8 Reasons Why 29 Should be the Age-limit in New Adult Romance

New Adult romance. It’s not a new kind of porn. It’s a new romance category. Click here to see what they're like.

The New Adult category was coined in 2009 when publisher St. Martin’s Press was looking for a more grown-up version of Young Adult (aka high-school) fiction. One of the problem seems to be agreeing on the ages of the main characters in New Adult category. Some say it’s from 18-25. Others, from 18-29.

I’m with the ages 18-29 (or even 30) camp.

Here’s why:
1.  Our brain says so. 
Scientists consider the ages between 18 and 29 the time of “emerging adulthood”.  In fact, recent neuroscience findings show that our brains keep maturing well into our late 20s. So adults who are 26 to 29 are very much part of this emerging adult group we're calling "New Adult" in literature.

2. . Our culture today dictates it.

18, 19, & those in their 20s (let's call them "new-adults" for ease) in the Western world today are focused on self-exploration and external investigation. Decades ago, the focus of new-adults were marriage, kids, and a mortgage.  New-adults today are pushing them as topics to tackle in their 30s instead. This exploration phase has extended itself towards the late 20s and the stability phase prolonged into the 30s. That's why many will say that "30 is now the new 20s". Age-related phases are being pushed in later ages.

3.  Financial independence comes later nowadays.
Blame it on the economy. Many new-adults today can’t afford to buy their own house, car, and pay for school with their own (and even their parents’) money. They have more debt (i.e., credit card debt, student loans) than those from previous decades. So it’s not surprising that about 30% of new-adults today are still living their parents. Some have never moved out and some have to come back later. So one of the hallmarks of adulthood--financial independence--is more likely to occur in their late 20s or later.

4. Marrying later.

Today’s new-adults are marrying later than before. In the 1960s, the average age was 20 for women and 22 for men. Now the average marrying age is 26 for women and 28 for men and it's rising.  The age-29 cutoff will give a more realistic and fuller view of dating and marriage among today’s new-adults. 

5. College & post-graduate schooling delays real-world living.
There are many who attend college, technical school, graduate school, do internships, and apprentice for others are cocooned by their school setting for years. When they finish, they’re likely in their mid or late 20s. Some feel as if they’re just now entering life in the real-world.  An age-25 limit will exclude these folks.

6. More couple variations. 
Having an age 29 limit gives greater room to match characters per age. You can have a an 21-year-old heroine with an 22-year-old Hero. Or an 19-year-old heroine with an 28-year-old Hero. These age variations can provide something unique to romance novels that other categories cannot.

7. Better second-chance romance
 A second-chance romance is more possible with the age-29 limit. Both the 1st time and 2nd time can believably take place within this 11-year span. The longer time span can provide characters more time to change and mature.

8. A bridge between high-school and more stable adulthood
The later-20s provide a unique perspective of new-adult life. It’s a bridge between the newbie adult 19-year-old and the 30s crowd. A link between the impulsive new-adult and a more-directed one a few years later. There are fascinating stories that need to be told about this age group.

If the New Adult category sticks with the age 25 limit, what happens to the 26-year-old to 29-year-old characters? Are we going to have another(!) age-based category for them? Like a  “New Older Adult”(NOA) category? Or are they just going to be lumped into the general adult romance category?

The grayish area of New Adult category can find some clarity just by moving the age-25 cut off to 29. Why make a gray area grayer? 

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