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  1.  

    So in one of my novels, a romantic thread has suddenly decided to rear its… interesting head.

    It’s interesting because the guy is in his early twenties and the girl is seventeenish. A fairly wide age gap, especially when you’re talking teenagers.

    Anyway, this may or may not go anywhere, but in the meantime, I’ve got no idea how to approach this from his point of view. Hers, it’s no problem, but… agh. I definitely need a research pool when it comes to him.

    I’ve known a few people with relationship age gaps like 16 and 21, stuff like that—but I’ve never really known much about said relationships, or how long they lasted. (Some may have been faked, too…) It was generally just a bragging point: ‘Oh, well, my boyfriend’s twenty-one’. You know the sort of thing. So yeah, I’m looking for some help on this one.

    This could get personal, so feel free to not answer if you don’t want to. :)

    I wanted to know, if you suddenly found yourself attracted to a girl this much younger than you (or thereabouts), especially if she was a teenager, what would be your feelings? Would you be slightly squicked and disturbed at yourself? If you knew she felt the same way, would you go for it, or would you just be like, ‘meh, wait a few years and if she’s still around…’. Have you ever been in this position? Do you know anyone in this position, and how did they feel about it? Is there a bunch of awkwardness about it? How do the families and friends of the involved react to it?

    Any other comments?

  2.  

    WELL SHORE STAPH I’LL HALP YOU

    Personally, I think it’s skeezy, and I’d never consider engaging in a romantic relationship with a teenager.

    Have I ever thought a teenager was physically attractive before? Of course. Did I know they were a teenager? No. Did I amend my opinion when I found out? Yes.

    I’ve known guys who date high school girls, and most of them didn’t even bother trying to rationalize it as legitimate romantic interest, and the few that did try to rationalize it were full of shit. In all cases, girls their own age wouldn’t date them.

    I could go more into it, but I’m too lazy for it right now.

    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2011
     

    Uh… I’m definitely not a guy in his early twenties, but when I was 20, I was dating a 24 year old. We’ll call him Creeper. Uh. Yeah. So I can tell you some of the stuff that was in his head, if you like.

    1) Every now and then Creeper’d remember the age difference and go AHHHH I’M A CRADLE ROBBER (my current bf, Ninja, does that too, sometimes. He’s 23, I’m 21. It’s kinda funny, he goes all squeaky)

    2) Sometimes it would come up that Creeper would make references to stuff that was just a couple years off from what I’d grown up with, and it would be weird for both of us.

    3) Occasionally Creeper would get a little “am-I-defiling-an-innocent?” on me. It was weird.

    Uh… that’s probably not helpful, Steph, but if you have any specific questions, I can give you some details about the dynamics with Creeper.

  3.  

    Also, obligatory mention of the “half your age plus seven” rule.

  4.  

    @ sansafro:

    Thanks for your opinion. Since you wouldn’t consider it, can I place you in a hypothetical situation fairly unrelated to my book?

    Imagine you’re not a teacher, and you keep bumping into this girl who’s fairly attractive, and totally your type. You have quite a few friends in common, and you find yourself really liking her. Things go on for a year or so, and then for the past two months, you’ve begun to really like her, and you think she feels the same way. You know she’s a bit younger than you, but you’re cool with that since you think it’s only a couple of years’ difference. Then today you find out she’s seventeen.

    What do you do?

    Thanks for the comment, Willow.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2011
     

    Steph, I am in my early-mid 20s, but you probably realise I can’t help you. Substituting the proper gender, I can tell you that I would immediately freak out, emotionally/physically shut down and refuse to talk. That kind oif thing is illegal, and morally wrong besides. I would be like NO THANKS NUH-UH NOPE GOODBYE.

    If you want to empathise for yourself, imagine you keep bumping into this guy who’s fairly handsome, and totally your type. You have quite a few friends in common, and you find yourself really liking him. Things go on for a year or so, and then for the past two months, you’ve begun to really like him, and you think he feels the same way. You know he’s a bit younger than you, but you’re cool with that since you think it’s only a couple of years’ difference. Then today you find out he’s a girl. Pre-op. Also s/he has HIV.

    What do you do?

  5.  

    Woah, I see how you feel. Nicely described. Total shutdown is a good point to include.

    Just to bug you, though, I’m going to point out that at least with time, the relationship would no longer be illegal (though I guess there’s still a question of like mild child-grooming or something similar), whereas time wouldn’t change the situation you describe. Would waiting and not thinking too hard about it in the meantime work as an option? Or would you feel too suss?

  6.  

    Yeah, I’m the right age, sex and orientation…. but no.

    Do you know anyone in this position, and how did they feel about it?

    Back when I was the hypothetical girl’s age, I saw a few couples like this come and go. Usually the going part was nasty.

    I’ve known guys who date high school girls, and most of them didn’t even bother trying to rationalize it as legitimate romantic interest, and the few that did try to rationalize it were full of shit. In all cases, girls their own age wouldn’t date them.

    Sansa’s right. Usually there’s something wrong with the guy, whether he knows it or not. And the girl’s not exactly an innocent victim, either – at the age of 17, you’re supposed to know about the birds and the bees. Maybe not from personal experience, but still.

    What do you do?

    Watch a classic movie that came out before the chick was born and then cry myself to sleep. Kidding.
    I’d leave her the hell alone. If a guy gets a pedo-rep, his life is over – whether he did something or not.
    The only person to have ever resurfaced from such a thing was Michael Jackson (and let’s not start debating on whether he was actually guilty or not, please people!).
    He only managed to do it by a) still being the guy who wrote & sang the world’s bestselling song ever and b) dying before his time, shortly before he would’ve done his final final final concert.

    Occasionally Creeper would get a little “am-I-defiling-an-innocent?” on me

    But you weren’t innocent a minor back then, Willow. I don’t get it.

  7.  

    I’d leave her the hell alone. If a guy gets a pedo-rep, his life is over – whether he did something or not.

    See, the thing is, technically if she’s over sixteen, it’s not paedophilia. Or is it just that the harsh age difference between them would create a sort of false paedophile illusion thing? Never mind, just answered my own question.

    What if she was an eighteen year old? What’s the lowest age you’d consider? (Anyone can answer this, not just Klutor.)

    Will throw it out there that there is somebody here who has whispered to me and was involved in a relationship like this, so don’t be too damning, please.

    I guess I’m also interested in the maturity side of the relationship. Would the different ages and thus maturity levels lead to conflict, and how? Willow, since you’re the closest thing I’ve got, can you comment on this?

  8.  

    I’m 23, turning 24 next year… and I’d put my furthest limit at 20.

    Would the different ages and thus maturity levels lead to conflict, and how?

    Maturity is of course not just affected by age, but also by socio-economic status, number of kids in the family, the way you were brought up, etc. A lot of people tend to forget that.

  9.  

    Maturity is of course not just affected by age, but also by socio-economic status, number of kids in the family, the way you were brought up, etc. A lot of people tend to forget that.

    Ekh. I was hoping nobody’d bring this up and so avoid the actual question completely.

    Thanks for your replies so far, Klutor :) It’s been a massive help.

  10.  

    You’re welcome. ;-)

    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2011
     

    But you weren’t innocent a minor back then, Willow. I don’t get it.

    Well, he was three/four years older, and out of college, and divorced. I was three/four years younger, in college, and rather innocent/naive in general. So yeah.

    I guess I’m also interested in the maturity side of the relationship. Would the different ages and thus maturity levels lead to conflict, and how? Willow, since you’re the closest thing I’ve got, can you comment on this?

    Okay, let me see. Yes, there was plenty of maturity conflict. It wasn’t all age based, though. He was employed, then in law school, and in both cases living on his own. He had previously been responsible for his wife/step-daughter for two or three years. So when it came to subsisting on his own, he could manage far better than I could. However, he also had a lot of insecurity and self-loathing usually reserved for younger guys, and it caused problems. He also had a little drinking problem, but that’s beside the point.

  11.  

    Okay, let me see. Yes, there was plenty of maturity conflict. It wasn’t all age based, though. He was employed, then in law school, and in both cases living on his own. He had previously been responsible for his wife/step-daughter for two or three years. So when it came to subsisting on his own, he could manage far better than I could. However, he also had a lot of insecurity and self-loathing usually reserved for younger guys, and it caused problems. He also had a little drinking problem, but that’s beside the point.

    I suppose when it comes to age, you’d both be in such different places in life that you’d find it tough to see things from the others’ POV sometimes.

    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2011
     

    Yeah, sort of. Our only fight we ever had (we were more the keep-problems-to-ourselves-and-get-depressed sort of couple) was over his step-daughter. He helped raise her for 2 years, and suddenly, mid-summer, decided he should fly down to Texas to see her. From Indiana. To see her for a week.

    I could understand the attachment, but I pointed out his lack of legal claim to her, and the fact that he isn’t planning on settling in Texas. I said he shouldn’t dangle her around and make it even worse. He said he couldn’t abandon the girl who called him daddy for 2 years. It was a messy situation.

  12.  

    Well, he was three/four years older, and out of college, and divorced. I was three/four years younger, in college, and rather innocent/naive in general. So yeah.

    That’s a rather…. messy situation. no offence meant.

    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2011
     

    Yeah, just a bit. Did I mention the four year old stepdaughter he’d been helping raise for 2 years? Or the fact that he was from Texas? Or that we met online? Or that he didn’t tell me the divorce wasn’t final yet until I asked, two months in?

    Facepalm

    That was only a year ago. I was so, so, so very stupid. Well, not stupid, but naive, and far too forgiving.

  13.  

    Imagine you’re not a teacher, and you keep bumping into this girl who’s fairly attractive, and totally your type. You have quite a few friends in common, and you find yourself really liking her. Things go on for a year or so, and then for the past two months, you’ve begun to really like her, and you think she feels the same way. You know she’s a bit younger than you, but you’re cool with that since you think it’s only a couple of years’ difference. Then today you find out she’s seventeen.

    If all that stuff happened before I figured it out, I’d just say, welp, it’s all in the game and try to put some distance between me and her. If she still wanted to be bros, that would be fine.

    That said, I’d be shocked if I spent a year getting to know somebody enough to like them without figuring that out, especially with friends in common.

    I guess I’m also interested in the maturity side of the relationship. Would the different ages and thus maturity levels lead to conflict, and how?

    This is where the problem comes in. It creates a clear power gap, and I think that’s gross. I’m just past 26 now(goddamn i feel old saying that) and I don’t think I’d feel too weird dating, say, a 21 year old, because they can do all the the same things I can do(except rent a car). I could say, hey, your alcoholic beverage of choice sucks compared to Jameson, and not be creeped out.

    Basically, I feel like those relationships contain a somewhat predatory element by nature, and I don’t want to feel like a predator… unless my partner was also a predator, because that would be badass.

  14.  

    If all that stuff happened before I figured it out, I’d just say, welp, it’s all in the game and try to put some distance between me and her. If she still wanted to be bros, that would be fine.

    okay, then.

    That said, I’d be shocked if I spent a year getting to know somebody enough to like them without figuring that out, especially with friends in common.

    Oh, shush, you :) Stop picking holes in my hypothetical scenario.

    Yeah, the power gap. That’s a good name for it; I wasn’t sure what to call it.

    Basically, I feel like those relationships contain a somewhat predatory element by nature, and I don’t want to feel like a predator… unless my partner was also a predator, because that would be badass.

    I knew there was a good reason we kept you around. That was both hilarious and epic, and it enriched my life :D

  15.  

  16.  

    • CommentAuthorSum Mortis
    • CommentTimeSep 19th 2011
     
    Well I am a guy that is almost 17, so I guess I am kind of on the wrong side of things. At the same time, there are girls my age who date older guys, and like everyone else has basically said, things dont end up so well. They dont last long, and from what I can tell, are never very deep or close.

    I would put the maximum age range I would be willing to go to up to about 19, and anything above 20 would just be really weird and creepy. It's strange that mostly girls date older men and not the other way around, but most of the lame excuses I have heard are about "maturity level" and crap like that. To make a long story short, if I was 24, I wouldnt date anyone under 21.
  17.  

    So I think the direction I’m going to take is he’s going to realise how old she is and go into shutdown mode. And just because I feel like exploring this and pushing the poor guy to the breaking limit, there’s going to be weird forces of attraction still between him and her that are totally out of his control (because of supernatural forces. Maybe beasties just looking to make mischief, maybe something bigger). But they’re not going to end up together, unless he somehow gets over it first and she gets older by at least three years, and then he falls in love with her again (and she with him, of course). But all this is in a nebulous future I haven’t written yet (and may never happen in any case), so I’ll shut up. I guess I just wanted to say, thanks for everyone’s help, I gained a lot of valuable insights, and even though my question’s been answered, I’m still interested in this topic so I’ll keep it going until I either run out of directions to take it in, or somebody tells me to shut up.

    if I was 24, I wouldnt date anyone under 21.

    I’m just past 26 now(goddamn i feel old saying that) and I don’t think I’d feel too weird dating, say, a 21 year old, because they can do all the the same things I can do(except rent a car). I could say, hey, your alcoholic beverage of choice sucks compared to Jameson, and not be creeped out.

    I’m 23, turning 24 next year… and I’d put my furthest limit at 20.

    Do you think it changes at all once she’s no longer a teenager? Once she’s twenty or twenty one? Say if you were 28 or 29, would you feel okay in dating a twenty-one year old? (It just passes the half your age plus seven rule. Just.)

  18.  

    Say if you were 28 or 29, would you feel okay in dating a twenty-one year old? (It just passes the half your age plus seven rule. Just.)

    I honestly have no idea.
    I’ll see when I get there, but I’m inching towards “no”.

    •  
      CommentAuthorBeldam
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     

    I can’t speak from experience, but I know my mom met her ex-husband when she was in her early twenties, and he was almost thirty at the time. They were together for a long time—I think they had my sister a few years in, and then broke up when she was four or five. From what I can tell of their relationship, the age was never a problem—my mom can just be very difficult, and said ex-husband is a pushover, though endearingly so.

    My sister also had a relationship with an almost-thirty guy in her early twenties, and they were very happy for a couple of years—and then he was like, “Let’s move to Ghana!” and she was like, “Uh, no.” The guy is still friends with the family, so it wasn’t even a bad break up.
    Age isn’t always the be-all and end-all of relationships. Approach and personality are much larger issues. But this is coming from someone who mostly knows of relationships where the people involved aren’t identical ages, or even close for that matter.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFell_Blade
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    Interesting question Steph. I've actually been in a similar situation, so I can share some of what I went through. When I was in my early twenties I was interested in a girl who was about 16-17. Given the age difference at that time, I decided not to act on that interest right then. I waited until she turned 18 to see how things would play out. As it happened, she wasn't interested in me anyway, so nothing ever came of it.
    Then when I was 23 I started dating a girl who was 18. We dated for a while, and our families were both fine with the age difference. I ended up marrying her. Now I'm 25 and she'll be 21 in a month; we're actually celebrating our 1st anniversary this weekend.
    So yes, it can work out without being too weird. That said, there are some issues that you have to deal with that couples who are older and closer in age wouldn't have to go through. Mostly these are issues with maturity and different life experiences. There are times when we don't see issues the same because of our different maturity levels and the things that we have gone through.
    I think whether it works out or not will depend a lot on the people involved, more than on their respective ages.
    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     

    O.o

    I think you’re only our second married person on here, that I know of. Excellent insights, by the way.

  19.  

    He’s our third, actually.

    Fell_Blade, congratulations on your anniversary! (Make an intro thread, by the way!) Nice insights, like Willow said.

    Mostly these are issues with maturity and different life experiences. There are times when we don’t see issues the same because of our different maturity levels and the things that we have gone through.

    This is the part that interests me. I has a potential doozy of a question for you: can you give an example of the issues you have sometimes?

    (Whisper me if you want to reply and don’t want to post everything for the world to see.)

    • CommentAuthorWiseWillow
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     

    I know Wulf_Ritter is one, who’s the third?

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2011
     
    I think 17's a particularly weird/ uncomfortable age because she's still in high school. Once she graduates, things become a lot murkier because quite often you don't necessarily know people age even if they are first year's in university. And there can be some fairly larger age gaps at that point. My room mate just got married- 28 and she was 21. But again, she's been out of high school on her own for a couple years, lived in Africa for awhile etc.

    I don't know, it's something about being graduated, it's harder to look back into high school for someone to be attracted to as you're in an entirely different zone in life. I'm 25 now, but even four or five years ago, high school was never a place to go looking as it just seems odd.

    And yeah, it's usually the quick turn around 'she looks pretty' She's in high school. Squick. Shutting down and moving on.

    Now if they knew each other in high school and were only a couple grades apart? Because I know my dad is a couple years older than my mom and started dating her when she in grade 12. So that might have been a 21yrs and 18yrs.
  20.  

    Third = a guy who whispered me in this thread and hasn’t actually said so in ‘public’ to my knowledge, so I don’t want to throw out any personal info there.

    I think 17’s a particularly weird/ uncomfortable age because she’s still in high school.

    I graduated at seventeen. About half the people I know did. Aussie school system. So, yeah, not necessarily in high school.

    don’t know, it’s something about being graduated, it’s harder to look back into high school for someone to be attracted to

    I’m not suggesting you actually go looking for high schoolers! That’s… a little creepy. :D Thanks for the input.

    •  
      CommentAuthorTakuGifian
    • CommentTimeSep 24th 2011
     

    There’s also a problem of perspective. When you’re 80, dating an 87-year-old is not much of a problem, but when you’re 24, dating someone 7 years younger than you seems like an age gap that is nearly half your life. That’s a large part of the squick factor for me. And when you’re 40, dating a 20-year-old is quite literally dating someone who is young enough to be your daughter. And that’s just an entire new level of squick.

  21.  

    Good point.

  22.  

    ^And then you get it when two immortals are dating, and one of them is 620, and the other is 570…..
    suddenly 50 years doesn’t look so big, anymore. :-P

    •  
      CommentAuthorFalling
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2011 edited
     
    @Steph- Oh, if you're graduated at 17, then it makes things much more grey. I was thinking Canadian system where it'd be either grade 12 or possibly even grade 11 depending on time of year.

    Part of the issue is age gap- including that perspective that Taku mentions, part of it is just cultural/societal ideals. In another century, no-one would blink twice at this sort of age gap or at the specific ages. But school has increased the length of dependency and changed societal expectations along the way.
  23.  

    @Steph- Oh, if you’re graduated at 17, then it makes things much more grey.

    Well, keep in mind that in Australia, you will turn eighteen the year after you graduate. Which I think my character has. I’m not sure. I don’t want to write her too close to myself, since I’d like to push away the self-insert/Mary Sue probabilities as far as possible.) Do you think it’s grey enough to the point that you think it’d be okay (though still a bit grey-ish) if a 22 year old went out with her?

    Part of the issue is age gap- including that perspective that Taku mentions, part of it is just cultural/societal ideals. In another century, no-one would blink twice at this sort of age gap or at the specific ages. But school has increased the length of dependency and changed societal expectations along the way.

    Yeah, my ‘culture’ (sort of—it’s my church I’m thinking of) doesn’t blink an eye at that sort of thing either. Or to be more accurate, they do, but not as much as you’d expect. For example, the pastor’s daughter was going out with a guy six years older than her while she was still in high school. He was her brother’s friend, but still. And a lot of people were like, what is going on here? but her dad was fine with it. They’ve been married for something like ten years now. So I’ve sort of had exposure to the whole, ‘if God wants it to be, it’ll be’ mentality, for like my whole life. And then I know quite a few non Christian couples with rather large age gaps (probably more than the norm), and they’re all pretty well matched. So I personally am less squicked about it all. I wanted a different perspective on this.

    As a completely unrelated note here, the weird/annoying thing about being seventeen turning eighteen, is suddenly you wake up one morning and you’re no longer jail bait in some peoples’ eyes. Got into a few sticky situations that way.

    •  
      CommentAuthorSpanman
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2011 edited
     

    My bestie (she’s 19) is dating a guy who’s 24. I think she was pretty uneasy about age when they first started gravitating towards each other, which is why she waited until she’d turned 19 before she told him she liked him. Apparently it’s not a problem any more. Anyway, they met on a six-month missions trip to the Golden Triangle, so I guess the circumstances weren’t exactly normal either.

    For that rather unhelpful anecdote, you’re welcome. :D

  24.  

    No, that’s helpful. Shows it can work, so thanks very much!

    •  
      CommentAuthorEmil 1.4021
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2011 edited
     

    With that being said, I don’t find age gaps all too strange, it’s rather more a matter of the mindset of the individuals. Sure, I wouldn’t desire a relationship with someone if there was even half the age gap of those mentioned above, but apparently my mother’s always been into older men. On the other hand, problems will inevitably arise when the mental maturity doesn’t match. It is generally said that females are a bit quicker to mature mentally than men, which would easily support a gap of a few years. When the mental maturity doesn’t match, it starts to feel a bit like exploitation to me.

    •  
      CommentAuthorswenson
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2011
     

    Another family example: my aunt and uncle are eleven years apart. However, they didn’t really meet until she was in her early to mid-twenties. So again, I think the age gap really matters less and less as you get older.

  25.  

    Yeah, once a female is a grown-ass woman, she’s a grown-ass woman. I’m not nearly as weirded out by a 25 year old dating a 35 year old, since the younger person should theoretically have enough emotional and financial independence that it at least mitigates any power gap, if not outright erases it.

    Tangentially related to this topic: While bullshitting with my Magic buddies last week, I misheard someone, and now I think there ought to be an animal mascot that does PSAs on the dangers of underage girls named “Statutory Ape.”

  26.  

    she’s a grown-ass woman

    Someone make a demotivational of this, pleeeeeeaaaaaaaassssssse!

    an animal mascot that does PSAs on the dangers of underage girls named “Statutory Ape.”

    Awesome.
    It would be the reverse of Too Smart For Strangers, and as such, it would rock.
    They could also make FAQ/Q&A sessions (like with Old Spice and many of your youtube people) called “Swingin’ with Statutory Ape”.

  27.  
    I do know of three couples that made a huge age gap work.

    Example one: I work with the guy's wife, she's 48ish and he's 57 and they got together when she was 18.

    Example two: Friends of the family, she was 17 and he was 28 when they got married, she's in her early thirties and he's in his forties and they're still going on strong.

    Example three: A girl I work with with, her parents have a five-ten years age difference and they're still together.

    Hope that's some kind of help.
  28.  

    My own parents are 5 years apart.
    At their age it’s absolutely nothing, and at the age they met (mid to late twenties) it wasn’t much, either.
    It only gets weird when you think that when my dad was 18, my mom was 13.

    •  
      CommentAuthorFell_Blade
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011
     
    @Steph,
    It's really a lot of little things; sometimes in the form of expectations that one of us had that wasn't very realistic, other times in the way we interpret situations. One major issue was that I (as the older guy) had to learn to trust my younger wife in some some things that were going on. As the older person in the relationship, I kinda naturally felt more experienced and mature when dealing with some things and didn't readily trust my wife's opinion. Then I saw just how right she was, and felt like "Duh, shoulda just trusted her to start with!" She had a similar issue of trust; there were some things going on between her and my family, and she had to trust that I knew my family well enough to know how to handle it, even if it wasn't how she would have handled it. Hope that helps.
  29.  

    Dude. Wow. You guys both must have grown heaps during that.

  30.  
    Well, in the UK the age of consent is 16, so maybe I'm more open to the idea of dating a teenager. I'm at university, so the majority of people are 18-21 anyway. I'd hardly suggest that someone who's 18 or 19 as 'young' to me. As long as it's legal, age is just a number ... My mum is older than my dad. It's not a problem.

    Would I date a seventeen year old? Sure, why not? As long as we have genuine feelings for each other and it's not just for shits and giggles ... It's only 4 years. If I was 25 dating a 21 year old it'd be no different. Also, the 'half your age+7' thing, as mentioned, suggests that a 21 year old can in fact date a 17 year old (rounded down :P).

    I personally don't see the huge deal. It's not as if she's 17 and he's 31 - that's a whole generational gap right there, but that's another discussion entirely.