This is a general guideline about how to go about dating a teenager, and what you need to consider.
Who Should Read This?
This post is aimed for people like me, who happen to have a soulmate who is a few years younger. Example: I am 25 years old and J (my “husband”) is 18. We met when I was 22 and he 15, but didn’t start our relationship (online) until we were 23 and 16.
I’m not intending to encourage much older people to date teenagers, or act out pedophilia, or anything like that.
If you are in, or thinking of starting, a genuine relationship, this post is for you.
Or, if you’re just curious in general about this type of relationship.
Is Dating A Teenager Wrong?
Yes and No.
It all depends on their age and how you do it.
What Not To Do
- Never try to push them into anything they’re not ready for.
- Never try to control them.
- Don’t look down on them because they’re younger.
- Don’t be too impatient about life in general.
- Don’t break up with them because of their age, for any reasons other than your own (aka not out of consideration for them — they have the right to make that decision).
- Don’t hold back because of their age (While you shouldn’t push them, you have to consider your own wants and needs — express them!)
What You Can Do:
- Be a bit bossy (if they like an older person, chances are they like this).
- Get married (if they’re over 18 or whatever age is legal for marriage in your country).
- Start a family (same as above, and only if they have expressed a desire to do so for a long time — aka not an impulse decision).
- Explain things to them in a neutral way (not condescending — think about the fact that you probably didn’t know all that stuff at their age, either).
You may or may not believe in souls, but if you do, consider the fact that your souls aren’t tied to the age of your bodies. They are (possibly) ageless.
So if your guy or girl is of legal age, don’t worry too much about it. They are able to make their own decisions, and if that is to be with you, then accept that.
The Fine Line — Legal Aspects
If your relationship isn’t legal — what are you doing?
Laws are there for a reason.
Don’t date a preteen or even an older teen if that’s illegal in your country.
Always make sure to check the laws, if you care about the future of your relationship.
Me and J (my “husband”) met when I was 22 and he 15. That’s not a legal age, but our relationship didn’t start until we were 23 and 16 (I was very specific about waiting until this point).
I checked the laws in both our countries, and learned that 16 was a legal age in this context.
If They Are A Super Minor
If you honestly and truthfully believe that someone a lot younger and of illegal age may be your soulmate:
That is fine, but have self control.
Imagine if I had met J when we were younger. Say, 17 and 10.
Would I feel something? Would he? I don’t know! But regardless of the case, there is a very good reason why something like that shouldn’t be acted upon.
So if that’s you, just be a good and not creepy adult.
You can be friends, but nothing more until it’s legal.
Like I said, when J and I met, he was almost of legal age (we met a few months before).
If that is the case for you, and your age difference is reasonable (not decades), you can get to know each other a bit romantically, but don’t do anything sexual.
Be Clear About What You Want
Do you want a long term relationship? Be clear about it.
He or she might she might just want a fling at their age, or casually explore their options. If that’s the case, accept it. Don’t try to push them into anything they’re not ready for.
Do they want a long term relationship?
If they’re the one longing for something long term, but you only want something casual, spare them the pain of getting hurt later, by letting go of them sooner.
This goes to all relationships, but especially if they’re young and naive.
Why Do People Do It?
I can’t speak for everyone, and while I know that many people do it for the wrong reasons, there are many people who don’t
Let me use myself as an example:
I am a 25 year old woman. That is my biological age. But anyone who sees or talks to me and doesn’t know that, thinks I’m around 18. So, in my case, my implicit age is younger than my explicit age.
Some professionals have suggested that I may be on the mild end of the autism spectrum, but I haven’t been evaluated. However, as I was reading up on it, I found out that women of the spectrum often appear and act younger than their age. Whether that was the reason behind the suspicion, or the other way around, I don’t know.
I’ve always found it easier to relate to younger people, ever since I was a kid, but even so, 7 years younger was a bit of a surprise, even for me.
But I went for it, against all logic. And it turned out perfectly 💖
A Few Good Reasons
- You genuinely like them.
- You are immature for your age.
A Few Bad Reasons
- Taking advantage of their naivety.
- Having a need to control that is not fulfilled by dating peers.
- Being insecure.
- Going by appearance (if you are much older).
When Is Your Immaturity A Bad Reason?
If you are a bit immature because that’s just the way your personality is, that’s fine.
If it is because of other reasons, such as escapism or being a man/woman-child, you should evaluate that, as you should for any relationship. Certain things can get in the way of a successful relationship, and this is one of them.
It’s not good for either of you to go on with the relationship if you’re not in the right place. Wait until you are.
When To Be A Responsible Adult
If you know that your guy or girl might be agreeing to things that they aren’t ready for, because they know you want them — talk about it. Think. Don’t be impatient.
If you want to get married and start a family, you can do that. If they are 18, they are old enough to decide that for themselves. But if they are sacrificing things such as education for it (if they care about that), maybe stop and think.
If your relationship leads them to sacrifice too much, it can lead to resentment later on, as with any relationship.
There are always ways to solve things. Talking and informing them as much as possible is one thing you can do to be responsible — but don’t think for them.
When to Forget the Age Difference and Be a Lover
Most of the time. Honestly.
You shouldn’t be too caught up with it, unless it serves as an accessory for your relationship.
In our case, we always talk about our 7 year age gap, but not from a problematic point of view. We think it’s really cool that there’s 7 years and 7 days between us — 7 is the magic number, after all!
If you both have agreed to be in the relationship and commit to each other, and understand what that means, there is no reason to dwell on it.
However, if they’re below 18, be extra considerate about the fact that teenagers don’t always know what they’re doing.
Don’t be that annoying adult, in that case. Give them space to figure things out by themselves.
Just be you, and let them be what they want to be.
If they do something you don’t like — tell them!
Don’t let them off the hook because they’re young. Treat them like you would a partner of any age.
The Issue With Parents
Whether it’s your parents or their, chances are that they have opinions, and those opinions may or may not be strong objections.
What to do if they object?
If your lover is over 18
You may proceed with the relationship. However, make sure that this won’t have negative implications on your lover that you can’t take responsibility for.
For example, what if their parents are so strongly against it that they disown them? In that case, talk to your lover about it. They might want to be rebellious and run away with you, but they might regret it later on. And do you have the resources to support them, if the two of you decide to live together?
Their parents might urge them to focus on school, college or university (whatever their situation is), and while it is their own decision, remember that their parents likely only want what they think is best for their son or daughter, and you should, too.
If your lover is under 18
You may want to let the parents win this one. At least for now. If they’re against it, consider the strain it might put on both your relationship with each other, and their relationship with their parents.
Talk it out. Decide if you want to wait until they are 18 to resume the relationship — if not, why are you in it in the first place?
Inform yourself and them about the downsides of going against their parents wishes, and consider the fact that they will likely appreciate you more if you go along with their wishes. That way, the chances are better at all of you having a harmonious relationship in the future.
- Stay in the legal range.
- Be in a good place before entering a relationship.
- Be clear about what you want.
- Don’t push them.
- Don’t treat them differently because of their age.
- Respect their parents’ wishes.
Are you in this situation? I would particularly like to hear from women in my situation, so if that’s you, please tell me about it in a comment, if you are open to sharing.