I’ve never really thought about this question much as previously I’ve had MCs who were in their twenties when it comes to the moment they can romance someone.
However, with my current project, the MC has to be 17 for a specific scene to work as it is set in England. So I have been looking at the ages of the three ROs so far and I have to ask the question what age gap is suitable.
Obviously they won’t be younger than you by much. The friend will either be younger or older but by a month or so and like the MC will shortly be turning 18 before romance can start.
The mentor will obviously be older and I was thinking 20 while the rival I haven’t settled on an age yet.
So my question is what is a suitable age gap for romance options for a 17/18 year old MC.
I think a lot of it depends on the life stage and authority situation of the love interest, and how it’s written in context. I don’t necessarily love older-male-mentor/teen-heroine relationships in fiction, partly because of how common they are in YA… but it is really popular so plenty of people disagree with me!
in Fire emblem: Three Houses the player character is a professor in academy while they are still in 21, while the majority of the student characters were 17(?).
Then again they do have 5 year-ish timeskip after certain event, and I think the bulk of the “romance” happened AFTER the time skip. There are some students who flirts with the PC before time-skip though or (Like Dorothea).
I think so in general, yes - just that the configuration I mentioned is the one that I’ve seen the most often in YA books.
It’s probably worth bearing in mind that a gap of more than 1-3 years with a PC of 17/18 is likely to raise some eyebrows, but it’ll also get the interest of players who enjoy romances with a larger age gap (of which there are plenty) so it all depends what direction you want to go in really there are certainly ways of writing it that could come across as the older character being very creepy, but honestly I doubt you’d go for something like that - so I’d say go for what feels right for the characters.
Not many IFs bring up age as a topic of discussion between MC and RO. What comes to mind is:
Zombie Exodus Safe Haven: Rachel, Gina (not sure about Riley and Lopez) as they are both above 30. as a teen (you’re 17) they are not ROs for you. they bring your age up with “aren’t i too old for you” and, while it shuts down Gina’s pursuit, Rachel uses ur interest in her to lead you on to agree with her/boost her relationship score up until part 3. if you’re playing as a college student (you’re 20-21) they bring up your age as well, but it doesn’t stop your from romancing either fully.
Mind Blind: you’re 20 and one of the ROs is your instructor - Ambrosia/Ambrose Kim who are in 30s. what’s weird, is that the only one who brings up your difference in age is your nagging brother who has a negative view of Kim
there’s also a Choice of Magic(s): you can become a teacher of some-sort to another magic user (cos their skills are awful). the fact that you save them from execution in the first place is what endears you to them. the age difference is not stated (iirc, it’s described that you are both of similar age) but there’s another taboo brought up: teacher-student relationship. They pursue you. Very hard
another work that i’ve remembered where ROs have a big gap from youngest to oldest is Interstellar Airgap, but, to my memory, age is not brought up at all between you and any RO
I think that’s because iirc, the only people who can know about your crush is Sally and Nick at this point in the demo. Nick only finds out after he can’t exactly tell anyone else, and Sally is your bestie who probably doesn’t think anything will come of a teacher crush. Rosy can know, but you haven’t exactly talked about it either.
If I knew a seventeen-year-old in real life who was dating a twenty-year-old, I would have kittens. However, in fiction, I’ve become somewhat desensitized due to long exposure to much worse age gaps than that, so I admit that my first thought was “three years is surely not that bad”.
It also depends on the context of the environment, though. In our modern world, young people are divided into age-based peer groups based on very narrow slicing, such that I can’t help but think of the difference not just in terms of years, but also of school years. A high school student dating a college student is quite different, in my opinion, than two e.g. blacksmith’s apprentices or space force cadets who just happen to be 2-3 years apart in age.
To be honest, a character being described as a “mentor” would put me off more than simply an age difference. Then again, I’m actively steering away from reading about adolescent protagonists, at the moment.
Since I’m seeing a lot of perspectives on normal age gaps, I was wondering what people’s opinions are on supernatural age gaps, which tend to be popular in romance targeted towards female teenagers/young adults.
In cases where one of the pair is over a hundred years old, do you consider it to always be weird or is it a case by case basis depending on how they behave/are presented by the narrative?
What about cases of reincarnation where someone inherits memories of either the future or a past life?
I guess also there’s the question of, what would you consider the age where age differences generally tend to no longer be a consideration?
The MC is 17 for about two, possibly one chapter (it is currently two chapters but I’m thinking of bringing the specific scene forward to the end of chapter one and then the character can have their birthday in chapter two.
It is meant to start about a week before their 18th birthday and the mentor only recently turning 20.
@love4tae I get what you’re saying, but when both people involved are older it doesn’t really register as much. A teenager in a “relationship” with someone 15 years older isn’t appropriate of course, but in real life I wouldn’t assume anything uncomfortable was going on with a 30 year old dating a 45 year old unless one of them was the other one’s employer or there was something else at play; in fiction it would register even less unless it was a major point of contention in the story.
@Nocturnal_Stillness I thiiink in that situation it’s the mentor element that would give me pause because of the position of authority/trust that the older person is in rather than when the characters’ birthdays are (in fiction, at least). again, it’s something that’s really popular, especially from the point of view of the younger character, so I don’t think it’s something that has to be changed; but it’s worth considering from the perspective of the mentor too - what is it that encourages them to think of their mentee in a romantic way? what makes them cross the line from professional/mentorship into romance? what are their feelings about the gap between their ages and the (presumably) different stages of life/professional or magical development that they’re at?
I don’t think you necessarily need to answer all those questions now, but it may be worth exploring it from an in-universe/in-character perspective to help pin down the relationships and the dynamics therein.
I see your point very much and I do think your right, if I put my ‘equation’ through a 45 year old and 30 year old seeing when they were younger wouldn’t seem okay…but seeing when their older does very much puts it on a positive point.
You also were right, if something else was going on then if def wouldn’t be okay.
what constitutes a “weird” age gap is subjective and depends on individual preferences and cultural norms. What might seem unusual to one person might be perfectly acceptable to another.
imagine a 25-year-old woman dating a 35-year-old man. If she has a strong sense of self, clear career goals, and has experienced significant life events that have contributed to her maturity, their age difference might not be a significant factor in their compatibility.
On the other hand, what if said woman is still discovering her identity, exploring career options, and hasn’t had many serious relationships. In this case, the age gap could contribute to potential challenges and power imbalances.
The bigger the gap, the more fun the potential! As long as MC deliberately pursues his chosen partner, I’m fine with many different age gaps. Be it 5, 7, 10, 20 years, three thousand million years reincarnation AU, whatever it is, I dig it as long as MC directly states that yes, this is whom he wants.