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AIBU?

to think my 16 year old shouldn't date a 21 year old?

140 replies

pollywolfff · 21/12/2019 22:50

Not much more than that really. My 16 year old has been 'dating' this 21 year old since February and I have finally been told. I am unsure how to feel. I have never met this guy. I know in the future it's a normal age gap but for now it feels odd to me. I am uncomfortable but I don't know if there is anything I can really do.

OP posts:
Sparklesocks · 21/12/2019 22:53

I’d be concerned too OP. Even though she’s of age and it’s only a few years it’s a bigger gap in terms of development than say a 25 year old and a 30 year old. I’m not sure what many 21 year old men have in common with a teenage girl?

delilahbucket · 21/12/2019 23:01

I was with a 23 year old at that age. I even moved in with him at 16 and we stayed together for five years. Granted it was never going to last because I grew up and changed, whereas he didn't. He didn't seem so cool when I got to 19-20 and we had split before I hit 21. My dad was furious about it and stopped talking to me for the entire relationship. My mum was powerless to do anything once I'd moved out. Be wary of being too disapproving as she'll stop speaking to you, like I did, and I had no one when it went south.

HairyFloppins · 21/12/2019 23:04

It's not ideal but my boyfriend was 22 when I was 16. I stayed with him for a couple of years then grew up.

My parents probably weren't happy about it but never passed judgement and were there for me when I needed them.

Bythesea315 · 21/12/2019 23:05

I was 18 when I met my husband who is 15 year older than me , everyone frowned upon us and we got quite a lot of stick !
I'm now 40 and we have been married 17 almost 18 years and very happy,
Most of our wedding guests ( similar ages to each other) are divorced
I guess what I'm trying to say is it depends on the people they may very well be well suited

Rachie1973 · 21/12/2019 23:06

I just wasn’t interested in men my own age, at 16 I wouldn’t have looked at my own peer group. All my boyfriends were 20/21.

I’m married to a man 10 years older now

Chocolateandchats · 21/12/2019 23:08

All you can do is be there. I’ve got a 16 year old DD and I wouldn’t like it either but you need her to know you’ll always be there. I was in an awful relationship with an older man when I was young and as I told my mum, had she have turned her back on me I wouldn’t have left him because I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go.

Bluerussian · 21/12/2019 23:09

Why don't you meet him, Pollyw? She's been going out with him for almost a year, it's about time. When you actually know the guy you'll have a better idea of his suitability. It does seem like a big age gap as your daughter is only sixteen but years ago it was quite common for girls to date chaps a few years older, some even ended up marrying them later on in the relationship.

When you meet him you might find he is more like an eighteen year old than 21, some men aren't 'properly adult' at that age - or he could be more like thirty - but you won't know until you know him. Is your daughter mature for her years, is she just sixteen or nearly seventeen? So much growing up goes on in the space of a few months.

BackforGood · 21/12/2019 23:12

I like the rule I first read of on MN, which is 'half the older partner's age, plus 7 years' is fine, otherwise not.

This falls outside of that.
However they have been seeing each other for the best part of a year already, and, if you've only just found out, presumably you've not noticed your dd's personality changing or anything else that is to worry about.
What you have to think about is what can you do ?
I'd try to persuade her to bring him round. Keep it low key.

DustyMaiden · 21/12/2019 23:14

My DD was 16 with a 24 year old boyfriend. They’ve now been together 16 years.

wellthatwasthat · 21/12/2019 23:16

She's 16 now - how old was she in February?

StinkyWizleteets · 21/12/2019 23:18

I was 17 (just) and my boyfriend was 21 and we stayed together ten years and have been good friends now for Almost 30 years. Let it run its course and empower your daughter to have full control of her body and within relationship.

sunshineandshowers21 · 21/12/2019 23:21

i think it’s quite common for girls to have older boyfriends at that age. when i was 15/16 i was the only girl in my friendship group whose boyfriend was the same age as me, all my friends boyfriend’s were in college or older.

bananasandwicheseveryday · 21/12/2019 23:24

I was that age when I met the man who would later become my Dh. I didn't keep him a secret for 10 months though - my mum's rule was that if I went out with someone new, they had to pick me up from home on the first date so she could get them. We were together for five years before marrying and have been married now for almost 40 years.
If your dd has felt the need to date secretly for this length of time, I'd wonder why? It could be thatvthere is something not quite right about the relationship, but I'd suspect it's more likely that she knew what your reaction would be.

Rachelfromfriends1 · 21/12/2019 23:24

That’s weird - anyone here trying to normalise it because they did similar etc is also weird.

It’s not just about the age gap, it’s the gap in relation to their respective ages. A 30 year old dating a 35 year old would be completely different for example.

I’m 23 so it wasn’t that long ago that I was 21. A 21 year old has no business dating a 16 year old, a potential university graduate with a potential year 11 pupil? They’re in completely different stages of life - what can a 16 year old truly offer a 21 year old outside of sex? Most guys that date younger like this tend to be odd themselves - as in people his own age don’t want to date him so someone younger is his only option.

defaultusername · 21/12/2019 23:25

I had a 20 year old boyfriend at 16.

He'd groomed me since 14, and treated me badly.

Every situation is different, you can't just go on the ages. A 21 year old uni student should have no interest in 16 year old children, if they're normal. An immature 21 year old who still lives at home may be different.

Your DD is a child, 21 is an adult. Yes, it's weird. If it's for life, then he'll wait for her, if he's not 'the one' then it's best she finds that out now?

BloodyBastardBrexit · 21/12/2019 23:27

I have a 16yr old and no I would not be happy at all. A 21yr old would be leagues ahead of my dd in maturity, life experience, sexual experience etc. She’s still relatively sheltered as a child in school. A 21yr old adult could have been working for several years, plus they can drink/drive (not at the same time!) etc. It’s hard to see what the attraction could be from his point of view apart from sexually.

For the few people on here saying their relationships with an older man at 16yrs old worked out, there are 100s who would say theirs didn’t. You do need to be there for her but you don’t have to be pleased about it.

Ridiculousanx · 21/12/2019 23:28

Yeah, he's too old. It's creepy. But you really need to meet him to judge.

elliejjtiny · 21/12/2019 23:44

I think he is too old and I wouldn't be happy although I know some people who have done similar and been happily married for years. It's difficult though because you need to be supportive. One of my school friends had an older boyfriend for a while. We all thought he was great at the time because he had a car and could buy us all alcohol but looking back it was creepy. Another school friend had a girlfriend who was 14 when he was about 18. She went out drinking with him and his friends, drank most of a bottle of spirits and ended up in casualty.

YellowSubmarine94 · 21/12/2019 23:49

Unpopular opinion alert:

Age is just a number. We're not in the 1950's anymore and as long as he treats her the way a real man should then I see no issues.

Hope he's a lovely guy and that you enjoy meeting him when you eventually get to.

Sparklesocks · 21/12/2019 23:53

YellowSubmarine94 i wouldn’t say it’s a 1950s mindset to query an age gap like this, in fact in the 1950s age gaps were very common and people didn’t bat much of an eyelid.
I do think there can be an inherent power dynamic with older men and younger women, as much as there are relationships where it works fine there are other relationships where the older man can take advantage of the fact that a younger woman is not as experienced in relationships and might not be as aware of red flags. Not saying this is the case for OP’s DD of course, but I don’t think it’s an old fashioned mindset to be aware of this.

SamVimesFavouriteDragon · 21/12/2019 23:55

Age may just be a number, but life experience matters! Surely they won't have much in common? I work with a group of 18 year olds and even though I'm only 7 years older than them I feel like their mum half the time - in terms of life experience we are worlds apart

OhWellThatsJustGreat · 21/12/2019 23:56

Personally at 16 I think dating anyone over 19 is a bit odd...

But my mum was 16, my dad 23 when they met and got together, they've just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, so for some it works.

PassingIntoTheWest · 22/12/2019 00:02

I did something similar when I was younger. I thought it was okay at the time, but now I look back and realise that my boyfriend was a knob and that a lot of things that happened were definitely not okay.

WalkiesPlease · 22/12/2019 00:13

Nope, this isn't okay in my book. That's like someone who's just graduated from university dating someone who is doing their GCSEs. There's nothing you can do without pushing her away and further towards him but it makes me wonder if even she maybe thinks it's a bit odd, considering she's kept it from you for nearly a year. Was this because she was 15 when they first started "dating"?

SandyY2K · 22/12/2019 00:14

I agree with a pp, lots of normalising it. I wouldn't be happy about it.

A 21 year old should look for someone his own age, not someone who is GCSE age and where he would be finishing university.

Although I don't usually hear of a guy who's been to Uni with a 16 year old kid.

It's too imbalanced, because of the maturity and life/relationship experience.

I see it as looking out for your child, not judgement.

I've spoken to ppl who were in similar situations and they say, they wish their parents had said something, rather than letting them swan off with an older man.

People have different views and lifestyles, so what's acceptable to some, is not to others.

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