I downloaded Tinder on the morning of my 18th birthday, and I had a date the very next day. I recall the date clearly. It was the summer before my senior year of high school. We met at Overton Park because I was afraid I’d get murdered if I went straight to his house. I remember my throat was sore because I had gotten my tonsils out two days before, and so my talking was limited. For June in Memphis, the weather felt great outside. I remember all of this clearly, but the one thing my memory tends to overlook is that he was 25 and I was 18.
These numbers don’t seem too far apart, after it is just 7 years, right? Wrong. At the time, I considered myself so mature because I was able to pick up these older guys. For the remainder of the summer I found myself going on a slew of dates with boys (cough, “men”) aged anywhere from 21 to 29. As this pattern continued in my own life, I noticed a pattern in these boys’ lives as well. No matter how old, they all lacked a college-degree, a “big-boy” job, and a serious romantic history. I blew these facts off at the time, but they would eventually come to bite me in the butt.
It was not until I got a little older that I realized how strange these men truly were. Now, at the age of 20 I would never dream of dating someone 2 years my junior–especially if that person was still in high school. My mindset begs the question, “Why are these 24+ year old men going on with young girls?” I’ll give you a hint, they’re predators. I can assure you that the women their own age understand that these men are not quality material. Therefore, the unwanted men are left to prey and take advantage of younger girls.
I know it is easy to say that age is just a number and that it is #NotAllMen. However, 9 times out of 10, I would venture to say that if a 29 year old man is chasing an 18 year old still in high school, they do not have their best intentions at heart. Moreover, I know many times these men will coerce young girls by ensuring them that “they are mature for their age.” However, this is simply not the case. In high school, I thought I was all that too. I thought I had everything figured out, and that I was vastly superior to the younger, more immature girls around me. Oh, how naive I was.
Again, this situation may not apply to everyone, but most of the time high school seniors, through not fault of their own, lack real-world life experience. The fact of the matter is that your 18 year old persona is fleeting. No matter how mature you feel, there will always be more to learn. In fact, if you are anything like I was, college will be an especially humbling experience. I do not necessarily regret the actions of my younger self, but I am certainly not proud of the older men I associated myself with.
So, I leave you with this: instead of downloading Tinder on your 18th birthday, stop and enjoy the time you have left in your teen years. Don’t be afraid to hang out with those your age, and don’t grow up too fast. If even after this article you aren’t convinced, at least lower your age range on to 18-21.