Age gap in relationships affects student couples

By Elizabeth Nerdig

Walking across the stage while the significant other sits in the crowd cheering is a reality for many age gap relationships today. 

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about these relationships that are not fully understood. While some people prefer to date someone their own age, others prefer age differences to match their own maturity level.

“He [my boyfriend, sophomore Caleb Johnson] is very mature for his age,” senior Emily Marshall said.

Compatibility is also a key factor in why some people choose age gap relationships.

“Relationships which tend to be more successful are those in which the partners are well matched regarding maturity, intellect, personality, and interests,” marriage counselor Dr. Barbara Morgan said.

Age gap relationships are on the rise, with a statistic in 2003 showing more women dating and marrying younger men.

“Everyone said, ‘Oh, you are dating an older girl; you are so cool.’ It was just a cool feeling,” junior Doug Buchanan said.

One benefit from dating someone older is the wisdom and the understanding that the person can give you. 

“She [Marshall] is getting all the experience that I have not gotten yet,” Johnson said.

Dating someone older also has its perks when it comes to driving and participating in school events.

“When I was in [N.B.] Clements, I got to go to the high school dances,” Buchanan said.

However, some people look down on relationships with age gaps because they think that one person could be taking advantage of the other.

“Men tend to choose younger females for biological reasons (from an evolutionary psychological perspective) and for child bearing reasons,” Morgan said. “Modern males may choose younger females as they age because of mid-life crisis issues and the need to feel virile and desired.”

In Virginia, the legal age of consent is 18 years old. This means that if anyone over 18 has sex with someone under 18, it is considered statutory rape. However, some states have Age Gap Provision laws that make age gaps less of a crime.

“People think she is older than me and wants to take advantage of me, all of that is just a big myth,” Johnson said.

Some parents still do not approve of age gap relationships. Other parents are more accepting.

“They [my parents] did not have any opposition to me dating him at all,” Marshall said.

One big issue of a relationship with an age gap, however, is the uncertainty of the future. With high school relationships, the older person graduating and going to college can cause a strain on the relationship.

“She [Meaghan O’Hare] had to learn to stand up for herself and be on her own,” Buchanan said. “She was not depending on me as much.”

Additionally, physical aging can be an issue in an age gap relationship.

“The physical aspects of relationships tend to wear off after several years, and then the importance of actual compatibility regarding these other factors becomes even more important to the longevity and the ultimate success of the relationship,” Morgan said.

Most high school relationships with age gaps try not to worry about the future of their relationship.

“We will cross that bridge when we get to it,” Marshall said. “Right now we are just enjoying each other’s company.”

19 Comments

  1. Raya Girard

    November 7, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I think that once we graduate from high school that age gap relationships will not be a big deal at all. Right now, while we are involved in high school social and academic things it is more noticeable when you date someone who is not in the same grade as you . Once we turn 18 we will be considered adults and we will no longer be grouped according to our age. In college any age group that wants to take a certain class will be able to do so.

  2. Madison Guidry

    November 7, 2010 at 6:38 am

    I think this article was very interesting and covered a topic that we don’t usually talk about, especially in highschool. Age gaps are not a very big factor in my opinion, but people do judge. Like Raya said, I also think the age gap will not be as important. I personally think it is the over all feeling that ou get with the person. If you’re happy, then you should’nt worry about the age.

  3. Joshua Kent

    November 7, 2010 at 8:39 am

    This is article is really good. The way it’s written it makes the age gaps seem perfectly normal, which I think they are, because realistically how many people’s parents are the same age? but anyways kudos to you Elizabeth for writting a good article.

  4. rachel waymack

    November 7, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I like how this article was impartial, it did not come out either bashing or praising relationships with age gaps,it showed both pros and cons of these kinds of relationships. I agree that age gaps in relationships really don’t matter as long as the two people are compatible for each other.

  5. Lexie Taylor

    November 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I think that this is a very interesting topic and one that people tend to avoid talking about. Many relationships today have age gaps. Sometimes in high school it seems like a big deal but once high school is over it isn’t seen as a big deal at all.

  6. Joseph P.

    November 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    When people are still in school, they are still developing, so age gaps are much more noticable than when they are adults. But as adults, age gaps of even 10 years aren’t noticable. Even so, I don’t feel that age gaps in high school relationships are a big deal, as long as it is withing 2 years or so. Also, it is more of an issue when the male in the relationship is older, because typically guys are more dangerous when it comes to taking advantage of a younger girl. This is a great article, nice job.

  7. Rachel Arnold

    November 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Age difference isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can definitely put a strain on a relationship, especially when college comes into play. One person leaves (for varying amounts of time depending on the location of the college) and the other is left still in high school. I think this can be the biggest problem because you can’t be with the other person all the time so the relationship tends to falter because one person is basically beginning a new life.

  8. Carrie Young

    November 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I enjoyed this article. In high school, it seems like everyone judges a relationship based on the age difference. In my opinion, what really matters is the maturity level of the two people and how happy they are with each other.

  9. Jamar Johnson

    November 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Age gap is not that big of a deal in life. Most parents make a big deal in high school because they don’t want their child to be taken advantage of, especially their daughter. What those parents don’t realize is that maybe their child and whoever he or she want to date are actually compatible.

  10. Haseena Abdur-Rahman

    November 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    The age that you are chronologically doesn’t necessarily equate to a certain level of maturity or even attitude or interests.Age, although important, is also one of the least important factors in maintaining a successful relationship. I have several friends who are involved with much older or younger partners. Whether the man or the woman is the older partner, the essential ingredients that uphold the relationship are companionship, compatibility, compassion, understanding, kindness, affection and trust – factors that don’t necessarily bear any relation to age. As we shift into adulthood, nobody will really have any concern on the matter of whose older anyway.

  11. Malikah Williams

    November 7, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I have to agree with Raya, once we leave high school age gaps will become less noticeable. This article was very unbiased and well written. The relationship expert added a lot credibility to the article as well.

  12. Tessa Allen

    November 7, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Age is often just a number, as cliche as that sounds. A person can be years older than you, yet way more immature. It all depends on the person. I definitely think it’s between the two people as to whether or not they want to be in a relationship and no one else should pass judgement on them.

  13. Jessica Marshall

    November 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I laughed when I read this article because it’s so true. People always tend to go “oh my god, he’s going out with her! she’s like 121″ I think it’s funny that people react like that but in all reality, that’s how it is. Age is also just a number.

  14. Olivia Tritschler

    December 6, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I thought this was a really good. It is so true that to some couples age is just a number, but there are also other factors to take into consideration when going by that mindset. It also gives a little insight into what is cultural accepted now.

  15. Jessica Taylor

    December 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Like most of the other people who commented on this article, I don’t think that age matters. I think people make a way bigger deal than necessary about it. It can however pose a problem when one person in the relationship goes off to college. But if the couple makes it through that time then their relationship will be so much stronger and if not then oh well it wasn’t meant to be.

  16. Diana O.

    December 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Kudos to Elizabeth, she produced a very well written article. She tackles a situation that is becoming accepted more in society. To me age is nothing but a number because it is maturity that counts. Also as Elizabeth states “Compatibility is also a key factor in why some people choose age gap relationships.” is completely true.

  17. Unique Larry

    January 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Age gaps always seem to be a big deal in highschool especially when one dates someone that is below their class. I feel that the ages of couples in relationships isn’t what should be worried about, It is the maturity level that should be taken into consideration.

  18. Conner Stevenson

    January 14, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    So I really like how this article has no particular side to it. It is pretty fair and shows the good and the bad of this type of relationship. Personally, I believe that the age gap only matters if they choose to let it. Every relationship is different.

  19. Kara Stephens

    October 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I think that the age difference shouldn’t matter much. I’m 19 and my boyfriend is 16. We are both in highschool, and this shows that it shouldn’t matter what you’re age is. I mean if someones like 14 and dating like a 30 year old I can understand.. but a few years isn’t that bad. Me and my boyfriend have consent from his parents to be together.

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