@ARIELA: I just turned 32. Single and available for about three years already. I started early. My first relationship was back in high school. It lasted till my second year in college. We parted because we’re both vying for the highest Latin honor. The pressure was too intense for two youngsters to keep up. A new guy recently joined the firm. He’s eight years my junior. My first love’s kid brother. On one of our casual dates after work, he said I’m his first love. And he wants me to be his girlfriend! Gosh, awkward. He’s a good catch. That’s for sure. I’ll be a moron if I turn him down.

DJ: Why settle for being a moron? You were vying for the highest Latin honor, remember? I’m frankly unsure about what you want from me. Are you seeking my thoughts on the matter? From where I am at, I see two angles—entertaining your first love’s brother and dating someone younger than you. Well, a princess sometimes has to kiss a few toads before her prince charming. What’s wrong with dating your ex’s brother? Okay, they belong to the same royal family. But it’s been over a decade since you broke off! Draw a line under the past.

This new guy is already of legal age. And it’s 2023! Have you heard about the age gap formula? I came across an article, “You Shouldn’t Date Anyone This Much Younger Than You, Research Shows.” It is an interesting formula to calculate what’s socially acceptable minimum age for a partner—divide your age by two and then add seven. This means if you’re 32, dating someone as young as 23 is still within the realm of social acceptability.

We are living in an era of more freedom and flexibility about relationship choices, whether that’s age-gap or something else. Another article, “Age Gaps: The Relationship Taboo that won’t Die,” in fact presents that an older man/younger woman relationship is now perceived with more judgment than an older woman/younger man couple. It’s a departure from the usual perception. Why is that so? It says it’s because society, particularly the young, is now paying more attention to power dynamics. Since it’s still a male-dominated society, this leaves young women with older men in a vulnerable position.

So, why care so much about what people think? Their opinions vary. It all comes down to how much trust you have on a person’s opinion. What matters more is how well you process the situation. He’s 24. Is he already adept at communicating his feelings or in resolving those differences? Are you the one calling the shots? How does that sit with you or with him? How comfortable are both of you with the vibe in each other’s social circle? You might be inclined to meet up for cocktails at Tavolata, for instance, while his idea of a great date is having buckets of Red Horse at Harrison. Observe whether you have enough common ground, including pop culture references.

Are you just exploring the dating scene? Or do you yearn for a deeper commitment that involves rings and babies? Consider your partner’s intentions too. Is he in a phase of sowing wild oats? Or is he at a point when he’s ready for a more serious journey? Constantly align your expectations while swimming through the vibrant pool of youthful dating so you can support each other’s dreams and aspirations along the way.

Age is just a number. Take the cube 5, subtract the fourth power of 2, then divide the result by the square root of the sum of 16 and 3 times 8. It can be complex, right? But growing up means dancing with the unknown. Ultimately, your choices are yours alone to live. Why not embrace the extraordinary potential that awaits on the other side? You own the right to take that leap of faith and be a part of that world.