In high school and early college, much of life is divided by age bracket. We’re used to moving in circles of our peers, and an age gap of even one year puts us in a whole different group of people. Two years or more is an even greater divide. This separation causes many young women to question whether dating someone younger than themselves is a wise decision. Is it weird? Will it cause problems down the road?
As someone now 10 years removed from high school, I have a perspective on this I certainly didn’t have at age 21. Age gaps felt bigger in school because age was a reflection of life stage, too. But the funny thing is this: Once you get past age 22 or so, most of those age-and-stage gaps close. You stop asking how old people are, and you don’t even notice an age difference—even in dating.
But in case you need some reassurance on this issue, here are three things to remember when deciding whether or not to date someone younger than yourself.
1. The Real Issue: Spiritual Maturity
What’s more important than age, year in college or life plan? Spiritual maturity. A person can be 18 and far more spiritually mature than a 25-year-old college graduate. What matters is their walk with God, not their birth date.
But what is spiritual maturity, exactly? The author of the Book of Hebrews talks about this:
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God… (Hebrews 6:1)
A spiritually mature person doesn’t stay at the same level in his walk with God. He doesn’t simply go to church or read his Bible out of duty. He has an active faith relationship with God and is constantly growing in that faith. A man who is spiritually growing can be younger than you and still a great choice for a partner because his heart is in the right place.
2. What People Think Doesn’t Matter
This is probably the primary stumbling block for women considering a younger boyfriend: They’re afraid of what people will say. And I understand the concern; people can be mean. You’ll have to grow thicker skin when people joke about you “robbing the cradle,” even if your boyfriend is only a few years younger. But if he is a godly man and you love him, it really doesn’t matter what people think. They’ll get over it—and you’ll be with a person who encourages you to be a stronger woman of God.
3. Age Is Just a Number
Lastly, age is not a sign of maturity, spiritual or otherwise. I’ve met some pretty immature 30-year-olds and some pretty wise teenagers. While we all have something to learn and we all can do some more growing up in this life, age itself is not reflection of that.
If the only thing holding you back from dating someone younger than you is his age, ask yourself these questions:
- Is he spiritually mature? Is he growing in his faith, further along than he was last year?
- Am I caring too much about what people think?
- Is he a mature person in other areas of his life?
Answer those questions, get wise counsel and go from there.