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I’m 21, and considering dating an 18-year-old… is the age gap too large?

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  • #1090556 Reply

    I’m a 20-year old, almost 21-year-old soon to be college sophomore (I turn 21 in August). If it’s relevant, I’m gay. I met this guy, a soon to be high school senior, at a nearby high school soon after starting college, and I’ve grown to absolutely love him to bits. I’ve liked people before, but I’ve never felt quite like this around someone. I love spending time with him, I love talking to him, and recently we both expressed interest in each other.

    I’m worried about the age-gap, though. He’s currently 17, and will turn 18 early next year. We’ve never done anything sexual (although it is legal, where I’m at), and I’d happily wait forever if it meant being with him. I’m considering waiting a few months until he’s 18, and then entering into a relationship. It’s legal now, but I think waiting a few months couldn’t hurt, and I think he deserves a few months to think and be sure of what he wants.

    Is this age gap too large (~3 1/2 years), though?

    I’ve never felt like I was talking to someone any younger than myself. I never feel the cognitive dissonance I fee when talking to someone that’s younger or older or more/less mature than I am. In fact, sometimes it feels like he’s older than I am. He’s had social experiences I haven’t. On the other hand, I suffered a lot of abuse and isolation as a teenager, and am perhaps less emotionally mature than other people my age.

    Whether it’s believable or not, it isn’t a sexual thing. I’m attracted to him, of course. I won’t pretend I’m not interested in sex with him. But I’m attracted to a lot of people, and I don’t want to date them. I like him as a person, a lot. Being with him makes me happy. Thinking about being with him makes me happy.

    I know things could be complicated with each of us at different schools, but I’m willing to put up with that. It doesn’t feel like putting up with anything, in fact. I’m interested in listening to him, and what’s going on in his life. I don’t mind putting in the effort. I didn’t have much socialization as a child or teenager, and I love it now. I want to be involved in his life.

    My sister dated a 19-year-old at 16. It went ok for her. Many married family members have 5 or 10 year age gaps, but then again my family isn’t exactly a gold standard.

    I don’t know what to do. I know what I want to do, but I’m not sure if it’s right.

    #1090563 Reply
    Kate
    Keymaster

    I don’t think that age gap is too much if it’s legal and you don’t feel there’s a maturity gap.

    I dated a guy who was 20 when I was 17, my first boyfriend. The one thing I will say is that he pressured me for sex and I didn’t have the experience or maturity to not bend to the pressure. That might have been true with a guy my own age though, who knows.

    What’s a little weird is that your letter is all about what you want, like it’s a given that this guy would want to date you. Would he? Why not just ask him out and take it one step at a time. There’s no guarantee he’ll say yes, or that you’ll make it past a first date. Just see what happens.

    #1090564 Reply
    anonymousse
    Participant

    I would be very careful of the implications of a 21 year old college student pursuing a sophomore 17 year old.

    I also dated a college student when I was young in high school and at the time I thought I was hot shit, but I can now see how predatory and creepy it was. And all his friends at college definitely thought he was cradle robbing and weird.

    I would be very careful about legalities.

    #1090565 Reply
    Copa
    Participant

    I don’t think the age gap is too much, but if you’re this hesitant about it, maybe it’s not right for you. It wasn’t uncommon at all when I was in HS or college for someone to be dating someone who was a couple years older or younger. When I was 19, I dated a 22-year-old. At 21, I dated a 19-year-old. Both relationships were brief and the age gap had nothing to do with why we didn’t work out. The thing that I think could potentially make it weird isn’t age, but life stage — one of you is in HS, the other is in college.

    #1090567 Reply
    anonymousse
    Participant

    And 17 is underage in some states.

    *missed the part where OP says it is legal where he is.

    #1090568 Reply
    ktfran
    Participant

    @Anonymousse, where did you get young sophomore? The LW clearly states that his love interest is going into his senior year, meaning he’s finishing his junior year right now.

    Anyway, LW, if it’s just a few months off, why not wait until he turns 18? I think you’d probably feel better about it. And no, I don’t think you seem predatory. I’d be more concerned, as @Copa said, about the life stages over the age. I think you’ve put a lot of thought into this. Or, just talk to him and see what he says? Then you’d know if he’s interested? Then you’d at least know where you both stand. It can be awkward, but it’s so much better than guessing.

    • This reply was modified 1 day, 23 hours ago by ktfran.
    #1090570 Reply
    anonymousse
    Participant

    I make mistakes sometimes, I’m a human.

    #1090573 Reply
    ktfran
    Participant

    We all do. I called that one out because a 21 year old interested in a sophomore would seem a lot more off than someone who is in his last year of HS. I think early HS years and later HS years makes a different in this instance.

    #1090574 Reply

    Thanks for the advice. @Kate, I should’ve been more clear in that, by “expressed interest”, I mean that he told me he’d like a relationship.

    #1090578 Reply
    Kate
    Keymaster

    Yeah but why jump right to being in a relationship though? Just try going on a date.

    #1090579 Reply
    ktfran
    Participant

    Yes. What @kate said. Go on a few dates. See how it is.

    #1090581 Reply
    PassingThrough
    Guest

    Just pointing out that a 5-10 year age gap is more significant the younger you are.
    30 year old dating a 40 year old? No problem.
    17 year old dating a 22 year old? I’m concerned.

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