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Age gap relationships

Does age matter?

Although people say ‘age is just a number’, in relationships, age can be important. For example, the size of the age gap matters. There’s a big difference between dating someone in the year above at school and someone who is an adult and a lot older than you.

Dating someone older can seem exciting and the age gap might not feel like an issue. But it can bring up different questions and worries.

If you’re worried about a relationship or friendship you have with someone older, speak to an adult you trust or report it to CEOP if they are an online friend.

7 things to consider about age gap relationships

1. You might have very different expectations, perspectives and interests.

Two people with a big age gap will likely be at very different life stages and want different things. They might not be able to see things from your perspective or understand your interests or worries. 

2. You might be looking for someone more mature, but what do they want from you?

An older person may use things like a car, money and access to alcohol to impress you and get what they want. A relationship should always be balanced and equal. Think about what each of you benefits from in the relationship. Why would someone want to date someone much younger? 

3. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they should have all the power.

A big age gap in relationships can cause an imbalance of power. This means one person has more influence or control over the other. It might feel like your partner is always telling you what to do, saying they know better than you because they are older. This is controlling behaviour and is not okay.

4. It’s never ok to feel pressured into something.

Dating someone older is intimidating at times.The older person in the relationship might have more experience and want to do things you don’t want or feel ready for. Feeling comfortable and confident to say how you feel and being aware of consent is important.

5. Does this person care about you and your feelings and do they have your best interests in mind?

Your partner might make you feel really loved or give you loads of attention, but do they ever do things that hurt you or take advantage of you? If so, this is abusive and you should speak to an adult you trust about what has happened.

6. It’s important that you feel heard and your thoughts and feelings are respected.

Relationships are all about communication, honesty and respect. Your partner should always listen and respect how you feel. It might also be difficult if friends or family do not approve of the relationship, but it might be good to hear their perspective just as you would want them to hear yours.

7. Would you be as attracted if there wasn’t an age gap?

People often like the idea of someone older, more than they actually like them. Sometimes you can be attracted to someone, simply because they are older and seem more confident and mature. Like people, all relationships are different.

Is it illegal for me to date someone older?

It’s not illegal for you to date someone older. It is illegal for someone over 18 to have a sexual relationship or sexual activity with someone under 16, or under 18 if they are in a position of responsibility like a teacher or a sports coach.

It is also illegal for anyone to take, possess or share a nude image of someone under 18.

Why is this the law?

The law says this in order to protect young people. It recognises the harm that can be done to young people when they have a sexual relationship with an adult.

Remember whatever happens, the adult is responsible. It is not your fault

Read our articles on sending nudes and sex and the law for more information. 

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