We recently came across a movie on Netflix – Copenhagen. Released in 2014, this movie is about William, a man in his late twenties, searching for a grandfather that he has never met, hoping to deliver to him a letter from his father that he never really knew, in the city for which the movie was titled. But something unexpected happens along the way – he falls in love with a local girl, Effy. This in itself is odd for William. As an American backpacking through Europe, he’s used to one night stands and casual flings. But the real kicker to William and Effy’s romance is that Effy is only 14 years old. Their affair is terribly inappropriate; she’s just a kid, after all. But as the story unfolds, you can see something pure and genuine about their affections for one another. William’s no pedophile (at least in his own mind), and Effy is quite mature for her age (at least she thinks so). So this got us thinking – How young is too young?
Chris: First of all, I think we should eliminate anyone under 18 years old. We shouldn’t be promoting crime here. A real life William is a scumbag with severe mental problems. That said, I’ve always subscribed to the rule of thumb of half your age plus seven being the cutoff line. So in the case of William being 28, the youngest he could go would be ((28/2)+7) 21 years old.
Emily: While that is the most popular calculation, I don’t think it’s appropriate for all relationships. We will call that math equation “the solution for minimum creepiness”. But following a basic math equation is difficult because we are complex humans. There are so many factors such as life stages, maturity and values. For instance, at 28, don’t you think you’re over the clubbing and partying as opposed to 21, when you’re just finally able to enter bars?
Chris: I was definitely still hitting the club and bar scene at 28. Life stages and values – so I guess we’re talking about relationships then, boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. Do all girls just automatically go there whenever they see a male prospect? What about casual dating? Because how good of a girlfriend can a 21 year old chick be? I say this because I know 21 year old men are horrible boyfriend material.
Emily: Do men just automatically jump to casual hookups? I don’t think we can generalize and say all 21 year olds are bad girlfriends/wives or boyfriends/husbands. But okay, fine, to make this less complicated, lets narrow it down to just casually dating. I would say the “half your age plus seven” rule works pretty well. I’m just saying don’t expect a relationship to come out of the minimum acceptable age, especially as you get older. If you were 60 and I met you at 37, I would say I’m attracted to your wrinkles and wallet. What I’d like to know though is why at 30 it’s acceptable to date someone who is 22 (8 years difference) and at 60, a 37 year old (23 years difference). It’s just casual dating but why does the age range become wider as you get older?
Chris: I was kidding. So yes, let’s get off of casual dating. William and Effy, after all, were in love, albeit foolishly. When it comes to relationships, I think the half your age plus seven is a good guideline. As people grow more and more into their adulthood, the age gaps tend to fade and blur and we all just end up being in the same boat, really. This is why a 60 year old man dating a 37 year old woman seems fine. So we still haven’t answered the question, How young is too young?
Emily: Actually I don’t know if I’d sign off on the 60 and 37 year old couple. Lets say this 60 year old had a daughter at the age of 23. Is it weird that his now daughter is the same age as his girlfriend? I guess we have heard of these couples — if you personally know one — I’d love to learn how it works for them. But okay, the million dollar question: How young is too young? For casual hookups, half your age plus seven, if you can handle it. For relationships, as long as both are of legal age and your maturity level and life stages align, you have my blessing!
Chris: I’ll just add one more thing: If you have any inkling of someone being too young, then he/she probably is too young, for you.