Is Age Really Just a Number?
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Relationships

Is Age Really Just a Number?

What other factors are at play in the ages of potential partners?

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Is Age Really Just a Number?
ABC News Go

“Age is just a number,” “love has no limits,” “she’s an old soul,” “he makes me feel such and such way,” and “he is a young spirit,” are all phrases that could be sweet comments about true and abounding love, but most likely would be heard in defense of being questioned about an age gap in a relationship. So are these statements true? Or are they merely explanations for defying a societal norm? What factors play into our conception of age and how do they affect how we interact with other people that could be potential partners?

One of the biggest factors at play when age is a question in relationships is the power dynamics behind it. On a large scale power seems to augment with age, whether that be due to age itself or because of the other things that seem to come with it, like respect, financial security, knowledge, sexual experiences, etc, whatever seems to make a person a more attractive partner. But, in Colgate terms, this is not exactly the case.

At Colgate, age seems to also be innately tied to gender. The way the age dynamic has been described to me, a second-year student, by upperclassmen, is that men become more desirable each year older…while women become less desirable with each year. Now, this is certainly not a fact for everyone and could be completely invalid, I outright refuse to believe that this is how it works…but after I processed the concept it does have some merit, albeit unfortunate.

This idea is perfectly illustrated by the typical scene at a fraternity party: the men present are sophomores and older, logically because those are the ages of eligibility to pledge to a fraternity, and for as women, the majority are first-years and sophomores. Naturally, these parties can facilitate the meeting of potential hook ups or meeting of romantic partners… but the groups involved are older men and younger women for the most part. Considering that Greek Life is a big part of the social scene, this narrative matches the concept and seems to validate it.

Now, picture this scene the other way around: a party at a sorority house (although that is currently illegal because of some really dumb, double standards, but that’s a whole other topic) where the women are between sophomores and seniors, and most of the attending crowd is first-year men and sophomores not involved in fraternities. Does that seem funny? It probably should, but not for the reason that it seems strange for a group of women to throw a Friday night rager that all the guys are talking about and going to. No, that’s not it at all! It should feel funny because that’s how it should be… and right now it isn’t.

Maybe I am digressing, but it seems that other things play into how people of various ages meet and therefore subsequently interact, and some of these other factors dictate the “norms” under which these interactions occur. Especially on Colgate’s campus that is extremely close knit, it is difficult to isolate one factor of power in a sexual encounter from another. When you look at the actual age span between most students, it is on average only about 4 years, which doesn't seem like a lot, but when you consider all of the social power that one can acquire in those 4 years, the gap seems much larger. So should there be boundaries because of this gap, or are there already existing implicit rules? Are they the same or different than in the so-called real world, outside the ‘Gate?

In the western society at large, there seems to be a very gendered expectation of who can date whom, who can sleep with whom, and who can find whom attractive based on their age. It is socially permissible for a man to be involved with a younger woman, and praised for a woman to have relations with an older man. It is not the norm for a woman to be involved with younger men, yet it is seemingly kosher for a younger man to be with an older woman. Granted, all of these dynamics have limits. So what are they? Are there boundaries of age… or should they be? To me, if there are appropriate limits, per se, they are probably socially constructed. The standards above seem limiting, in my opinion. Ultimately, I think that age should not be a determinative factor in relationships and sex, if the power dynamics are evenly distributed and the individuals involved are conscious of them.

What I do know is wrong is lying about your age on Tinder, a year or two, sure, but six years is pushing it. It’s a little odd to advertise that you’re 21 when you’re actually turning 28 in a few weeks. It’s even weirder to call a younger person that you match with “kitten” after only a few messages…. and dear goodness please don't ask anyone to call you “daddy” without a thorough discussion beforehand; this is one way the age dynamic is hyper-present, considering all of the implications and power that comes with that name. Thus, if someone asks you to call them “daddy” consider what kind of power they derive from that name… and I would suggest promptly un-matching them unless you’re into that. Then go for it baby, slay away!

xoxo- Abby

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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