All About Age

by Kelsey Rowlson

Horizon Reporter

I was only 18 five months ago when my boyfriend and I began dating.  At the time I did not realize what I was getting myself into.  Not just based on the fact that I had only dated one guy before, but also because little did I know how a 25-year-old’s life functioned.

I talked to Colette Colburn, psychology professor here at Whatcom Community College, and asked her what draws some people to date much older or younger than them.  She said that the first thing to consider is the actual age difference. If there is less than a 10 year age gap, then it’s not a gap significant enough to cause many differences. But if there is a 10+ year age gap between them, there are several factors to weigh in. For example, if a 50-year-old man was with a 25-year-old woman, people would most likely conclude that he was going through a mid-life crisis or that she needed a father figure type in her life. If it were a 50 year-old man and a 35 year-old woman, maturity levels would be more comparable, so they wouldn’t necessarily be so different.

My boyfriend and I are six years apart in age, so even though we don’t quite make the 10 year cut, there are still factors to consider and lessons to learn. For example:

Lesson 1: HE HAS A LIFE

In high school you usually see your significant other daily since they go to school and then maybe have sports practice or a part-time job after school.  This is not the case in my relationship.  Not all 25-year-olds work two jobs and go to school at the same time, but my boyfriend does.  This makes it a lot harder to stay close when he’s so busy that you only see each other once or twice a week.  That is something I’ve had to come to terms…or at least TRY to come to terms with.  And I’m not going to lie, it’s hard!

Lesson 2: SOCIAL NETWORKING NO BIG DEAL

Many people text constantly and hop onto Facebook hourly (myself included).  But my boyfriend doesn’t see the need.  The only reason he got a Facebook was to communicate with me more when we first started dating; that lasted two months with him only checking it once a week.  Then he deemed it pointless.  And texting?  Forget about it.  I may have scared him when he realized he’d used 1,000 texts in a week and a half just talking to me. 

Normally he tries to keep his phone away from him as much as possible.  I feel like this may not be the case with all 25-year-olds, but it definitely took some adjustment on my part since he prefers phone calls over texting.

Colburn said that some ‘older’ people stay connected and up-to-date with the latest terminology and technology, fashion trends, etc., and some younger people dress and act older than their age. For people with a significant age difference, it may be more noticeable than people closer in age. That said, Colburn adds that it’s not necessarily always an issue.

Lesson 3: HE KNOWS WHO HE IS

When you’re 18, 19, 20, chances are, you don’t know what you want to do with your life.  You’re not sure what you want your career to be, not sure where you want to live, not sure who you really are.  But when you’re 25, chances are you do know what you want to do with your life.  I find that when we talk, his opinions are already completely formed and there’s very little chance at changing his mind.

Lesson 4: MATURITY

Let’s be honest, in most cases, guys don’t mentally mature as fast as girls.  So it’s refreshing (as a girl) to date an older guy because our maturity level, although still different, is closer to each other.  Being that he is significantly older, my boyfriend has a higher maturity level than I do, which is a nice change.

Lesson 5: MORE LIFE EXPERIENCE

I really have only just begun my life as an adult.  I am finally out of high school, I have a job, and am making my own decisions…although I do still live with my parents.  But my boyfriend has been out of high school for seven years and he’s been living on his own for about the same amount of time.   He pays his own bills and takes care of himself.  Some people may consider the fact that we’re in such different places in life to be a bad thing, but for us, it works.

He’s also gone through the “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” phase, which I am currently suffering through, so it’s good to have him to talk to when I’m trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do with my life.

Lesson 6: DISTANCE

The fact that my boyfriend lives on his own and can live wherever he wants, is also hard.  I’m not going to lie; driving an hour and a half one way, once or twice a week, isn’t my idea of fun.   The distance also makes it harder for us to get together as often as we would like to.


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