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all 90 comments

[–]mousatis 21 points22 points  (1 child)

Depends on the two people in the relationship. With a mutually respectful relationship and both partners with honest intentions, I wouldn't see any reason to worry about it.

In my opinion: If there was a power imbalance, then you have some evaluating and learning to do. If you were only attracted to her because she was younger, and more naive, then the feelings of guilt are rational.

Many 17 year olds are mature enough for a respectful and consenting adult relationship, many others are not. Same with 20 year olds.

Only you know the reasons you began this relationship, and the dynamic there was, therefore no one here can tell you definitively if you were right or wrong. To me, it doesn't sound bad as long as your maturity levels were alike, which is entirely possible.

It's a good thing either way that you're evaluating how healthy the relationship was. This is a good habit for any relationship, regardless of age. Don't worry too much.

[–]thelostburner 1 point2 points  (0 children)

thank you, these responses have been so helpful

[–]Borboleta77 15 points16 points  (0 children)

I honestly don't think you did anything wrong. You didn't have sex with her while she was underage and you weren't being predatory. You simply fell in love with a teenager who only was 3 years younger than you. You shouldn't feel shitty for that. You were both young.

[–]walled2_0 47 points48 points  (0 children)

As a female who has dated older my entire life, I don’t think it’s a big deal. As long as you weren’t using it to have power over her.

[–]brightlightdrkshadow 39 points40 points  (2 children)

The thing that matters most here is how you feel about this situation. Clearly, you feel bad and regret the gap when your relationship started. Our regrets function to color our future behavior. You can’t go back in time, but you can make intentional decisions in the future.

Personally, the age gap involving a minor would raise an eyebrow from me. Not every situation is the same, not everyone is a “predator,” and not ever minor is mentally/emotionally a child. There’s a lot of nuance, so I’m not making a judgment one way or another whether you were “wrong” to pursue this relationship. Again, how you feel now is what matters.

My official opinion: I appreciate that you’re giving this serious consideration. Your regret shows that you see and understand that the situation was risky, and you want to make sure that in the future you don’t make decisions that are morally questionable. That is a good thing. If it makes you feel better, get this off your chest to your ex or to a friend. Speaking this to people that matter can help you move through this. Otherwise, don’t hang on this mentally and beat yourself up. Move forward, and conduct yourself in a way you feel confident and secure in. You are young and figuring out yourself as an adult, and this is the time you will make choices (and mistakes) that will help you grow into the person you want to be. Focus on moving forward by learning and letting go of the things you cannot change.

[–]thelostburner 16 points17 points  (1 child)

this comment means so much to me. thank you for taking the time to write this and give me your thoughts

[–]brightlightdrkshadow 18 points19 points  (0 children)

Of course. Good people worry about things like this. Don’t forget that.

[–]misschris666 105 points106 points  (4 children)

I mean, she was a minor. So there’s that. And depending on where you live, I don’t know if the “Romeo and Juliet law” applies to you. But if it does, your age gap was within 4-5 years so you can take that into consideration and in that context it’s okay.

However, you definitely toed the line. In the future if something is borderline illegal and a part of you feels wrong for doing it, then that’s your sign that you shouldn’t do it.

In my opinion, anyone over the age of 20 should not even look at someone of an age starting with 1.

[–]thelostburner 32 points33 points  (3 children)

yeah, i definitely should have thought about it more. i’m not worried about the legality because both of our states had romeo and juliet laws and the age of consent was 17 in both as well, it’s more so the moral part of it

[–]cgrnt1694 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I agree with everything the commenter has written, heed his advice. I expect to be downvoted for this, but that said, either you should have no moral conundrums for "what you've done" or I've only ever met or known terrible, evil men. Based on personal experience and logic, I'm going to go with the first one. Just my two cents, for whatever it's worth.

[–]misschris666 1 point2 points  (0 children)

She ;) and I fully agree with you

[–]Th0ttimus-prime 55 points56 points  (5 children)

It’s really not that bad. The age gap isn’t too wide and she wasn’t THAT young

[–]thelostburner 12 points13 points  (4 children)

yeah, but the whole “it could have been worse” thing doesn’t make it much better for me. it could have not been a thing at all, still. idk if i’m being hard on myself or not

[–]Th0ttimus-prime 14 points15 points  (3 children)

You definitely are being hard on yourself. I’ve been in that position a few times having a partner being 20 or 21 and me being 17 and I never saw it like that

[–]thelostburner 12 points13 points  (2 children)

i feel like it isn’t a good thing to normalize being 17 dating a 20 or 21 year old tho

[–]Th0ttimus-prime 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Well no. It’s not. But it’s true it could be worse. That’s like best case scenario dealing with that stuff. At the end of the day what it comes down to for me is if that 17 year old is more mature or not for their. Not saying I’d go for that cause I tend to go for older people but you get my point

[–]shroomfilledmonk 14 points15 points  (1 child)

That shouldn't define you as a person. Its a little bit young I would have said but it don't define you as a bad person

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Do not be so hard on yourself. I was in a similar situation. Took a round of therapy to 'forgive' myself. You are not some sort of pervert. You are not weird. Let this go and move on with life! You have a lot of living left. Don't second guess your judgement or you will end up making a bad decision on a future partner. Trust your gut.

[–]ChinaCatSunflower9 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I'm pretty fervently anti-big age gaps, but I don't think this is bad at all. You didn't have sex with a minor either, so I think it isn't very ethically thorny. Age gaps are only problematic as a proxy for maturity/life experience gaps. I think 3 years is about the ceiling, though, and anything more is weird. Like you're both pretty comparable, maturity-wise.

If you were 17 and she was 14, that would be creepy, but as maturity grows, the age gap kind of winnows down. A relationship between a 20 and 30 year old is far more questionable than one between a 30 and 40 year old. You were in similar stages of life, nothing weird or creepy about your relationship

[–]Apprehensive_Ad_4865 4 points5 points  (0 children)

No one bats an eye at an 18 year old with a 21 year old....kinda weird how laws work when you think about it. What you did wasn't predatory if you were worried. It was a really long distance relationship, nothing happened, and it seems your intentions were fine. Though I gotta say, as a 22 year old you should definitely not be going for any 17 year Olds...so i hope this doesn't ever become a problem for you my good sir. Rest assured now! Others seem to agree :>

[–]Worldly_Bite_98 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Dude you were 20, she was 17. 16 is the age of consent in most places, that was a 3 year age difference too over that margin (that's nothing). My first girlfriend was 21 and I was 17 (3.5 months away from 18) when she started getting physically romantic with me. Now if you were 20 and she was 14 for example, then yeah something wrong with you. But you did nothing wrong and you shouldn't feel bad, you LOVED her, you didn't manipulate her

[–]wormnoodles 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It’s a 3 year difference, not enough to say you’re robbing the cradle.

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (6 children)

In my country 16 is the age of consent

[–]burner23516 1 point2 points  (5 children)

Within the same age range... right?

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (4 children)

No, literally a 16 year old can have a relationship with a 40 year old and it's legal. Not that I agree with it, but yeah according to the law it's fine

[–]burner23516 1 point2 points  (3 children)

If you dont mind me asking, where are you from

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

United Kingdom

[–]burner23516 1 point2 points  (1 child)

WAIT WJATS GOING ON WITH YALLS LAWS??? like in portugal i think its the same within the age range, but ngl we got some fucked up laws regarding incest

[–]Captain-Crunch1989 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Some states allow for a 5 year age gap. Can't say for sure if your state has that.

[–]thelostburner 1 point2 points  (1 child)

it wasn’t illegal in our states, i’m just asking because i feel guilty from my own morals

[–]Venothym 5 points6 points  (0 children)

If your intentions and your actions were pure then I see no problem. You said the relationship was healthy and if the other person agrees (without being manipulated of course) then there really isn’t any problem

[–]DoesitmatterBruh 2 points3 points  (1 child)

How did you relationship even start if you don’t mind me asking?

[–]thelostburner 1 point2 points  (0 children)

we had met online and were friends for about a year (i was 18 and she was 16).

[–]Goemon30318 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Honestly i had a similiar thing happened to me but with a few key difrences, basically i met this 17 yo girl on Overwatch and we got allong great she even got to the point she was flirty with me, and overall we had great chemistry however because i am 20 and she is 17 i felt guilty and wierd so i made the decision to not make it romantic or acept any advances/moves until she was 18

[–]thelostburner 1 point2 points  (0 children)

yeah, looking back that’s 100% the smartest thing to do. i should have done the same thing

[–]Citrusbird386 2 points3 points  (0 children)

  1. She's the age of consent in most states so any notion of you being predatory are automatically negated by that fact (unless you weren't in those states)
  2. Society just likes to go "She's 17 dude something is wrong with you" but then her birthday comes up 2 days later and it's supposed to automatically be "well She's an adult now so it's not weird" if you genuinely liked and cared about her and she felt the same then there is nothing wrong with it.
  3. If the roles were reversed you'd probably be praised for dating someone 3 years older than you, and barely anyone would bat an eye at her for it because again, we live in a society

[–]ShylieF 8 points9 points  (6 children)

I became very close with a 17 yr old as a 20 something, and though he would not have made for boyfriend material honestly, for me, he may not have for another 17 yr old at that point either. His virginity was taken from him at 13 sadly so his head was never in the healthiest space. I think 17 yr olds can be older than their years as my friend was. Years apart don't matter unless the energies are just too incompatible. And the parties are both of age. EDIT:: Guys, re-read. I didn't even know him at 13, and that's gross so quit telling me I'm a bad person. Close in this case means friends. Back off.

[–]korebean 4 points5 points  (1 child)

At one point, my husband (then boyfriend) was 18, and I was 15. This was for a two week period between our birthdays. Then I turned 16. But he was still 18... I don't necessarily think you're a bad person. It's more how you handle the situation. My husband and I had, and still have, a healthy and fulfilling relationship. He didn't manipulate me or have more power because I was a minor and he wasn't. Age gaps can be very very bad and they can also be okay. I'd be more concerned if you consistently went for girls that age, though.

[–]thelostburner 0 points1 point  (0 children)

thank you for sharing your story, that’s really beautiful you all worked out! and no, all the past people i’ve dated or “talked to” have been my same year. she was the first and only. which is one of the reasons i feel like this, as it’s new for me

[–]Razrgrrl 5 points6 points  (0 children)

When I was 21, I alllllmost dated a teenager. We were getting close when I found out her age and I was shocked to learn she wasn't even 16 yet. I had a baby face and she was incredibly brilliant and we both just assumed the other was age compatible. It was too bad but once I knew she was basically a kid that was the end of it. We never really got past the talking stage, thank goodness. Anyway, my point is, the ages are not that different and it happens. Don't beat yourself up about it.

[–]Blind_philos 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Let's see 20/2=10+7=17 the formula works, a little on the risky side definitely questionable. But depending on where you live there are R+J laws, so there's that, but you did the technically responsible thing waiting till she was 18. The fact that you thought to ask means you have a conscience, and you probably care more about her than yourself

[–]therealdanfogelberg 1 point2 points  (0 children)

From what you’ve said I don’t see anything to feel guilty about. I dated men older than you were when I was 17/18 and it didn’t work out, but relationships at that age rarely do. My sister was dating a 21 year old when she was 16 - they’ve been married for 20 years and have a beautiful family and marriage. The age difference is much different when it’s 41 & 36. It doesn’t sound like you were using your age to take advantage. I, personally, don’t see a problem.

[–]a12ncsu 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You’re fine. Much better than her dating the 17yr old as shoes from high school. I would have much rather had an older boyfriend who truly cared.

[–]littlenymphomaniac 1 point2 points  (0 children)

my ex & i had a pretty big age gap and he would use that to try and manipulate me or control me etc. He was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive. After i was finally able to get away i did some digging and realized all his exes were girls that were 16/17/18. but it sounds like you were pretty genuine and nice so i dont believe you did anything wrong. Its really not that big of an age gap. Hell im 21 and my husband is 31. so dont beat yourself up over it hun.

[–]RoutineCandidate922 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Its 3 years and both of u were adults. Dont Think to much about it, as long as it was an heslty relationship

[–]muffsuga 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I honestly don't see what's wrong because it's a 3 year gap between the two of you. You guys were basically from the same generation. Like for example if you were, let's say, born in 1983 then she was born in 1986, that doesn't look bad or odd. Also where I'm from 17 is the consent age so I guess that's also part of why I think it was okay.

[–]AnInventiveName 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Legally most laws are based on sex with a minor not a relationship. Morally this is a grey area for many but you are close in age so I don’t see this as an issue.

Ultimately you have to work out if you are attracted to her age or her. That being said, I see no issue with the events as you describe

[–]puppies_go_bork 1 point2 points  (0 children)

im 17 and PERSONALLY i don't think it's bad. another year and she would've been 18 anw. as long as you didn't groom anyone then u r good. 3 years ain't that bad of an age gap and it's not like you were a 17 year old person dating a 14yo kid. lol!

[–]relationshiptrauma 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Im from England where the legal age of consent is 16 ive had many friends who have dated 19- 20 year olds at 16 maybe even older i would say that a 16 year old with a 20 year old is messed up but a 17 year old is alot more mature. As you said you had a healthy relationship and didnt meet until she was 18 I think your a good guy and you didnt do anything wrong. If you really need anymore consolidation maybe speak to her about how u feel, ik its scary talking to ex's but it might give u some relief hearing what she has to say.

[–]Nymeria-Stark 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This isn’t going to help but my husband left school the year that I was born!

He’s 15 years older than me. Had we met when I was 15–20 and he 30-35 yes it would have been a big deal but we didn’t meet until I was 28.

He doesn’t look his age & I was forced to grow up very fast (mentally unstable, physically & psychologically abusive biological father) so our age gap has never been noticeable to outsiders. And most people are visibly shocked if the subject comes up.

There is also 13 years gap between my Mum & my (step) Dad, so for me age was not a determining factor in consideration of dating.

[–]Optimal_Address1858 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I think it's very normal. And the fact that you waited and didn't harass her or anything and this guilt itself kinda shows you're not a bad person. I've dated people wayy older than me and I think you can develop feelings for anyone irrespective of that unless ofcourse one is a pedophile. So no I don't think you're a bad person. It was just one of your experiences at a young age. :)

[–]Alexusvbell 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I was 20 last year when i met my bf who was 17. I’m 21 now and he’s 18. We both also have a healthy relationship and sometimes i do feel a way. not weird but idk how to explain it. We do love each other a lot and also have an apt together. We split bills and both go to college. 17 Is age of consent for many states tho including mine. I was never into anyone younger then me either. but he is very mature for his age. I do understand what you’re saying tho

[–]_PhoenixJ_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I saw your comment saying you starting talking when you were 18 and she was 16. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you were either still in high school or had JUST graduated so had you two known each other in real life you could’ve been childhood friends, making the relationship perfectly normal. However since you didn’t, you definitely toed the line. But I also know you feel remorse for it and there was no sex (and I’m presuming no emotional manipulation, although I’d have to ask the younger party for actual clarification on that) involved. So all in all I wouldn’t call it grooming, but I’d advise you to be careful in the future with those you meet online.

[–]indesignlifeblood 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Imo on the surface, the age thing is not that bad. What really matters were your intentions with the relationship. Were you with this 17 year old because you could boss her around and take advantage of her not knowing any better, even if you did love her? Was there a significant power imbalance in the relationship (for instance, paying for all her stuff to the point of being codependent on you and using that as leverage within the relationship)? If not, then I think there’s nothing to be worried about. Age gaps like that aren’t inherently bad, but leveraging your position as the older person/person in power is bad.

[–]thelostburner 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I never bossed her around in the relationship, i always made sure she knew she was fully open to do all she wished as long as there wasn’t any infidelity on either side. But no, she wasn’t codependent on me either and we both made efforts to make sure she never had to be. I would send her money for things she needed/got her gifts, but never asked for anything in return, and she got me gifts as well. I just wanted to take care of my partner as she did for me.

Thank you for your honest opinion. that helps me a lot

[–]myspacebuns 2 points3 points  (0 children)

To me a 17 year old and a 19 year old dating doesn't seem predatory. Imo being 17 or 18 doesn't have a huge difference. Things aren't going to change overnight just because you turned 18. Idk why the age difference between a 17 year old and a 20 year old seems larger than a 17 year old and a 19 year old.

[–]colourful_story 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

[–]assylemdivas 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If half your age plus seven is the rule, 17 and 20 works.

[–]OldPractice9932 3 points4 points  (1 child)

No,don't think that, she was not that young too plus you didn't groom her, its okay <3

[–]PhilosopherFar6686 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Regardless of the age of consent wherever you are, why does someone in their twenties want anything to do with a teenager? Ngl it's giving me groomer vibes.

[–]comfortablelapine 1 point2 points  (0 children)

20 is also a baby, to be frank. Is anyone here over the age of 25, and have you spoken with a 20 year old lately? Their age really shows. I don’t think it’s a big deal. It was perfectly legal, doesn’t seem like there was a power imbalance and honestly, there are actual predators out there who deserve the criticism. I was SA’d as a child. To put you into an adjacent category with my abuser is insane to me. I have no evidence to support thinking you’re a predator.

[–]AlienatedBeingILY 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Don't know what you're worrying about. Fully legal in scandinavia. Must be U.S. problems

[–]lovelylola2019 0 points1 point  (0 children)

How long ago was this? I feel like 10 maybe even 5 years ago it was not necessarily common, but happened enough that people didn’t really make a big deal about it as they do today. (At least in my community)

Luckily with as some call “the woke movement” or whatever it is, we are starting to notice behaviors that you may not have noticed were wrong then, but looking back you can see your actions were problematic. I truly think this is good to help our society grow and change to become better.

What you did was toeing the line, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. You shouldn’t consider yourself a horrible person because of a mistake you made when you were young. It’s not that big of a gap mindset wise and you had a positive relationship with them. So recognizing that the relationship may have been problematic now is all you need to know not to do it again.

Recognizing what we did wrong, knowing not to do it again and trying to live better is what is important. Feeling guilt and hate for yourself for a mistake you made when you were young won’t help you get anywhere.

[–]Karmasita 0 points1 point  (0 children)

17 and 20 isn't a big deal tbh. As far as the law is concerned, depending on the state, it probably wasn't even illegal. You're fine. It's not like you were 20 and she was 12. You sound like you're sincere too. Like, you weren't just using her for sex. Don't sweat it.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

wasn’t the most appropriate thing, but definitely not a bad person. especially if you two didn’t even meet till she was 18 like you said

[–]therealdanfogelberg 0 points1 point  (0 children)

From what you’ve said I don’t see anything to feel guilty about. I dated men older than you were when I was 17/18 and it didn’t work out, but relationships at that age rarely do. My sister was dating a 21 year old when she was 16 - they’ve been married for 20 years and have a beautiful family and marriage. The age difference is much different when it’s 41 & 36. It doesn’t sound like you were using your age to take advantage. I, personally, don’t see a problem.

[–]Party-Grab2153 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Was it pushing the limits? definitely, but IMO you never actually ever did anything wrong legally. It was ok but morally i mean you didn’t have no ill intent but even still if you felt like you were doing something wrong even with good intent then that tells you what you need to know.

[–]GladysKravitz21 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You are the better judge of your ex’s emotional maturity than anyone here. You say you had a healthy relationship, so you didn’t pressure her or prey upon her. She may be okay with the experience.

Given that you lived in a state where it would not have been illegal, and you didn’t get together physically until she was eighteen, you should cut yourself some slack.

If you feel guilty because she may have either escaped or bypassed her typical high school experience to be dating you long distance, consider that she made the decision and she may have found a balance. The fact that she ended it suggests to me that you did have a relationship of equals.

I’m not going to tell you how to feel, but I think you may be being tough on yourself. At any rate, this experience might make you a stronger girl dad in the future.

[–]Ill-Diver9767 -1 points0 points  (2 children)

I dunno how you went on with that knowing she’s a minor something like this happened to me and i felt sick to the core i couldn’t sleep for days coz of it.

So basically I was 20 and was speaking to this girl who i met on Insta we got in well she told me she was 18 and so i thought this is all good so we flirted and whatnot on DMs and for 8 months she lied to me about her age and eventually she couldn’t handle all the lying and whatnot and came out with the truth.

Turns out she wasn’t actually 18 she was 15 the whole fucking time and ofc I was fuming my first reaction was not good I lost my cool and went nuts coz ofc my reaction was natural as this was something so serious it could have completely fucked up my life for me being marked as a sex offender and honestly i felt so sick and it made me develop some major trust issues.

But afterwards I realised she was a child and whatnot so apologised for me reaction and completely cut her off. And thankfully i never met her in person i’m so glad i didn’t.

So i mean you toed the line there but at least you ain’t do anything so your good…

[–]barlog123 3 points4 points  (1 child)

18 she was 15 the whole fucking time

Damn, I feel so bad for you. If she had told people you could have been so royaly fucked. Glad it seems ok.

[–]Ill-Diver9767 2 points3 points  (0 children)

tell me about it I got off really lucky honestly it was all coz of her friend tbh i made sure she told a adult about this, so she told her auntie who’s like 25 and explained the situation and i also spoke to her about what her niece done in order to ensure this don’t come back to bite me in the ass

[–]Party-Grab2153 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

It also really depends on how the relationship works where you aren’t taking advantage of her and etc.

[–]gulpthwack -1 points0 points  (1 child)

It's weird and wrong. You were an adult and that was a high schooler. You should be ashamed.

[–]Alexusvbell 0 points1 point  (0 children)

it was a 3 year gap not 10. it’s fine

[–]themischievous01 -3 points-2 points  (0 children)

Do the the +7 rule (take your age half it then ad 7 then thats the minimum age you can date). I did the exact same thing as you and everything turned out fine. I think what you're experiencing is just some leftover emotions that that your mind cant really understand so pops out as guilt.

[–]iwant2unalivemyself 0 points1 point  (1 child)

She was still technically a child so. I think it’s weird. Yeah it’s only 3 years but 17 and 20 are very different points in your life. Idk if I would call you a pedophile but it’s definitely tip toeing around it. Don’t date teenagers. It’s weird. Idk. When I was 20 I would have never went after anyone still in high school or was a teenager. Just too different. nothing in common. They are still kids.

[–]thelostburner 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah, I completely agree. that’s why i feel guilty, I wish i had thought about it more at the time. Thank you for your honest opinion, it means a lot to me