Minors having sex with adults: Should it AUTOMATICALLY be considered a bad thing?

In a recent conversation about relationships, a friend who is in her late 20’s was speaking quite fondly of a guy she had dated (and with whom she was sexually active) as a teenager. They were involved for about two years from when she was 16- he was in his late 20’s. She was the one to initiate the break-up- she was bound for college.

It struck me that her description of the experience was very similar to that of another friend who had shared stories of having dated (and having had sex with) guys who were in there mid to late 20’s while she was a teenager.

I’ll point out that these two women do not know each other and grew up about 1000 miles apart. The only thing connecting them is that I know both of them.

Both women spoke of these relationships as being valuable periods of self-discovery and personal growth. The felt opened up to broader horizons and set their sights upon loftier goals than they believe they would have if it had not been for these relationships.

Both women are now happy, healthy, well-adjusted, responsible adults. They are both college educated (one has a Master’s degree), they are on steady career paths, they are strong and independent. They demand respect in their personal relationships, neither would ever date a man who was not prepared to treat her as a true partner.

They both have very healthy attitudes about sex. While they place value on the role sex has in a loving committed relationship they are also able to appreciate that sometimes sex just for fun is OK too. Neither seems to hold an inordinate level or inhibition or shame.

Now, I’m only talking about two women here. I haven’t conducted any vast studies on the topic. But hearing of such positive experiences from two different people on a topic that society conditions us to believe is only hurtful and wrong does lead me to question that conditioning. After all, I had sex as a teenager, although it was with other teenagers, and it certainly was not a damaging life-scarring experience. Why then should it automatically be seen as hurtful if the teenager chooses an adult to be his/her sex partner? Should an adult who chooses to pursue a sexual relationship with a teenager automatically be considered a predator with purely selfish motives?

I don’t have any anecdotes to offer that place the male as the teenager and the female as the adult, but I’m pretty sure I would have been fine with it.

I also want to point out that I am not looking for you to give me permission to date a teenager. I can’t imagine being in a relationship with a 16 year old- I wouldn’t have the patience! I’ve always been most attracted to women who are older than me.

Not necessarily. It’s possible that the adult is immature and cannot relate to the opposite sex of the same age. I would be extremely wary of any 28 year old adult who wanted to start a sexual relationship with a 16 year old. My first reaction would be to think “what the hell is wrong with you?”

I would have been fine with it when I was a teenager as well. Of course I was fine with a whole lot of things as a teenager that I wouldn’t be fine with now.

When I was 22 I went out with an 18 year old who was still in high school. She was a nice person, she had all her teeth, she didn’t smell bad, and we even shared some of the same interest. We were at such different places in our lives that it didn’t take long for me to realize that a long term relationship just wasn’t in the cards. That’s just my anecdotal take on dating someone younger. This probably wouldn’t have applied had I been 28 and she was 24. I’ve found that the older people get the less age gaps make a difference.


I don’t normally post in this forum, but that could be me you mention in the OP. My first sexual relationship occurred when I was 16 (nearly 17, actually), with a man of 25. It was entirely consensual, very enjoyable, and left me with what I think is a very healthy attitude to sex. But then, in the UK, 16 is the age of consent, so I wouldn’t have been classed as a minor. Any younger than that and you’re into a very dodgy area, no matter how mature the individual is.

I should add, too, that it was me who ended the relationship, in part because I realised, young though I was, that was probably something odd about a man that age preferring to have a relationship with a teenage girl. I don’t regret it though - quite the opposite.

As for the situation in reverse though - eeew. Have you seen most 16 year old boys??!

If I didn’t date people who were odd, I wouldn’t date very much at all. :rolleyes:

[QUOTEAs for the situation in reverse though - eeew. Have you seen most 16 year old boys??![/QUOTE]

hah! It’s true though, older men attracted to teenage girls seems to be much more common than older women attracted to teenage boys. I actually had this discussion with my boyfriend the other day, why this is so. We basically came to the conclusion that it’s because girls generally mature faster, both physically and emotionally. They can look and act much older than their years. Boys the same age however, look and act their age. Many of them look younger than their female counterparts. I’ve even seen some of the freshmen males at my college, who are mostly at least 18, and think “awww, they’re so cute and little!” Not usually so about the girls.

Anyway, getting back to the OP. I don’t think that it is ALWAYS wrong for an older man to want to date a minor. I’d be suspicious though, and it’s like Jenny said, even at a young age she thought it was odd her boyfriend wanted to date someone so much younger. Also, I can’t say that if I had a daugher I’d be letting her date somebody that much older, either. While some girls are prepared to handle and older man, most girls aren’t. Not to mention the problem with statutory rape. If a girl is underage (ages vary depending on your location), the man can be charged with statutory rape if they’ve slept together, regardless of how willing the girl was to sleep with him.

So, I guess what I’m saying here is that a relationship like that is possible, but problematic at best, especially if the girl is under the age of consent.

“Minor” is the wrong word, historically speaking. Until not too long ago, one did not achieve one’s majority (the right to inherit property, marry without consent, etc.) in England (and the US?) until age 21 (hence the reason that the drinking age is this uneven number). Of course, this age had little to do with the sexual age of consent; but people weren’t supposed to have sex before they got married, anyway. As you know, people could (and still can) get married with the consent of their parents.

IANA 18th century lawyer, and the above is just my rather confident interpretation of what I’ve read and heard.

At any rate, in the US now we’ve got things all gummed up. You can drive at age 16, you can buy smokes and vote at 18, drink at 21; and the age of consent is all over the place, depending on the state. At what age can you make contracts and inherit property, etc.? At what age does one achieve one’s majority in the US? IANAL, and I don’t know.

The whole age of consent thing, however, has gotten swirled into the pedophile frenzy, to the point that there are actually dim bulbs out there who are calling, say, sex between a 25-year-old and an 17-year-old pedophilia. Actually, the attraction of adults to adolescents is termed “ephebophilia” or something like that, and it is not the same (IANA pyschiatrist).

But is there a strain of prudishness that the US has completely rejected? Prudishness combined with the near economic/social impossibility of young people starting families has made it seem odd for a 25-17 combo to exist–but it really isn’t, biologically speaking.

I heard that the age of consent was 15 or so in Sweden. That sounds about right to me.

The whole idea of an Age of Consent or an Age at which someone can make desisions for themselves is a very poor one. It is crazy to think that people wake up on their N’th Birthday suddenly capable of making descisions for themselves as an adult which they could not do the day before. Would not a relatively high age (say 18) be used at which everyone gains the ability to give consent on all matters (to drink, have sex, gamble, inherit money, have bank accounts, …, be liable for their actions) combined with a procedure where by anyone of a younger age can by some form of legal proof of their maturity gain the same rights earlier.

Isn’t this called becoming an “emancipated minor”?

Sounds very much like our current system, in other words.



Laws are supposed to be designed for the average bell curve , not the cream of the crop. So while some girls may mature earlier do to circumstances like having a child or something of that nature , its probably not a good idea to declare that all pretweeners are open season.

Not that you are suggesting it , but vinnie down the road looking at vita with that gleam in her eye , for a nice girl at 13…

Some laws really should not be touched(no pun)


What muddies the waters surrounding this issue are the observations that puberty (biological reproductive maturation) is happening earlier (ref. 1), while adolescence (social, cultural, psychological passage from dependence to independence) appears to be progressing into the late twenties (ref. 2). So, we have a generation of kids who are getting the raging hormonal urges to mate at an earlier age mixing with a generation of slackers that want to stay kids and don’t want to grow up and leave mom’s basement.

As a teacher of 15 and 16 year old girls, the thought of having sex with any of my students seriously creeps me out. Even if I was 25, I don’t think I’d have enough in common with them to want an intimate realtionship with any of them.

But, it’s clear that today’s high schoolers are much more sexually aware and open than they were when I was in high school 18 years ago. I’m embarrassed on daily basis by the things my female students say and wear…many of them might as well tattoo “Do Me” on their foreheads. If anything, I think we’re seeing more cases of teenage girls acting as the sexual predator, preying upon older men. I’ve heard many of my students brag about dating college guys. And this situation has hit home for me. My 30-year-old brother-in-law (who fits the slacker description above) is currently serving jail-time for having sex with a 15 year old girl that claimed to be 18 and by all accounts looked and acted mature way beyond her years. Yes, what he did was wrong in the eyes of the law, and I feel that he deserved some sort of punishment just for being such a dolt. But there’s also a sense of unfairness as the act was consensual (she came on to him and seduced him), he didn’t know he was committing a crime and no one seemed to be harmed it.

It appears the problem is that we’re living in a society that is simultaneously promoting open sexuality while idealizing youth, coupling with a shift in reproductive biology. It shouldn’t be surprising that some may see a coupling between people that fall into the same “adolescent” category as acceptable. Personally, I long for the days when children were a bit more innocent.
ref.1 : http://www.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/children/03/31/early.puberty.wmd/
ref. 2: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A49581-2002Jan1?language=printer

One does not have to be a lawyer to know these things. Knowing how to use a search engine helps.

Age of Consent Chart (worldwide)

Legal Age:

  • Set by statute, the age at which a person ceases to be a minor and is able to contract on his own behalf. www.websiteupgrades.com/glossary/free/L.shtml

  • The official standard of maturity upon which one is held legally responsible for one’s acts. Contracts for the sale or lease of real estate by a minor are voidable by the minor. www.topagent2000.com/re_dictionary/dictionary-l.html

  • The age at which a person is considered competent to manage their own affairs. www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

Looking and “acting” much older then they are isn’t the same as maturing faster. Granted when I was in middle school the girls did seem to physically mature a bit faster even growing taller then a lot of the boys but that didn’t last more then a year or two. I’ve seen to many teenage girls make boneheaded decisions to believe their emotional maturity is signifigantly then their male counterparts.

I guess that’s just anecdotal on my part. Have there been any studies that show girls are mentally more mature then boys and if so by what standards?


When I was twenty, my girlfriend was 29. I know a guy who, at sixteen, was dating a 21-year-old. I know a girl who, at sixteen, was dating a 24-year-old woman. When I was late teens/early twenties, the age difference seemed pretty damned insignificant in my social group, in pretty much all types of gender pairings.

I tend to be pretty forgiving about it, within reason. Not that I’d be remotely interested in dating teenagers even if I were single, but I tend to judge these things on a case-by-case basis, giving a lot of weight to whether the younger person is comfortable with it.


I would say that it’s automatically bad for any guy in his 20’s (especially late twenties to be banging teenage girls. We’ve all known those guys and they’re always total slimeballs. It’s exploitive, it’s immature, it’s illegal and should in no way be accepted or apologized for.

[disclaimer: I have a daughter, so opinion may be biased]

It depends on how you classify “adults”

If you’re talking about a 16 or 17 year old having sex with someone who is 19 or 20, I think that could be ok.

As long as they could theoretically have gone to High School together, they’re in roughly the same ballpark in terms of maturity (IMHO).