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  #1  
Old 10-31-2014, 08:30 PM
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Default Age Differences

Regarding dating, specifically...

This is one of those issues I really can't figure out my feelings on. Mostly my negative reasoning is just the 'squick' factor. I mean, not speaking of situations where it's illegal - I mean more situations of like, let's say, a 17 year old and a 24 year old. Or, let's go even further, a 20-something and a 40-something.

Is this something where there's something wrong, or there's really nothing wrong and the negative stigma should just go away?

(sorry if this isn't worded well I'm on a bit of medication atm)
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  #2  
Old 10-31-2014, 09:02 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

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Originally Posted by pathos View Post
I mean, not speaking of situations where it's illegal - I mean more situations of like, let's say, a 17 year old and a 24 year old.
That's still technically illegal in a lot of places.

If it's a healthy relationship i.e. one without a power imbalance, then I don't really have any reservations against it.
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Old 11-01-2014, 12:40 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

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Originally Posted by Visitor Message View Post
That's still technically illegal in a lot of places.

If it's a healthy relationship i.e. one without a power imbalance, then I don't really have any reservations against it.
Yeah, pretty much this. If one party in the relationship is significantly younger, less mature, and less experienced than the other(s), then you kinda have to wonder if it's really possible to be in a relationship on equal terms.

Your example with a 17-year-old dating a 24-year-old, for example, is a bit creepy. Most likely, the 24-year-old is either in college or working or both. They might have actually finished college. Probably not living with their parents. In short, this is a more or less independent adult person we're talking about. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old isn't even out of high school yet! Well, depending on where you're from, of course. But they probably don't know what it's like to actually be in charge of your own life - to live on your own, to have a proper job, or to study at university level. At this point, all they know is school. That's a pretty huge discrepancy if you ask me, and I would worry that the younger person is being taken advantage of.

But, you know... as long as you're an adult human being capable of making your own decisions, feel free be in whatever kind of relationship you want! None of my business.
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Old 11-01-2014, 06:06 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

Ditto with what the others have said.

Recently a friend of mine, who has kids and is a single mom, posted on Facebook asking if dating a 41 year old is too much of an age gap. She's the same age as I am. The response from Facebook was an overwhelming "YES".

To add to the truths already said here, if they are old enough to be your parent. Yes, I say they're too old for you.
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:47 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

My personal rules of thumb:

If one or both are under 15: don't date at all
If the younger person is between 15 and 21 years old: maximum of 3 years' gap (and obviously, do not have sex if it would be illegal)
If the younger person is between 21 and 25 years old: maximum of 5 years' gap
If the younger person is between 25 and 30 years old: maximum of 10 years' gap
If the younger person is 30 or over: maximum of 13 years' gap
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  #6  
Old 11-01-2014, 11:00 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

Quote:
Originally Posted by pathos View Post
I mean, not speaking of situations where it's illegal - I mean more situations of like, let's say, a 17 year old and a 24 year old. Or, let's go even further, a 20-something and a 40-something.
i am 22 and i find the idea of dating a 17 year old absolutely insane. they're still a child. NO adult should be dating anyone who is still a child (unless they're 17 and 18 or something)

as for where both are adults then there's no problem if they have a similar level of maturity. who gives a fuck if the older one is old enough to be the younger one's parent? why does nobody use that logic like "omg they're old enough to be your sibling!!"?

the maturity level thing is important though because y'know it's very easy to take advantage of someone a lot younger than you :/
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  #7  
Old 11-01-2014, 12:07 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

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Originally Posted by Phantom View Post
Ditto with what the others have said.

Recently a friend of mine, who has kids and is a single mom, posted on Facebook asking if dating a 41 year old is too much of an age gap. She's the same age as I am. The response from Facebook was an overwhelming "YES".

To add to the truths already said here, if they are old enough to be your parent. Yes, I say they're too old for you.
But, /why/ is it creepy for an adult to date another adult, even if there's a 20 year gap? I mean - someone your age can make decisions about their own life, no? They can vote and drink and drive and join the army, whatever. Sure there's a big age gap but why is that an issue? I'm looking for concrete logic here instead of the general squick factor. :\

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ether's Bane View Post
My personal rules of thumb:

If one or both are under 15: don't date at all
If the younger person is between 15 and 21 years old: maximum of 3 years' gap (and obviously, do not have sex if it would be illegal)
If the younger person is between 21 and 25 years old: maximum of 5 years' gap
If the younger person is between 25 and 30 years old: maximum of 10 years' gap
If the younger person is 30 or over: maximum of 13 years' gap
But what is that based on? ?_?

I understand the issues about power levels, but does that really exist with people aged 20+? Unless one of the individuals is like, in government, or your teacher or something, idk, if they somehow DO have power over you, is that really relevant to those situations?

Also - what kind of confuses me, is let's take the example of a proposed couple aged 17 and 24. They don't want to date because of the age gap, but instead they just wait until the 17 year old is older. But does that really make any sense??? 9_9 There's still the same age gap. I totally get the power levels dynamic thing - but it seems like in these situations where the people wait instead, they're doing it for /other/ people's comfort. It's just another thing that really confuses me.
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Old 11-01-2014, 01:22 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

From what I think there's nothing wrong with it if they're two adults, most of the squick comes from not personally knowing the two people and therefore assuming bad things about them. It's possible to disapprove even if you do know them of course, but I don't think it'd be an immediate decision that it's wrong.

I think a big enough age gap should be avoided but not outright banned. One reasoning is that the older one would be likely to die much earlier than the younger one, but that's not really any better than refusing to date someone because they happen to have a life-shortening disease.

In my opinion, how mature the two are is the biggest factor. The problem is that maturity cannot be measured in any meaningful way. It should be okay for a 20 year old and 50 year old to date if they were just as mature as each other, but should it not be okay if two people of the same age were going out but one was much more mature than the other?
Like MD said, one person still being in school and the other with a job is a bit off since one has more life experience. I think that's why we generally assume older = more mature.
And as he said, adults should be allowed to be in any relationship they want. They should be able to do anything they want as well, so long as they're both okay with it and it doesn't affect anyone else.


I feel there's a lot of double standards regarding gender there as well. If a young woman is dating someone older it must be because she wants their money. But I don't think people would assume the same thing if it were a young man.

Another thing to consider is when is it not okay for two people to be friends? I would think that it's always okay. But unfortunately, if an old woman is friends with a child, it's cute because old ladies are nice and bake cookies, whereas if it were an old man, it's not okay because old men are creepy and penisy.
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  #9  
Old 11-01-2014, 01:36 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

As long as they're at least 18, and not old enough to technically be my mother, it's OK.
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2014, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

personally i probably wouldn't date anyone who was significantly older or younger than me, but i don't really understand why anyone cares about the age gap between two consenting adults. if they have a healthy relationship, who cares ?
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  #11  
Old 11-01-2014, 02:42 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murkrow View Post
In my opinion, how mature the two are is the biggest factor. The problem is that maturity cannot be measured in any meaningful way. It should be okay for a 20 year old and 50 year old to date if they were just as mature as each other, but should it not be okay if two people of the same age were going out but one was much more mature than the other?
This is a really good point! How do you monitor maturity? It seems like age is just a general assumption of maturity level.

But also, I feel like for most people when they speak or feel negatively about this issue, it doesn't have much to do with maturity at all. It feels more like... a boundary issue, like there's something behind that 'squick', that someone's crossing a line you're not supposed to cross? Maybe age groups are specifically divided and crossing those groups is a problem? I'm not sure?
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Old 11-01-2014, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

Quote:
Originally Posted by pathos View Post
But, /why/ is it creepy for an adult to date another adult, even if there's a 20 year gap? I mean - someone your age can make decisions about their own life, no? They can vote and drink and drive and join the army, whatever. Sure there's a big age gap but why is that an issue? I'm looking for concrete logic here instead of the general squick factor. :\

I understand the issues about power levels, but does that really exist with people aged 20+? Unless one of the individuals is like, in government, or your teacher or something, idk, if they somehow DO have power over you, is that really relevant to those situations?
It's tricky, I guess. It's really something you have to consider on a case-by-case basis. A person aged 20+ is considered old enough to take charge of their own life, and that includes being able to choose your own partners. But really, the age of majority (typically 18 years) is pretty arbitrary, if you think about it. From a legal point of view, sure, you're an independent adult, same as everybody else. But in practice, there are lots of experiences that a 20-year-old hasn't yet had. You haven't had an actual career yet. You might not yet have figured out what you want to do with your life, where you want to live, what you want to study or work with. You might not even have a reliable source of income. On the other hand, if you're dating someone who has their own house and their own car and a steady job and several decades' worth of working experience, then that definitely is a power discrepancy. It doesn't mean the older person has power over you directly, but it's nevertheless worrying.

I want to clarify that I don't actually believe that it's wrong to date someone much older/younger. If you're an adult human being, you get to make your own decisions, and I'm not going to judge you for it. But I would be concerned, for several reasons:
  • First of all, people of very different ages tend not to hang out with each other much, so that makes you wonder how this relationship even started in the first place. If you just happened to meet someone much younger than you by chance and you fell in love with them - great! That's sweet and romantic and all. But considering how little overlap there tends to be between these groups of people, I would worry that the older person is deliberately going out of their way to look for a partner who is less experienced, less mature and less independent. If that's the case- and I realize it isn't necessarily - then that comes across as sort of creepy.
  • The power discrepancy becomes relevant if the younger person ends up being financially (or otherwise) dependent on the older person. What if you're relying on their income or living in their house? Obviously, this can be an issue in any relationship, not just when there's an age gap. But I think the age difference increases the likelihood of ending up in a situation like that.
  • On a milder note, I'm frankly worried that a relationship with a huge age difference just wouldn't work out on an emotional level. I think there'd be a disconnect. If you're at different stages in your life, it's likely that you won't have that much in common and that your goals won't align.
Still, the above are just concerns. Basically: I would, in general, advise against dating someone who's not in the same place in their life as you are. But if you know what you're doing, go for it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pathos View Post
Also - what kind of confuses me, is let's take the example of a proposed couple aged 17 and 24. They don't want to date because of the age gap, but instead they just wait until the 17 year old is older. But does that really make any sense??? 9_9 There's still the same age gap. I totally get the power levels dynamic thing - but it seems like in these situations where the people wait instead, they're doing it for /other/ people's comfort. It's just another thing that really confuses me.
I think it makes some amount of sense, because you're giving the younger person a chance to experience the freedom that comes with being an adult, and then they can reevaluate whether they really want to be in that relationship or not. If these two people really know that they want to be together, then there's no reason to stop them, but I think the idea is that the 17-year-old can't really make that decision (what with being a minor and everything). Still, it really is something that's gonna vary from case to case. If you're mature enough to know what you want and what you're getting yourself into, then it's fine.
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Old 11-01-2014, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

The weirdest thing about setting the bar squarely and exactly at one specific age is what happens when you consider younger people who were already in a relationship aging across that line.

I'd call it a thought experiment, but I've actually seen stories about it. In any case, just picture a couple of one 15yo and one 17yo. Give or take a year into their relationship, one of them is going to become 18 and suddenly a lot of things they've already been doing for a year may become illegal for them to do, for two years or so, as if the 17yo's birthday is going to create an insurmountable power imbalance that wasn't there before (and for the record, the whole "experience gap" thing still does potentially apply to a relationship between a 15 year old and a 17 year old -- still, turning 18 isn't going to change how balanced the relationship is, probably, whether it was balanced to begin with or not). The tragedy here is that a lot of relationships don't survive that arbitrary rule. I mean, maybe those relationships weren't meant to be if they can't survive a couple years' worth of time-out, but wouldn't it be better to let it run its natural course so the people involved can learn something from it? Of course, if it's the price to pay in order to prevent a lot of abusive relationships from forming, then it's an acceptable one, but we do have to wonder to what extent it really works for that.

The issue that's been raised with "18yo dating 20yo" also comes to mind here. If our 15yo and 17yo have been dating for three years (going surprisingly steady, I guess), they'll reach a point when one is 18 and the other is 20. Is there a power imbalance that suddenly forms then? Of course not. But then again, one can't help wondering how the relationship will be affected by changes in maturity and lifestyle that we're presuming through age. Can those create imbalances where there weren't any before? Possibly. The biggest issue would be that they would definitely accentuate any existing imbalances, though.

All in all, it's tricky, risky, and not entirely effective to chalk it up to age, but if anyone's come up with a better system, we'd be listening. Although perhaps there's wisdom is something like Ether's Bane's chart -- instead of just drawing a line in the sand and saying "no dating across this line", it might be wise to establish more organic limits. Of course, though, I'd make them quite a bit more liberal than that specific chart -- for starters, it's rather unreasonable to expect that no person under 15 ever date (although they shouldn't be dating anyone who's much older than they are, naturally), and someone who's 30 or older is damn well past the point when someone significantly older than them would have the means to take advantage of them, no matter how much older they are.
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  #14  
Old 11-02-2014, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: Age Differences

This issue is needlessly complicated by laws, I think. I think it's totally normal for middle-aged couples to have a large age gap, but when one of the parties is a teenager, it becomes weird. It's completely a matter of maturity. The reason that the age restrictions exist in the first place because serious relationships are, you know, serious and can often result in things that people of lower maturity can't really handle! Of course there will be exceptions, but the general age of adulthood in the United States is eighteen (not counting alcohol consumption, for some reason?), so I guess barring anyone under that age from marrying or engaging in sexual activity with someone over that age was made illegal because generally speaking, people under the age of eighteen are not mature enough to handle that?

As several of you have pointed out, maturity isn't a thing that can be measured as accurately as age. However, in a relationship, chances are you'll be able to tell how mature you are in comparison to your partner anyway, so there doesn't really need to be an exact science to it. If you can personally tell that you just aren't matched up with your partner maturity-wise, that's on you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murkrow View Post
It should be okay for a 20 year old and 50 year old to date if they were just as mature as each other, but should it not be okay if two people of the same age were going out but one was much more mature than the other?
I don't think this matter is as much one of black and white morals as it is a relationship working out well. Obviously there are exceptions, as there are to everything, but I think that generally speaking, if the level of maturity is too varied in a relationship from partner to partner, it won't really work out that well.

...Or something? I'm fourteen years old so I'm not really fully qualified to talk about this, but really who is?
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  #15  
Old 11-03-2014, 04:00 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

American Logic:

80 Year old and a 20 Year old have sex, perfectly okay!
18 and 17 year old have sex, thrown in jail and life ruined forever.

Society needs a reform, age of consent needs to be lowered to 16 and there needs to be an age gap put in place.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:04 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

Actually, around the age of consent, I think there's a little bit of a grace period where like depending on how close in age the two people are even if they're on opposite sides of the age of consent, then it won't be a huge deal. That might be a state-specific thing though.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:12 AM
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Default Re: Age Differences

It also depends on why 18 year old is being prosecuted. Because most of the time, people do look the other way when it comes to 17 and 18 year olds dating. It's when parents get angry that people actually prosecute those cases most of the time.

Makes nice "don't-have-sex" propaganda for abstinence-only sex-ed though.
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