Would I Date a 30-Year-Old?

With my move-in date for college in less than a week, I doubt I’d get to meet many older men – but if I could, would I? Several times when age-gap relationships come up, people automatically react with comments like “oh, that’s so gross” or “what a pedophile.” I don’t support relationships in which one person takes advantage of another, but in terms of mutually consensual relationships in which the partners have a considerable age difference, whose place is it to discriminate?

Fantastic fictional age-gap relationship #1: Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Image via chokingonpopcorn.com.

Fantastic fictional age-gap relationship #1: Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Image via chokingonpopcorn.com.

Some say women should not have children after a certain age. While I need to do more research on this topic, many studies show that it is more difficult to get pregnant later on in life – some people state that having children later on can lead to health issues caused by genetics. But just because a child may be more at risk for certain diseases does not mean we should infringe upon the mother’s right to have that child. If we did that, how would we regulate other inheritable abnormalities, like diabetes or color-blindness? The same argument applies to incestuous couples who wish to have children: where would we draw the line?

Fantastic fictional age-gap relationship #2: Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Image via fanpop.com.

Fantastic fictional age-gap relationship #2: Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Image via fanpop.com.

Others argue that parents with an age-gap would have a harder time raising children – maybe because one would be more out of touch with his or her child’s generation, or perhaps the older partner would suffer an earlier death. But while some age-gap parents may have issues, that doesn’t mean all of them will. The same train of thought applies to single mothers (Wendy Davis was raised by one, and she’s pretty kick-butt.) No one should generalize when it comes to what would make a family work. I know plenty of divorced parents who are within the same age range, and a few age-gap ones that are working out quite well. If we apply a societal standard to human relationships and rights based solely on an arbitrary measurement like age, we risk losing out on stellar pillars of love.

Fantastic fictional age-gap relationship #3: Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor. Image via dead-soulmate.tumblr.com.

Fantastic fictional age-gap relationship #3: Brian Kinney and Justin Taylor. Image via dead-soulmate.tumblr.com.

Here’s what we should all keep in mind: Age is just a number. Correlation does not imply causation. Just like we cannot assume an individual’s identity, moral character, or personality from his or her ethnicity or sexuality, we cannot make shallow assumptions about others based on age. Mature 18-year-olds exist, and immature 40-year-olds exist as well. There’s no minimum age for becoming an alcoholic, an abusive spouse, or a mass murderer, just like there’s no maximum age for becoming a caring, compassionate human being.

I understand that age-gap relationships are rare because people within the same age range tend to have more in common, but if two people with an age gap truly love each other in a mutually consensual way, let it be without castigation. Get to know the people – the human beings behind the numbers – before you judge.

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts pertaining to this topic – like if you know of an age-gap relationship in real life, or whether you would engage in one yourself. As I mentioned earlier I’m leaving for college in exactly a week so wish me luck if I don’t post prior to then! I’ll definitely keep on blogging though, even with studies and my completely lame and non-existent social life. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and you can read my thoughts on The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric here and here, respectively.


Filed under Society

46 responses to “Would I Date a 30-Year-Old?

  1. I don’t think age is just a number. I think it has to do with develop and life-stage. Your brain develops in very important ways during the early 20s, as your prefrontal cortex continues the work of your teen years and prunes connections back to make the remaining ones more efficient. People are also likely to experience certain events at certain life stages that tend to change their viewpoints and behavior: leaving home, going to college, buying property (or choosing not to), taking care of aging parents, and so on. I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with an 18-year-old dating a 30 year-old, but I do think you should question what a 30 year-old sees in you. Do they really see you as an equal? Or are they looking for someone impressionable and easy to control? Do they see you as a mature person? Or is it that they still feel like a kid themselves and want someone to play with–which means you can expect some unpleasantly irresponsible and childish behavior. The thing is that you will learn an enormous amount from what you do in the next 10-15 years. I would wonder about someone older who hasn’t learned enough from their experiences to find you on a completely different plane.

    But I do think these differences are less pronounced as we get older, and they become differences we are able to talk about enough to understand one another’s viewpoints. Still, if I start dating someone 20 years older than myself when I’m 40, it does mean I may need to start thinking about walkers, residential care, and dementia when I still feel I am in my prime. And, yes, if they are really that special to me, it may be worth it. But it is something to think about.

    • All of your points provide topics to think about! I agree that we should question what our potential partners see in us and seek from us – though this is something I would recommend for any relationship, irrespective of age. The age difference just makes the heightened playing field more pronounced; it all depends on the people themselves, even if there are more steps and an elevated level of difficulty when it comes to age-gap relationships. Thank you for your detailed and insightful comment!

  2. I agree with everything you said. I’ve always been annoyed with how we view age, as though everyone of that age group acts the same. Almost all of the movie stars I’ve had crushes on have been significantly older than me. Most of the fan fiction I read was about two people 20 years apart in age.

    The age difference thing only really bothers me when the older person only wants the younger person because that person is younger. I generally associate this with old men who want young wives and then divorce those wives when they get too old and find someone even younger. I have no proof that that’s what people do, but the idea is still stuck in my head, and I don’t like it. I guess even then it’s not my business as long as everyone involved is happy with the arrangement, though.

    • You’re right, people shouldn’t stereotype or judge others just based on their ages. I see what you mean – I suppose that is a shallow for wanting to partake in a relationship with someone (don’t forget the older women who want younger men) but if each person is happy in the relationship… I wouldn’t say that the relationship itself is healthy, but the mutual consent is there. Sort of like the star high school quarterback in his senior year dating the innocent freshman… maybe they’re both wonderful, mature people who complement each other well beyond what people are predisposed to see of them. Maybe not.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Laras

    Gosh I agree with you so much. People judge my mother and step dad as they have a 30+ age gap. It doesn’t change their love but people judge – some lady in the shops apparently called my mum an Asian Tart under her breath when she walked past. They don’t know our story. They should keep such ugly thoughts to themselves. My step dad is more of a father to me than my biological one and we share a bond that rivals a blood one.

    • That’s such a disrespectful thing to say to someone, irrespective of age or ethnicity. I’m sorry that people judge you and your parents – however, it’s wonderful that you have that relationship with your step dad, as many people don’t have that type of bond with either of their parents. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. This is a rather interesting topic and well I for one am a little divided with my opinions. While on one hand I completely agree with what you said, age gaps do take a little getting used to because as you said it isn’t common.

  5. una231

    Great post, and a very interesting discussion. On the one hand I totally agree with you – it is possible for people with age-differences to hit it off (and personality-wise, I do tend to find guys my own age very immature!). However, at 19 I wouldn’t even think about dating – say – a 45 year old. 19 and 45 may work, but what happens when you get to 39 and 65? It would be difficult to be still fairly young and living with an old man, and even more difficult to outlive your partner by a considerable about of time.

    • I agree that there would be difficulties and we should all have our own choice whether or not to engage in an age-gap relationship. But, who knows – perhaps if the two people in such a relationship (the hypothetical one you bring up) really do love each other with all of their hearts, they would find a way to work through it. It would require compassion, commitment, etc. but I think it depends on the people themselves as opposed to just their ages.

  6. I think age is more than just a number. It doesn’t define whether a person will be a good or bad match for you, but it’s something to be considered. The biggest concern is being in one stage of life while your partner is in another. As you said, this doesn’t mean a relationship with a large age-gap is bound to fail, but the majority of large age-gap relationships do fail. So it’s unprecedented to be wary about a large age-gap relationship of someone you know.

    • I agree that there are various implications in regard to age – where a person is in life, his or her mental development, etc. But as we learned in AP Psych correlation does not imply causation; we all know that one person who is wise beyond his or her years and those adults still searching desperately for the fountain of youth. Some people enter the workforce at a young age, others wait to obtain multiple degrees. And while I’m sure several age-gap relationships have failed, many relationships in general fail (just look at that America’s divorce rate as of late). To me it really depends on the people as a whole and all of the characteristics that create their relationship.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Laura, I love reading and responding to your thoughts!

  7. HelloHwaitingBuhBye

    Age is just a number. Everything associated with age is personal, because people develop differently. If you are compatible with someone, then you are compatible with them. If you love someone you love them for whatever reason(s). The rest are just factors of what differentiates both of you.
    I’m not bothered by other people’s large age gap relationships, but I am bothered when the young one is manipulated or seen as a trophy rather than an equal lover. Although any type of relationship can be like that.
    If I was in love.. I’d rather want to be with someone I can spend longest with. One could probably be alone and lovesick for a long time when the older partner passes.
    I’ve not been in love yet.. but I know that I’m attracted to people that seem my age. It’s whatever connection you need that kick-starts a relationship.

    Good Luck in College Thomas!!!
    (hmm sounds strange… I’m already in college… but a year younger than you…can you guess how? 😛 No, but yours is way more important! Wish you much luck and have fun!) ^.^

    • You’re right that “any type of relationship can be like that.” In a way I feel like it’s the time you spend with the person and how you grow together that matters the most. Thank you for your good luck wish – perhaps it’s just because you’re super intelligent? Until we write to each other again!

  8. Shudha

    Age really is nothing but a number and in the end, it all comes down to how you want to perceive it, I think. The way I see it, just because someone is 20/30-something years old doesn’t necessarily mean that they are mature people with good, honest traits. The same goes for people of other ages. I’m probably going a little off topic here but simply, what I’d like to say is that, I agree with all that you’ve said here! Brilliant writing and wonderful thoughts! Can’t wait to read your new posts! Also, good luck for college!

  9. Katie

    This is the twenty-first century, and we live in America! People’s minds are opening up in ways never thought possible before. Soon (hopefully) gays will be getting married and who knows, maybe even plural marriage will be considered normal.

    But, when the issue of age comes up, there are a lot more problems than first meets the eye. Here are two scenarios: An 18 year old woman is dating a 80 year old man; and a 17 year old girl is dating a 30 year old man. Its different though, right? Legally speaking, yes. But maybe that girl is only a few months away from being 18, And knowing this, her parents are ok with the situation. But, what if that man is her English teacher. Then, its a trust issue. And when people find out about the relationship, that girl is labeled a slut. We all knew that girl in high school, the one who slept with the teacher.

    But, times are changing. Maybe in the future, it won’t be such a big deal for students and teachers to have relationships. What is the problem, really, if both parties are legal adults? Really think about it. If they are truly both in love, then really there isn’t. She can wait until she graduates, then they can be together. Right?

    Thomas, I’m sure as you read these posts you are getting more and more excited that people’s mind are becoming more and more open to all sorts of love which at one point was considered shameful. But, as a male, there is no way you will ever understand what it is like to be a female feeling pressure from an older male. And as societal standards break down, these problems will only continue to arise.

    No man will ever understand the feeling. The horrible, uncomfortable, wanting-to-crawl-in-a-hole-and-die feeling of an older man putting sexual pressure on you. The first time I felt that feeling, I was 15. I was still a child, and I dressed and acted like any high school freshman would. I had a crush on a senior football player, but it wasn’t from him that I received attention. It was from my 40-something science teacher. I didn’t realize what was going on at first, because I was so innocent. I simply didn’t have the experience to know what it felt like when guys were trying to, you know, get with you. He started showing up at places I frequented, like the gym. He would stop by my workout station, and I’m 90% sure it was him whole took my phone that day on the elliptical and then turned it in a week later.

    It took the intervention of my wonderful mother for me to understand what was happening. I didn’t, and still don’t, consider myself exceptionally beautiful but I am tall, and a lot of people assume I’m older than I really am. I thoroughly enjoy learning more than the average student, which let my grades come along pretty easily almost all four years of high school.

    Two years later, it happened again. A different teacher, who also shall not be named, asked me if I would come to school on a teacher workday, and also referred to himself as my secret boyfriend. My current boyfriend at the time, who is my age, had no idea what was going on, but I’m sure he could tell I was unhappy at school. Even on days when I should have been turned on by him and focused solely on HIM, my thoughts were elsewhere, and I feel bad about that! I should have been excited by our young love but I was so distracted, which is a major mood killer.

    The worst of it all happened my senior year. My psychology teacher was terrible. He flirted with me EVERY DAY (it was seventh period, kill me now!) in front of the whole class, which led to half of them ridiculing me for our assumed affair and the other half pretending like nothing was going on. He favored me so much that if I was a different person in the class, I would hate myself too. It was so blatantly obvious what his intentions were and I felt horribly sick every day at 1:12, which is when the bell ending 5th/6th period rings. I skipped regularly and frequently, and during June he asked me several times if I would come over to his house to see his dog. (At the time, he didn’t have a dog). I hated that class so much and I am still so turned off to the subject of psychology because every time I think about Freud I feel so weirded out and disgusted I want to vomit. As a female, I am sure I will receive plenty of unwanted attention from men and I can’t wait to get a ring on my finger in the hopes it will stopped.

    I know now from personal experience how terrorizing it can be just to be a girl in a classroom with an older male. I am dreading going to college where the rules are more flex about student-teacher relationships. Seriously, sometimes arranged marriage sounds like a really fantastic idea.

    • I agree wholeheartedly with this – the amount of pressure on a girl, receiving unwanted attention, especially, especially from someone older, is just horrible.

      Katie, I have no idea what your plans for college are, but I suggest a small school. I go to a small, conservative school, and I have never once had problems with teachers or students. Good luck!

  10. Nox

    Age is not important, psychological maturity is. I´m 33 and my boyfriend has 20, and he is more adult than his mother.

  11. When someone is 30 and someone is 40, it’s not much a big deal as say, 20 and 30. Because by 30/40, you’re pretty much mature and know what you want in your life. I think 20 is a highly variable age, depends on your own personality.

    have fun in orientation!

    • I agree that 20 is sort of a crossroads age, with many factors and possibilities playing in. Thanks Michelle, I’ll be taking the advice you distilled in your blog about orientation into account!

  12. thehowlingfantogs

    It’s strange you should post this as it is something we have been discussing at work today. Our new boy (he is seventeen) had a meeting with his qualification in the workplace assessor. He is thirty, and dating a nineteen year old, which we all thought was kind of strange for someone who works with young people. Whilst I doubt legally there is anything wrong with this, it did make me feel a little uncomfortable.

    Whilst I don’t think there is anything generally wrong with age gap relationships (especially when people get older) I personally couldn’t go out with anyone that much younger. I heard somewhere that general rule of thumb is half your age plus seven. Whilst I do connect with younger people, I don’t think I could forge a relationship with One. My boyfriend is just one year younger than me (actually its fourteen months, so for two months a year he is two years younger-as he loves to point out) and we have so much more to talk about than I would with an eighteen year old.

    Yes, there are mature eighteen year olds, yes I enjoy hearing what younger people have to say. I just personally feel more comfortable dating someone in my own age range.

    Another great post. I love the images you chose to go with it too. All ties together perfectly.

    • It’s intriguing that something of this nature occurred within your real life as of late. I’ve never heard of that half your age plus seven rule before but it does sound quite effective – I agree that we tend to have more in common with those in our age group, but who knows, maybe two people with a decent age gap could make it work through their own mutual interests and commitment to one another! Thank you for reading and for commenting with your insight.

  13. I think you said it all really. It’s impossible to choose who you fall in love with – the chemicals whirring round our bodies react to specific traits that we’re not consciously aware of. I wouldn’t like the idea of being in a relationship with someone a lot older than me, as I can see the potential practical problems in terms of aging, but if it happened I’m sure the practicalities would suddenly not seem such a big deal.

    One other thing, although I agree that everyone matures at different rates, I think adults, and especially older adults should always respect the age of consent. It’s there as a protection to ensure that people are ready and protect teenagers from manipulation or coercion. If they’re not willing to wait, it does reveal something about the quality of interest.

    Good luck for next week! I’m excited to see how your blog develops.

    • You hit the nail on the head (pardon the cliche) with how you phrased “if they’re not willing to wait, it does reveal something about the quality of interest.” While I’m not a huge fan of this saying, in this case, perhaps distance does make the heart grow fonder – or at least, those who are truly committed should be able to survive some distance. Thank you for reading and commenting, congratulations on the productivity of your posts as of late and all of your traffic!

  14. I think age is pretty much just a number. It would be hard to see someone much older than myself age and eventually die, but I think it would be harder if you truly loved that person and weren’t allowed to be together because someone else has stupid ideas about age.

  15. Best age-gap relationship ever: Aragorn (age 80) and Arwen (age 2700 or so). It worked out for them just fine.

  16. I think you have a point in that people should not just knee-jerk hate on age-gap relationships, but. Big but here. Age is not just a number. Age can be indicative of a huge gap in experience and/or maturity. In those cases, age can become such a huge, huge problem. Obviously, part of it depends on what you think you are comfortable with. Some observations based on experience, from a heterosexual girl: 1. If you are (probably) the less experienced person, age-gap can be incredibly scary and inhibiting. 2. Age-gap can make you very insecure about your age and maturity level, which I don’t think is right. 3. An age-gap relationship can make your relationships/friendships with people your own age difficult.

    All in all, you can’t say across the board how much age is too much. It differs for everyone. But I would say be careful. At the wrong ages, even two or three years can be too much, something I can tell you from experience.

    It is an interesting topic though. 🙂 Kudos to you for thinking these things through.

    • I agree with all of what you’ve stated, though I think the key word is “indicative.” Not to undermine any of what you’ve written, because it’s all true and they do serve as considerations for everyone within an age-gap relationship, but it all depends on the people themselves and their own levels of psychological development/mental maturity. Thank you for your insight as always!

  17. I think that all relationships should be based on mutual feeling and not about outward appearance. However, I do think that certain problems can come with a relationship that features a large age-gap. Thought it really all just depends on the couple and if both parties are comfortable with it.

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  19. I found your post very enlightening; my parents have quite an age gap between them too but they still both love each other dearly and their marriage is strong. I once plucked up the courage to ask my mother about this topic and she replied, ‘Your father might be quite older than me, but mentally, I reckon I’m more mature by a million years!’

    • I’m glad that your parents are the epitome of an age-gap relationship that is working out well! Your mom sounds like she has a great sense of humor. (: Thank you for reading and commenting.

  20. I think it just depends on the couple. When I was in college, I mostly dated older guys (like 3-5 yrs older) though there was a significantly older guy (+25 years) that I liked but it didn’t work out not because of his age but because he had a medical condition that he didn’t want to burden me with, so nothing much ever happened with him. I ended up marrying a guy 5 yrs younger than me and got a lot of crap from some people about that, but I think it really just depends on maturity and what you want in life, in my opinion, and your personalities.

    • It’s great that you got a bunch of experience before settling with the right guy for you – those who deride you obviously cannot comprehend the compassion behind your relationship. (: But, yes, you’re right that it depends on the maturity and what each of the individuals in the relationship want out of life!

  21. Oooh, this is such an interesting topic. And I think along very similar lines as yourself – if the relationship is consensual and not hurting anyone, then I don’t really see any problem with it.

    But there’s the undeniable aspect that society will play in the development of the relationship. A lot of people could be accepting of a large age-gap relationship but there’d be the inevitable questions and explanations that might be necessary whenever the couple goes out/tries to interact. Like Justin and Brian – you know when Justin initially ran away from home and Brian and his friends looked on Justin as this youthful burden? Obviously Brian’s friends came to understand the situation (even before Brian himself did at times) but they had to overcome that initial judgment, but many people wouldn’t.

    Same with Jane Eyre. I’m thinking of Mrs. Fairfax’s objections to their relationship here, though that had a lot to do with class as well. However, that’s also a great example of how deep a connection can be despite the age difference.

    Anyways, I hope you have a great first week of college! Look forward to hearing how it goes.

    • Oh and so glad to hear your thoughts on “Eleanor and Park”! Isn’t it wonderful? I admit it lost a little shine to it when they got into the whole ‘Oh, I have such intense feelings for you’ and were kind of all over each other, but it was a beautifully told story. Their connection was just..gah! No words. Well, I’m sure there are, but I’m brain dead at the moment.

      • It makes me so happy to discuss this with someone who can reference Queer as Folk and Jane Eyre! Ah! But yes I see exactly what you mean in regard to how society will be tough on them – but in the end, isn’t it those who understand that matter? Like with Brian and Justin, that one writer guy (forget his name) completely disapproved of their relationship, but the two of them couldn’t care less… they had their true friends for support, and more importantly, each other. Same goes to an extent with Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. It’s somewhat like how a gay relationship would have been perceived quite some time ago (or how they are still perceived in certain parts of the world).

        So glad you enjoyed Eleanor and Park too! While some of the emotions they had for each other might have been just a little bit sappy I still thought their connection was wonderful. The brain dead feeling is mutual. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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