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BellaOnline's Dating Editor

Should You Date a Younger Man?

It's a tale as old as relationships themselves. Middle aged, divorced men/confirmed bachelors who are always going out with women half their age like it's the "normal thing" to do. Meanwhile, brilliant, beautiful, self-sufficient women of an age group closer to the peer group of the aforementioned males have picked up the oh-so-attractive moniker "cougar" for doing the exact same thing in dating younger men.

Well, honey, if we're cougars, I think that make the guys old badgers.

I say that, tongue firmly planted in cheek, because whatever nickname you want to ascribe to any group of people for any reason is ridiculous, in my book. But considering there have been numerous books and movies dedicated to the shock and awe (I hope you can read my eye roll) of women dating younger men, I thought it was time to bring it up.

Here's my mantra, however, and this applies to everything that I am going to bring up in the below paragraphs. IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE PERSON. As one of my wise girlfriends, Shawn, reminded me today, "Immature is immature, and age is not the sole predictor."

How far out of your age range should you date?

There's definitely a line where it becomes difficult to find common ground if you go too far one direction (or the other, for that matter). I have a friend who refuses to date anyone who doesn't remember the same presidential administrations that she does, which I think is a bit extreme. I've met men who are as much as 15 years younger than me who don't act it, and I've met men who are in their 60's who aren't nearly as mature as men far younger than they.

How does your lifestyle match up with his?

Lifestyle match is definitely key to a successful dating experience. While it can be exhilarating to stay out til 3 AM and haul into work 4 hours later for the first couple of dates when everything is still new, that can wear on anyone who isn't used to it. If you're both night owls or early birds, and you kind of have the same waking & sleeping habits, it can be easier to adapt. Have fun, but keep it together.

Are you worried about what others will think?

If you can imagine yourself stumbling over an answer when someone asks "How old is he?" and, as such, you're already planning what you might say about a man who isn't even in your life yet, then reconsider going there. Dating someone who is younger may not be in your cards.

Bottom line, the only advice that I can give you on this topic is simply this: You need to evaluate the person, not their birth date. Heart, mind & soul are far more important than numbers.

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