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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Age Differences: 16 and 21 and . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

So, here's the story:

There was once this girl who made the mistake of having a boyfriend at the age fifteen who wasn't a Mormon. To make the story short the guy broke her heart and she was unable to trust any guy for a long time. Then, a missionary was transferred to her home area.

Again, to make the story shorter, although he was four years her senior, she came to like him ... a lot. He seemed to understand her, and because she was not very active at the time he made '' subtle '' attempts to show her the fact that she really needed the church to help make the pain go away.

He really changed her life around and because of this she Liked him even more. At times it even seemed that he liked her back. But she knew that he would never pay attention to it because he was on his mission and besides she wasn't even certain he did like her anyway, but still, she respected it completely. This all happened in the time of about a year and a half. He was transferred out of her area after six months service there.

As I know you've already guessed I am talking about myself. I am now sixteen. The point to this message is: I knew that it was completely futile thinking that he might still possibly like me if he ever did after not seeing me for so long. I am also putting into consideration, the age difference as a huge factor to my doubts and I had until recently convinced myself that I didn't like him anymore and that I had moved on. His mission is now coming to a close and to my surprise (and horror) he came and visited all the youth from my area at seminary when he was passing through going to his next and last mission area. Seeing him again in person has made me all confused about my feelings, but I know I can't really do anything about it anyway.

So really, all I'm asking is your opinion on this situation ... If you have one that is.

Thank you for your time and advise sincerely,

- Wondering

Dear Wondering,

Me? Have an opinion?

Possibly . . .

Let it go. He's a great guy, gave some good and needed spiritual advice, but nothing good could happen between you any time soon.

A 21 year old man should never date a 16 year old girl, a 22 year old should not date a 17 year old, and even 23 and 18 is pushing the boundaries of appropriate behavior.

That leaves you with 19 and 24, which isn't bad, but that's three years away. Three years when you're supposed to be going on Casual Group Dates (don't know how? Check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating") and he's supposed to be finding a wife.

It's phenomenally unlikely that anything will ever happen. You have a crush an a nice guy, and that's where it stops. Write it in your journal and enjoy the memory.

Every crush does not have to turn into something. Sometimes it's nice just to sit back and admire someone. And at your age, that's the best way to go.

- Bro Jo

Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your advice !

I am almost one hundred percent certain that I knew all of it already, I mean my friends all say the same things. I guess I really just needed to hear it from someone else that wasn't there to see the whole thing unfold. because there were those who said he liked me back and those who said he didn't. And they all knew him so I guess I needed some outside advise.

Just another quick question, what in your opinion is an appropriate age difference? I mean I know people personally that have a 10 year age difference between them and are happily married (they are also Mormons, just for the record). So, what is the appropriate age difference? I suppose to clarify the question a bit ... what is an appropriate age difference for a sixteen year old while dating? Oh, and also do guys always make fun of you when they like or are attracted to you? And do they ever grow out of it ?

Thanks for responding so quickly


Dear Satisfied,

Age difference appropriateness changes with . . . well . . . age. And the things that are going on in life.

For example: a 16-year old could date an 18-year old if they’re both still in school, or a 17-year old could go out with a 19-year old if they're both out of high school; but, IMHO, a 16-year old shouldn't date a 19-year old.

Now that's only three years, but that changes once graduation happens.

I don't personally see a problem with an 18-year old college girl dating a 21 or 22-year old return missionary; I'd say that 24 is a stretch though.

That said, I don't think it's bad for a 19-year old girl to go out with a guy that's 26 or 27.

Can a 21-year old return missionary guy date a 27-year old woman? Sure.

How about 25 and 35? Or 35 and 50? Or 65 and 85? I don't think any of those raise red flags.

But all of this is ultimately conjecture, and depends on lots of variables: maturity, life experience, expectations . . . so many things need to be considered. In High School I knew a guy that as an 17-year old senior dated a 14-year old freshman and a 20-year old woman (not at the same time, I think). In both cases the age difference was too much.

Some guys are mature enough that they can like you and not make fun of you; most guys who make fun of you out loud your age have a crush on you. The rare few are just mean. I don't know that any of us ever entirely outgrow it (I still tease Sister Jo from time to time, and she me), but it does hopefully back way down and never takes a personal or hurtful tone. Even at 16, teasing can be mean and abusive, whether it's meant to be or not.

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

violagirl said...

Dear Wondering/Satisfied,
As I was reading your story, it made me so sad because it was like reading a page from my own diary. Long story short, the exact same thing happened to me - except when the missionary got home, we did start talking and eventually got way too involved with each other. DON'T DO IT. That was the worst mistake of my life, and I still deal with reprecussions even a year or so later. ITS NOT WORTH IT. You will end up missing out on so much of a normal high school dating life because you two are both at such different stages in your own lives. As an RM, he will face increased pressure to get married and you will face pressure to end things because of age differnce. I wish so much I could go back and change what I did. Please, just stay away. Don't hurt yourself like that.
Still Recovering