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10 Must-Know Rules for Dating Younger Guys

Head and shoulders photograph of Suzannah Weiss
A young man wearing a white t-shirt, navy button-up shirt with a collar, with a dark brown slicked-back hair and some facial hair. Next to him, we see an older woman, wearing a pastel yellow button-up with a collar, with her hair tied back, faced towards the man, with her arm resting on his shoulder. Both of them have pleasant expressions. A bookcase and plant are faded out in the background.
If you look at celebrity relationships or the people you see out and about, you'll probably see a lot of older men dating younger women. But the reverse arrangement is becoming more and more socially acceptable.

Dating younger men has its pros and cons. As with dating anyone outside a specific group you belong to, differences will arise, but what's most important is to respect each other's differences. The younger men on eharmony or EliteSingles will not be like the men you meet on a senior dating site, and that's a good thing—as long as you're not expecting them to be.

More and more older women are dating younger guys. A 2021 survey found that 81 percent of women are open to dating someone younger than they are. And on the flip side, plenty of younger guys want older women. But how do you go about it?

Here are 10 rules that can help you navigate relationships with men who are younger than you.

1. Be Open to Learning

A younger man might look up to you and count on you to teach him about the world, but he'll likely also have a lot to teach you about modern ways of thinking that you may not have been exposed to. This can lead to a beautiful relationship where you're both each other's guides and mentors.

Be humble enough to listen to his perspectives on things rather than dismiss them as the products of youth or immaturity.

2. Be Open to Teaching

On the flip side, you can also have fun stepping into the role of teacher, perhaps introducing your younger man to new people, places, or activities. It's always fun to share our areas of expertise, so see this as an opportunity to impart all the knowledge you've gained over the years.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions About Your Relationship

Younger generations have different ideas about relationships than you may have grown up with. In a 2020 survey, 43% of millennials said their ideal relationship was non-monogamous. Younger men may also have different ideas about dating and relationships and when a relationship should get serious.

Be true to yourself and ask for what you want, but stay open to the fact that a different relationship style might work for you.

4. Embrace Your Masculine Side

Relationships between older women and younger men can call many traditions into question, such as the tradition of the man paying (you may make more money than him), men being sexually dominant (you may be more sexually confident and experienced), and men making the decisions for the relationship (you may be savvier and have a lot to say yourself).

In these situations, it's helpful to remember that everyone has a masculine and feminine side. Embracing your masculine side can be liberating and doesn't make you less of a woman.

5. Be Understanding of His Lack of Experience

Men aren't taught much about how to deal with relationships or emotions. Combine that with youth and a lack of experience, and a younger man may not understand things about relating to women that'll seem obvious to you.

If the younger man you're dating says something that offends you, try to understand where he's coming from rather than jumping to conclusions. He may still be learning. What's most important is the extent to which he apologizes and makes an effort to do better in the future.

6. Don’t Tolerate Anything That Makes You Uncomfortable

Immaturity isn't an excuse for not considering your feelings. If the younger man you're dating knows something bothers you and does it anyway, that is a major red flag.

Only you know where your limits are in terms of what you'll tolerate. If you feel devalued or angry all the time, know there are men of all ages who won't leave you feeling that way.

7. Respect How You Feel About Each Other’s Friends

Even if your partner is mature for his age, that doesn't necessarily mean his friends will be. You have no obligation to spend time with friends of his that you find off-putting. However, you should also accept that he may not relate to your friends either.

The Spice Girls' adage, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends," may not always apply. Neither of you has any obligation to spend time with each other's friends.

8. Don’t Feel Pressured to Do Things Like Him

Thanks to ageism, many people are made to feel uncool if they're not doing what young people are doing. But many of the things he might find fun or cool are likely just trends that will fade. Stay true to who you are, knowing that you have lots of value because of your age, not despite it.

9. Watch the Pop Culture References

Keep in mind that the pop culture references you make around people your own age may fly over his head, and that's fine. There's no need to explain them to him, either. You're probably better off not boring him with a play-by-play of a movie he's never seen, but you could watch the movie together. You could also check out his favorite shows and movies too.

10. Keep It Light

Relationships are meant to be fun and lighthearted, and someone younger than you may be especially great for helping you remember how to be carefree. Don't take things too seriously, and focus on all the fun you have together rather than getting caught up in the conflicts.

The Bottom Line

Dating younger men can pose some challenges, but it's also an exciting way to be exposed to a new worldview and perhaps even connect with a more youthful side of yourself. Just remember to respect each other's individuality and don't try to change each other. Relationships are much more fun when you go with the flow.

Head and shoulders photograph of Suzannah Weiss
Suzannah Weiss is a writer, certified sex educator, and sex/love coach.