it's 21/31, as it was with me and Sir. But if we'd been 14/24, that would've been very, very different.

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

I think age is just one way we have of trying to measure compatibility.

What age is really trying to get at is that 1)people should be mature enough for a relationship and comparably mature enough for each other, and 2)that there shouldn't be a gap too wide in power, experience, mindset, etc. Thus we make rules for age, to help us feel better. But there are always exceptions. If maturity and compatibility issues are addressed, there is no need to be concerned about age.

And I think that considering these things also goes a long way when it comes to deciding whether or not to have children, which will be different with every couple. Good parents come in all ages as well. Some people do not deteriorate at age 76.

Vandole's picture

Postulant

Everyone here has already made good points, so I'm probably just treading old ground, but here goes.

There's nothing inherently wrong with dating outside your immediate age group, as long as you're both established adults and understand the potential difficulties. Like others have said, I think the problem comes in when there's a power/self-reliance difference. A fifty year old man is established, hopefully reaching a senior position in a stable career, and responsible for the care of his aging parents if they are still alive. Meanwhile a twenty-something might be still attending university or college as a student, have an entry level job and are expected to jump when their boss says so. It's likely they can't afford a car or are even in the career they want to pursue. Although they probably live on their own or with roommates they might still be dependent on their parents in one respect or another.

The difference in circumstances could make it weird. The younger could come to rely on the older and their stable income, which -though likely not intentional- is a subtle form of coercion. I'm sure having a sugar daddy to buy you things is nice, but it's important you're in love with the person and not their paycheck.

My general rule of thumb is that once you're out of university then as long as it's possible you went to university at the same time you're probably around the same maturity (obviously this varies from person to person. Some people never grow up. Some feel like old men the moment they're through puberty.) So I'd say plus or minus 5 years (I'm apparently including masters', not just bachelors') is a good benchmark.

But if you somehow coincidentally fall for someone much older or younger than that and you feel they or you are mature enough for it then go right ahead, as long as it's legal. If it's illegal, maybe you better hold off. Not only is that a risk of imprisonment for one of you, especially if the others' parents think something's fishy about that, but in the years prior to becoming legal people change quite a bit. This is true of any period of time but there is so much going on changing your life at that period it's a wonder anyone ever knows how they feel. You might find at the point the relationship is legal that you or the person you were with aren't the same as when you started out at all. A relationship with a minor is full of subtle and overt coercion, accidental and purposeful. The older partner has the means to dominate the younger, even if it's not deliberate.

Amiable Hummingbird's picture

Devotee

For example, when I was 18, i briefly dated a guy who was 24. At the time, it didn't seem like that big of a deal to me- he was such a goofball, it didn't really feel like we were that far apart in age. Looking back on it now, three years later, it does freak me out a little bit! Not sure what it was, seeing as we were only six years apart, but I think it has something to do with what people are saying about how we change during those years. I am a much different person now than I was when I was 18. Technically, yes, I was an adult at that point, but I still felt like a child.

Anyway, I guess my point is that I don't have a hard and fast rule for what okay in terms of age differences. My friend's parents have a huge gap in their ages, but it works for them. It all depends on the people and the situation- if it works for them, then that's fantastic.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Amiable Hummingbird wrote:
...it didn't really feel like we were that far apart in age. Looking back on it now, three years later, it does freak me out a little bit!

Yes. I have felt that many a time, and I worry a great deal about it.

I am often freaked out by my past relationships Wink

Amiable Hummingbird's picture

Devotee

Hahahaha, truth. :biglol:

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I like the (x+7)/2 rule a lot as a general guideline, because it works really well for encouraging similar maturity levels to date each other. For teens, you really should be sticking within a year or two of your age simply because that's where you're most likely to find a similar maturity level. You get into the college years, and then especially post-college years, and suddenly the individual is a lot more relevant than the birth date when it comes to maturity.

Maturity isn't the only thing to consider in age gaps, though. Major goals/expectations change over a life time. I was a high school senior dating a college junior at one point. It wasn't a bad relationship, but the fact that he was thinking "graduation, possible military career, long-term commitments" and I was thinking "whee, first boyfriend!" probably did not help us out, in hindsight. It isn't the reason we broke up, but it didn't help. A similar example is a thirty-something partner wanting to have kids when a much younger twenty-something partner is still focused on socializing, and starting a career. Not an impossible situation, but sure is going to make it harder than if you dated someone who was at the same point of life as you.

I do agree with the rest of you that age shouldn't be a fast-and-hard rule for adults (non-consenting minors don't count). However, you can't deny that it serves as handy rule of thumb for guessing someone's maturity, life stage, etc.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

I think it's (x/2)+7, i.e., at 14, it's only 14 year olds (and it doesn't really have any value pre-14, btw...)

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Yes, thanks. That's what I get for posting first thing in the morning. The fact that it doesn't have any value for under-14 year olds is a good thing, IMO. Kids younger than that shouldn't be dating (for any real value of the word dating), IMO.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...means I can be dating 28-year-olds. Shocked

ETA: Ah, apparently the formula was off. 24.5 + 7 = 31.5. So I could go 7.5 years younger than Sir! woohoo! Wink

Mith's picture

Supplicant

64?

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

say 84.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Half of 84 is 42. Plus 7 is 49.

Isn't Mei 39?

No, twice 24.5 is 49. Oops Wink

Well.

E'en so.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

in May. oy.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Sorry Sad I was remembering your twitter from a while ago, and... misremembered?

Amy's picture

Supplicant

I normally believe that love is love, and that love can and does find ways around almost everything. BUT.....

If there is a part of you that is feeling squidged out by the thought, then stay away from it. That feeling of eeewwwwiness is most likely you trying to over ride your hormones and tell yourself that this is a bad idea.

For any relationship to work, there has to be common ground. 50 and 18 no, there most likely is not going to be enough to build a stable relationship there.

I won't even discuss all the other issues involved here.

If we lived closer I would probably be tempted to frog march you to a therapist to help you deal with this thing you have for such older men.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Amy wrote:
If we lived closer I would probably be tempted to frog march you to a therapist to help you deal with this thing you have for such older men.

1) Frog March?

2) Yes that would probably be good for me.

3) It would be a Bulgarian therapist- which, you know, I almost want to go to, just... because that would be pretty rad.

4) ...It's more, uh, 19 and 39. Ah, he has such cute crinkly eyes... nyam nyam nyam... :tired:

Amy's picture

Supplicant

Frog march = grab you by the back of your shirt collar & the pants at the back of your waist there by making it harder for you to prevent me from marching you in the direction I want you to go.

And if you know a therapist would probably be good for you, then why not start going to one.

Is that a Freud reference??? It is isn't it??? That is sooo cool.

yeah, dear he has been driving and voting longer than you have been alive. Keep him as day dream material and find someone who doesn't remember where he most likely was the day you were born.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

No, not a Freud reference- that's Austria. But I'm living in Bulgaria- and it's... well, it's a young first world country. Ex-Eastern bloc style. So, not much in the way of therapists.

And ugh, I know.

Laureril's picture

Supplicant

Personally, I've only ever dated guys within a year or so of myself. I've always been attracted to guys who are older than me, but I've never really been in the position to act on it. As for dating guys the same age through your teens and (very) early twenties, I've found that the guys I dated have been significantly less mature than I have been.

Lessee, rule says I can date anyone in the range of 18-30 right now, which seems reasonable.

As a side note, being single and feeling a slow build of desperation sucks. =/

Mith's picture

Supplicant

Laureril wrote:
As a side note, being single and feeling a slow build of desperation sucks. =/

I know, right. I suddenly realized like a month ago, that I'd resigned myself to being a spinster. Then I realized I've lived maybe 1/4 of my life.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

That's what led to my first marriage! Danger!

Mith's picture

Supplicant

It doesn't help that everyone else in my family tends to marry young- like 20-25. So I feel like I have five years to find someone!

I'm also just not around people with whom I could have a relationship. So that in itself makes me feel, you know, un...relationshipable?

Okay, I'm going to make some coffee.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... I didn't want to do an old fart impression today, really, but if needs must...

Duuude. You're nineteen. And awesome. So relax and give yourself some time and some credit. Nineteen is way too young to stress about your impending spinsterdom.

Mith wrote:
Then I realized I've lived maybe 1/4 of my life

SRSLY. And it's bound to be one of the less interesting quarters, at that.

Mith's picture

Supplicant

And I only remember like, half of it. Blum 3

For some reason, I can imagine myself in say, ten years. But not thirty.

I know I'll probably end up being married and working a nine-to-five doing something vaguely boring, and maybe going to like, scrabble nights, or stich and bitch, but I can't see it. Can't see myself married, or with children, or anything like that.

I can see myself at like, 65, living in a cottage by the ocean writing romance novels and surrounded by cats.

(Thus my spinster fear Blum 3 )

I would also have a pretty herb garden Biggrin

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I've either dated guys older or younger than me. My first husband was my age and it was a disaster. I find that I don't have much in common with guys my own age (or older any more). I used to think I was born 20-30 years too late; increasingly I believe I was born 10-20 years too early.

Raigne's picture

Embodiment

MeiLin wrote:
I've either dated guys older or younger than me.

but that would almost have to be the case, unless you somehow managed to find someone born at the exact same time on the exact same day as you. Blum 3
MeiLin's picture

Most High

You know what I mean. Blum 3

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

Ahahahaha! XD

I love you guys.

tqttnoek's picture

I always found big age differences a little freaky until I watched the series Dexter. In the second season there's a late twenty/early thirty year old dating a 60 year old, and it's actually a charming relationship. I know it's not real life, but it still made me more open to the idea. I'll stick with my man of the same age, though Kiss 2

chaos_theory64's picture

Devotee

Love is Love. My cousin is 80 and his wife is 50, and they are very happy. (That I think she is in it for money withstanding; she is a nice woman.)
Generally for us young people (16-early twenties) I generally say 2 years below to 2-4 years above, but a little less on that with the younger people in that group. beyond that, go with who you want as long as it is legal and you are happy.

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