Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Poll: Would You Date Someone Much Younger (or Older)?

This poll is inspired by a current forum thread in which a 28-year-old woman is asked out by a 23-year-old man. Before you answer, I’ll share my thoughts: If I were looking for a relationship-relationship (and not just someone to “have fun with”), I personally would not date anyone more than three years younger (and maybe four or five years older) any time before turning 30. Sure, there are rare exceptions, but, in most cases, there’s so much development, experiences, and maturity that happen in one’s 20s that the difference between someone in his or her early-to-mid 20s and someone in his or her late 20s is vast. And I think their goals and what they’re looking for are often very different. (Full disclosure: When I was 21, I dated a 28-year-old and the age difference felt like a big deal. At 29, I started dating Drew, who is also 7 years older, and the age difference has been entirely insignificant). After 30, there’s less difference, and, now at 38 if I were single, I’d probably date as young as 27 or 28 and as old as, I don’t, how old is David Duchovny now — 54, 55? I’d date that old. Anyway, that’s my story. What’s yours?

[polldaddy poll=”8721111″]

41 comments… add one
  • Miel

    Miel March 12, 2015, 11:14 am

    I would follow something similar to the 7 year rule : divide your age in two, then add seven. That’s the youngest you should date. (Do it for your partner to see if they’re too old for you. Do it for yourself to decide if they’re too young for you).
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Half-age-plus-seven-relationship-rule.svg

    I’m 24, so I should date people between 19 and 35. That sounds reasonable.

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    • avatar

      MissDre March 12, 2015, 11:21 am

      LoL in that case I’m golden hahaha.

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    • Nookie

      Nookie March 12, 2015, 12:12 pm

      Wait a tic, the Cockney is 40 so dating 27 year olds is on the table? That seems like a big ol’ gap to me?

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    • avatar

      suzyinthesky March 12, 2015, 12:59 pm

      My SO is 11 years older than me and we were within the 7 year rule when we got together. I was actually pretty freaked out about the age difference at first, but really, intellectually and personality wise we’re a perfect fit, much better than with anyone I’ve dated before (always within 4 years of my own age). Now I just make fun of him for being old 😉

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    • avatar

      Vathena March 12, 2015, 1:26 pm

      I think that formula tends to work, even if it’s just for the “creep” factor. I started dating my husband when I was 26 and he was 39, so barely within the confines of The Formula. I pursued him initially, then found out his age (he doesn’t look it at ALL) and was a bit freaked out. Ultimately it didn’t matter; we are happy partners and co-parents. We got married five years ago, right after I turned 30. Our age difference now falls well within “acceptable” parameters, although when I remember that he is turning 48 soon, I wonder how I got tricked into marrying an old man 🙂

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    • avatar

      booknerd March 12, 2015, 4:08 pm

      My husband was 40 and I was 27. I had no idea, he looks great! It doesn’t even ever come up except he says he’s old all the time.

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    • barleystonks

      barleystonks March 13, 2015, 10:18 am

      I just did some mental math on that one- I know I was way the hell outside boundary of that when I first started dating my husband, turns out 6 years later… yup, still outside it for another 4-5 years more. I actually just had a conversation with my stepdaughter to the effect of “Ok, I know you saw this crazy age gap relationship work out, but you know it was a *really stupid idea*, right? So… Don’t date 40 year olds while you’re 20. Y’know. Since you’re 20 now.”

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki March 12, 2015, 11:38 am

    I totally picked ageist assholes… not because that’s what I really think, but because I think its varies on a case by case basis, so I couldn’t really pick any of the other answers. When I was dating, I generally never dated anyone younger than me. But I haven’t “dated” since I was 19, so there’s that.

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  • avatar

    Galiush March 12, 2015, 11:47 am

    Long time lurker here. I met my husband when I was 35 and he was 31 and it wasn’t even something that came up. I agree with Wendy, though, that this kind of age difference makes more sense when you’re over 30.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal March 12, 2015, 12:06 pm

    Ageist assholes = ageholes.

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    • Nookie

      Nookie March 12, 2015, 12:13 pm

      Oh, you Rascal.

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  • niki

    niki March 12, 2015, 12:11 pm

    I mentioned this in the forum thread, but my husband is 4 years younger than me. We met in law school. I was 28, him 24. We started seeing each other at 29, 25. We got married at 33, 29. Neither of us were looking for marriage when we first got together, but over time we realized how perfect we were together. Plus, we were in similar places in our lives with similar goals. The age difference has never been an issue, and most of the time I completely forget.

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  • avatar

    Coug09 March 12, 2015, 12:14 pm

    Another longtime lurker here.
    I met my husband when I was 33. He was 24. He had actually JUST turned 24 which I didn’t know. I was hoping he was coming up on 25. My single best friend set us up. She said “How do you feel about dating a 24 year old?” I figured, hell, why not. I didn’t really have any expectations other than a fun Friday happy hour to meet him and if it didn’t go well, then no big loss. Two and a half years later we were married. (My friend later told me, “I didn’t think you would get married, I thought you would just f*** him a little and then move on” Classy lady.)

    The age difference in the beginning didn’t bother me outright. The age problem presented itself when I would bring up some frustrations with the same friend, she would point out that he was young, sometimes immature and that would be something I had to acknowledge and would have to decide if I could deal with it. But he was also more flexible and mature in other ways. I was much more rigid in my lifestyle. Sort of an old lady set in her ways. He had to deal with that.

    The age difference now that I am 38 and he is 29 (WOW just looking at those numbers is crazy), presents itself differently. Now, he is no longer so young and immature sometimes. I think… I think… I’m a little less rigid. Now, the issue is fertility. We have been trying to conceive since we were married, but we found out I have issues. So now sometimes I feel like I’ve robbed him of a chance to have kids. Maybe he would’ve been better off with someone younger. Damn.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy March 12, 2015, 12:40 pm

      Don’t be hard on yourself re. the fertility issue. Fertility doesn’t *really* drop significantly until after 40, so if you’ve been having issues trying to conceive since you were married and you were 35ish when you married, most likely the issue isn’t age-related. I’m sorry you’re having trouble, but there’s no guarantee your husband would have found someone else he loves as much whom he could have a baby with, and if given the chance to have you and maybe never have a child or have someone else and maybe have a child, I’m sure he’d choose you!

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      • avatar

        Anonymous March 12, 2015, 12:49 pm

        Thank you for this. I really needed to hear it, and I appreciate it. And now you made me cry :)!

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    • avatar

      Greyson March 13, 2015, 10:01 am

      I second that you have time to keep trying. You haven’t been married long. Plenty of women have conceived at 39, 40 and up to 44!

      That said, you don’t have to feel like you robbed your husband of kids you two are unable to have children together. If you want a family, surrogacy using a donor egg so that your husband can have biological kids or looking into adoption are both viable avenues to consider. Open the conversation with your husband to find out how he feels if your first path doesn’t work out.

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  • Nookie

    Nookie March 12, 2015, 12:15 pm

    I think I’ve only dated one guy that was slightly younger than me and boy, did that difference show. I was probably about 25 at the time and moved across the world, he hadn’t really left his hometown. Mostly, I tend to stay around 5-8 years older than me and I don’t think that it makes a huge difference. Except for I’ll never be the ‘old one’ in the relationship! Ha!

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  • avatar

    ktfran March 12, 2015, 12:28 pm

    I voted the last one just for fun. I don’t really think you’re ageist a-holes. In reality, I think the “I’m older and age is insignificant” option is more me.
    .
    Actually, I’m pretty much on par with Wendy’s assessment. In my early to mid 20’s, I would only date a couple years younger or a few years older. Now, as a 35 year old, I would date someone who is as young as 27/28 and who is as old as, I don’t know, late 40s. The last guy I dated – the kid – was 6.5 years younger than me. That didn’t end because we were at different relationship points in out life, but because timing and other circumstances sucked. He acted way more mature than me, so that’s why I would do it again.

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  • avatar

    eelliinnss March 12, 2015, 12:47 pm

    My boyfriend is 2.5 years younger than me (24 and 26). I was actually really hesitant to start dating him because of the age difference and it’s not even that big! I was worried that he wouldn’t be in the same place as I am in life, or that people would think it’s weird, or that I’d be insecure about it (I definitely am, a little), but it hasn’t been an issue.
    .
    On the other hand, my 27 year old pal is dating a 48 year old man who looks and acts like he’s about 30. They’ve been together for 5 years and are great together. You just never know!

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    • avatar

      ktfran March 12, 2015, 1:23 pm

      I started dating a dude two years younger than me when I was 25, so I guess he was 23. He proposed when I was 27, he was 25. I was the one who called it off. Not because he seemed too young or immature, but because it just wasn’t right.

      He had his shit together, probably more so than I did.

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  • GertietheDino

    GertietheDino March 12, 2015, 1:09 pm

    Gort the Dino is younger than me, by a couple of years. We came into the relationship looking for something serious and that is what we have, 4 years on.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray March 12, 2015, 1:24 pm

    I remember when I was a freshman (19?) in college I had this crush on a junior (21?) who, rumor had it, dated a 25 year old over the summer. I thought holy fucking hell I am in way over my league, he dates actual women!!
    *
    A good friend was 28 when she started dating her now husband who was only 23 at the time. We thought that was CRAZY! Now that she’s 36 and he is 31 it seems insignificant. Except she was his first and we all know it and sometimes I will look at him and think “man, he’s only had sex with one person.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And not that it has anything to do with the age discussion, I’m just sharing.
    *
    When I was 28 I dated a 42 year old who looked 52 and it was gross. At brunch one morning he ordered steak and eggs and also popped cholesterol medication and I thought “holy hell I am dating someone old enough to have heart health issues!” I stopped seeing him, which now kind of sounds like discrimination on the basis of disability. But I have always been very immature for my age so I’ve tended to not be comfortable with older women.
    *
    I like men who are a few years younger than me. For some reason I feel less threatened and less pressure. My last two boyfriends have both been 1 to 4 years older than me, but they both looked really young and were more immature than me, so it was OK. Maybe I need to rethink my dating strategy. A mature, older man may be better for me, if I can get over the shock of, like, old balls. Do balls look old when they’re old? Obviously I’m not mature enough to date older men.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray March 12, 2015, 1:25 pm

      *in way over my head, I meant

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray March 12, 2015, 1:26 pm

      *comfortable with older men. God, writing is so hard!

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    • othy

      othy March 12, 2015, 1:48 pm

      This reminds me of the Sex and the City episode where Samantha is dating a much older guy, and she’s convinced he’s everything she ever wanted – great personality, sweet, rich, and great in bed. And then, he walks away from the bed naked and she sees his old man ass and is like “Nope.”

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    • veritek33

      veritek33 March 12, 2015, 2:00 pm

      From what I’ve heard from my two friends who have husbands 13 and 15 years older than them – the balls haven’t really been an issue. As in, the rest of them are in pretty decent shape so the balls are in good shape? Is that a thing? I mean balls are kinda weird anyway, so I think all balls are just a little creepy. I think you can handle this.

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    • mandalee

      mandalee March 12, 2015, 2:15 pm

      Balls definitely age with the man lol Maybe it’s slower for some men, but after seeing many a patient in various states of undress, I feel like balls need a bra more than breasts do, because gravity is not kind to them.

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    • avatar

      booknerd March 12, 2015, 4:10 pm

      Make sure they wear boxer briefs! He he he. Balls.

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    • avatar

      McLovin March 12, 2015, 8:45 pm

      I don’t know. Saggy balls may be a thing. But, no more than saggy boobs. I’m in pretty decent shape, but I don’t know how to exercise my balls in the sense of keeping them looking youthful??

      As for the age debate, I’ve always been attracted to a *look* more than age. Now that I have more gray hair I’ve noticed that I attract a different sort of attention vs. even 5 years ago. But, for the most part, I don’t/haven’t set age limits even though some women younger then I am have made it clear that they want to stay within that 5 – 10 year age difference either way – and I’m good with that.

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    • Portia

      Portia March 13, 2015, 8:55 am

      I had a friend in high school who was dating a high school boy. His nickname was OSB (old saggy balls). I’m sure age isn’t nice to balls in general, but the old ball look can strike at any age.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 March 12, 2015, 2:03 pm

    My first serious boyfriend was 31 to my 26 and I was WAY MORE mature than he was. Then I proceeded to date two more men, one was three years younger and the other was 6 months older. Both were highly immature. The latest boyfriend was 2 years younger and while he was very mature in many ways, he thought he was ready for as serious relationship but he just wasnt. Like he couldn’t understand why I thought it might be inappropriate to have his single girl friend over (one who had expressed feelings for him) to his house to drink wine and watch movies while I was gone. In his words “It’s none of your business who I hang out with while you’re not around.”

    Ahem. Not ready for a real grown up relationship.

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    • Copa

      Copa March 12, 2015, 9:45 pm

      My last (serious) boyfriend was almost 6 years older than me (we were 26-27 and 31-32 at the time) and like you I was WAY MORE MATURE. He was like a 32 year old who acted like a 22 year old but looked at LEAST 42. I recently went on a date with a 33-year-old I met on a bus and even though the age differences was the same number of years, something about it felt different. (I’m drinking wine write now and after typing that I was like, “duh, they were different people…?”) I think it might be that I’m a leetle older than I was when I was 26 and falling for Old Man Fratboy, and that he was acting his age.

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      • veritek33

        veritek33 March 13, 2015, 8:46 am

        Oh man – old man fratboys are the worst. Let’s be glad we don’t have those anymore

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  • mylaray

    mylaray March 12, 2015, 3:37 pm

    I think it’s more about life phases, but I do think it’s important to keep age in mind when looking for a serious relationship. I don’t know why it was different, but I tended to prefer women who were within a couple of years of my age, but with men, I often preferred around 5 years older. That seems like the sweet spot for me, and my husband is 5 years older than I am.

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  • avatar

    g March 12, 2015, 3:54 pm

    My boyfriend is 5 years older than I am & it doesn’t feel weird at all… Although it was kind of funny on our first real date when pretty much the first question he asked me was when I graduated from college & how old I was. Hahaha… I forgot about that until just now. We are close in terms of maturity/lifestyle/relationship values, so it doesn’t come up much. I do joke with him that I’m so glad we weren’t hanging out when we were younger, because I would have had such a crush & been an embarrassing, giggling nutcase if I’d been around him when he was in high school/college & I was just a kid.

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  • avatar

    K March 12, 2015, 3:56 pm

    My boyfriend is a month and a half older than I am. When I was online dating and such, I imagined myself with someone 3 years older than me as the ideal, for some reason. For awhile I dated a guy who was 5 years older than me but he turned out to be immature. Since my boyfriend and I are the same age, it does make it convenient to say things like “This song was popular senior year of high school”.

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  • avatar

    Samba March 12, 2015, 4:13 pm

    I have dated a huge range of ages. My preference was always older, but there were a few that were younger as well–prob the range was 3 years younger (22 to my 25?) and up to 16 years older, which seems crazy. I had a huge crush on this foreign guy who started chatting with me at a big holiday event, I was 23 then. I knew he was older, but he looked so good and was really in shape, and I was terrible at telling someone’s age at that point lol. We went out on maybe 3 dates and then he says “do you know how old I am?” and I told him “no…maybe…28?” and it ended up he was actually 38, almost 39. Woops. We actually ran into each other 5 years later (me, 28, him, 43) and dated for another 7 months! Too funny. I will say it definitely felt more normal the 2nd time around, even though the age gap was the same, but not being straight outta college makes a big difference.

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    • avatar

      Samba March 12, 2015, 4:29 pm

      Oh I forgot the reason I started writing that in the first place. Apparently I’m getting old myself here haha. It was in reference to…stuff looking older/sagging down there. When we dated the 2nd time around, I still thought he looked exactly the same as years before–really young-looking for 40s. I was sort of romanticizing the whole thing, how cute he was, his sexy accent, how fun he was in bed…until one night he was walking around the living room without any clothes on. Normally I saw him sans shirt/pants under soft bedroom lighting or it was daylight, but all the lights were on inside and for the first time ever I was like WOAH he looks a lot older naked than clothed….that is all 😛

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  • avatar

    Eve March 12, 2015, 8:18 pm

    I”m in my early twenties and don’t have all that much relationship experience. My first long-term relationship was with a guy 5 years older than me. My second one was with a guy 1 year younger than me. He was trying to act mature in an almost artificial kind of way which fooled me for quite a while but I now know he never was mature at all. In hindsight, with the 5-year older guy I could tell I was dating a man – not a boy.
    Boy do I have a lot to learn about relationships. But I don’t think I’d date anyone any younger than me anymore.. I think I’ll actually stick to slightly older guys. I hate to generalise, but there are so few guys I meet my age who have even half of the maturity I have.

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  • the_optimist

    the_optimist March 13, 2015, 8:32 am

    I dated someone who was 37 when I was 21. At the time, I thought it was because I was SUPER mature, but it turns out that it was because he was SUPER immature (constantly asking if I was “bi-curious” whenever I used the word curious, like, in any context) which is also the reason I ended things. He went on to date a 19 year old, another 21 year old…and then I just stopped paying attention.

    But I’m 28 now and my boyfriend is 8 years older than I am. Like a lot of people said, it’s not something we really talk about or even notice, unless we’re talking about the fact that he was starting high school when I was in kindergarten which…weird haha. But it’s not a huge factor in our relationship now.

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  • avatar

    bc020 March 13, 2015, 11:00 am

    It completely depends on the person. When I was 28, I dated a 23-year-old. He definitely was at a different place in life and less mature overall, though he had previously seriously dated another woman who was also 5 years older than him. At 32, I dated a 27-year-old who really had his stuff in order, more than me; one of the most mature and responsible guys I have known. Age is not completely a determining factor; I say get to know someone personally and see what he is all about.

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