Age Difference Range in Dating & Courtship?


I am interested to hear what fellow Catholics have to say about this age old question. Is there any hard and fast rules for ruling out persons as a potential spouse based on their age relative to your own age? As you know, for example, many men can find younger women physically attractive, and I suppose the reverse could be true but, perhaps, to a somewhat lesser degree. Anyways, I would like to be prudent and wise when and if I do enter into courtship or even having friends of the opposite sex. Is there a numerical difference at which one could say, “That could never work.”?


I don’t think it’s important, as long as it works for the couple. My brother is 12 years younger than his wife, and they are quite happy.


My daughter, age 22, is dating a man, 31. Her father and I are quite concerned about this relationship because, really, she is just 2/3 of his age. Now. If she was 28 and he 37, I wouldn’t be so concerned. He’s been out of college for 9 years, lived on his own for many years. She is just out of school and finding her way in this world.

I cannot imagine a relationship where the man is substantially younger than the woman ever working out, but that is just my personal opinion.


My husband is 10 years younger than me. It’s great. We have so much in common.

I think the above example is the defining line:

After both parties are in their 30’s or more, the age difference fails to have a big impact, because, presumably, both have lived life and have been on their own, experiencing more of “real” life. So, a 50 yr old marrying a 40 year old comprises less of a measurable “difference”.

Whereas the difference between an 18 yr old and a 28 or 30 yr old is really substantial. One is barely out from under their parent’s roof and rule, (if at all) and can still be easily influenced.
Once you are older you have at least similar life experiences. And the gap become less problematic.
My 2 cents, anyway. :shrug:


My DD went to school in the South and told me that she heard there that the ideal age for a wife is half her DH’s age + 7 years.

Of course, that would only hold true for one year :D.


I’m 44 and would date an 18 yo. :smiley: How do you like that? They only have to be 18 in the US for the most part. Of course that’s not likely to happen, but age isn’t really a big deal IMO.


I have recently started getting close to a (Catholic) couple where the woman is 15 years older than the man (48 and 33) and they are a lovely couple. They are raising 3 children-one is her’s from a previous marriage (her husband died), and the other two they had together.

Seriously, they are a wonderful family.


My mom was 40 when she married my dad aged 60. Had three children but my dad died when I was 5 so there are more ramifications then just the couple… The closer in age the better in my opinion, but within reason and before things begin to look “yucky”, age should not be a problem.


Eh… I see where you’re coming from. But it almost meets the half-plus-seven rule.

The half-plus-seven rule: As a rule of thumb, an age difference is socially acceptable if they’re at least as old as half your age plus seven. (Or less than, I suppose, if you’re younger than 14. But it’s a useless discussion, since you probably shouldn’t be dating at that age. And this is coming from a teen)

So suppose you’re 22 and fresh out of college. Your minimum dating age is about 22/2+7=18. And your maximum dating age is about (22-7)*2=30. That said, however, just because the rule says it’s acceptable, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea.


This has proved to be an interesting discussion thus far! It’s a bit complex, it seems to me, anyways. I didn’t really wish to put myself into the equation because I wanted to keep the discussion as open-ended as possible.

What Clare said about the two being past 30 has given me some food for thought. When one person is in their 20s still, there seems to be a high probability for some difficulties, when the other person is more than ten years older. Still, that does not mean it could not work.

Let’s say both persons would be older than 20, at least.


I think the best thing is to get the right one. I don’t date but if I did I would be more concerned about a woman’s character and compatibility for a catholic man than her age. Can’t ask for too much. :slight_smile: There’s really no single women in my Parish anyway. Everyone’s older or too young; like underage. Not going there :eek:


So yes, it would be quite true that he has substantially more life experience than your daughter, but is that necessarily bad? If the older person is using their greater experience to somehow manipulate the situation that is a different matter, or if your daughter really isn’t sufficiently mature enough to enter into a serious courtship and potential marriage at this point in her life, that would certainly be an issue.

This example reminds me also of how excellent and ideal it is when people stay chaste when they are courting. It allows for proper discernment.


Ah Jamal…I sense you are trying to justify your feelings. :wink:
While I don’t think it’s inappropriate to be dating someone significantly younger (a woman)
I think that there are certain emotional issues, and maturity issues than can have a toll…when the honeymoon phase of the relationship is over. Meaning, if you are significantly older than a young woman, it would be difficult not to throw up her youth in an argument, say, over money, or other hot button issues, like children and how to raise them. Women hate that. :wink:
I’m not saying it has to be bad…just be aware that’s not nearly the same as growing up in a similar atmosphere.


You may well be absolutely correct! I wasn’t doing it consciously, anyways, I think. What you say is quite reasonable, thanks for pointing it out, Clare.


You’re a good guy Jamal…I pray you find a really good woman. Peace!


I would love that, too, but trust that God knows what is best for me. (at least on my good days) Whatever he wills, I want too.

I’ve already got the best woman a man could ever have in his life. I would also say it’s Our Lady’s call whether or not I marry in this life, and she hasn’t told me for certain one way or another yet.

Thanks for the kind words, Clare!!

God Bless.


Age is only a number, especially in this day and age. Some 50yr olds can be as immature as a 20yr old and vice versa, some 20yr olds can be as mature as a 50yr old. It’s just most important that you find the right one for you. :thumbsup:



In the case of a major age gap, it would be necessary to be especially careful about maturity issues and making sure that there’s a lot of agreement about financial management and kids and so forth. One should not find oneself in the position of “parenting” a spouse.


It depends on the couple. My grandmother was eight years younger than my grandfather and once she hit her sixties, she found the age difference hard. My mother is 5 years older than my father and it works.

I think the age difference depends on the particular ages of the couple in question. For example, I would be concerned if an 18 year old was dating a 28 year old but a 28 year old dating a 38 year old not as much because one is also taking into account maturity, education, employment etc.

It is hard to generalize since there are always couples that break the exceptions but my general rule is: if the older person is old enough to be the younger person’s parent which means biologically call it age 13 or 14 then no don’t enter into that relationship. I say this because if one looks at biologically that is technically around the time the puberty begins (with some exceptions of course) that is the general age some teenagers are becoming sexually active.

That said, it depends on the couple and the age of the younger person because it takes some people longer to mature than others.


Yeah I don’t think one should be old enough to be the parent.
I would not a date a man more than 10 years older because I know people who are ten years older with teenage kids and it freaks me out that their kids are closer to my age than they are.

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