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I’m going out with someone who’s much older than me. What is the big deal?

We can all have attractions to people in our lives, sometimes regardless of age. However, you can be attracted to someone and not act on that feeling. These feelings can help you learn about yourself and what you’re looking for in a partner, without getting into a situation that you’re not ready for.

There can be a big difference in maturity levels and life experience between two people, especially when there is a big difference in age. Because of this, it can get tricky when a teen wants to become involved with someone who is much older than he or she is. Without realizing it, there is an imbalance of power in the relationship.

Because older partners tend to have more experience, and possibly more freedom, this can give them an unfair advantage over younger teens that have less experience and freedom. This can affect things like where you hang out, who drives and what you do sexually. It can also place pressure on the younger partner to try things they’re not ready for, simply because the older partner makes it seem like it’s no big deal.

Problems also crop up if the older person—who can be male or female—stops you from hanging out with friends your own age or doing things at school. This can get in the way of the normal process of growing from a teen to an adult.

If you are having sex in your relationship, check the laws in your state. Depending on your ages, your partner could be breaking the law. In all but two states, it is illegal for anyone over 18—male or female—to have sex with someone under 16. These laws are meant to protect young people from being exploited by people who are older. It’s a good idea to know the laws in your state.

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