Hook Up / Online Dating

On the Imaginary Age-Gap Standard and Why it [Should Be] Irrelevant for You

Ten years is the supposed buffer zone between lovers. Ten. That’s the first double digit. A decade, for those of you who still refer to years that way. A double high-five. 
For most, this equates to missed pop culture references, bypassed fashion trends, and incredulity that omg I was your age once but it was totally different and you’ll never understand my life but we still get along somehow wait, what? 
In college, the slightest of age gaps is notable — I know a freshman-senior hookup just bubbled up from memory — but in the real world, the “10-year age gap” is a thing. A colloquial, semi-legitimate thing. 
In fact, it’s the first thing your friends mention when you divulge the nasty little number that codifies your most recent lover. Within the 10 years, you’re ok. “We don’t know anything about [insert name], but (s)he is older and successful and in the 10-year age range!!!” they proclaim, greedy for more details. But even one month pushing the notorious boundary and it’s all “That is ONE alley I would NOT want to go down ALONE at NIGHT,” and like that, your new boo is less relevant than last night’s takeout for one.
But is it any more of a thing than “We in the Adult World” pretend it to be? Probably not. 
A few weeks ago, I conducted a semi-legitimate and entirely non-scientific experiment into the age gap phenomenon, and what I found may surprise you. It’s nothing more than an overrated, steamy pile of shit. No, really. Let me set the scene…
At my ripe age of 21, I can climb up to 31 or creep down to 11 (ew.) with relative ease. I explicitly set my age range on OkCupid for 23-28 — old enough to weed out any potential losers (undergrad, please) while young enough to ensure I’d have more in common with them than they would with my dad. After weeding through what could only be described as a shitstorm of half-assed stock messages and creepy “compliments,” a few men floated to the top as the most viable, and well–the most normal among the group.
The most promising was a 26-year-old southerner who works in finance and spoiled little-‘ol-me. We spent a thrilling three weeks meandering the first milestones of dating before coming to a crashing halt — my quick affection scared him off, his lack of communication didn’t work for me. Ultimately he cited our age difference — a mere 5 years — as the reason for buying me a one-way ticket to the friend zone.
During the same time was a 32-year-old retail manager who, despite his age, promised a good time. We talked daily and made numerous plans to grab drinks, all of which thwarted before our rocketship of a romance failed to launch. Over several weeks, he brazenly asked where I was if I didn’t answer his messages within hours, ensured I sought a full-time, committed, long-term relationship, too (I didn’t), and even drunk dialed me a few times, complete with slurred speech and “III wiiiisccchh you were h-h-here!!!”. Excuse me, I didn’t realize this was amateur hour. If my fling with Mr. Money was like a car crash, my encounter with this man-child was like a 50-car pile-up during rush hour — just tragic. 
While my dream guy was within the preferred age range and shared many of the qualities I was looking for in a significant other, our age gap was the straw that broke the camel’s back. With the loser teetering outside the age gap, he WAS the camel who broke down in the stable before going out to graze. So what kind of bullshit catch-all standard is the 10-year-age gap trying to impose on MY dating life? It seems like none.
So what did I learn from these brief forays into dating? Besides the fact that there’s no magic age that makes someone instantly irrelevant or incompatible — trust me on this one, it’s the personality that does it, not the age — I didn’t learn much. But if there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s this: no one gives one single fuck how old you are unless you can’t get into a bar for happy hour or at least finagle your way into not getting id’ed. As I’m in the clear (and I hope you are, too), it’s happy dating from here on out. Just make sure you don’t ask to see their id for their age — you’ll just look like an ass.


“City Bitch” is a fast-talking, no-nonsense she-wolf looking for love in the big city. She writes weekly about navigating through online dating, keeping it cool while sipping on $20 drinks, and avoiding the douchebaggery that is the real world.


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