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Teen Life Q&A

Love with a much older man, is it real?

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I’m 16 and in love with a much older man. He’s 34 and treats me like gold but I worry about how my parents will react when they learn how old he is. He doesn’t look 34, more like 24, so I could lie to them and say he is younger but I just don’t know if I should. Advice?

I’ve dodged this bullet of a question long enough and as I cringe at the thought of the many angry emails that will flood the Teen Advice box over my answer I just can’t stand by in silence any longer. Too many teen girls, some younger than 16, have written in asking me to tell them that their love affair with a much older man is “OK” or normal, and that their parents and all of society are wrong for putting an age limit on love, but I just can’t do this. Sure, love doesn’t always make sense but the bottom line on this situation is simple: it is weird.

Take a good look at the kind of relationship we're talking about here. There are nearly two decades of life dividing the two of you and I have to ask, “What on earth can you guys possibly have in common???” I ask this with extreme caution because I, along with every parent reading this answer, fears you will say there is a bond in the worst possible way (yep, I mean sex) and that will force me to retort with words like; statutory rape, lecherous intentions, borderline pedophilia and ewww gross. Honestly the whole thing makes me want to yell, "Get out of this relationship, date guys closer to your own age and enjoy your youth!" Chances are good he enjoyed his youth, a youth he lived 15 years ago!

I can state with great confidence that most normal well-adjusted 30+ year old men (and more than a few men in their late 20’s) would run to the nearest psychologist if they ever seriously thought about having that kind of a relationship with a 16 year old child. Yes, when there are 18 years between you and you live in the 21st century a 16 year old is still a child where any normal 30-something is concerned. Sorry, I know how much teens hate being called children but really, you’re not an adult by any legal or socially accepted definition of the word so get over the child label and just accept that this 34 year old who treats you like gold probably has some really unsettling demons lurking in his closet and that those demons are just waiting to jump out and scare you back into a reality where teens date teens, or at least young adults, and 34 year old men don’t troll for dates at the local high school.

I wish I could tell you that love conquers all, that age ain’t nothing but a number and that men more than twice your age make great life partners and loyal companions, but I can’t. Any man that old involved with a girl who is so much younger most likely suffers from one, some, or all of the following personality quirks; he is immature, he is an under-achiever, he has low self esteem, he is a control freak, he is in an early mid-life crisis, he is emotionally confused, he routinely strays from socially accepted norms, he’s creepy, etc… When all is said and done the dude is just not right.

More: Now this is not to say that your feelings aren’t real...

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