People put a lot of limits on themselves when it comes to dating. They may want someone who looks a certain way, who makes a certain amount of money, or who likes certain hobbies. Age is one of the biggest reasons people have for rejecting someone. There are people who only like to date people their age and won’t budge no matter what.
I confess to having a preference in this department as well. I will not date women who are more than six years younger than me or women who are more than ten years older. Years of dating experience tell me this is the right age group for me. However, I also try to be flexible. Dating is hard and if your preferences are carved in stone, you could miss out on a lot of great people. Therefore, if someone seems really fantastic I will usually waive my strict age requirements. (Though as a 36 year old, I’d never date someone less than 25 or over 50. That, I can’t see ever working, no matter how charming she may be.)
Here are my thoughts on what to consider if you decide to date significantly above or below your age:
I think the biggest challenge with dating young people is that they are not always so mature, and also they are in a different place in their life. If you are 45, can you really relate to a grad student? Do you really want to go out with them every weekend, clubbing and dancing? Will you really have a meeting of the minds? These are all things to think about and mull over carefully. I think it is particularly a bad idea to date a young person who has just come out, when you are an older person. The younger person is really not sure of herself or her sexuality at this stage, and you will wind up playing “teacher.” I think this kind of relationship only works if the younger person is extremely mature, or if the older person is slightly immature. Some of us may be 45, but act 25, and vice versa. But if the maturity levels are too different, this won’t be a relationship that succeeds in the long term.
If you are dating an older person it may work—but only if you are in your late twenties and beyond. Anything younger than that I think is just asking for trouble. As a young person in your late twenties or early thirties, you may not relate to others in your age category, and you may do better with someone older.
Whichever direction you go in, one thing you can’t worry about is what other people think. Friends, family or strangers may see fit to comment on your relationship—or even make fun of it. In the end, that doesn’t matter. All that matters ultimately is what you think of each other.