Dear Bitter Amanda,
You seem bored, so let me shoot this question to you.
What is an unreasonable age gap for dating? Without getting overtly sarcastic or going to extremes, allow me to provide you with an example. Let's say that I'm 24. Is it okay for a 24 year old to date an 18 year old? How about a 26 year old and an 18 year old, is that a reputable couple? What if a person is 30 and dating a 20 year old? Is there an unspoken judgment somewhere that strictly says "No!"? Of course this includes only those people who are, of course, adults as defined by the law, I'm not asking for responses to questions that would go include anyone under 18. Is the chemistry between people the only thing that matters? I mean chemistry is fine, but a gap of six to eight year between people means a mess of developmental differences. In reality, an 18 year old who ACTS older really has a lot to go through still to BE older, and that only comes with time and experience. You can't fake experience.
What's your view on that one?
-Old Man River
Dear Show Boat,
Ok, I'm just going to put this out there at the start. You should not be dating an 18 year old.Alright, I feel better now. This is kind of a sticky subject. People who ask usually have a specific person or situation in mind, and inevitably don't like what they hear. (Picky bastards.) (Oh, not you, Old Man.) (Well...you might be. So far you're good.) There's no real rule or formula. I was once told the youngest a person could go was half their age plus 7. Following that, I could date a 19 year old. (He'd have to be a pretty upstanding 19 year old, to meet Bitter Amanda Standards.) But I think 19 is too young. This theory, along with all the others, is sketchy at best. My sister won't even consider anyone who is too young to go to a bar. Six years is a lot at my age, but thinking of a 40 year old dating a 46 year old doesn't even phase me. (Except that she's setting herself up for disappointment; a common theme no matter the age.)
For me, here's what it really boils down to: where you are in life. An 18 year old is dealing with, let's assume for the sake of me being right, finishing high school and going to prom and figuring out how to wear a mortar board without looking sort of goofy. (Hey grads, the answer is: you can't.) They are planning the next big stage of life, whether that's college or the military or a job or whatever. And that might sound a lot like your mid 20s, but ask yourself: do you want to escort your significant other to their prom? (Sweet, creepy old guy is buying the beer!) I don't know about you, readers, but I had one prom and that was quite enough. Do you want to take her to your office party? (Hey, the boss brought his daughter, that's sweet....oh, wait.)
When you're looking at age gaps, you have to forget the number (assuming it's over 18 for both parties, thanks very much) and look at where your life is. Chemistry is important, but if you can't have a real conversation and understand each other, you don't have much.
And no, you cannot fake experience. You can fake a lot of things--some people even fake whole relationships. But you cannot fake experience.
Finally, before I sign off, do not date an 18 year old. You're too old for that.
(Bonus parenthetical insert!)