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.”