I [24M] think a younger woman I met recently [18F] is interested in me. I am not a ‘people person’ and have almost no experience with dating so I would like someone to double-check that I am not going to do anything hurtful, mean, etc. We have similar interests but I don’t know her very well. On account of this and the age difference, the most likely scenario here is that we would enjoy each other’s company as friends or on a date, and we are sexually attracted to each other, but I would not be interested in a relationship with her.
I have not met anyone I was interested in starting a relationship with in about 2 years, so for me I am ok with this scenario, and if she were my age I would ask her out and let her know my thoughts on this before anything sexual happened.
Is that still ok in this circumstance? What should I do? To me she seems plenty confident in her own decisions but my grasp of people’s emotions is not all that great.
When it comes to dating people younger than you, there are unwritten rules and of course, written rules. First thing to consider, is it legally permissible to date this person? If they can consent, congrats you completed step one. If they can’t legally consent, do not pass go! Admittedly, there are places in the world where the age of consent is pretty low and or doesn’t exist. In those cases, stick with the “Is older than 18 years of age” rule and you’ll be fine. With that out of the way, you get to the part that is a bit less defined because it requires some introspection on your part. Listen, I can only make things so easy for you.
When considering dating someone with a significant age difference, like say greater than 3 years difference, ask yourself this: Do I personally have a problem with dating someone with that age difference? Bear in mind that the answer changes the older you get for some age differences. At 30 years old, I don’t want to date someone 9 years younger than me, but at 40 years old, I think I’d be a bit more accepting of it. At 25, I wouldn’t have dated someone 5 years younger than me, but at 30 years old I’d consider it. If you think dating someone who is 6 years younger than you is okay with you at 24-years-old, then by all means go for it.
Let’s take it a step further: Maybe you are okay with the age difference, but can you actually “date” this person? Let’s say you’re a 50-year-old guy and you want to date an 18-year-old girl. While legally okay, I wonder if you could actually date without either person feeling incredibly uncomfortable. I’m not saying you need to bow to external pressure, but you do need to be realistic about whether or not you’re “dating” versus “trying to bang someone young and hot”. If it’s the latter, go nuts I wont judge you, but if you’re looking for an actual long-term relationship you have to be realistic about the viability of the people you date in a real relationship. What sort of conversations can a 50-year-old guy have with an 18-year-old girl he’s dating? What sort of life will you build together? What would you have in common? Can you introduce them to your family, friends, and coworkers and think “they will be comfortable and have a good time”? I’d guess that 99.99999% of the time the answer is “No” with that sort of age difference but I’m sure there are some cases where a less extreme age difference isn’t viable. An 8 year age difference can be major if you’re a 26-year-old woman with a stable career who is dating an 18-year-old who just started college. If that same 26-year-old woman was dating a 34-year-old, it might raise an eyebrow or two, but they’d have much more in common. Ultimately, determining whether or not it’s okay to date someone is a judgment you have to make. (Unless it’s illegal/should be illegal of course, because that jury is out on that).
With all that said, let’s talk about your specific situation. I don’t think you’re doing anything inherently hurtful or mean by pursuing someone who has expressed interest in you. I’m sure that most of your apprehension is around her age but trust me, it’s okay and isn’t malicious in the slightest. Your apprehension is based on something that just isn’t there. As long as the age gap is okay with you, go for it! Best case scenario is you guys click and it’s awesome. Worst case scenario she shoots you down, which isn’t really all that bad because hey, life goes on. If it’s been 2 years since you were last interested in dating someone, don’t let the fact that she’s a few years younger deter you. Who knows when you’ll click with someone again?
She’s a consenting adult and if she wants to date you, and you want to date her, by all means go through with it.
Good Luck Out There.