The age gap

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Homecoming is definitely one of the best weekends of the year. Tailgating, watching the game, catching up with old friends and then sometimes making some very questionable and exciting choices. Alums come back and hook-ups ensue. The alumnus (or alumna) hook-up is an interesting exploration of age gaps. These people are only a year or so older than us, but since they are now real adults living in the real world (whatever that means) any sexual act becomes a big deal. Hooking up with that senior in my history class last year wasn’t that interesting, but hooking up with him after he’s graduated can make for an epic story.

So how old is too old? And how young is too young? When does being a cougar cross the line from being sexy to creepy? Dating in college is a lot like it was in high school in some ways. As a senior in high school, I would have laughed at any freshman who tried to hit on me. Now that I’m a senior in college, I can’t say I wouldn’t hook up with a freshman boy, but actually dating one is pretty much out of the question.

Now what I’m about to say might offend any boys reading this, but I don’t really care. You are almost always really immature. This makes you hilarious friends, but often terrible boyfriends. I love my guy friends, but after hearing the way they talk about the girls they are hooking up with, there is no way in hell I’d date any of them.

This is something that makes me feel weird about senior girls dating freshman guys. I don’t see it as socially unacceptable. It’s more like I have enough trouble relating to guys in my own grade, so why would anyone want to date someone younger and potentially even more emotionally stunted? Then this makes me think about older guys dating younger girls. It almost makes more sense because a younger girl is probably closer to their maturity level.

Honestly, though, this is in a lot of ways a pretty flawed line of thought because I have heard dating horror stories from both guys and girls. Everyone has different kinds of relationship issues. Girls can be too clingy or talk too much behind a guy’s back. Guys can lead girls on or pressure them into doing things they don’t really want to do. In fact, these aren’t even gender specific things. Does this mean we all just suck?

Obviously not, but being perfect in a relationship or during sex is next to impossible.

Beyond maturity, what it all comes down to is life experience. So much happens each year of college — I feel like I’ve been a completely different person every year. It’s like a dating age gap of two years in college is the same as a decade later in life. That’s probably why the alumni hook up is so exciting; it’s someone who’s living a life pretty far removed from the college experience. It’s also why doing someone who’s much younger or older than you is a lot easier than actually creating a relationship with them.

However, these relationships can work. If you’re both care enough, it’s possible to find ways to make up for the difference in maturity. Dating a younger guy can be refreshing, and dating an older girl can be a fun challenge. But if you’re beyond freshman year, and you’re still hooking up with people in high school… well, that might be when you’ve crossed the line.


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