You may have heard it said that “age is nothing but a number”; that in matters of love, the respective ages of the couples shouldn’t matter as much as the love they have for each other. You may have even had conversations with your friends on the matter, and have your own opinions set.

But before you go any further debating whether “love conquers all” or “if age really does matter” Take a look at some things you ought to consider.

In matters of the heart, things do not always make sense, and neither do they always line up in a straight line. Timing is not always right, and people are not always in the same age group. Also, large age differences can be overcome if people are at similar places in their lives. That said, when you are a teen and your partner is a full grown adult, the chances that you are in similar places in your life are slim to none. Here’s why this is the case.

You are probably still in secondary school, while he may have been out of secondary school from anywhere between 5 and 10 years.  A lot happens in that time period, and specifically, a lot happens in the time period right after secondary school. Universities are attended, careers are built, dreams are followed, and your adult path is being cleared as you begin to see who you are, who you want to be, and you gradually leave the safety of your teenage years behind.

The learning curve of life begins to disappear, and you are out there really doing things for yourself for the very first time. Even a very immature 28 year-old man has had life experiences that your average school girl cannot even begin to imagine! It is this vast difference in life experience, rather than the age gap that makes this sort of relationship so questionable.

While situations are not always the same for everyone,there are some obvious signs that the differences in your life experiences may make the age gap too big to handle:

  • S/he has more in common with your parents than with you
  • You live at home; s/he owns or rents her own home
  • You still see your ex at school; s/he still sees her/his ex when the kids get exchanged (if s/he’s divorced!)
  • You get an allowance; s/he draws a salary.
  • S/he’ is building a career, you’ are still figuring out what subject combination you should take in UTME and what you want to do with your life.
  • You daydream about marriage; s/he’ has been there, done that, and filed for divorce.
  • Your social life still revolves around weekends, holidays and school breaks; s/he only gets 3 weeks paid vacation time a year.

By now you are probably starting to see the things that make a difference, that they’ are not as simple as an age gap. Life experience, shared values, and common beliefs are the cornerstone of a good and solid relationship; and in cases of teenagers still in secondary school or out, dating independent adults, these essential ingredients are all too often missing.

As we age, gaps of  5, 10 and even 15 years seem to matter less because our life experiences are more similar. But when you are a teen still finding your voice in this world, dating somebody who is significantly older can stifle you. While it may seem worldly, mature, or sophisticated to have a much older boyfriend; in reality you are robbing yourself of some much needed personal growth time.

You do not gain maturity by surrounding yourself with older people, you gain it by living and learning for yourself. So what do you think: Does age really matter? When is an age gap too big for comfort? Feel free to hit us with your opinions!