How Young Is Too Young?

How young is too young?

I got this question sent to me, so I thought I’d answer it here, and ask for your opinions.

I have a dating-website related question that I suspect many people are wondering about. I recently turned 27, and now I sort of feel creepy having 18 as the lower end of my age limit. I started getting into online dating when I was 25, and it seemed reasonable at the time to just leave it as the default. Now I’m wondering how one goes about deciding what your lower limit is, because let’s be honest here, if JFK was 18 and online looking for a match, you’d be wishing your lower limit was 18. (If it’s not right now.) — Brian.

I get what you’re saying, but 18 is still waaaay too low for me, buddy. As much as I love JFK, I wouldn’t want to fool around with an 18-year-old JFK. (For JFK I’ll go as low as 21, but to be clear, that’s only because it’s JFK.) It’s all about personal preference, though I would have you ask yourself, what do you really have in common, as a 27-year-old man with an 18-year-old girl? Not a lot. She can’t even legally order drinks on your date (in America)! And we all know I love the dranks, so that’s important to me. It’s not just the booze factor, it’s an indicator of how big the gap is. Just something to keep in mind.

Personally, I keep my age range at least  year older than my younger brother (we’re both in our 20’s). I made the mistake once of dating someone 3 years younger, and those 3 years when you’re in your 20’s are bigger than you’d think. It’s kind of awkward when you’re on a date and only one of you can legally drink. I know, I know, I keep going back to drinking, and again, it’s not about the drinking, it’s about what it stands for.

Now I’ve got “Young Girl” stuck in my head.

What do you guys think? How young is too young? What’s your dating age range limit?


Got a question? Send me an email and I’ll post it on my blog. Indicate if you want to use your name, a fake name, or go anon. I’m here to help!

Photo: School girls, 1956. By Nina Leen via LIFE photo archives for Google.

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16 thoughts on “How Young Is Too Young?

  1. Cindy Lou Who

    Hey Almie! I’m fifteen and I have a major crush on an eighteen year old….he’s going to Community College (U in a few yrs)

  2. Cindy Lou Who

    Hey Almie! I’m fifteen and I have a major crush on an eighteen year old….he’s going to Community College (U in a few yrs) but I am assuming he’s living where he has lived a long time. We have talked to each other a lot and I swear I have felt a connection before! We have a lot in common, and there are two things holding me back-
    1. He’s a legal adult. If he was even a year younger I would feel more confident. But I like him too much to not ask him out because of this…I think.
    2. It’s hard for me to start a conversation with him by myself! If we are in the same room with other people, we can talk really well. We actually have talked alone successfully. A few times. But normally we’re shy…
    So what do I do? Is this too much in one comment? Help! I’ve liked him for two years and I think that’s long enough to suffer!

    1. Cindy Lou Who

      I meant in concern number two that sometimes we have talked without anyone else around at all. Reading it again, that was unclear!

      1. Almie Rose Post author

        Okay, so 15 and 18 can be a big gap, especially considering he’s about to go away to school. I hate to break it to you, but he likely won’t have any interest in dating a 15-year-old, as awesome as you are. At 18 he’s looking at other 18-year-olds. And because he’s legally an adult, he might even be scared about anything happening with you, since it’s likely illegal. Personally, as hard as it is, I don’t think you should go for it. You guys are on two completely different paths right now. What’s your current connection? Are you friends? Acquaintances? You say you’re in the same room together — what’s the context?

        1. Cindy Lou Who

          We’re friends. Not best friends or anything, but yeah we’re friends. And my context is youth group! And it’s not like our long conversations we have had a few times are intense conversations about God :) They’re about fun things you would talk about to a friend, I guess. We’ve had many a long convo surrounded by the other members of the group and a few not surrounded.

          Thank you so much for your advice. It means so much to me and I wouldn’t want to have false expectations about what would happen if I said anything!!!

  3. Alisha

    Dating with an age difference starts off as a big deal, then it becomes less of a big deal as you get older – but I think you ALWAYS need to consider the consequences.

    When I was 22 I met a guy 13 years older than me and we embarked on an amazing 3 year relationship. We hardly ever let the age difference be a ‘thing’, but looking back – it always was…. now that he’s married with two kids and I’m still definitely not at that stage, it’s clear that it was never going to work out. Which is fine by me – we were great together, but there would have always been that hanging over us. Plus, since we broke up I’ve done amazing things like move to Whistler and change my life – couldn’t have done that if I’d settled down with him 😉

    1. Almie Rose Post author

      I’m glad it was a positive experience for you! Isn’t it so refreshing when everything just works out?

      1. Alisha

        Yes! There were tough times, but I can generally look back and think ‘it was a nice relationship, and since then I’ve done amazing things and all is sunshine and rainbows.”

        Generally :)

  4. cantaloupe

    Haha, I usually say 21 for my lower limit. And it’s entirely for the drinking.

    When I was 20, I dated a guy who was 38. In my defense, it was NYC and we met in a bar that he’d seen me at multiple times, but he was fully aware that I was much younger than he was. I had no idea how old he was. He was very fit and had a full head of beautiful black hair and I’m awful at ages. When he told me, I actually didn’t believe him, so he showed me his passport, which had stamps from everywhere. It was surreal in that sense because he’d already done so much with his life and I was still in college and hadn’t done anything! Like he kept telling me to just travel the world after I graduated and I was like “psh, that’s unrealistic.” Then when I got my job abroad, he magically found out and messaged me on FB to say good for me. (I have no clue how he saw that since we’re not FB freinds and don’t keep in contact… but it was cute. He was all “I have my sources” when I demanded to know how he found out. Which is ridiculous since we have zero mutual friends…. so much craziness.) I don’t know what my point is… maybe that sometimes it’s a good experience to have a huge age gap? That you can learn a lot from each other? Although I have no clue what the hell he learned from me….

    Also my parents were 20 years apart and happily married (until the untimely death of my father…. which I think is rather the most real downfall to a huge age gap…)

  5. Alexandria G.

    It’s tricky. In theory I’ve always loved older men… but when it comes down to it, I know that when people are in different places in their lives and experience, that does determine compatibility. I don’t think actual age matters (keeping things legal of course) in the big picture.. like I said, it more about how you relate to each other, common interests, general getting along, etc. Not having a father may be affecting me now that I’m in my 20s than when I was a child. Issues may arise, but I can overcome it.

    Strangely, I get guys a few years younger than me showing interest. This honestly disturbs me. I tried “dating” someone of that variety and it was a bad idea. My youngest limit (depending on maturity) is probably 21. (I like drinking too!) The oldest (in theory) would be 30. Ah, but there are always exceptions when you like someone, aren’t there? 😉

    Ideally, someone who is around my age, a year or two older. I wouldn’t mind learning a thing or two.

  6. San

    I met my husband when I was 25, he was 19. We’ve been happily married for 8 years. I think it always depends in the person.

  7. Erica L

    I agree with Almie on this one. I really do think having a smaller age gap is most beneficial. Especially in regards to someone who is already above drinking age. I’ve dated a man 10 years my senior, and it was amazing, granted we do both love David Bowie, and a few other similarities that made it easier for me to relate to him. Dating older after you both have hit most legal age accomplishments (18, 21) can make a difference. I also dated a guy 4 years younger than me and he spent a good 6 months waiting up for me to come home from bars, and what not. I think that it makes a difference just in that, as much as it shouldn’t. Above all else, I would say that online dating is a difficult process as it is, maybe don’t confuse it too much by allowing such a large gap, it’s easier to date someone with that large gap if you grew to know them, not just found out there eye color and favorite hobbies on the weekend. When it comes down to it, love is love, and as a previous comment said, her parents had a very large age gap and were married happily, I think that can happen, but the likelihood of it happening is the exception, not the standard.

  8. Luke

    Well, taking this with a grain of salt as possibly the only guy to comment on this; the age gap mostly exists only in the eyes of those around you.
    Starting when I was 17, I had a really amazing few years with a woman who was 21 years my senior (and I’m Australian so it was just irregular, not illegal). And now, some 21 years later I’m dating a woman who’s only 23.
    So yeah, I’ve seen both ends of some pretty significant age gaps and my personal experience is that the part that makes it hardest is mutual friends. Everything can be just fine between you and your partner, but the problem is always mutual friends. Or rather, the lack thereof.
    It’s one thing to fall in love with someone significantly outside the age range you’d normally associate with, it’s another thing entirely to want to hang out with a room full of them. And relationships can suffocate pretty quickly in a vacuum.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that ideally you want the age gap to be “bridgeable” by mutual friends, so think about the youngest or oldest friend you actually enjoy spending time with, and try to avoid reaching more than twice as many years for a partner.

  9. mila

    I think you’re too negative about it Almie. I guess it’s also coubtry differences (in my country in Europe you can have sex when you turn 15 and drink when you’re 18, but a glass of wine to dinner when you’re a bit under isn’t a big deal too.
    Also, it might seem different as I am quite mature for my age (I’m turning 20 y/o this November), so I dated guys around 25, 32 or twice even.. 47. You might think it’s like the older onces were interested only in having sex with such a young woman, but in fact we had many meaningful conversations and moments. I guess it just depends upon a person you meet. I am not really into younger guys, I never can find a good connection with them, but I immediately catch it with older. So, thinking about this – if the girl is legal and you don’t care about drinking with her – why generalizing? Young girls happen to be smarter and more mature than older ones. I’m not saying i.t’s always like this and sometimes it might be hard to find a person like this, but… Well, let’s not say no to a person who’s a good match just because age gap is too big.. (also, I found it common than many guys I dated don’t like to date women their age as they act like old ladies, talking about marriages, houses and children all the time).
    Also the girl from the first comment – I iad my bf 18 when I was 15 and to be honest – it turned out just like Almie said… I mean, he went to uni, started seeing other girls, lying to me and we broke up. But also – why not to be positive about it? Let’s not say that all 18 years old boys are jerks like this!
    I really reapect you and like your blog, but this time Idisagree with you. Cheers!

  10. A Camui

    I’m 29 my hubby is 40 and it’s perfect, couldn’t be a Happier match, age never comes up except in reference to past situations. He’s a famous musician and Japanese, sweet sensitive and honestly always was perfect for me, my weaknesses are his strengths. I’m a Jew and Scottish, but live overseas… I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

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