Is it OK to date a man younger than me?

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Is it OK to date a man younger than me?

Jul 24, 2006 |Candice Watters
Question

I am about to turn 23 years old, and I am a student at Boyce College, a ministry school. Over half the student population at this college happens to be of the male gender, and most of the guys are younger than myself. Should I place an age minimum for the guy I choose to date and/or enter into a relationship with?

Answer

I'm glad you find this column helpful and trustworthy enough to submit your own question.

My answer is similar to the one I gave about different levels of education: it's not so much a matter of years but of maturity and compatibility. Granted, in this case, there's a prudential and practical age limit beneath which you should not consider going. Although a five-year difference may be imperceptible when you're 35 and he's 30, right now that difference would not be only noticeable, but legally problematic. Also, given that women tend to mature faster than men (granting of course that this is a general trend, not a hard and fast rule) it's not likely you'd find an equitable level of maturity in a man five years your junior.

There's a lot of life experience that tends to happen between 18 and 23; the kinds of things that have the ability to grow a person up (if you let them). I think practically speaking, at this age, it's best to not go beyond one or two years younger.

Finally, I find your wording — "the guy I choose to date" a bit curious. So let me clarify: just because you're older, does not mean the role of leader in the relationship should shift to you. The man should always be the initiator, the one who does the choosing. At that point, it's up to you to decide how and if you will respond. Considering the potential age difference you're facing, allowing him to lead is paramount to the success of any romantic relationship.

May God grant you wisdom as you continue to grow in Him.

Best,
CANDICE WATTERS

Copyright 2006 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

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