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.