What is the acceptable minimum age for your own and others’ dating partners? When this question comes up in conversation, someone inevitably cites the “half your age plus seven” rule. This rules states that by dividing your own age by two and then adding seven you can find the socially-acceptable minimum age of anyone you want to date.
So if you’re a 24 year-old, you can feel free to be with anyone who is at least 19 but not someone who is 18.1. The other side of the rule defines a maximum age boundary: Take your age, subtract 7, and double it. So for a 24-year old, the upper age limit would be 34. With some quick math, the rule provides a minimum and maximum partner age based on your actual age that, if you choose to follow it, you can use to guide your dating decisions. I felt the panic rising in my chest. I’d just done the math.
I don’t know why one year or more made such a difference especially to me. I guess it was because I’d heard two or three stories of the woman being seven years older, so I’d sort of decided that was the outer limit of age difference acceptability. While it’s fairly common for a woman to marry an older man, the reverse isn’t as much of a social norm.
Although many of the questions I receive are from women who are considering whether or not to date a younger man, many of the same principles apply to the decision-making process regardless of who’s older.
Here are four things to consider:
When considering a man 10 years younger was whether he had the maturity to understand her needs and take care of her. Also consider how you get along with the person’s friends, because these people will also be part of your life.
2. Life stage
A friend once told me that the acceptable age difference was half the older person’s age plus seven. While I don’t think it’s important to adhere to an arbitrary formula when considering age in a potential relationship (interestingly, when I met Kevin our age difference was exactly this ratio), I think it can be a good rule of thumb to help you consider if your relationship is appropriate.
3. Effect on the marital relationship
If you’re considering getting serious with someone significantly older or younger than yourself, these are important things to discuss. How will you address potential challenges, such as being on different biological timetables, one of you ending up a caretaker, the timing of children, or dealing with gaps in maturity?
4. God’s will
In truth, every couple should seek confirmation that their relationship is God’s will. An age difference is just one factor to consider.
As with all aspects of the dating process stay flexible and keep an open mind. Qualities developed through emotional maturity are the ones most likely to ensure the success of the relationship than anything to do with chronological age.
And finally, don’t ever lie about your age. Any relationship that is built on dishonesty will have insecure foundations which sooner or later will rock its stability