Relationship Advice: Is This Guy Too Young For Me?

    How young is too young? Our wicked-smart sex and relationships columnist, Kate Carraway, to the rescue!

by

The Graduate

I’m 30 and I’m seeing a guy who is 23 years young. My good friend who is also 30, was hooking up with a 24-year-old and is now in a relationship with him. My point: how young is too young? Out of curiosity, I’d also like to know how old is too old?

As we’ve discussed before in Love, Kate, the agreed-upon metric for how-low-can-you-go is half your age seven, which puts you both in the green zone. Do the same math if you are considering dating an older guy… but, after 30 or 35, everyone is just kind of sleepy and already knows what kind of champagne they like, so who cares.

The practical arguments against dating a much-younger guy are that he won’t be able to relate to you, and that he won’t be able to give you what you need—which I guess ostensibly means commitment, a baby, sexual experience and dinner at Sotto Sotto, where he acts normal when you see Drake.

Not being able to get what you want is, however, what an older friend of mine (yes, I once dated him) thinks about dating women his own age: they’ll want to get into a ring-house-car-kids scenario immediately.

To review: women aren’t supposed to date younger guys, because they can’t give us what we want and need, and men are supposed to date younger girls, because they can.

(I’ll tell you what I told him: a 25-year-old woman whose origin story involves a small town, pushy parents and/or a squiggle of friends who are already married and having kids—“a squiggle” is the animal-group name for post-high-school girlfriends—will be more anxious about commitment than a 35-year-old with a big job, her own money and a long romantic history.)

Returning to your actual question: if your relationship and life priorities involve getting into a serious thing right now, and you’re not in total-true-love with this guy, then yeah, maybe that young is too young.

That’s not so awesome to consider, though, right? Especially since you’re 30, which is the new 20 (ahh, millennialism!) in that your married friends are still the outliers, and almost no one you know is having kids and approaching life as an actual adult still feels kind of optional. Anyway, here is the good part: younger guys. In addition to the obvious stuff of a 23-year-old having the body and physical energy and make-out enthusiasm of… a 23-year-old, there is this space ahead of them not yet populated by the bruises of broken hearts and bad relationships, and the hurt of the inevitable limitations and disappointments of life, even a life that is super-lucky, super-happy, and super-cool.

Not to shade my 30-year-old dude-brethren—no one age is inherently better or worse than another—but a much-younger guy (who is, of course, already an adult with a perspective of his own) can feel like a vacay from the particular difficulties of men who have had to come to terms with their new hairlines and old girlfriends.

And maybe the best thing is who you get to be to him. Women who are fun, smart, stylish, and interesting are used to being heroine-worshipped by a certain kind of guy—also smart, maybe shy—but that becomes less of an acute experience around thirty-ish when many of those guys have been stung by life, and get less impress-able. (See: above.)

A younger guy, though? Thinks you are the universe. And, you kind of are. With seven or whatever years on him of finding your way in the world, you know an incredible amount that he doesn’t, and he probably likes that about you and wants to be close up to your experience and intelligence and difference. (And, your advanced sex moves.) Here, it’s the same principle as anyone dating an older anyone, which is a tale as old as a twice-divorced bank executive, but when it’s a guy who is way younger, I just sexistly think that the confidence he has to have to go for that shifted paradigm is doubly attractive. So, as long as you’re in that green zone and having fun and not expecting (or wanting) shit you’re likely not going to get from him? Go for it.

Have fun meeting his mom, though.

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