How old is too old?

Now that I’m “an adult”, I’ve come to realize that my dating pool is much larger than just the people I go to school with, or friends of friends, and it seems as I get older, so do the guys who are interested in me, and disproportionately so. It’s yet to be decided whether it’s because I give off an older vibe—whatever that is—but I appear to be popular with guys about ten years older than I am.They make up the bulk of who hits on me, sends me messages online, etc.

It’s almost always been like that—when I was 18, it was guys in their early 20s. When I was in my early 20s, it was guys pushing 30. Now, it’s guys pushing 40, and even into their 40s. So I’ve been thinking about it, and have been trying to figure out just what age caps off my self-selected dating pool.

So far, I think the decade rule works for me, although I guess things might be different if I was looking to settle down right now. What about you guys? What’s your personal experience with age gaps? How old is too old for you? Do you think relationships with significant age gaps can work in the long-run?

13 thoughts on “How old is too old?

  1. EricaSwagger says:

    [This is just a personal thing for me, but (as a 23 year old) I actually couldn’t date someone outside the 21-39 range. I just don’t see myself ever falling for a man over 30. I feel we’d be far too different. Plus, I want to be able to enjoy retirement with my husband, rather than envy him for 10 or more years while he’s living it up and I’m working still. This may be thinking too far ahead…

    On the other hand, my best friend is 24 and dating a 41 year old. Though they get along great as a couple and I love them together, the thought of me doing something similar seems strange and actually makes me a little uncomfortable (with regard to my own personal preferences). But they’ve been together for over 3 years and expect to be together forever, so maybe they’re on to something.

  2. Kelly says:

    [If you aren’t looking to settle down or looking for anything too serious/heavy then I don’t think you need to limit yourself at all. If you’re attracted to a 40 year old and can have a good time with him, why not go out with him?

    On the other hand, if you aren’t ready to settle down yet but want to find a guy now that you might want to settle down with in the future then it might be a good idea to give some thought to how an age gap can affect a relationship and how important those things are to you.

  3. Solstice says:

    [My last boyfriend was 5 years older than me, and now that I’ll be looking to date again, my range is probably 4 years younger than me to 9 years older than me. Upper 30’s still seems kind of old to me even though I know it really isn’t, so 9 years older would be 37 as I’m about to turn 28.

    My last boyfriend was also divorced, and as Breck Effect said, sometimes that was an issue but it was really just an issue in my head, because of not being the first. But the older I get, the more men who will have been married, have been in really long relationships, etc. so since I’ve already dated someone divorced I would do it again, although I guess I would prefer not to. I’m not ready at this stage in my life to date someone with kids though. Unless I hit it off with someone amazingly and knew I wanted to be with them, and then later found out they had a kid, I’m not interested in it. If someone has a kid, that’s a way to screen them out for me.

  4. BreckEffect says:

    [I dated someone with whom I had a 15 year age gap when I was 27-30. It actually worked well enough on that level – sometimes it was weird that he had already graduated college when I was in elementary school and that sort of thing, but what ultimately broke us up had nothing to do with the age difference. And, at the moment, I find myself most compatible with men in their late 30s, early 40s – so, about 10 years older than me. I think it has to do with where they are in their life and what they’re looking for in a woman – they are more mature, confident in themselves, and have had plenty of experience with women to know what they are looking for and what they aren’t.

    However, there some things to watch out for with guys in that age range, although some of them used to seem like a bigger deal to me than they are now, I still think about them. One is the getting older thing – women do live longer than men, and it sucks to think about being without your partner for the last 15-20 years of your life, you know? Then, I always think…would it be better to have the love of my life for “only” 30 or 40 years or to not have him at all?

    Another thing is that older guys have, many times, been married before. There’s something about experiencing all of that for the first time together that kind of gets me. I don’t want to be second. While this has changed a bit for me recently, it still goes double for kids. Be very, very careful with guys who have kids. That’s a mess that’s really, really hard to get out of once you start forming a relationship with the kids, and then find out you have irreconcilable differences with their father. Trust me on that one.

  5. resullins says:

    [I firmly adhere to the 9 year rule. Double digits has ALWAYS gotten me into trouble.

    Or maybe is was just the fact that the old guys tend to steal my pets.

  6. Maracuya says:

    [ I guess my upper bounds would be ten years. My boyfriend is 5 years older than I am, and I think that’s perfect for me, although if he were a little older than that it wouldn’t matter. As long as you have a similar set of values and interests, then I think it’s fine. There’s only two snags I see: If they’re quite older, I would worry about what Breck said. Ideally, I’d like to grow old with my husband. They could also be ready for milestones (marriage, baby) before the younger partner.

  7. Joanna says:

    [When I was in my early 20s, I tried to date guys that were also early 20s, and was horribly unsuccessful. I found that guys 5-10 years older than me were better for dating. Now I am 26 and my boyfriend is 36. We don’t notice the age difference at all. I’ve always found that I get along better with folks older than I am not just for boyfriends but for friends too. If I was back in the dating pool, I’d consider dating guys up to their early 40s. I don’t think age matters much past your twenties anyways.

  8. Dennis Hong says:

    [Where the HELL has Margaret Charles been?!?





    Hellooooooo? We need your 0.02 cents….

  9. Matt Sanchelli says:

    [When I was 24 I dated a girl (I say girl because I was more mature than she was) who was 33.

    That relationship set a “standard” for me to not go outside a +/-5 year range from my own age. This is all based on personal experience though and obviously there are relationships with much larger age gaps that are quite successful.

    I just found the 9 year difference we had too much. She had no idea who I was, what I liked and we had completely different views on life. Also, I believe she was trying to hold on to her youth (she had a lot of esteem issues).

    A guess all in large, actually age isn’t so much of a factor but maturity age is.

  10. LMcMack says:

    [I have a sister in-law that is 18 years younger than her husband. She is raising his child and having a second of her own with him. She couldn’t be happier.

    It can work. Like Parker said – I think it has to do with a combination of maturity/chemistry/commonality than it does with age in and of itself.

  11. Happy Pants says:

    [So if I’m understanding everyone’s advice: I should accept the offer of bakeware and loan repayment for sex from the 40- and 50-somethings, but shouldn’t get my hopes up once I decide to settle down and raise their bastard children. Yes? I’m pretty sure I understand how age differences work now.

  12. lilredbmw says:

    [Maybe you have an “old soul.” have you heard that one? Because people used to tell me that all the time, but I don’t know if that’s a true story!
    Anyway, when I was younger(think 16) I was dating a 24 year old. It was actually a great relationship, but looking back it seems kind of odd. Because the place you are when you are 16 versus the place you are when you are 24 is pretty radical. However, I did continue to date people older than myself throughout my life. I found that what I desired in a guy was success and confidence and a certain maturity. I didn’t want the young, fun guy. I wanted a guy who wanted to be serious and settle down. So, in the end, I think it depends on what you are searching for in a mate. If you want the young, care-free, fun guy, then you date the guy your age. But, usually(and this is a HUGE usually), an older guy comes with a little bit more maturity.

  13. jswim77 says:

    [I’m 35 with an disability just below LD. I’m dating a guy almost 8 years younger than me. We meet in the Special Olympics. October 2009. It does not matter how old you are or the age difference. Just that you like each other and want to be with them. Now I think 10 years is a different matter because you are a decade apart. Than you might not have much in common.

    I liked a guy for a wile about 15 years difference. We went out two times but he was just to different from me.

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