I’m in a relationship with someone who is about 2.5 years younger than me. We both really like each other and they are mature for their age. Is 2.5 years too big of a difference? I feel like it hasn’t gotten in our way, but I’m wondering if the age gap is a problem.
Age gaps are tricky. Two and a half years is quite significant, especially for teenagers. There’s a lot of different “rules” that people use to determine if an age gap is appropriate or not. There’s “if your grades don’t touch then neither should you.” I think that it’s generally a good idea to only date people who are only one grade above or below you. However, depending on birthdates, people only one grade apart could actually be nearly two and a half years apart. There’s also the “half your age plus seven” rule. The youngest you could be to follow this rule and date someone two and a half years younger is 19, with the partner being 16.5. In my opinion, that still seems like too big of a gap.
At the end of the day, none of these “rules” can decide exactly what’s right for you, but if it has occurred to you that your relationship might be inappropriate, then there’s a good chance that it is. An age gap this big in high school likely comes with a maturity disparity of some kind. Those extra formative years you have on your partner can make a big difference. Even if you don’t feel like you are doing anything to harm your partner, you are young yourself, so you might not realize if you are being coercive or manipulative in some way. I hope that you are able to make the healthy–and legal–choice for both you and your partner.
Note on laws in California: Age of consent laws only apply if a couple is sexually active, so there are no laws regulating dating itself. In California, having sex under the age of 18 is against the law, even if both people are under the age of 18. Therefore, two 17-year-olds who have sex would both be guilty of misdemeanor statutory rape. However, this is pretty much never prosecuted, so I wouldn’t worry about it. If there is more than a three year age gap, regardless of age as long as at least one person is under 18, then the older person could potentially be charged with a felony.
I’m in a long distance relationship. How do I manage to stay close with them?
Long distance relationships are never easy, and being in high school without complete autonomy makes them even more difficult. Luckily, we have a lot of technology at our fingertips these days to help us stay connected! Make sure to utilize it. You can text, email, talk on the phone, FaceTime, and play multiplayer games together. At the same time, you don’t need to spam your partner. Constant communication is not needed for a relationship to thrive. Don’t get upset if your partner doesn’t respond right away, since they have their own life and schedule. Try to meet up in person when you can, as that is the best way to be close to someone. Good luck!
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