Is it Creepy for a twenty-something to date a teenager?

I’m posting this at the request of my daughter, MilliCal. It was raised by something that happened in her group.

Do you think it weird or creepy if a twenty-something wants to date a teenager, or ask them out?

In the particular case in question it was a 24 year old guy, asking out an 18 year old woman, but feel free to change sexes around in your answer, if you have to. But I suspect an older guy asking out a younger woman is the more common case.

Don’t say that this would be OK if both were older. Dating and marriage with six year differences or more aren’t uncommon. And don’t bring up what things were like in the past – We all know of marriages between early teenagers from centuries ago. I have relatives who married at ages similar to those in the question, but that was some time ago.

The question is, does this seem odd or creepy today?

I don’t see why it should matter - culture has changed, but biology hasn’t. It’s only weird to impose artificial standards that don’t align with biology.

12+7=19. Yup, that’s creepy.

I’m just remembering where I was mentally at 24 versus 18. There’s a world of difference.

Not creepy, IMO.

24 to 18, no. With those ages it’s perfectly possible that they’ll be on the same page for many things*, and if not, that’s what “dating” is: tryouts.

28 to 14 yuck, but I also found it yuck when I was 28 and a 42yo wanted to date me…

  • such was the case for one of my school friends; he had just come out of a decade-long relationship, her own college plans had been blown out of the water by her father’s illness. They are married, two kids and she eventually did get her college dream. In their case the difference is much more extreme, but they did be on the same page.

Depends on the people.

I agree, and also how they met. And if the teenager is in college or still in high school.

24 and 18, they’re both consenting adults. Nobody else’s business, IMO. Obviously, he can’t take her out to a bar, but anything other than that, no problem.

Not creepy on its face but some does depend on the individuals. Great age spreads in marriage (say 8 to 11 years or more) don’t seem as common today among younger people as when I was a kid but in terms of dating (with the caveat that both are 18 or older) it fits the norms I’m seeing around me.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a 24-year-old dating an 18-year-old, as long as they’re roughly at the same life-stage. 24-year-old teacher and 18-year-old high school senior = not OK. If they’re co-workers, or both undergraduate students, fine.

(I also would not consider an 18-year-old who has graduated from high school and left home to be a “teenager,” even though they technically are – to me, the word connotes a middle school or high school student living with their parents, rather than, say, a college freshman or sophomore.)

We draw an arbitrary line at age 20 for what’s acceptable and what’s not for some reason, but plenty of people start college at 17, and plenty end around 24. So what’s the problem with a say… 23 year old senior dating a 19 year old sophomore? Nobody would bat an eye at that one; why would it be any different if a 24 year old 5th-year senior was dating an 18 year old sophomore?

And once out of college, those age gaps pretty much disappear. Nobody balked in the least bit when 30 year old grad-student me dated a 23 year old grad student, just like nobody cared when 28 year old working-guy me dated a 22 year old woman who I worked with.

I think it’s more due to context; if it’s a 24 year old guy with a full-time job trying to date high school girls, BECAUSE they’re high school girls then yeah, super-skeevy. Otherwise, it’s not so weird- let’s say they both out of high school and aren’t college types and happen to work for the same employer (let’s say Wal-Mart or something). Why shouldn’t a 24 year old ask out the 18 year old?

Meh. I’m fine with it. It’s not going to last long anyway.

Seems like this concept comes up all the time on the dope. We get all kinds of answers, but to me, I agree with Fretful Porpentine that it comes down to this idea of life stages.

Having been both 18 and 24 at some point in my life, I can’t see being deeply attracted to an 18-year-old when I was 24. The imbalance of power, money, and life experiences would make it uncomfortable. YMMV, but I’m instantly skeptical of anyone willing to date outside of their life stage like that. If a male 24yo coworker of mine started telling me about this 18yo he was interested in, I’d assume that he’d either given up on attracting someone his own age, or he was making a point to find someone inexperienced and submissive. Same as the guys I knew who claimed to only want to date Asian women.

Wasn’t this a plot point in Scott Pilgrim?

I say borderline creepy. I’m reminded of Ryan Reynolds in that restaurant movie counting the days until the hostess turned 18. If I’m part of the girl’s family, I might try to stay in closer touch with her, just to be confident that she’s comfortable in the relationship and not being made to feel isolated or overwhelmed.

… in the US. Here, over-18 is the legal threshold.

It would be ok if both were older. In the past this was not uncommon.

Today, they are both adults and can do what they like. So not creepy.

I was a 16 year old college freshman when I started dating my eventual husband. He was 25 at the time. I think the college environment was a great leveler when it came to age, so I never thought anything was strange about it and, as he told me later, he thought I was 18, being a freshman.

Had I still been in high school and had he been out in the working world instead of a graduate student, I might have thought it a little on the odd side, but still not enough to call it wrong.

As has been said above, a lot depends on the relative maturity of the two individuals involved.

I answered this in the previous thread about a similar age spread, but I was 22 and working at a summer camp when I met a 17 year old swim instructor. We were both in the “Camp bubble” that isn’t quite the real world.

June marks our 17th wedding anniversary, August will be 24 years together.

YMMV, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. In Canada, the age of consent in Canada is 16 with exceptions for 14-15 year olds with a partner less than 5 years older.

I think it’s not automatically creepy, but calls for at least some minor consideration about the people involved. If it’s a high school senior being asked out by someone two years into their career after graduating college, I’m a little concerned. If it’s a late-admission college junior asking out a younger-than-average sophomore, not so much.

Frankly, this is mostly because in the U.S. drinking age is 21 for the most part, so when I see someone a couple years over 21 wanting to start dating someone a couple of years under 21, it kind of pings my radar a little and raises sort of a yellow flag. I recall what a tremendous pain in the ass it was coordinating social activities for group hangouts when part of the group was under and part of the group was over 21.

Frankly, the best part about turning 21 wasn’t the legal access to alcohol. Lord knows, it wasn’t complicated to get alcohol when I was under 21 either. It was not being automatically barred from random entertainment venues. I was more looking forward to the ability to go play a nice game of pool whenever I felt like it and to not have to worry about what venue the band I wanted to go see was playing in than the ability to pick up a six-pack.

I met a guy who was dating a 19 yr old. He was 49. That was creepy. And as awkward at parties as a box turtle: