Should I Go Out With An Older Guy?

by Cay L. Crow

Younger girl on a bench with an older man with his arm around her at a lake

What If A Teenager Dates An Adult?

Dear Cay: My mom would kill me if she knew I wrote to you. I am a 16-year old junior at Nevermind High School. I really want to go out with this 19-year old guy, "Bryce." He graduated last year, has a part-time job and goes to a community college. But Mom won't go for it. She says he is too old for me and that I'll get into trouble. I guess she means I'll get pregnant. I really like this guy. I'm thinking of sneaking out to see him. What do you think?

Frustrated Teen

Dear F.T.:

I think this is a great opportunity for you to learn to make wise choices. Your mother has probably been through the reasons why you cannot go out with Bryce: that he is too old (translation: too experienced) and that he is not part of your social group (translation: what do a college freshman and a high school junior have in common other than an attraction to each other?). Keep in mind that your mom's perspective is much broader than your own. Think of your mom as someone who is in the balcony at a great concert while you are in the mosh pit. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of dating but it always helps to have some objectivity.

The Legal Age Of Consent

Did it occur to you that Bryce might only want to date you because you are 16? There are men who date girls for various reasons; they cannot relate to women their own age, they believe that they can manipulate young girls easier or they see young girls as a trophy date. Then there is the legal age of consent. If you sneak out and see Bryce, even if nothing sexual happens between you, you are putting Bryce at risk of being arrested. The legal age of consent in Texas is 17; in some states, it is 16 and other states 18. Here is a link to check the age of consent in your state:www.ageofconsent.net/states

As a 16-year old, you cannot legally give your consent for sex so any contact between you and Bryce could be interpreted as statutory rape or indecency with a child. The fact that there is a 3-year age gap between you and Bryce only adds to a potential prosecutor's case. If you see Bryce without your mother's knowledge and she finds out, she could press charges against him. For Bryce, that would not only mean arrest and jail, but if he is convicted, he could be on the Sexual Offender Registry for the rest of his life. All because you and Bryce wanted to date. For you, that could mean testifying against him in court. Even if your mother gives her consent for you to see Bryce, she herself could face criminal charges for allowing you to date an older man. I realize this sounds rather extreme but that is what the law states. My advice to you is only see Bryce in the company of your mother until you are 18; at that point, you are legally an adult. Even though the age of consent is 17, you are still considered a "child" until the age of 18.

CAY L. CROW, LPC, AASECT-CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST

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