Wise Guys: How Much Younger Than Him Can a Man Date?

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week a straight woman asks, “How much younger than them do you think most guys are comfortable dating before it becomes embarrassing? Or is there no limit as long as the youngster in question is legal and not a complete airhead?”

Gay Single Guy (Jay Dyckman): Yes, there is an age too young for anyone to date. But I think it happens only after you hit 35. Any dating combo of two people both under 35 (provided both are over 21…yes, 21, not 18) is probably not a big deal. No one really considers themselves that old before hitting 35.

After 35, all bets are off. If you’re over 35 and you date someone more than 10 years your junior, you will — and rightly so — be mocked (and silently envied) by your friends and enemies for such dating hubris. It will put you squarely in the “oh please” zone. And this goes for both men and women: Dating much younger than yourself connotes a power dynamic that is creepy yet totally gender non-specific. Both sexes look entirely ridiculous parading their toy around, be it male or female. But if you’re over 35, you can date anyone — of any age disparity — who is also over 35. A 65- year-old and 37-year-old? Sure, why not.

This might seem arbitrary but age designations exist for a reason. The good people of corporate America have decided that once we’re older than 35, we are no longer a desirable marketing demographic. That’s real science, people. After 35, big age differences are obviously apparent, but both parties have fully exited the nubile stage so no one really cares. You are no longer hip, cool, or capable of dating someone who had an “American Idol”-themed Bar Mitzvah. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. Hell, if someone of the Gen Next persuasion wants to tap your old bones, consider yourself lucky. Besides, anyone who mocks you, well, your old ears won’t be able to hear them anyway so who cares.

Straight Single Guy (Tyler Barnett): For guys in their twenties, like me, up to guys in their mid-thirties, I think the lowest we should go is 21. If I cannot legally have a glass of wine or cocktail with a girl, I don’t want to date her. It’s not that I am some sort of alcoholic or can’t have a good time sober, but there’s something sexy and intimate about sitting in a bar that cannot be substituted by Starbucks or Jamba Juice. It also makes me feel like an old man if I am with someone that has to use a fake ID they got from websites like Idmoose.com to buy a beer. Besides, if the girl in question is still in school, the conversation will usually leave something to be desired due to her lack of life experiences and responsibilities — it’s hard to listen to tales of college papers when I’ve got bills to pay and employees to manage, you know? There is a lot to be said for being in the same place in life, age-wise at least. But generally, I think women a good five years younger (so long as they aren’t under 21 and aren’t using a fake ID) work well since women tend to be more mature than us guys. For an older man, say in his forties or fifties, a fifteen year age gap is socially acceptable and generally comfortable. And I think once a woman passes the age of thirty, up to a twenty year difference with an older guy is just fine.

Straight Married Guy (Jim): Come on, give us guys some credit: most of us know there’s a huge difference (emotionally, intellectually, maturity-wise) between someone around our own age and an 18-year-old with AP credit. She’d have to be a Rhodes Scholar studying quantum physics if the difference in their ages was more than about 25% of his. So, what does he teach?

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is Jim from New York, our Gay Guy is Jay Dyckman, an LA copywriter, and our Single Straight Guy is Tyler Barnett, owner of the LA PR firm Barnett Ellman. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. I am 48 years old and recently met a 19 year old. When we met I knew she was very very young. And I was drawn to her anyway. I had no idea that she would be interested in me. I was shocked when she asked me to “hang” with her for the afternoon. She’s a delight. The only problem so far is that she is really really clingy. But then thats been my experience with women of any age. Oh and she wants it ALL THE TIME !! Which at first was awesome. But by Sunday morning I was dehydrated and chaffing. When she looked at me and said can we go one more time. I was like hey can we eat breakfast first ? Anyway, she says she is just looking for fun. Nothing serious. So far I believe her. Although she does seem a little jealous of my x wife. Who she knows I’m still involved with. Maybe I wanted it ten times a day at 19. To be honest its been so long that I’ve forgotten. All these years of being called a health nut have finally paid off though. I didn’t think I had it in me. I recommend that all men over 45 find a 19 year old girl and give her the business !!! Forget what these prudes think.

  2. LMFAO

    Absolutely ridiculous. This article clearly demonstrates why advice is utterly worthless and harmful.

  3. I’m 37 and I met the love of my life who just turned 21 about 6 months ago. We had been friends for a year but things slowly developed in to a full fledged romance that neither of us were expecting nor were we looking for it. If you told me 2 years ago, I’d be in a relationship with a 20 year old, I would have spit up my martini from laughing. Life is funny that way and here I am doing just that. I think that is the best way to find love, stop looking for it.

    Neither of us are concerned with the age difference. Fortunately I look young for my age, most people think I’m around 30. But it would not have mattered to her if I did look 37, her words, not mine. I have been with women older than me that are less mature than she is. She really does not behave anything like typical girls her age and that’s why I don’t even ever think of age. We share the same values, goals and enjoy the same activities. She is a perfect match in my opinion. If I was as concerned about the opinions of others I would have lost an opportunity to experience something beautiful and that would be a shame. You can’t choose who you fall in love with despite what people seem to think, so when you do find yourself truly in love, don’t concern with the how, who, why and where. Just accept it and enjoy the rare gift you’ve been given.

  4. I guess 5 to 10 years older won’t be a problem , but 10 years and above might have different perspectives because of age and experience differences. me and my husband have 17 years difference and we have a lot differences , still adjusting the situation but have arguments every week and can’t say as an happy married life. I just want to suggest young ladies not to waste their youth life with the old guys ,, just go for the same age guys ,, same age may be poor and silly but they have the same chemistry and perspectives. So you can adjust with them easily. keep your youth happy life.

  5. I have been Googling this stuff like crazy because it is so new to me. I know a woman who is 23 (I am 51) and I am CRAZY about her. Virtually everyone I’ve dated has been roughly my age. I am not having some sort of midlife crisis and have been generally content all along.

    This woman is hysterical, smart, creative (a poet) and utterly original. I keep telling myself it’s absurd to even entertain the thought of asking her out (I’m pretty sure there is a mutual attraction), but the heart wants what it wants.

    What I need to be sure of (as wisely mentioned above) is that I remain utterly honest and do not assume any sort of Daddy role…. But another thing I like about her is that this unhealthy shit would not even be ALLOWED by her.

    Ultimately, I can absorb all of the advice and study all of the age-formulas there are, but not even TRYING things means huge regrets later.

    Damn the torpedoes, wish me (us) well!

    1. Balderdash to this highly opinionated rhetoric!!!

      Good luck to all of us men who are young at heart and dating a beautiful young woman with a heart of gold. As long as LOVE is the operative word (and not gold), then there is nothing that can turn the ship around.

      Popular opinion (I.e. “approval”) no longer interferes with my most important life decisions.

      I’m 48 and I am deeply in love with my 20-year old future wife. She is the smartest, funniest, most creative, most determined and most loving person I have ever known. Did I mention the most beautiful human being I’ve ever seen? We talk literally every single day for at least 5-6 hours. In less than a year she has already taught me as much about myself and other people than I’ve learned from anybody else in the last twenty years. And I think my experience, knowledge, wisdom, practicality and wit inspire her as much as she inspires me.

      Age difference thresholds? BS! The science on this may one day prove the opposite (based on my research so far 🙂

      Oh I completely forgot to mention that we are very happily crossing arbitrary social lines across race also! 🙂

      I say to my fellow lovers… “vive la différence”!!!

      Never look back once you find it.

  6. you need to meet some wiser guys. the middle one is okay, but the other two are utter fluff.

  7. Ah, I disagree. I still say no one should be dating anyone more than 10 years older. I don’t care if you’re over 35 or not. And being 38 myself, there is no way in hell I would date someone my father’s age. Really?

    After 35 stay within a 10 year frame. A person within 10 years older or younger is essentially in the same generation as you, the chances you have to explain culture touchstones and references is low, and chances are as well that you won’t look so dramatically older than your partner that it will turn heads.

    A 35 year old and 45 year old, why not?
    A 35 year old and a 65 year old, WTF, no.
    A 45 year old and a 65 year old, NO.

  8. Hi everyone, pls help me out..
    I met this guy at my cousin’s party last saturday night,he is one of my cousin’s old friends.He is 35 and I’m 18, I think I like him but the thing is all of my cousins make fun of me. They say: “Whats wrong with you? that’s nasty, there are a lot of cute guys in university who are better for you..”I feel so bad about that. However, my aunts and my uncles really like him, because he and my cousin been friend for a long time. They said he’s really nice,good looking and he has a good job too, thats why I’m interested in him. Like sometimes, I feel so lonely and I need a boyfriend to support me because my parents are in back home, I came here to study. Plus I dont want to waste my time with a guy who is immature, I’m 18 but Im kinda like really mature like an 25 years old woman. I choose to be in a serious relationship rather than having fun with some other guys at clubs. I dont know what to do, because you know when people ask you about your age and your partner’s age, i dont know how to answer them. I’m scared..they will laugh at me.

  9. Hi, I’m a french guy (english fluent) and if I landed here it’s because I recently fell deeply in love with a girl that is really much younger than I am – actually 40 years younger. Hey, stop, hang in there ! I was willing to find out if other guys ever found themselves in the same situation. My two latest relationships were with girls respectively 22 years and 17 years younger than I am. The one who was 22 years younger than me was Asian, and even looking much younger than that. You could think that an 18 years old girl was dating a 54 years old guy (when going to night clubs security was always asking for her ID!!!). All I have to say about it is these relations were working greatly, whether mentally or physically. We had really good lives and good times, getting along perfectly, having good laughes all the time. I’m young at heart, outgoing, did a lot of sports and dancing (and still do), I’m looking 10 years younger than my real age (well, the girls said that), so… Of course, the stakes are much higher now, but I have to say that I will take a chance, and see what happens. I guess there are no rules, real love should prevail, and whatever people around think and say, I just ignore it. And I guess it’s just the same for the girl I’m planning to ask out. She’s plain tired of guys just trying to take advantage of her physically, forgetting she may also need tenderness and some good care…
    When I was with my latest girlfriend (the one 17 years younger than me), she was sitting on my knees when waiting on the platform or riding the subway in Paris. We were actually behaving a lot like teenagers, but what the heck? Of course we were getting dirty looks. But I just don’t care. It’s just plain jealousy, and all I can wish to these jealous people is to be able to live their relationships as I live mine! Look at all these couples sitting at their table in restaurants, not talking because they have nothing to say anymore! Sorry, I will never get there…

  10. I agree with the article aside from the forgotten mention of future intentions. To great an age difference will play heavily into the potential permanency of a relationship. Marrying someone much greater or lesser in age leaves one of the spouses alone when the other passes on. I can think of no greater pain than the loss of my mate. Still exceptions being the case in every rule, I could understand marrying a person of great age difference in the presence of great love (soul mate), with the pretense that whatever time available would be worth the inevitable pain.

  11. I think a good guideline is half your age plus three (the half your age plus seven thing has been long taken out of context, it was meant in Victorian times to be the IDEAL age of a bride, not the youngest she could be), although there are some exceptions. However, although I’m very accepting and tolerant of age gaps, there are limits, and younger people have less wiggle room. For example, although there’s nothing wrong with a 30 year old dating a 17 year old, a 17 year old dating a 10 year old is just plain wrong. When they’re really young, the limits are even narrower (let’s assume “date” in this scenario means going to an amusement park together), a 12 year old shouldn’t feel that way about a 6 year old, but they’re close enough in age that to feel that way about a 9 year old is just fine.

    Now, going up the ladder some, I think that once you get past 21, guidelines are just guidelines. I know a 24 year old woman who is with a 54 year old man. I see nothing wrong with it, although normally that would seem a bit much. I think that 40 is the age where there’s less upper limit for dating, not exactly 35 (to me, 35 and 80 seems a bit much, but 40 and 80 isn’t). And believe it or not, I think the same rules can be applied with younger guys dating older women, but with one additional factor. If he wants kids, he shouldn’t date a woman older than 40 or 41. Reason being, unless they behave sexually like high school or college aged kids, a few years will pass before they are in that situation to have kids, and I usually don’t reccomend getting a woman older than 45 pregnant.

  12. So a 30 yr old woman with a 11 and 8 yr old boys father knocks up a 21 yr old girl . After taking a break he stated mess with get at 19. They were messin around for about 2 years . Although continuing a stable strobg close family bond environment for their kids I not knowing anything about her and still loving him finds out in a email that she’s 4 months pregnant and I should move on . Hurt and in shock I of feared fir my family and decided to grow up and fight for them. This girl has agreed that he can’t give her what’s she wants because his kids come first and him being an active full time father. Although not together having love for the mother of his kids he kept her secret for that 2 year time. The young girl had no family and clearly is going to rely on him as this situation grows Trying 2 act grown sent email wanting to contact the mother and claiming that they are still together. During her 4 months if pregnancy he tried to explain his position that he will never be with her cuz of his commitment to his children, he’s hurting his childrens mother and could risks his kids cuz of her and this baby , also he is in no financial position to have another child she agreed and still want to have her baby. I’m crushed and he has already admitted that thus us a mistake but he had to deal with it. His has taken the very badly cuz they share a close relationship with her and the children . Not raising kids to gave babies all over his father says she’s not welcomed right now cuz of the children and me. After the breakdown of seeing the emails we’ve had sex a few times already which confirms that this relationship wasn’t serious though i kno it will be a tuff road accepting this child and having to eventually tell our kids not anytime soon we’ve chosen to let them be happy right now cuz they are too schedule. I kno I must accept this but I’m not ready yet. If I want my family back which I do I have to act grown and be patient She was messin wit her at 19 he is to Blame and he’s has admitted it … I have reason to want him and my family we love our kids he messed up and is going to do the right thing .right now I kno he’s not with her it about this kid I’m being positive and I have the family support although we are nit together he does love me and I know it he is a great father we need a break but not a break for this to happen this situation won’t go away but it can make us fir the better— some advice please?? 🙂

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