In all of its facets, age is a puzzling concept. As I mature, the idea confounds me more. Still, I have my moments when I stop thinking so damn hard and everything makes sense: Age is experience.
This is my sole reason to believe it is appropriate for a senior in college to date a freshman in college, but inappropriate for a senior in high school to date a freshman in high school.
Only recently did I acknowledge this notion.
Anyone who paid attention to the evolution of relationships in high school should recall the controversy when upperclassmen started dating down.
Now I am adamant that there are no rules or regulations when it comes to falling in love. A man may love a man, and a woman may love a woman. An old gent might find passion in a young fox, or a teenage girl might discover first love in the heart of a boy one grade below her.
Conventional or unconventional, love is an inexplicable phenomenon.
Yet adolescents needn’t complicate their lives with controversial romance when young love can be innocent.
High school students have their entire lives to explore desire and affection. Specifically seeking out a substantially older or younger partner at a young age can be problematic. If the relationship is sexual, there is no doubt it is taboo to society.
But I believe the most fundamental reason to refrain from such a relationship is the disparity in life experience.
The freshman in the partnership always tried growing up too fast, always tried relating to seniors and lost a lot of freshman peers in the process. The senior in the partnership essentially stopped growing as a person.
Both stopped hanging out with people their own age.
As a senior in 2012, I supported my comrades who dated freshmen as long as the relationships made them happy. In retrospect, I regret my silent support because the relationships simply weren’t healthy.
In high school, rarely are freshman and seniors on the same page in life. Even during adulthood, any couple with a significant age gap risks cruising through life on different wavelengths.
But with maturity that age gap can expand while a relationship still thrives. Hence my belief that, yes, it is appropriate for a college senior to a date a college freshman.
College students, or high school graduates, have experienced enough of life to be considered adults.
Throughout adulthood, age exponentially becomes less of a factor in romance. Where a four-year age difference between partners is drastic during adolescence, it becomes fairly standard in college.
After college, after exploration, after experiencing love and heartache, anything can happen. I know multigenerational married couples whose love prevails.
But students need to keep it simple in high school and allow themselves to experience life at a natural pace.
College students have already been through high school and have experienced an independent lifestyle. Thus college students have a more comprehensive understanding of the self and are more apt to relate to someone else, all age aside.
Miles Inserra can be reached at [email protected] or @m_inserra on Twitter.