Recently a client of mine who is 17, started dating a 23 year old man, and while the age difference isn’t drastic, one has to think, what would a 23 year old man who could date anyone 18 and up, want with a 17 year old high school student? Of course they had a lot of that, often unprotected, but luckily she never got pregnant although she hasn’t gotten tested for any sexually transmitted diseases.
Working with teenage girls, there’s a lot of things I worry about because the teenage years are so perplexing, especially with teenage girls who are often searching for a sense of belonging to the point that they are willing to starve themselves, cut themselves out of pain and shame, sleep with boys just to feel wanted, and sadly, even attempt to take their own lives when they feel as if they don’t and will never belong.This search for belonging, often sends teenage girls into unhealthy relationships that further damage their self-esteem and often expose them to other damaging factors such as unprotected sex, drugs, alcohol and violence.There are not only psychological risks involved with dating an older man and trying to fit into an adult world precociously, there are also dangers of being exposed to drugs, alcohol, abuse, and an increase rate of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.Young teenage girls who contract sexually transmitted diseases often get them from older boyfriends.I told her that had to say something about his motives, personality, etc., but of course she didn’t see this as a red flag, but was instead flattered that someone who could date anyone his age or older, chose to date her.
After several months of bliss and sex, he started treating her badly and her moods were very erratic, varied by however they were doing at the moment.
This takes her out of being equal, especially when it comes to making decisions, and because he is older, she will often get dictated to and assume that he is right or knows best.
Also, because he will typically have more money than her and her peers, it will be easy for him to impress her by doing simple things such as taking her to the movies, a fastfood restaurant, picking her up from school or buying her a t-shirt or shoes.
Another reason includes greater financial and physical independence, which for a young teenage girl looking for independence, an escape from her family or surroundings, is very appealing.
Also, older men are considered more mature and experienced in all aspects of life which is attractive to a young girl, especially one looking to escape her life.
Eventually he left her for a woman his own age and that should have been the end of it, but now she is talking about dating his OLDER brother who is married with a kid, but text messaged her one night at 3Am, “I think you are so sexy, and I’ve been fantasizing about you”, from his wive’s phone nonetheless.