T Nation

How Young is too Young to Date?


Okay fellow forum denizens, a serious question here - how young is too young to date before the relationship is viewed by most others in a public setting as being indecent, creepy or violating standing social mores?

I am 34 and I have never been married. I live in a college town, so a lot of the single prospects here are college students. We seem to have a shortage of unmarried, single, working professionals in the 24-40 age bracket. Does the old "1/2 your age + 7 years" rule of thumb still apply these days?

Under ordinary circumstances, one wouldn't consider someone so young, due to maturity factors, but let's say you met someone who was mature and had their act together, but this person was still in college (undergraduate), yet otherwise you could consider that person a good dating match. At what age does the "creepy" factor set in? I wouldn't normally give two hoots less about what other people thought, but since I teach high school, this is the type of personal decision that could cost you your career if enough people were legitimately concerned about the "creepiness factor," where it might not be any issue whatsoever with most other working professionals, because at the end of the day both are consenting adults and your career may not be as closely tied to your public image.


Whatever you decide make damn sure its not a former student at that age. Too many questions in that scenario.


Yes, NOT a former student in any manner, but good point. Those types of relationships are usually career killers, and I know of it happening once to a second year teacher.


I don't think there is anything wrong with it at all.

That said, you WILL be judged by people in your community, assuming this relationship is out-in-the-open.

What sort of impact, if any, that could have on your career is difficult to predict. I think you could reasonably expect some trust issues to arise. If I put myself in the shoes of a father to a 17 year-old student of yours I think I would be very, very suspicious of you if I saw you having dinner with someone two or three years older (who, at a glance, could even be the same age as one of your students). I don't think such suspicions would be unreasonable, either.

You are in a position of authority and trust, and you can almost bank on some people having a negative perception of you as an educator if you are dating women just two or three years older than the ones you are entrusted with.

Maybe you have the charisma to pull it all off, but I think you are wise to contemplate the risks of entering into this type of relationship.


Was going to say 1/2 your age * 7, but I see you listed that already. This leads me to believe you've already found a girl with whom you're contemplating some cradle robbin :stuck_out_tongue:

So how young is she?


It may depend on how old you both look. If you are a young looking 34 it may not be an issue, but if you are bald and old looking that is something else.


All I can really say is I've been there, done that (twice), and was wrong about them being as mature as I thought they were. It took me awhile after each relationship ended to realize that.

For a more casual relationship, I see less of an issue (other than the looks people give you), but I'd be wary if you want something more serious.



Graduate students, maybe?

I don't think dating an undergrad college student at 34 is a great idea. Even "mature" college students are likely to change quite a bit in their next five years. I'm 28 now, and I know that I have changed a heck of a lot from when I was 21. I don't think any of us is ever "fully formed" and I know people continue to grow and mature well into life, but I think the time from about 21-25, in particular, is when a LOT of that happens.

I wouldn't say "it will never work" but I would certainly not want to try it.

Making a gross generalization, graduate students are more likely to be able to relate to real life than undergrads. I know plenty of knucklehead graduate students, too, but most of the good ones are more like working professionals than they are like undergraduate students.


Soon to be 21...:slight_smile:

Yeah, I thought it would be good to get unbiased, unsolicited advice on an anonymous basis. This really isn't something that is wise to solicit advice from co-workers on, and some of the issues that twojars mentioned are worthy of consideration.

This was exactly my concern, in so far as at what age that is no longer likely to be an issue (e.g., 21, 24, 25?). Unfortunately, when you are teaching adolescents, if this scenario unfolded, you could feasibly lose your job if a few influential parents were suspicious enough that they pushed the issue hard core with a sympathetic administration and/or a few influential members on the board of education. While there are some contractual protections being that we are unionized and I have had tenure for quite awhile, truth be told, the courts have firmly established that a school district is legally justified in dismissing a teacher whenever his or her ability to teach has been impaired by questionable personal, off-duty conduct that lessens his or her effectiveness as a role model or somehow makes students feel uncomfortable to the point that the classroom learning environment is impaired. Teaching seems to be one of the few professions where so much of your personal life can get you fired under the right set of circumstances.

It's great to read other viewpoints here, because I have no gauge as to what point at which a normal, unbiased person's "creep-o" meter would be sent into overdrive based on this scenario.


Less awkward if she's 21+.


Don't worry about it and this is why.

Someone is always going to pull you're a "creep card" because you're older. Generally because they old bitter hags or jealous men.

Older men have dated younger women for years. I find younger women are less bitter and damaged than late 20's and up. People have been getting married at 18 for years.


Is this you OP?


If that's your daughter, you've failed as a parent.


If you get on well I say go for it just be damn discreet about it at work/ don't bring her to staff social events etc


I would say I've been in your situation, but i'm not an authority figure in anyway related to being a teacher. When I was 32 I was dating a 20 year old. It didn't work out, but It really wasn't because of the age, just differences in personality. She wasn't outgoing enough for me. I'm 33 now and am taking a few classes at a community college again and man there are some fine girls who look around the age of 18-21.

Also, there is a big difference between a girl who is 21(which is basically how old you said the girl you are interested in is) and a high school girl who is say 17.

I say go for it, who cares what other people think. There will always be someone out there judging you for what you do.


Just ask Tony Randall



Also wanted to add my best friend's cousin is 23 and she has been going out with a guy who is 39 for over a year.

?Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.? ?Mark Twain


As long as you are not violating any laws, who gives a shit?

I date women in their early 20's all the time. Generally there is a sweet spot with young sophisticated, intelligent, attractive women: around age 22 - 24 they get tired of dealing with young, stupid, poor, immature, poorly read, never traveled anywhere, etc... guys their age and long for a mature, seasoned man who can open up their world a little. That's when I swoop right in, "how YOU doin'? <<>>.

I'll take them to a few nice restaurants, jazz clubs, maybe a bed and breakfast out in "wine country" and I'll have them on the hook for months. No one has ever been rude about the age difference. Every once in a while the girl will feel a little self conscious and express some discomfort dating someone twice her age, at which point I give her the gift of missing me for a little bit. Simple.

Some of them are more mature than others. And they tend to be liberal (which leads to some very interesting conversations!). But at the end of the day, there's nothing like nailing a woman in her early 20's. It's the definition of "WINNING" for a man in his 40's.


Are you going to go to her social events? 20 year olds go and do stupid shit, do you really want to attend those things? If you're not going to go, does she want someone disconnected from her social life?

If you're not serious about her, then not that big a deal.