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I’m 18; he’s 14. Am I a cougar?

A letter writer finds romance on the internet but worries about the age difference.

Our elder advises caution: a 14-year-old is still a child in the eyes of the law.

 

Dear EWC

I just turned eighteen a month ago. Right before my birthday, I joined two teen dating sites, and on one of them I have been messaging this guy that I’m really starting to like. He’s very respectful, doesn’t pressure me for sex and seems interested in me for who I am. We have expressed to each other that we want to be boyfriend and girlfriend, and if this does happen, this will be my very first relationship. But there is an age difference that could cause controversy: He is only fourteen years old. He’ll be fifteen in a couple months, but he is still three and a half years younger than me. I know that older women/younger men relationships are controversial, but I find being a cougar in training to be very sexy on my part. Plus, I’ve been studying cougars, and men say that dating an older woman is more fun, meaningful and exotic. Should I pursue this relationship now, or continue to get to know this guy and wait till he’s 18 and I’m 21/22?

 

Ms.Mary replies

I’m glad you are asking for advice. Teens aren’t usually thought of as cougars, but you are older than your friend, so I know what you mean. Typically, experienced women in their 40s or older are usually referred to as cougars when they are in a relationship with a much younger man (10 or more years). In your case, you are considered an adult, whereas your friend is still considered a child.

I understand how excited you must be to have hooked up with a guy that you really like and who feels the same about you. It feels wonderful to be able to relate to someone who genuinely appreciates you and wants to know you better. Your friend sounds like a nice kid. You said that he isn’t pressuring you about sex. However, I hope he’s not even mentioning it. Since he is considered a child in the United States and you are considered an adult, if you were to have sex, that would be considered a felony and you could go to jail.

Per Wikipedia, the age of consent is the age at which a person is considered to be legally competent to consent to sexual acts, and is thus the minimum age of a person with whom another person is legally permitted to engage in sexual activity. The distinguishing aspect of the age of consent laws is that the person below the minimum age is regarded as the victim and their sex partner as the offender.

Let’s say that you were 14 and he was 18, would it seem more obvious that the relationship would be inappropriate? I think any parent of a 14-year-old would not want his or her daughter or son to be in a romantic relationship with an 18-year-old. An adult is too easily able to influence and take advantage of a child.
I know that your intentions are good but I think you need to be very cautious about this relationship. You obviously mean well, but it probably isn’t wise to date this guy. However, if you want to have a friendship over the internet and get to know each other, I don’t see any harm. However, avoid any discussion related to sex. That could have negative consequences for both of you. I think your idea of waiting until he is 18 to date is the best option.

Keep in mind too, that a month isn’t very long to get to know somebody. In the beginning of a relationship, both partners are usually infatuated with each other and excited about the possibility of a relationship. They tend to put each other on a pedestal, seeing what they want to see in each other. It isn’t until two people spend time together daily for an extended period of time that they really get to know each other.

You seem very sweet. If it is important to you to keep talking with this guy, then keep it as “just friends.” In the meantime, you might want to keep your options open and see if you there is someone your own age that interests you. I’m happy to talk with your further if I can be of more help. Wishing you a relationship that will bring you much happiness. You deserve it!

Best Regards,

Elder Ms.Mary

 

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