16 year old dating a 21 year old, is it bad?

[deleted account] ( 39 moms have responded )

Hello, I'm 16 years old and I've been dating my 21 yr old boyfriend for almost a year. My parents like him but they aren't very open minded about our age difference. I've always been a very mature, responsible, free spirited girl with an open view on the world. My boyfriend is my first serious relationship, and we have a lot in common as far as our interests, likes/dislikes. He's an amazing guy and he makes me happy. The age of consent where I live is 17, and I'll be 17 in 4 months. My boyfriend is a positive influence on my life, and we are very serious. But in your opinions(if you have teenage daughters) is our age difference too big?

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Sarah - posted on 02/08/2015

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It took a long time for me to read the entire thread. Yes, I actually do go through and read the responses so I know what has been said and what has not been said.
Ashlee, you asked a group of mothers what our opinion is of your age difference. I have a daughter your age, so I have an opinion. I will keep it to myself because you don't want to hear it anyway.
You got opinions, many of them...your goal has been met. Why do you continue to defend you choice and perhaps sway the opinions given? No one here is going to change the way they feel no matter how many different ways you try to justify you choice.
You asked, you got your answers. If you don't like them, so be it. To defend yourself endlessly just demonstrates your unwillingness to accept that the mothers here do not agree with you, and is a sign of you immaturity.

Trisha - posted on 02/08/2015

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Ashlee! I started dating my first husband (yes, first) just as I was turning 17, so about your age now...
We were together for 9 years. He left me. Just all the sudden decided that he didn't love me any more and didn't want to be with me. I had no choice.
When I was 16, and concentrating on school I was a grade A student. Immediately after starting to date my ex I started not doing homework, skipping class to be with him and let my grades drop dramatically. School, and achieving those academic goals was not my priority any more. My boyfriend was.
The reason he left me ultimately was because I fell in love, and completely disregarded the fact that his goals didn't align directly with me. As we were arriving at the goals that I desperately wanted, and he said he would give me (ex. having kids) he panicked and left.
I had to literally go to the doctor in order to get on medication that would help me eat again. I had fallen into a cycle of anorexia.
There was only an age difference of 1 year with my ex and I. The age difference didn't really made the difference here though. The fact that I committed myself to whole-heartedly to a relationship before my ex-husband and I went through the growing/maturing stage is what caused our ultimate demise.
You are both going to be going through difference stages/phases of your life at different times and they will turn you into different people, with different goals than you have now.
My current husband had much the same experience. He was 29, and was with a girl who was 19. His relationship struggled a LOT because she ultimately was a defiant teenager when they were trying to make decisions together. He has very little positive to say about her.
That being said - I am 9 years younger than my husband. Our goals align. We want to raise our children by the same concepts. We make efforts (lots of efforts) in our relationship. We enjoy similar hobbies. When beginning the relationship we ensured that all of these important things lined up before we even allowed ourselves to fall in love.
Yes, I think your age difference is too large at this point in your life. Not because of the actual math, but because you are both focusing on different stages of your life right now. At least one of you is going to change in major ways during that time period. Most people don't figure out and mature to a point of knowing exactly what they want until they are 25, so just be sure that you don't ignore your ultimate goals for this relationship because the person you fall in love now, won't be exactly the same person in 5 years.
Do yourself a favour, and write out your personal goals on a large piece of paper and put it in a place you see every day, and watch for the moments where you move away from those goals and targets in order to focus on your relationship. Communicate this with your boyfriend, and have him help you stay on target. If he DOES take your goals seriously, you will be very lucky. If you start to get jealous or sad cause he is hanging out too much with *some girl* while you are fulfilling these goals you will make poor choices in order to hang out with him.
Ex.
Achieve A's in my classes
Attend every class
Go out with my friends 1 night a week
Have dinner with parents every Sunday night

Relationships will cause huge neglect in many areas that will change your life forever.
Be aware of that, and move forward the way you think you should.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/09/2015

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After reading the entire thread, responses, and Miss Brenton's reactions, my short answer is:

Yes 16-21 is too big of an age difference AT THIS TIME. Yes, my husband is 5 years older than I. Would I have dated him at 16? Nope.

I will also add this: If Miss Brenton would like to be treated with respect, and treated as an adult, perhaps she shouldn't be so quick to shoot down actual adults with life experience when asking for advice.

In other words? Child, while a 5 year difference won't mean much in a few years, it is the world now, and if you're no more mature than your responses here indicate, you are not mature enough to be dating an adult male. Stick with kids in your peer group. Just like you, they know it ALL...

Sarah - posted on 02/08/2015

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Ashlee, if you didn't want honest opinions, then you should have stayed on a teen website. Where you can all lament how awful parents are and how they just don't understand.

Gena - posted on 02/06/2015

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Well i was 19 when i dated my husband and he was 36 at that time. We got married,have a son together and i couldnt wish for a better husband! My parents didnt say anything because they saw we are serious. My grandparents:she was 20 when she married my grandfather and he was 40...they had 9 children and lived a happy life together. So if i had a daughter and she would date an older man i would be ok with it. As long as he treats her right and respects her! My husband and i have never had a problem because of our age gap..atleast not till now :)

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[deleted account]

@Michelle,

I have no problem with respectful opinions, but saying things like my relationship won't work because of the age difference is unnecessary, because I didn't ask that.

Honestly, I never thought I'd be with an older guy. But like I said, who you fall for isn't something you have control over, your heart does. Is the age difference too big for my age, maybe. Is my boyfriend taking advantage of me? No. Has he pressured me into doing anything that I am uncomfortable with? No. Is he a bad influence on me? No. So other than legal reasons, why is it a bad thing considering that he treats me great? He has helped me through tough situations in my life. While I understand where you all are coming from, I truly do. I just feel that age is just a number in situations like this.

Brittney - posted on 02/10/2015

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I am turning 20 next month. I met my fiancee when I was 12 and he was 14. We "dated" a little, but we broke up and stayed best friends. We figured if it was meant to be we could be together when we got older. That was when i was 14 and he was 16. He dated around in the mean time and I felt like I had lost him. He even had a one night stand resulting in a baby. I thought we just weren't meant to be and I couldn't change that, but once he found out I still had feelings for him he asked if I was ready to be in a relationship and I felt I was. We've been dating for over 2 years now and are getting married. I don't regret our decision to wait. We were mature enough at 14 and 16 to understand we needed to just be friends. But we also both believed in "fate" and knew if it was meant to be then it would. It might not happen when you want it to, but if it's meant to be then it'll be. The age difference isn't a lot, it's the fact that you have school and everything. He's 21, he might meet another girl who is his age and he may move on.

Michelle - posted on 02/10/2015

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I was talking to one of my co workers today who is 21 and even she said asked: "What does a 21yo want with a 16yo?" He should be going out with his friends and enjoying himself, just like you should be concentrating on your schooling.
The age gap you have isn't big if you are both adults but you are still a child and he's an adult.
Yes you will get opinions because this is a public forum and you can't dictate how people reply. If you don't like the answers you don't have to hang around on a Mothers site.

Jodi - posted on 02/09/2015

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People who fall in love for real still get divorced. It is more likely if you have such a large age difference or if you are a teen romance. That's why we are saying that your parents have very legitimate concerns that you should respect and listen to. And I'm not seeing you doing that. Instead, what we are seeing is a girl who knows her parents aren't open-minded about it and doesn't really care about that, because even if they said no, you would do it anyway. That's shows a real lack of respect for your parents' viewpoint and their rules for you, as their dependent child. THAT is a teenage response, not an adult one.

[deleted account]

@Dove,

I feel as though I was being attacked. I never specifically asked if I was making the ''right'' choice. I just wanted understanding responses from people that have teenage daughters or have been with someone older. At the end of the day, these are all just opinions. But it won't change how I feel or the love I have for the person I'm with. Which is all I'm trying to get you to understand. Being in love as a teen is a very special thing, being in love at any age is a special thing. And you can't choose who you will fall in love with, you can't build the perfect person from scratch, or know who you will spend the rest of your life with. Because if you could, there wouldn't be so many people divorced or breaking up. So when you do fall in love with someone for real, I feel like you should hold on to that for as long as it lasts.

Raye - posted on 02/09/2015

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Ashley, I'm happy that you found someone that you love and that he is being respectful enough to wait for sex until it's "legal". But I think many parents would have reason to be concerned about a 21 year old dating a 16 year old. My grandparents got married at 19/30 and they were married almost 50 years when my grandpa died. So there can be a happy ending to your story. It's just that situations like that are not very common. Many times with someone your age dating a much older person, both people are at different stages in their life and want different things. Being an adult and being mature would be what we're trying to show you.. to look ahead at the bigger picture rather than being all caught up in the moment.

Dove - posted on 02/09/2015

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Nah Ashlee... you don't have the power to piss me off. I'm just treating you the same as I would any adult that is being incredibly dense and ridiculous. I mean... you want to be treated like an adult, right? I don't care that you are only 16. Anyone else came on here asking for advice and then basically laughing in the face of that advice... and I'd treat them the same way. Want respect as a mature human being... you have to ACT like one.

Melody - posted on 02/09/2015

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Ashlee, i had a friend that had a 20 year old boyfriend, she was 16 at the time. He was a great guy and the 4 year gap didn't bother any of us. From our point of view it was great - we were all best buddies that saw no age difference! However.... looking at it from a mom's point of view is a whole different story! Not all moms are the same and not all 16 year olds are the same! It's your relationship and you have already decided to be with him but remember he could be the most amazing guy in the world but all we see is a grown man with a teenager and that's scary for us.

Dove - posted on 02/08/2015

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lol You're right Ashlee... .after half a dozen patient and mature responses I am OVER listening to some sassy butt know-it-all. I love teenagers. My 13 year old daughter has several great best friends... one of which IS 16 and she would never dream of behaving the way you are on here. Maybe you get the response from adults that you get because your behavior is so immature. Maybe you should think about that... but it's painfully obvious that you won't.

I have every right to say whatever I want to about your life... because YOU brought it on to a mom's site... but, it is the weekend... and that's when children like to troll around on here. Tomorrow is Monday, so you can go back to your real life then...

[deleted account]

@Jodi,

You say, ''that's why there are laws. To prevent 21 year old men from preying on 16 year old girls.'' Actually, that's why there is an AGE OF CONSENT that is 16 in most states, and 17 where I live. You're right, there aren't many 16 year olds that claim to be mature adults, there aren't even many 18 year olds that are mature adults, but they are not little kids, and they do have good judgment. (Some of us do). And we can do things that younger people(15 & younger) can't. So, yes I would say that we are young adults. Some people agree with me. I feel way more mature now than I did when I was 13. As you get older, you mature mentally and physically.

Gena - posted on 02/07/2015

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I would like to add something..i met my husband online and we started chatting because he actualy played as the open act for my godfather. So i saw him but didnt even remember him. I knew how old he was! But he did not know how old i was. I didnt want to tell him till we met in Person, and he thought i was Young because of my Pictures but he thought i was maybe 23 or so. When i told him i was 19 he was first Abit "shocked". Because he knew i was Young but not that Young. But i was living on my own, Paying my own bills,doing my own washing etc. I finished studying and was living like a Young adult. I honostly dont think my parentS would have been happy if i was 16 in School and Dating a 33 yr old.I would have a Problem with that myself!! 16 is still very Young. Things will already look different when you are 19 and he is 24!! All i know is it CAN work out as a couple with a large Age gap.

Jodi - posted on 02/07/2015

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Well, statistics are science. Statistically, you MIGHT last, but it isn't a given, and the chances are smaller that the two of you splitting up, that's my point. It doesn't matter what you believe in, the statistics are based on fact

I think you are failing to understand that there is a HUGE difference between 16 and 20 (your mother age when she had a relationship with a man much older). Let's face it, that's why there are laws. To prevent 21 year old men preying on 16 year old girls. It is actually a difference of one quarter of your life. In the next 4 years, between now and when you are 20, you will go through MAJOR changes in your maturity and thinking, as well as many other things. That is why a 16 year old with a 21 year old is not as acceptable as a 20 year old with a 26 year old.

And yes, if you are making a mistake, you will learn from it. I am simply trying to help you understand where your parents are coming from in not really approving of your relationship. Because based on your other posts, you clearly believe that due to this relationship you are somehow being treated as not equal to your parents and believe you should have the rights of an adult, when you simply are not an adult, no matter how much you think you are mature and responsible. I don't know a single 16 year old who can actually claim to be a mature adult - and I know a LOT of 16 year olds because I teach high school. Sure, sometimes they can make some really great, mature choices, and then they are back to making less mature decisions in their next breathe.

[deleted account]

@Jodi,

I don't really believe in statistics. We have been together 11 months now.

And yes, I did ask if the age difference was too big, which was a yes or no question, and I asked how you'd react if it was your daughters. I didn't ask whether I should wait a few years or any advice on how to live my life. I can understand why my parents wouldn't be very open about the age difference, but then again I don't. Because my mom was aged 20 and my dad was aged 26 when they started dating, and he already had one child, and they had me two years later. Yes, they were both legal adults so it's not exactly the same. But it's still the same amount of difference that me & my bf have. I do understand that adults have been in this situation, but I just feel like parents should also be understanding and not try to stand in the way of their kids happiness. If I am making a mistake, well, teens have to make mistakes on their own and learn from them. Every mistake is a lesson learned, in my opinion.

Jodi - posted on 02/07/2015

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"It's obvious that none of you really understand how I feel, which I kind of figured."

Actually, we do know how you feel, having been in love ourselves. Can I ask how long you have been seeing this person?

And to be fair, you DID ask if the age difference is too big. You did seek opinions. And everyone said yes, the difference is too big. And yet you continue to tell us that clearly we just don't understand. It actually is quite a juvenile response to the opinions that have been offered, and is actually a very typical teenage response to not getting their own way. I've heard that from many teens, and even USED that one myself as a teen in response to not getting their own way - "oh, but you just don't UNDERSTAND!!!".

The fact is, statistically, your relationship with this man is unlikely to last. The age difference is quite large for a kid your age. Statistically, you are more likely to have your heart broken, and that may be of concern to your parents. And you can't sit there and say that won't happen because you "love" each other. Every teenager before you "loved" each other too. Just look at it from your parents' perspective and consider why they may be concerned about the age difference. It's not just about the legalities.

A mature and responsible person would be able to look beyond their own feelings and be able to look at it from the other perspectives and demonstrate some empathy. However, empathy is a difficult thing amongst teenagers - many have very little of it because their brains have not yet matured, and it is a skill that needs to be guided, taught and modelled. Show some level of understanding for why your parents may be a little close-minded to the situation.

[deleted account]

@Dove,
Wow, you so called adults are very understanding and respectful. *sarcasm*
I really don't have to listen to strangers that don't know my life, have never had a intellectual conversation with me, or know where my mental state is. I came here for RESPECTFUL opinions, and asking how you would take it if it was YOUR daughter, not to be shot down because I love someone older than me. I'm just giving my perspective because again, it is MY life. I have not claimed to know it all, and neither do you. If you knew me you could make a better assumption, but you don't. Also, just because you may have 'been there, done that' doesn't mean you know all about love. Everyone's situations are different. You seem like one of the many adults that I have come across that feel that they are above teens in every way, well you're not. You're no better than me, or a more intelligent person than me, just because you are older than me. Have a nice night.

[deleted account]

At your age the difference is a big deal. Wait until you are at least stable in a career. If it is real it will still be there. Decisions you make right now have lifelong effects. Been there done that.

Dove - posted on 02/07/2015

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You are right, Ashlee... you at 16 are far smarter and more experienced than any woman in her 30's and 40's. Go on and be w/ your love and screw the rest of the world. No one else on the planet has ever been in love before except you.

There... since you won't listen to people who have 'been there, done that'... I gave you the only answer you came and bothered us all for. Now you can go away.

Dove - posted on 02/07/2015

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Falling on deaf ears, Michelle.... lol I hear they know it all at 16. ;)

[deleted account]

@Michelle,
It's obvious that none of you really understand how I feel, which I kind of figured. I just don't want to put my happiness on hold because I may not get it back for a long time. I have met older couples that have been together since they were my age, and that's what I want. A young love that grows into an old love. Understand what I mean? I don't want to go through 10+ relationships and a million heartbreaks before I find the right one. I'd rather be alone forever if I have to do that.

Michelle - posted on 02/07/2015

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You will probably "fall in love" a few more times before you settle down so why rush it. All I am saying is that if there is a true future for you it will wait a while.
You may be an A student now but you still need to concentrate on your schooling or that can drop suddenly.
All you are doing is making excuses and arguing and not really listening to the advice from parents who have been in your situation.
This is where your other argument now fails, a mature person listens to other opinions and takes on board advice. They don't shoot down every bit of advice.
You have just shown you aren't as mature as you think you are.

[deleted account]

@Michelle,
Well it's easy to say ''wait a few years'' if you've never been in love with an older person as a teenager. I'm not saying you're wrong, but that's an illogical statement. The law can't tell you who to love, or dictate when you will fall in love, neither can parents. I have my life planned out and my head is on straight. I'm in a committed relationship, not play dating. I'm not saying I want to get married or anything, but I know what I feel. Again, thanks for your opinion. (:

Michelle - posted on 02/07/2015

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And that was my post as well. If you 2 truly loved each other and are meant to be together then it would last waiting a couple of years.
You have proven that you aren't mature enough to make sensible adult decisions but saying that you would still date him if your parents told you to stop seeing him. That's exactly what a defiant teenager would do!

[deleted account]

@Jodi,
The age of consent where I live is 17, meaning that when I turn 17 I can then be sexually active with whoever I choose. It might be hard to believe, but me and my boyfriend are NOT sexually active and he has not pressured me. I am actually the one that chose not to be sexually active yet because of our age difference. My parents like him, they just don't feel comfortable with our age difference. But they have not forbid me from seeing him, which would be unreasonable to do anyway because he has not harmed me in anyway or forced me into anything, I have my own mind.

@Dove, I didn't come here for judgment or to be told how to live my life. I just was curious as a parent how you all would take it. Whether I wait until I'm an adult or not, my love or feelings for my boyfriend will not change. It's just that when you care about someone, you want to be with them every chance that you get. You know you truly love someone when you're willing to go against anyone, even your parents for them. Not that I'm actually going against my parents, just speaking hypothetically. I'm not looking for arguments, nor criticism. Just respectful opinions. (:

Jodi - posted on 02/07/2015

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Ashlee, another thing to consider is that as long as you aren't actually the one to be paying to support yourself, such as your house, your bedroom, your school, your food, and anything else you need to live your life, then you need to live by the rules of your home. When you are financially able to move out and pay for your life 100% yourself, then you get to make the choices. However, if your parents have told you no and you are saying " well I'm doing it anyway", that is not a very mature response to the fact that you live in a household where others also live. There are household rules for a reason, and mostly it is so that the household runs smoothly and respectfully. Your parents have a right to be concerned that you and this boy are potentially breaking the law.

But basically, as long as you live in someone else's home (in this case your parents), you need to respect the rules. That will apply even when you are an adult. Call it a life lesson. When you have your own home, then you get to set the rules.

Dove - posted on 02/07/2015

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And if they really loved each other they could spend time together and wait to date until they were BOTH adults... I said that. ;)

Doesn't seem like you really want other opinions except just to argue with them. Why do you want other people's opinions on your life?

Jodi - posted on 02/07/2015

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Now I understand what your other question is about. No you shouldn't be dating a 21 year old. It would likely be illegal anyway, and you could end up getting him in a LOT of trouble. If you love him and care about him you would be responsible enough to recognise the consequences this may have for him (i.e. permanent status as a sexual predator) and you would stay away until the relationship was legal. You claim you should be respected as an adult and are just as responsible, then prove it by making a responsible choice here.

[deleted account]

@Dove,
Well of course I respect my parents opinions, but if you really love someone you shouldn't let other peoples opinions stand in the way of YOUR happiness. I wouldn't want my child to let go of someone that makes them happy, treats them right, and loves them just because of an age difference. The reason I came here asking is because I wanted an opinion from other parents.

Dove - posted on 02/07/2015

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If you are confident in your decision... why are you on a mom's site asking a bunch of mom's what they think? That's illogical...

The fact that you would date him anyway if your parents didn't approve actually proves you aren't as responsible as you think because a responsible 16 year old would respect her parents' opinion.

[deleted account]

@Michelle, I'm a straight A student. Dating has not distracted me from school.
@Dove, I am a very responsible girl and I don't feel that our age difference is too much. Even if my parents ''tried'' to stop me from dating him, I still would. It won't make any difference when I'm 18, but thanks for your opinions.

Dove - posted on 02/07/2015

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I would not allow my 16 year old daughter to date a 21 year old man... period. IF they really liked each other and had a lot in common like you say you do w/ him... they could spend time together as friends in a group... but there would be no 'dating' w/ that age difference until she was 18.

My oldest is only 13 at the moment, but there won't be ANY 'dating' until she is 16 (or older if she is not ready to date yet). Under 18 and the biggest age difference I would be OK w/ for one on one unsupervised is 2 years.. maybe 3. And age of consent where I live is 16... but that doesn't make a difference to me.

Sarah - posted on 02/07/2015

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In most places that is illegal. Age difference at your age is a HUGE difference. You could have that same age difference when you are in your 30's and it be no big deal. Right now there is TOO much of a life difference. ....no matter how mature or older you feel you are.

Michelle - posted on 02/07/2015

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It's not age difference that in an issue, it's your age. You should be concentrating on your school work, not dating.
Now I understand your other post better. If he is serious about you then he will wait for you to finish school.

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