University life presents unique dating circumstances. Students spend their days living, learning and loving in an incubator of co-eds, with the majority of these potential hook-up partners falling into the 18-24 age range.
Post-graduation dating becomes much less predictable. A typical downtown watering hole offers a vast selection of ready-to-mingle singles that range from their late teens to the 40-plus crowd. So while every weekend presents a new opportunity to broaden your dating horizons, it can be difficult to determine whether that cute guy offering to buy you a drink is a baby-faced 30-something or a well-dressed underage gent.
It would be romantic to believe that true love doesn’t discriminate based on age, but the reality is often very different. So how old is too old and how young is too young?
Chemistry doesn’t trump compatibility, so ask yourself if you both want the same things in the relationship. If you’re in your early 20s looking to have a casual fling and he’s creeping toward 40 and searching for the future mother of his children, then you definitely have a problem.
You also have to consider how people might react to your age disparity. Choosing to date someone outside your age group means friends, parents and even strangers are going to have an opinion. Women who go out with someone significantly older are often labelled the gold-digging trophy girlfriend, while those who date younger men are inevitably subjected to the tired old cougar reference (the reference is tired and old, not the women).
In the end, it’s not necessarily your numerical age, but your maturity that has a greater impact on the success of the relationship. But if you’re still confused on whether your May-December romance is destined to fail, there’s always the “half your age plus seven” equation. This simple bit of mating math goes as follows: Divide your current age by two and then add seven, the number you are left with is the absolute youngest age you’re allowed to date before it becomes indecent.
According to this not-so-scientific dating formula, a 24-year-old woman shouldn’t date a man younger than 19. Then again, dating someone who is at least the legal drinking age should be a no-brainer for anyone who enjoys an overpriced cocktail on a Friday night.