Is this just wrong?
August 11, 2010 6:24 AM   Subscribe

I have a crush on a girl that appears to be way too young for me. Appears.

There is a young woman who I frequently see at work (we do not work together, to be clear). She and I make small talk, and there are fleeting moments of prolonged eye contact. Over time, I have developed a pretty big crush on this woman.

At first, I did not look at her as anything more than a nice person who was pleasant to chat with. The problem? She looks about 16 (if that). Then, one day, I sort of realized that she only looks that young, and that she is at least 21, but possibly older. Guessing her age is totally pointless, because she really does look very very young, so any guess is a complete shot in the dark (without doing any research, it would not surprise me if there is an underlying condition that makes her look so young). I do know that she is at least 21, though. I am 30. I have no issues with dating a 21 year old (I have dated in the 9 year range, both up and down).

The thing is, I am really itching to ask her out to dinner or something, but I am sort of creeped out by how young she looks, and I am sort of afraid that she will be creeped out by me pursuing her. She must know how young she looks, and I do not want to seem like a sleazeball who just wants a really young looking girl. Honestly, I was not even attracted to her prior having a few brief conversations.

So, what do I do here? Do I just forget about it, and not ask her out? Do I ask her to dinner, and hope for the best? Do I ask her to dinner, and in asking try to explain that I am not a creep? I feel pretty weird even considering it, but at the same time, I am really interested in getting to know her.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (61 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
General tip: if you want a date to go well, don't tell said date that the way she looks creeps you out. Ask her to dinner, see what happens.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:26 AM on August 11, 2010 [23 favorites]

Just ask her out and DO NOT, under any circumstances, bring up how young she looks.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [23 favorites]

Assuming you're correct that she's older than she looks, she'll probably be grateful for someone treating her like her age. She's probably used to people assuming that she's a kid and treating her like one. Don't apologize for being a creep, because you're not. Ask her out on a date like you would any other woman. And if she turns you down, assume it's for the same reasons a 30 year old wouldn't go out on a date with you--not because she thinks you're a pedophile or something ridiculous like that. Why would an adult find it weird that another adult would ask her out?
posted by phunniemee at 6:31 AM on August 11, 2010 [7 favorites]

Seriously, just ask her out. You like her and you started liking her after you had a few conversations with her, not because of her looks. You may be worried about looking creepy, but nothing you've written indicates that you are being creepy.

Life is short, ask out the people you find interesting.
posted by nomadicink at 6:33 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're interested in getting to know her better. There's no harm in asking her out on a date. Clichéd as it may be, coffee casual might be better than dinner. I would recommend not commenting whatsoever on her youthful appearance, at least not directly; compliments are fair game, but nothing akin to "how old are you really?" or "you could pass for a teenager").
posted by Raze2k at 6:34 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I last got IDed two weeks ago, and I'm 28. Are you worried mainly because of what others will think?
posted by mippy at 6:39 AM on August 11, 2010

I had a girlfriend who looked about 17 at 24. I saw pictures of her from high school and it was like she hadn't aged at all. On one of our first dates I did a surreptitious "hurr hurr look at my stupid ID photo lemme see yours" to make absolutely sure she was as old as she said. When we started dating seriously, and I introduced her to my friends, I got a few "dude, she looks young" and I'd tell them that she's not and it would never get mentioned again. Mainly because my friends knew better than to assume I was dating a teenager. No one ever treated her as if she was younger than she really was, because she could carry on a conversation as a 24-year-old and not a 17-year-old.

You're clearly attracted to her for the "right" reasons (i.e. not going after her because she looks young) and find her interesting as a person. If she wants to go out with you, then go out, and then figure out how creeped out you are. Or, better yet, figure out if you're creeped out, or if you're uncomfortable with the idea of people on the street thinking you're robbing the cradle. Is it the latter? Well, no time like the present to get over that. You don't necessarily have to, but it's a good thing to get over. You (or any of the rest of us) will probably never date a girl who some random person will never look at cock-eyed for whatever reason. Again, if it is clear how old she is when she opens her mouth, you're in the clear with anyone but the most shallow and ridiculous of people. And why would you ever make decisions based on the opinions of shallow, ridiculous people? If it personally creeps you out to the extent that her personality doesn't make up for it? Forget it. Be friends. There really isn't such a shortage of pretty and interesting girls that you have to force yourself to be uncomfortable with one.

Anyway, go out with her and see how you feel. And don't mention how old she looks until she mentions it first. And if she does, just smile and don't say anything beyond "yeah, I guess you do look kinda young."
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Speaking as someone who looked really young as a young adult: I was generally pretty happy when people treated me like the grown-up that I was. I mean, do you think she wants to date 16-year-olds? I'm thinking probably not.
posted by craichead at 6:46 AM on August 11, 2010

I am a 24 year old and I can look 15 if without makeup/wearing young clothes. I can tell you she's probably aware she looks young and probably won't appreciate it being pointed out yet once again. Especially for those of us whose seemingly eternal youth is caused by medical conditions, it becomes extremely annoying.* It has made me feel at points in my life that I'll never be a woman and no one will ever take me seriously. Thankfully I've gotten over it, but it took some time.

Don't ask her for dinner. If you have this sort of hesitation, coffee is more appropriate.

* At some point she might figure out that better tailored clothes and makeup can add years, despite them being marketed for doing the opposite.
posted by melissam at 6:48 AM on August 11, 2010

Just ask her out and don't worry about looking like a creep. If her very youthful appearance had been the cause of your attraction, I'd think you creepy. That does not appear to be the case.
posted by applemeat at 6:48 AM on August 11, 2010

Haddock's Law is dumb.

Go for it.

Things will either work out for the long term or they won't. If it doesn't work out, then the whole thing's a moot point. If it does work out, this will stop being an issue soon enough.

Never mention this to her or anyone else.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:53 AM on August 11, 2010

You're overthinking this. Listen to Nike
posted by infini at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2010

She looks about 16 (if that). Then, one day, I sort of realized that she only looks that young, and that she is at least 21, but possibly older. Guessing her age is totally pointless, because she really does look very very young, so any guess is a complete shot in the dark (without doing any research, it would not surprise me if there is an underlying condition that makes her look so young).

Plenty of people in that age range will be on Facebook and will have their date of birth on their profile.

Do I ask her to dinner, and in asking try to explain that I am not a creep?

What do you suppose her thinking is? Groucho Marx, "I wouldn't want as a partner any man who would want me as a partner"?

That would be the same as saying she never wanted a partner, which is an unusual choice.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2010

If you know for a fact that his girl is at least 21 but only looks younger and you're freaking out then you're completely missing the point. Don't focus on how young she appears, the girl is old enough to date you.
posted by xbeautychicx at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2010

Can you focus on how old she sounds when you talk to her? It's her mind that matters.
posted by amtho at 7:19 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why not just ask? The worst thing that could happen would be that she feels that you're too old for her, in which case she will turn you down.
posted by Sara C. at 7:26 AM on August 11, 2010

consider this: if she looks soooo young, then why are you attracted to her?
posted by bunny hugger at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

You can't tell how old that plate is because of all the beans on it.

ASK HER OUT. If she says, "Christ, I'm sixteen, you pervert," then you say, "Wow, you seem so much more mature than that." If she says, "Christ, I look like I'm sixteen, you must be a pedophile," then she's got her own issues.
posted by Etrigan at 7:31 AM on August 11, 2010 [6 favorites]

She looks about 16 (if that). Then, one day, I sort of realized that she only looks that young, and that she is at least 21, but possibly older. Guessing her age is totally pointless, because she really does look very very young, so any guess is a complete shot in the dark (without doing any research, it would not surprise me if there is an underlying condition that makes her look so young). I do know that she is at least 21, though. I am 30. I have no issues with dating a 21 year old (I have dated in the 9 year range, both up and down).

Okay. What? Is she 21 or not? How do you know how old she is?
posted by KogeLiz at 7:32 AM on August 11, 2010

Try asking her if she wants to hang out.
Don't make it a big date thing.

Like "What are you up to this weekend?"
and then say something like, "I'm going to see a band/show/play/going to a party, you should come!"

It would seem much easier for you to ask that way ... and much easier for her to respond (or not respond).

I would rather be asked out like that than "So, would you like to go out to dinner sometime?"
That's way too scary for me. Although, I'm kind of socially retarded.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:36 AM on August 11, 2010

consider this: if she looks soooo young, then why are you attracted to her?

This is a good point. Everything you've said is all in your head. You're the one bringing up the idea of your interest in her being creepy. Could it be that your concern for other people being creeped out is actually a proxy for being creeped out by yourself?

However, maybe you're just attracted to her type and you're overthinking whether you're allowed to ask her out (the answer, of course, being "yes").

I'm not one to say we shouldn't be judgmental of someone asking a question -- there are many cases that do call for judging -- but we have no business judging your preference for women who look a certain way. Many men are attracted to women who look very young, and you, apparently, are one of them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:38 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you know she's 21 because you've seen someone serve her alcohol, you know nothing.

If you're going to date someone you will have a lot of responsibility to verify her age before you hit the sack. And if she shows you a fake ID, my lawyer friends say your still screwed.

Yes, ask her out. But unless you know for sure how old she is, you don't know how young she isn't.

(this is my guess because I hear guys say of all the time. But bartenders can be crooked, don't trust someone else's judgment!)
posted by bilabial at 7:43 AM on August 11, 2010

I'm 27 and I get ID'd every time I go out... And the drinking age here is 18! I worry a lot that guys might not ask me out cos they think I'm a teenager. And I know some of the guys I've dated's friends have made horrified comments until they were told that actually I finished highs hool 9 years ago! If I was her I'd hope you wouldn't let it get to you.
posted by Chrysalis at 7:49 AM on August 11, 2010

If you know she's 21 because you've seen someone serve her alcohol, you know nothing.

Legal drinking age here is 18. I first got served in a pub aged fifteen. I travelled half-fare on public transport until nineteen. I was last refused purchase of alcohol (I went out with no make-up and not dressed up) at 28. When I went to use a computer in the library at 22, I was automatically assigned a child's computer and they didn't clock my age until I asked whether they filtered out most sites there. Some people can look much younger than they are because they're wearing different clothes, or have left the house after a shower and without make-up, or just because they do look young. Look at Ellen Page - she plays teenagers despite being well into her twenties.
posted by mippy at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2010

Do you really need us to help you overthink this plate of beans? Either you think she's an interesting adult you'd like to get to know better or you don't. The whole POINT of a first date is to determine if someone has the necessary traits to make you willing to see them again.
posted by phearlez at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2010

It doesn't really sound like you're attracted to her because she looks young, so don't worry about it and don't bring it up. It sounds like you work somewhere that doesn't regularly employ teenagers, so if she does turn out to be really young you can always say "oh, I apologize, I thought you were older since you work here."

Secret roundabout way to get an idea of her age: ask her where she went to college and/or how long she's lived in the area - both fairly standard getting-to-know-you questions anyway. It might not help (maybe she grew up there and never went to college) but her answers might give you some clues.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:01 AM on August 11, 2010

If you know she's 21 because you've seen someone serve her alcohol, you know nothing.
It's possible that he knows she's 21 because of some combination of the requirements of her job and how long she's worked at it. Like, if she's had the job for two years and the job requires a master's degree, then she's probably at least 21, unless she's Dougie Howser or something.
posted by craichead at 8:06 AM on August 11, 2010

It doesn't really sound like you're attracted to her because she looks young, so don't worry about it

Huh? Don't worry about it even if you're attracted to her because she looks young! Really, this site can be judgmental of straight men's sexual preferences in a way that it would never be judgmental of anyone else's. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to young-looking women, as long as you're not breaking any laws and there isn't a problematic maturity gap.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:16 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Don't worry about it even if you're attracted to her because she looks young!

Well, there's a distinct difference between a nebulous "looks young" and "looks like a minor." It's fine to be attracted to young-looking women, but it would be a red flag if he were attracted to her specifically because she look like a teenager. Which he doesn't.
posted by griphus at 8:29 AM on August 11, 2010

If you were a pervert you wouldn't even worry about skeeving her out. Ask her out.
posted by micawber at 8:36 AM on August 11, 2010

This may be more common or obvious a technique than I realize, but a more subtle way of figuring out how old someone is might be to discuss your memories of a major event that happened in the recent-ish past and what you were doing then. For instance, I was in a college Calc class when I found out that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center; this clearly places me in my mid-late 20s. (My friends and I used to ask our teachers about what they were doing when they heard JFK was shot to find out how old they were.)

But if you're sure she's over 21 - go for it.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:45 AM on August 11, 2010

griphus: He should go ahead and be attracted to whomever he's attracted to, even if he's attracted someone who looks like a teenager.

Men being attracted to teenage-looking women is extremely common. They don't really have a choice over this, and there's nothing inherently wrong with it. (It might lead to bad things -- as I said, sometimes an age gap can correspond to a maturity gap -- but that's a different issue.)

As he said, he does think she looks like a teenager -- about 16. Fine. If she were actually 16, that wouldn't be fine. But he thinks she's at least 21 and looks 16,* which is hardly abnormal -- especially since the older you get the harder it is to distinguish between people in their early 20s and people in their late teens.

I don't see how this is any more worthy of scorn than someone who's attracted to an extremely short person -- which, after all, is characteristic of being very young.

* However, I agree with others that the OP should clarify this. How do you know she's 21? Why do you think she's at least 21 but possibly older? As mentioned above, if you're just saying this based on the fact that you've seen her buying/drinking alcohol, then you know nothing about how old she is.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:45 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had a girlfriend who, in addition to being quite a bit younger than me, LOOKED even younger. And she liked t-shirts with cute kitties and bunnies etc on them. And she was pretty affectionate in public.

Cue the torch-wielding mobs in my head when we walked out in public, the mid-thirties guy and the teenage girl. She played that up a bit more than my comfort level allowed but overall, it was no big deal. And it certainly didn't matter to our friends. Don't worry too much about it.
posted by elendil71 at 8:53 AM on August 11, 2010

I am a 28 year old woman who regularly gets mistaken for a college student. This is an improvement over my early 20's, when I mostly got mistaken for a high schooler and occasionally got mistaken for a middle schooler. I am short and small and tend to spend a lot of time in jeans and t-shirts, but the only medical reason for my young-ish looks is that I apparently come from a long line of youthful-looking ancestors.

I have been told a million times that I look young for my age, but it still always surprises me. This is, for one, because I spend so much more time in my own head than I do looking in mirrors. My own sense of my age is connected almost entirely to how much I've learned since a given point in time. Sometimes 28 feels terribly old and sometimes 28 feels terribly young, but that has nothing to do with how I look on any given day, and everything to do with how much I feel I've mastered and/or how much more I see I have to learn.

And secondly, when I do bother to look in a mirror, mostly I just see myself: the same nose, the same hair, the same pair of eyes always looking back at me. I don't see a terribly young, or a terribly old, person. It's always just variations of the same colfax looking back at me.

I say all this not because I am advising you to be a mind-reader, but to point out that how old you think she looks has very little bearing on how old she actually feels. Ask her out if you want to spend more time with her. Treat her like the adult she is and not like a high schooler, and you're good to go.
posted by colfax at 9:00 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Fair enough, Jalcoth. I was unconsciously conflating "looks like a teenager" and "resembles a teenager," with only the latter containing the components which make the attraction not-okay.
posted by griphus at 9:04 AM on August 11, 2010

Here's the thing: it's fine for a 30-year-old man to date an 18-year-old woman if they like each other. Hell, I dated a 19-year-old when I was 41, and it was lovely for both of us and we're still friends (although, and this is worth considering, it infuriated some of my female acquaintances).

But it's not really great for a 30-year-old man to pursue a woman that young. Especially at work (your's, her's, or both). It really only takes one round of "omg anonymous asked out that girl who comes in all the time — is she even 18?" for you to be known as That Dirty Old Guy.

You say there's been eye contact, but that's both subjective and open to interpretation (I for one have recently decided to look people straight in the eye more). And when someone you're crushing on says "how was your weekend" in the break room, it can seem really significant — to you.

So by all means if she's really vibing you, and she's over 18, ask her out. But maybe you should just stay friendly, invite her to some kind of group event — I hear the young people like live music these days — and let her make the first move.

(And if you go out, don't mention her youthful looks — and in case she does, rehearse this phrase: "When we first met I thought you were too young! But then we talked and I realized how mature and centered and interesting you are.")
posted by nicwolff at 9:34 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

But it's not really great for a 30-year-old man to pursue a woman that young.

It's ok that they date, it's ok that he pursue her.
posted by nomadicink at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

I sometimes look a lot younger than I am, and I'm ten years younger than mr alto in any case. He is occasionally a bit creeped out about being attracted to someone who looks that much younger than he does BUT - and here's the key - he waited until we'd been together for quite a long time before he told me that.

I say go for it.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:46 AM on August 11, 2010

It's ok that they date, it's ok that he pursue her.

It's ok with you, and it's ok with me. But as a practical matter it might be deleterious to his reputation and his other professional and social relationships.
posted by nicwolff at 9:58 AM on August 11, 2010

I was flying home after an exhausting week running a conference, with two junior associates in tow. The lady at the check-in desk asked (to the stunned merriment of my colleagues) if I was flying as an unaccompanied minor! Since I was over 30 at the time, just goes to show that looking very young means nothing. Just ask her out, deal with age later if need be.
posted by gemmy at 9:58 AM on August 11, 2010

I get ID'd all the fucking time. I am 30 and married. So who knows how old this lady is.

If you want to go out with her you should ask her out. The fact she looks young doesn't strike me as a real issue. Dating your coworker seems like it might be a bigger problem.
posted by chunking express at 10:11 AM on August 11, 2010

I don't think she's a co-worker. He said that he sees her at work but they don't work together.
posted by craichead at 10:15 AM on August 11, 2010

I need to read more carefully. God damn it.
posted by chunking express at 10:16 AM on August 11, 2010

It's not the least bit wrong.

My perspective: I've always been young-looking (I'm 32, and I still get ID'ed almost every time I go out). I know women who look young are supposed to have it good, but it's seriously always been a nuisance for me with dating for this very reason. It was even worse when I was 21 but looked 15. At that time, I primarily got hit on by seriously predatory guys, which was creepy as hell and totally annoying. Non-predatory guys often seemed concerned about "corrupting" me and you seem to have similar concerns. This was even more annoying and, frankly, patronizing.

I would go ahead and ask her out, and please don't assume that her appearance has anything to do with her maturity level or anything else.
posted by lunasol at 10:30 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please don't be at all fearful of asking her out, despite how young she may look. There's no need to bring up her appearance, either, because there's a good chance that at her age (20s), she wants to be taken seriously as an adult person and not be approached any differently by people simply because she looks younger. If you don't mention the potential "creepiness" factor, it won't be there unless some stranger rudely points it out.

As a 19-year-old regularly mistaken for a 13-year-old or younger due to physical characteristics beyond my control, I do feel self-conscious with my boyfriend at times. Because he's a few years older than me and he actually looks his age, I'm afraid people will judge us thinking he's a young man dating a preteen, which society deems morally wrong. But it helps to know my boyfriend treats me and respects me like an adult, and my looking quite young is not a big issue for him.
posted by datarose at 10:30 AM on August 11, 2010

I am a very young-looking woman who has been seriously creeped out by older men coming on to me when they could not possibly have known I wasn't a minor. Just a data point.

However, since you've conversed with her before and you know she is at least 21, she will probably have a more positive reaction.
posted by Lobster Garden at 11:27 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The last time someone asked me if I was a truant, I was 22 years old. At 24 people thought I was a high schooler, and six months ago (I turn 30 this year) someone was surprised to learn I was out of my teens. Plus, almost everyone at work is at least ten years older than me, and they remind me of it frequently. This is the kind of thing I would rather not hear, again, from a guy asking me out. Try for a nice upgrade in the friendly coworker direction (coffee, lunch, extra ticket to a concert, etc.) so as to avoid accidentally breaking any laws, get her age reliably via ordinary conversation, and treat her like an adult the whole time. It's fine.
posted by SMPA at 11:39 AM on August 11, 2010

I'm a 28 year old woman who looks 19.

Ask her out. Don't mention her age or how young she looks, she's probably plenty self conscious of it and definitely knows how young she looks. Over time, you'll glean her exact age, but since you already know she's over 21 - it's not any more an issue than it would be with someone who looked her age.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:23 PM on August 11, 2010

I'm going to chime in and say that her age (so long as she's legal age of consent) is not the issue here. You should take into account some considerations here, though, and carefully weigh the pros and cons.

I am 42 years old as of this month. I suppose I have not ever looked my age, apparently not even close. At 30, I was habitually carded for lottery tickets (they thought I was under 18). I still get carded in bars to this day, even when my fiance (he's 31) does not. A couple of years ago I was asked by the manager of a restaurant I was applying for a second job at if I was 18. I was 40.

These days I consider myself really lucky. When I was in my early-to-mid 20s? It was a continual pain in the ass. Seriously. Even though I was pretty together at the time, there were a lot of people who just refused to treat me like an adult. Part of the issue was that I worked in mainly entry level clerical jobs, which (especially in the late 80s and early 90s) encouraged the dismissive, sexist attitudes. It got so bad at some jobs that I took to wearing "vanity glasses" (prescriptionless lenses) and frumpy dowageresque clothing, just to make myself look older.

I think the main concern here really should be: not whether you should ask her out or not, but that you're potentially hitting up a colleague. What does your local workplace culture think of this?

I say this as a former 19-year-old credit union employee who had a fun, fairly serious relationship with the 46-year-old art director at the newspaper we both worked at. He looked very young for his age, but my colleagues were complete and utter assholes to both of us about it. I assume you both spend at least 8 hours at work 5 days a week? That's a lot of time to deal with gossip and snarkiness from colleagues, if they're the sort to engage in that kind of behaviour -- and only you know your work scene well enough to judge that.

In my case, I couldn't escape the gossip and lame bullshit, and snarky comments (directed at both of us) so ultimately we called it quits -- not because I thought he was a bad guy or a creep, or because we were having relationship trouble or anything (he was actually really awesome, and I was sad about it for months, which is a whole other nest of snakes in the workplace) but because I really needed that job and hated the unending assholery.

I know there's nowhere near as big of an age gap between you two as between me and my ex, but to this day I have never, ever engaged in any workplace romance due to that experience.

So maybe consider that as well, and at the very least, if you do ask her out, maybe consider keeping the whole thing on the down low from your colleagues, at least until you know whether it's going anywhere or not.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2010

ah, nevermind - reading comprehension fail - I see where you clarified that you do not work together. Carry on!
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:37 PM on August 11, 2010

Just wanted to add that, if she looks this young, I'm sure she's aware of it, and she's probably had lots of experience with people assuming she's younger than she is. She might actually appreciate another adult treating her like an adult.
posted by Ouisch at 12:52 PM on August 11, 2010

I have had the same experience as Lobster Garden, and this isn't red-flagging me. You know this girl from a bar, right? (Given the presumed age thing.) Just wondering.

I'd say to freaking ask her age already. And I will also point out that worst case scenario of ages 21 and 30 going out is, relatively speaking, not that skeezy. You're not old enough to be her dad, after all, which is where my skeeze alarms go off.

I will say that 40-year-olds and up coming on to me when I look barely 18 (and one can only presume that because of the town I live in) gives me the major creeps, but a 30-year-old isn't nearly so bad. Hell, I wasn't too far off your range while dating in college myself.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:21 PM on August 11, 2010

You know what skeeves me out? Being 44, and having girls who look 21 show far more interest in me than they did twenty three years ago. I am not sure if they are just being polite, maybe they have a daddy complex, or they think I am harmless.

You are 30, for Pete's sake, ask her out, and don't discuss age unless she brings it up. My grandfather was ten years older than my grandmother. She had been a student of his. They had a long lovely marriage.
posted by Xoebe at 4:54 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're overthinking this. Make sure she's legal then ask her out.

The key here is that people don't care that much about you. The world isn't full of people who will judge you that much, because people are too self-centered to bother. You're not that important.
posted by paultopia at 7:09 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The world isn't full of people who will judge you that much, because people are too self-centered to bother.

Maybe not, but it just takes a few to make your life miserable. And there are people who love to gossip and cut others down. But I'll assume the OP doesn't care since he never even really brought it up, and seemed more concerned with how the girl would feel.

And he made it clear he didn't start to develop any real affinity until he got to know her, so I don't know where all this stuff comes from about "Are you sure you don't have the hots for her just because she looks half your age?"

Now, I'm surprised more people didn't suggest just ascertaining her age through conversation over time. Plus, it just helps you get to know her better. (The 9/11 example crossed my mind, too, although I probably actually wouldn't use that one yet.) Ask about her schooling, where she's lived in her life, background, etc. Bring up stuff of your own, like childhood TV or something.

But another thing is, if she is around 21, what if she isn't really interested in going out with a 30-year old? It'd be kind of funny if she thought you were younger than you really are.

Oh, and if there's someone else at work she's close to, I suppose you could ask that person if they have an idea about her age. I do hope this works out. Keep us posted, Anon, somehow.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:03 PM on August 11, 2010

posted by xenophile at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2010

Mod note: folks, AskMe is better when you're answering the question and not trotting out EvoBio hypotheses that aren't really related to the question. Go to the linked MeTa if you need to fight about this
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:50 AM on August 13, 2010

i think if you love someone then what they look like is just a part of who they are
posted by infini at 1:21 PM on August 13, 2010

I look younger than my age and I am small. The mistakes, patronizing, etc. used to be worse; I would get carded (I don't drink much; embarrassment was a factor) and a few much older men have been either patronizing or displayed nauseating courting behavior. I am now almost 40 and getting gray hair and this isn't happening so much anymore.

I've considered the opposite position (what if a man thinks I am younger than I am? Do I tell him I am 39 and watch him freak out?) and really honesty is the only ethical way to behave; if the guy freaks, he isn't someone you want to be with. Besides he could Google me, reconstruct my career and realize that I could not possibly be 24.
posted by bad grammar at 8:01 PM on August 13, 2010

Be wary of the "what were you doing on 9/11" question. Last couple times it came up in first date types of conversations, I got the following:

Girl1: That's my birthday.
Girl2: I was in the military and that began the worst 6 months of my life.
posted by gjc at 7:00 AM on August 14, 2010

I would invite her to an event. Ask her to a baseball game or a concert or something where age is not that relevant and that could be either a date or two friends hanging or whatever. But I would ask her.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:32 PM on August 14, 2010

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