The world of dating in your young adult years is a mix of new experiences and types of people. Some people in this age range are looking to settle down or get into serious relationships, while others are looking to capitalize on their youth and date or hookup as they please. Some people might exist in a middle stage of those or aren't interesting in dating altogether.

Regardless of what you choose to do, so long as it's consensual, safe and legal, you're right in deciding what you think is best for yourself.

The range of people you can be with or go out within your young adult years might seem vast and limitless. There exists a social notion that one's 20s are a peak part of their existence and that this is the time to explore all your options.

But where do the limits exist on one's dating options?

Age seems like a dominant factor. Someone's age determines their legal status and is often tied to one's wants for themselves and maturity factor. So, for those of us approaching our 20, or in our 20s, what age range is socially acceptable to stay in for the best outcomes?

To test my curiosity, I ran a survey of both men and women, asking them "If you're 18-25, what is the 'acceptable' age range your partner can be?"

Of the group surveyed, here are some of their responses on what constitutes socially appropriate, dating age ranges for the young adult population.

1. Anywhere from a one to ten year range


A 17-year-old would only be acceptable for someone who is only slightly older to ensure consent laws are met. Otherwise, why not allow yourself some variety once you're 18?

2. Consent is key.

"Age is just a number, jail is just a place, a felony is just a piece of paper."

This response, while sarcastic and hilarious, is an important reminder to recognize consent laws and to ensure that a minor isn't coerced into a relationship without an adult. A 34-year-old person doesn't belong with a 16-year-old.

That's wrong. Yuck.

3. Love is love.

"Personally, I stay within three years of my age, but as long as both people are 18, love is love."

It's totally normal to want to stick to dating people within a certain age range. But like I said, some people might be more comfortable dating further outside a certain age gap, and that's okay, too.

4. Age, who?

"Any age as long as you're happy."

So long as both people are legal and consenting, what's the problem?

5. Age is once again, relative. 

"Any age as long as you're happy."

What can I say, I think people seem to agree that letting adults pick their partners, whoever they may be, is a logical idea.

6. It's all relative.

"It's up to you."

True. So long as it's legal, it is.

7. Life stage over age. 

"You just have to be in the same stage of life."

This is probably the most critical factor for a lot of people. If they're in the same place in life and are in the right place at the right time, then age might be less of a factor.

8. The takeaway message.

"Love is love, as long as it's legal it doesn't matter."

Isn't that all we can really ask for, anyway? Legal love?

9. Staying between the lines.

"18 to 25."

If you're between 18 and 25-years-old, it might be wise to stay within that standard young adult age range? After all, it's extremely likely you'll find someone who you can relate to well within that range.

10. Staying in the lines...part two. 

"19 to 24."

It makes sense to want to stick to a certain range. It's all what you're most comfortable with.

11. Tightly knit. 

"17 to 23."

Hey, if that's where your comfort level is, by all means, stick to it.

12. Keep the ages closer.

"Plus or minus two, MAYBE three years."

Some people like having a partner who is a very similar age. Whether it's due to their legal status or simply shared interest and background, they're right in choosing so.

13. And closer...

"No more than plus or minus two years"

Like I said, sometimes keeping the ages is the best option for some people.

14. Dividing the young adults in half. 

"18 to 21, 21 to 25."

In the age range I provided, some people might think dividing that range into two smaller plausible ranges is a better option to ensure partners are closer in age. If that works for people, then say no more.

15. Keeping it small...usually. 

"Two years higher or lower, maybe three to four depending on maturity."

Sometimes it's wise to stay in your own comfort zone.

16. The same age. 

"For me personally 18 to 22, but I prefer someone my own age."

Partners of the same age likely have similar life experiences, which can be pretty important for some people when they enter a relationship.

17. Minor exceptions. 

"I'm 24 so a range of 21 to 27 but it's all about how mature she is."

Maturity = critical factor in establishing compatible relationships.

18. No youngins, please.

"I wouldn't date younger and would go up to six years older."

Everyone's got their preferences, and I can't say I disagree with this one.

19. Keeping your options open. 

"I'm 20, and anyone my age or younger than 30 is okay especially if we connect."

If you have the connection with someone you're looking for and you're both adults, why not explore it?

20.  Six is *the* maximum number. 

"Six years older."

If you're between the ages of 18 and 25, that will mean each person's maximum age to date is from 24 to 31. Sounds reasonable to me.

21. And six, again.

"Personally, I'd stay within a six-year range."

Not quite five but not quite seven, six seems to be the middle ground for many people's dating preferences.

22. And again...

"Like plus or minus six years, but it could be more depending on how well you connect."

What can I say, I guess six is a lucky number for people.

23. The half-decade rule.

"Five years above or below. Above only if both parties are older than eighteen."

If you're within five years of each other, your childhoods were still probably pretty similar so you have at least one easy thing to bond over.

24. A step below the half-decade rule.

"Four years."

Maybe five is too many for some people.

25. Four is the magic number?

"Plus or minus four years."

This age range means you were likely both in college at the same time, meaning you can frequently look back at those memories together.

26. The wider range. 

"16 to 30."

16-year-olds should only be with someone who's at their oldest, 18. Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with keeping your options.

27. The legal adult range. 

"18 to 30."

It works. As I said, sometimes it serves people best to keep their options open.

28. Pushing the limits. 

"18 to 40."

Someone in their 20s might enjoy someone quite a bit older than them. For some, maybe not but for others, having someone with more life experience might be just what they need.

29. Pushing *smaller* limits.

"16 to 30."

Hey, if the relationship works, it works.

30. The ever popular adult range.

"18 to 30."

Can't limit the options now, can we?

31. Opportunity strikes again.

"18 to 30."

If you're an adult, they're an adult, and you both are reasonably young, then I guess you're good to go.

All in all, so long as the relationship falls within legal guidelines of consent and adulthood, you're free to decide how old your next partner should be. Dating can be rough and finding that person that treats you as you deserve is the most important, regardless of their age.