My partner and I generally tend to be attracted to the same types of people, but sometimes when I find out how young someone is I'll start to feel nervous about my partner continuing to spend time with them. I know he doesn't have any sort of predatory or otherwise ill intentions, but we are almost 25, and I'm worried that someone else might get the wrong idea about seeing us hanging around an 18/19 year old who's still in high school. Is this a valid concern, or am I over thinking it?
It is a valid concern. I am of the belief that partners should generally be at “relatable” stages of life. If someone is in high school and living with their parents, and someone else has their own place and a full-time job, there is a power difference and a life experience gap that can very easily become problematic. The younger person may become dependent on the older partner for certain freedoms or may rely on the older partner to define what is normal in relationships. That’s dangerous. And one wonders what the partners talk about or do together when they have such different daily lives and priorities.
There are always going to be exceptions, and I’m sure I’ll hear about plenty of them after publishing this. There is nothing necessarily predatory about a 19 year old in their last few months of high school, with a job and a lot of independence, dating a 24 year old who just left college and is in a similar stage of early adulthood. Since the dating pool for polyamorous people can be smaller than average, it’s common to expand your ‘accepted’ age ranges a bit beyond what your average monogamous person might. But there is no “list of acceptable reasons for people with this kind of age gap to date,” and if it’s making you feel concerned, you should listen to your gut.
In general, if you’re not a high schooler, you should not be dating someone in high school. I share your concerns and agree that you and your partner should be seeking out people whose lives are more aligned with yours in terms of priorities, independence, and daily experience.