In Love and Dating… Does Our Age Difference Really Matter?

In the day in age where celebrity couples and other couples are dating even though they’re five or even ten years apart in age, it can lead many people to believe that age doesn’t matter when dating or getting married.

In truth, it does matter but it matters less and less as you get older. Should you let age be a factor during dating?

Dear Dan and Jennifer,

Does age difference really affect relationships? My partner and I have been together for about 2 1/2 years. My parents are determined it won’t work because of our ages. We’re 4 years apart but I’m under 18 and he is 19. We have been through so much and we both still believe we can make this work and we’re planning to get married as soon as possible. So is this a waste of time for us or is it possible?

–Corie, Virginia

How Young Is Too Young?

First, let’s take a look at how young “too young” might be. For example, if you have a 15 year old person and an 18 or even 19 year old person, you’re asking for trouble. Although the four year age difference isn’t much when you look at a couple that is 50 and 54 years old, a four year age gap when you’re that young really seems like a bigger age gap than it really is.

Sexually speaking, if these partners are sexually active, you bring in a whole new element to the equation. Statutory rape charges can be filed at that point and one or both partners can end up in more trouble than they’d like to be in. Even a two year age gap at that stage can make a big difference, for example, if one partner is 17 and the other is 19.

Once both partners become “of age” or turn 18, age differences begin to matter less and less as you age. While an age difference between an 18 year old and a 26 year old might seem like a big deal, the age difference between a 41 year old and a 49 year old doesn’t seem bad at all.

When you’re young, be aware of statutory rape laws and other laws and make sure your relationships abide by them. Keep in mind that even once you turn 18, a huge age gap still makes a difference until you get a little older.

Slowing Down

Regardless of your age difference, if you’re young you might want to rethink rushing into a relationship and especially rushing into a marriage. Right now is the time to really figure out who you are and focus on yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t date or have a relationship, but trying to take a plunge into a serious relationship or even a marriage might be more than you want to take on right now.

Sadly, you won’t really realize it until it’s too late, when your responsibilities are overwhelming you. Take some time right now to really enjoy your life and figure out what you want to do with it. Focus on school or your career and let your dating relationships be a source of enjoyment to you, not a source of responsibility.

Let’s take one last look at why age differences seem to matter more when you’re young and why they matter less when you’re older. In past centuries, women were married off when they were very young, as young as thirteen, to much, much older men.

As society grew and developed, this became less of an accepted practice. Laws were created so that 18 was the accepted age where someone becomes an adult, and that sex is illegal unless it is between two consenting adults. If your relationship goes outside those boundaries, you might want to rethink it.


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