“Wasn’t his girlfriend much younger than him?” asked Dad
“Yes, like three years younger!” I said.
“Oh, that’s not that bad. Your mother and I are three years apart,” replied Dad
“Oh never mind… did I say much younger? I meant just appropriately younger,” I added.
No I did not make up a conversation to help begin my story. This actually happened this past week as my father drove me to the train. We were discussing a friend of mine who just broke up with his girlfriend. This friend (Eddie) is three grade levels older than his ex-girlfriend (Sarah.) As a side note, it is kind of a good thing they broke up since he cheated on her for the past year. But, that is not the point of this piece my friends.
After the conversation with my dad, I realized how variations in age when it comes to dating means different things to different people at different stages in their lives. For someone like me who is in her mid-20s, each year that passes feels more like four years went by (kind of like measuring in doggy years). This probably feels this way since we are forced to learn so much in that short period of time. I was told once in my Women’s Studies class that a person solidifies who he or she is between the ages of 19 and 26.
As a young adult, and yes I do consider being 24 years old still young, I feel like my learning curve is still at its height. No wonder someone my age who dates someone not even 21 yet feels like a huge hurdle jumper. It is not just about the numerical factor, but, emotionally and socially, that 21-year-old has SO much more growing to do.
Growing up, I know I have personally seen instances where substantial differences in age seemed odd, leading harsher critics to allow for mocking. A middle schooler one time dated a high school guy; people got on him for “robbing the gel pen-marked cradle.” Another time an 18-year-old dated a 14-year-old. Good thing they didn’t get into an argument, because then the girlfriend could have used her age to hold the boy accountable for committing crimes with a minor. If you are a 23-year-old guy who has to leave his 20-year-old girlfriend at home while he goes to the bar at night with his friends… I don’t have a witty response for that one, but you get my drift.
Fast forward each of these to many years later and you have a completely different story. Those in their later 20s and early 30s are well into dating people with extreme age differences. My two 30-year-old cousins are each dating people with over a five year age difference to them. Yet, it doesn’t seem as strange. It almost seems appropriate since females have been labeled “more mature” than men of the same age. Their emotional age matches that of the 30-year-olds’ physical age.
I don’t discriminate against gender; hence the title and the picture in this article. It happens on the women’s end too. My 24-year-old friend is dating a 21-year-old guy and the message “yeah, she is dating someone younger” is usually delivered with a hint of judgment.
At the end of the day you can’t help who you like, but it is just something to note. You can’t prevent people from delivering some kind of snide comment or making an onlooker judgment. It is just interesting that someone the age of 24 who dates someone five years younger, won’t really hear the same crap from his friends if he was 35 dating a 30-year-old. Muy interesante!