For some reason, the post I did a while back on age differences in relationships continues to be popular, and seems to be read by people who are straight, gay, and everything in between. There are lots of comments on it, but I got one yesterday and felt compelled to respond to it. I thought I'd post my response here. Here's the question (unchanged except for grammar and punctuation):
I'm 23-year-old guy and my friend is 14 years old. I didn't like her like that at first but after always hanging out and having a lot in common, I started becoming physically attracted to her. I feel that it is wrong because of her age but we both like each other a lot . What am i supposed to do? Is it that bad? Someone please help me out. I'm so confused.
Dear Confused Reader:
It sounds like you're genuinely confused, and I have a few thoughts you might find helpful. The most important thing to realize is that, no matter how mature she seems, she is barely even a teenager. She cannot consent legally, which means you could get in big trouble if you start a relationship.
But MORE importantly, the fact that she's only 14 means that even if she is consciously "consenting" to a relationship with you, the simple fact of your age difference means that you hold WAY more power. It may not feel like that to you, but that's how it is. It truly would not be fair of you to start a relationship with her--not fair to HER, I mean. Even if she's the world's most mature 14-year-old, she's too young. It's not fair to put a sexual relationship with a 23-year-old guy into the mix of her life. It's just not.
You sound like a guy who's trying to do the right thing. If you really care about her, do not start a relationship with her. Nine years isn't a huge difference when you're older--if she was 25 and you were 34, it would be a different story. But the difference between 14 and 23 is HUGE--far bigger than she realizes, and maybe bigger than you realize, too.
Here's my advice. If you really care about her, don't talk about your romantic feelings for her. She doesn't need that kind of confusion. And if you want to hang out with her, I suggest doing so around her family, not with just the two of you alone, which may bring unwise pressure/temptation into the situation. If it's meant to be, you can wait four years.
You also asked if it's "bad" that you're attracted to her. I don't think attraction is "bad" or "good"--it just IS. We can't help our attractions. But we can help our actions. As long as you don't act on it, I don't think your attraction is "bad." But I also think it makes sense NOT to put yourself in situations that make you more likely to act on it. Don't do stuff that feels like a date. Don't hang out one on one. Try not to judge your attractions morally, and focus instead on your actions.
You might also find that developing additional friendships with women closer to your own age might lessen your attraction to your 14-year-old acquaintance. I don't know if this is the case with you, but some people who are repeatedly attracted to younger people are attracted to them because they seem less "threatening," and easier to talk to and be themselves around. If you have complete social confidence around women in their 20s, you might find that you are more attracted to women closer to your own stage in life. (If I'm wrong, and it's just that you're really into this 14-year-old, fine--like I said, you can wait four years to tell her and to act on it, and in the meantime can have social relationships with other women.)
You might also consider therapy--not because you need "fixing" or that there's something "wrong" with you--but simply because seeing a therapist can be INCREDIBLY helpful in sorting out confusing feelings, figuring out where they come from, and in making good choices about what do do with them.
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