The internet is debating whether it's okay for a 30-year-old to date a 19-year-old — and it's generating impassioned responses from people on both sides of the debate.
It all started when Reddit user u/hazelnutmacchiato1 posted a question to the popular discussion community r/AskReddit: "What is your opinion on a 30-year-old dating a 19-year-old?"
The question quickly went viral, garnering nearly 20,000 replies in the span of 24 hours. Many people felt like the age gap between a 19-year-old and a 30-year-old was huge red flag:
2. "I would not. But if a close friend did, I’d advise caution. Power balances and how well they relate to each other could be issues. I wouldn’t, but to each his own."
3. "Personally, I think it’s weird. A 19-year-old is basically fresh outta high school, barely an adult mentally. A 30-year-old is a full-grown adult who is way older, mentally and physically."
4. "Half your age plus seven. That's my general rule for dating. I'm 30 myself so the youngest I should date would be 22 or 23, if you round up for months."
5. "As a 29-year-old I don’t date someone unless they are 24 to 25+. It’s more so the maturity gap and the phase in which most gals are in between 22 to 24 — right outta college, not really settled down yet, still partying like they’re in college, and don’t know what they want. I know it's not the same for everyone, but that’s the main reason."
6. "I'm a 30-year-old. And I wouldn't trust another 30-year-old who would WANT to date a 19-year-old because it is doubtful there are good motives."
7. "I thought it was okay when I was in my 20s, but now that I'm in my 30s, it's a big no-no."
8. "The younger person should be wary of the kind of person who is in their 30s and pursuing someone who is still in their teens. Why do they not want someone who is closer to their own age? Is there something they do that someone who is a bit older would recognize as being a red flag?"
Some commenters shared their own negative experiences with age-gap relationships:
9. "At 19, I dated a 32-year-old man...at the time I didn't see a problem with it. Now that I'm 29, I think it's disgusting and predatory. It was my most toxic and devastating relationship and has scarred me for life, I'm sure."
10. "I (18M) met her (30F) when I was moving into the apartment she was moving out of... We were together about a year, and were talking about marriage when my parents asked me to come home alone one weekend. Stepping away helped me to see all of the possibilities. A fiery breakup ensued... She was done having her adventures. I needed to have my own."
11. "Met my ex-husband when I was barely 21, and he was 29. Married for 24 years, most of them miserable for me. I guess the simple reason is that I grew up and changed, and he was already grown and stayed the same. We've since both moved on to much more compatible partners, but he still says, 'I never should have married someone so young!'"
12. "I was dating a 33-year-old man at 18. He started grooming me at 17. I’m 24 now and even at this age I’ve started to realize how disgusting it would be to try to date someone that young. I would never in a million years think it would be OK for me to date a teenager, let alone at 33??"
13. "I dated someone 20 when I was 25, and even that was drastically different. Being an adult, paying bills, and starting a career vs. someone living at home and being a full-time student. It made a huge difference and even though we both eventually were on the same level, there was always something unbalanced in how we started."
But not everyone is opposed to the idea of a 30-year-old dating a 19-year-old. Some defended the idea, and shared their positive experiences with age-gap relationships:
14. "I met my wife when I was 20, and she was 38. Been married now for 15 years and still going strong. We have similar outlooks on life, we get along brilliantly, and never argue. Happiest I've ever been, and wouldn't change a thing. It works for some, age isn't everything. The only downside is she gets to retire before I do, but having a job I love doesn't make that much of an issue."
15. "My husband and I have been married five years. We got married when I was 21 and he was 41. When we met, I was years ahead of my peers because of a smack of reality with me having my son and starting my career early. I really found his maturity attractive and he thought the same. Five years later, we are more perfect for each other than before. Life is so wonderful when you’re with the right person! A lot of people find this relationship taboo and we definitely had some critics. We just continue to be our happy selves and show the world that it’s a true relationship full of substance and not a fling, a mid-life crisis, daddy issues, etc. (We’ve heard them all.)"
16. "Even if it doesn't work out, the older person should leave the younger person in a better place or mindset than before they got together. I dated someone 15 years older than me, and we broke up without any animosity... We are still friends too. Honestly, he helped me set a higher bar as to how I want to feel and be treated by my partner. He really is a great guy, but we are in different places in our lives so it wouldn't be compatible long-term."
17. "Define 'dating.' Going on a date or two, casual consensual fun? Sure. Go for it, make sure both of you enjoy the heck out of it. Attempt at a long-term relationship? Iffy. Very iffy. Possible it works out, but unlikely."
18. "My now-husband and I met when I was 18 and he was 32. Thirteen years on we are still together, still happy, and I’ve watched my friends’ (who were with more ‘age appropriate’ people) marriages and relationships crash and burn. I don’t think it’s about age, I think it’s about mental and emotional readiness to commit to a person."
19. "When I was 21 I dated a 39-year-old, and to be honest it was a great relationship. Didn't work out in the long run, since we were at different points in our lives, but it was a great year and I wouldn't change a thing."
20. "I feel age is a false metric in a way. As people date and learn and grow in life, there is no guarantee anyone will stay together. The age gap is another variable for sure, but I think there are so many variables. It doesn't make a lot of sense to attempt to predict the future of any relationship. Even though we all try."
Alright, what do YOU think? Can a 30-year-old and a 19-year-old ethically date? Have you been in an age-gap relationship before? Did it work out? Share all your thoughts and feelings in the comments, please.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.