What’s an acceptable age difference when dating a woman today? Are you too old for her? Is she too old for you?
In this day and age, more and more people are choosing to eschew convention and date people who are significantly older or younger than them.
Other than sticking to the law when it comes to age difference and dating (i.e., only dating adults who are 18 years of age or older), there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing to date someone based on — or in spite of — an age gap.
Still, dating someone with a significant age difference can come with a few complications:
If you are from different generations, there may be clashes in personality or perspectives you can’t relate to.
- If there is a difference of 20 or more years and you become serious, you will have to face that one of you will most likely become the caretaker to the other and that a 50th wedding anniversary is highly unlikely. Yes, it’s morbid, but it’s a reality that needs to be taken into account.
- You may face scrutiny from strangers, as well as friends and family.
- If you are significantly older than a woman, you may be past the point of wanting children or already have children of your own, while a woman in her 20s and 30s is looking to start a family.
- The reverse of this is also true. If you date a woman who is past her childbearing years and you want to have children, this can be a big point of contention and a possible deal breaker.
If you’re dipping your toes back in the dating world or simply want to know what is an acceptable age difference in dating today, take a look below at two important dating age rules.
Dating Age Rule #1: The Half Your Age + 7 Rule
One rule that tends to lead to an acceptable age difference in dating is the half your age + 7 rule. To know if the age difference between you and the other person is acceptable, divide your age in half and add 7. So, for example, if you’re dating a woman who is younger:
- If you’re 34, the youngest acceptable age would be 24
- If you’re 28, the youngest acceptable age would be 21
- If you’re 24, the youngest acceptable age would be 19
- And, obviously, if you’re 21, anything under the age of 18 would be unacceptable
If you’re dating an older woman, simply divide her age and add seven to see if you fit into the acceptable age range for her when it comes to dating younger men.
The formula will remain the same regardless of age, but note that the acceptable age gap widens significantly. For example, according to this rule, the youngest acceptable age for a man who is 50 would 32 — that’s an age gap of 18 years.
Conversely, if a man is 35, the acceptable age difference in dating would permit the man to date a woman who is around 25 — a 10 year age difference. And with a man who is 30, the youngest acceptable age difference in dating would be 22 — an 8 year age difference.
How are all of these age differences acceptable? I have some theories.
For one, there is scientific evidence that shows girls truly do mature faster than boys. According to evidence discovered by Newcastle University, brain maturation wherein the brain “begins to ‘prune’ information that is stored and focus on what is important” begins between the ages of 10 to 12 for girls and 15 to 20 for boys — a pretty significant difference.
This could explain why sometimes you see couples where the man is in his mid-thirties and the woman is in her early twenties, or the man is in his late 40s and the woman is in her early thirties, and you really don’t notice a distinction in maturity or anything that would appear to be a disconnect between the two. These age gaps seem to seldom cause any romantic discord when it comes to two people being able to relate.
Moreover, there is scientific evidence that also states that certain parts of the brain are not fully developed until age 25. Between the ages of 18 and 25, the prefrontal cortex is still not fully developed. This part of the brain is what helps you practice impulse control and can also help you organize things in a way that helps you reach a goal (like settling down and getting married, meeting a goal to do with your career path etc.).
For this reason, it’s understandable why certain age disparities don’t always work out or end up causing complications in the relationship. This upends the stereotypes about men always being creeps if they date younger women or younger women having daddy issues if they date older men. Sometimes there can be chemistry and romantic connection between two people, but different stages of development can cause difficulty as the two people get to know each other better. It’s as simple as that.
Scientifically speaking, if a man who is close to 50 dates a woman in her early 20s, they will likely be in completely different places in their lives. The man is likely established in his career, while the woman in her early 20s is fresh out of college and navigating her way through the true beginnings of adulthood.
To look at a smaller — but still important — age difference in dating, I’ll use the show Friends as an example.
In season 6, Ross dated a woman who was 12 years younger — he was 32 and she was 20. Eventually, he ended the relationship due to their maturity levels not aligning. Take a look.
Now, if Ross had gone by the half your age plus 7 rule, he would have been dating someone 23 at the youngest. She would have been out of college at this point and likely at a maturity level where — although there could be a few disconnects — would have caused less of a discord in the relationship.
Dating Age Rule #2: The 10 Year Age Gap
Another good rule of thumb (and my personal favorite) to use when it comes to the appropriate age difference in dating is the 10 year age gap — as in, going above that could potentially lead to relationship dissatisfaction down the road.
If you Google age difference in dating today, you’ll see that many sources cite a 10 year age difference as being considered a large age gap, and that relationship success tends to decline when you go above that gap.
A study from Emory University in Atlanta found that the larger age gaps became in relationships, the more likely the couples were to split up.
Of the 3,000 participants that were analyzed, 39% of couples were more likely to split up when there was a 10-year age gap and a staggering 95% of couples were more likely to split up when they were in couples with an age gap that was 20 years or more.
The study concluded that a relationship with a one year age difference tended to be preferable.
When Age Gap Relationships Work Out
Like I said, there are exceptions to these rules, and several people have found success in relationships with a wide age gap.
In 2015, 10 women talked to Shape about why the age differences in their romantic relationships not only were acceptable to them but actually strengthened their relationship.
The women who gave their accounts on age difference and dating ranged from being the older spouse to much younger. One woman who married a man 13 years her senior said that his maturity and willingness to be a stepfather to her daughter was something that made him stand out as a compatible, long-term partner. Another spoke about how the traditional values and gentlemanly nature of her fiance (who was 30 years older than her at the time of the publication) was part of what won her heart.
Two women who were the older partner in the relationship talked about how the age gap kept them young at heart and that they enjoyed upending “cougar” stereotypes by joking about it in a playful, loving manner.
In 2017, a group of six women spoke with Men’s Health about their experience dating a man 10 years or older than them. The answers were mostly positive and included:
- That age matters less with time
- That they were able to make it work despite generational differences
- That the maturity of being with an older man also caused a sense of security and comfort
- One admitted to receiving weird looks from people in public but eventually learned to not allow it to affect her relationship
Age Difference When Dating a Woman Wrap-up: Find the Right Fit for You
Like I said, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what is considered an acceptable age difference in dating today. There can be many complications that come from age gaps, but tons of people make it work and have found lasting love with a partner who is significantly older or younger.
One of the best ways to find someone truly compatible with you is by getting out there in the dating world and getting lots of practice in order to find the right fit. A strategy I always recommend to my male clients is MegaDating.
MegaDating is a dating process that involves going on dates with several different women at the same time in order to diffuse energy by keeping your calendar full. This method helps you build confidence and keeps you from settling for the mediocre, because you’re constantly seeing that there are plenty of fish in the sea.
With MegaDating, you’re able to see what works for you and what doesn’t when it comes to finding a compatible partner. You can go on dates with a woman that is significantly older or younger while also going on dates with women in your age group, which will really help you gauge your preferences when it comes to age differences.
If you want more individualized advice on dating and would like to reach goals like finding a girlfriend or a long term partner this year, head over to my calendar and book a new client 1-on-1 Skype session with me today. During our session, we will discuss your dating roadblocks and create an action plan to help you achieve your dating goals.
All of these services have been expertly designed to help you stay out of the friend-zone and find a high-value girlfriend.
I look forward to connecting with you!