Dating Older? Dating Younger?- by Natalie Myers (11)

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*Sources interviewed prefer to remain anonymous

Since people have figured out they’re attracted to other people, dating has been a thing. It’s been controversial since the beginning and remains controversial today. So, teens dating is even worse because what parent is actually excited about sending their child off on a date, especially when their “baby” says that they want to date an 18 year old… at 15 or 16 years old.

But just because someone is older does not mean they want to corrupt or hurt someone younger in any way, shape or form. Studies done by Dr.Ehrensaft from the New York State Psychiatric Institute, have even showed that dating someone close to your age but older than you, can even make you mature faster and can improve your emotional health, control, and show someone how a relationship is meant to be (two to three years older is the recommended number, according to Dr. Ehrensaft). *Chris spoke on this point and wanted to add  “they (older teens) have more experience in life and they’ve been through more things, even if they’re just one grade above you.” They can even help their younger “friend” with school by studying together and improving their understanding of the world around them as observed in studies conducted.

So what’s the big deal? Why are parents upset when their son or daughter wants to date someone older? The fact of the matter is parents are scared about their child being pressured, the older someone is the more likely they are to be able to get into trouble and into adult things. They could then pressure the younger person into doing these things or abusing these substances. Studies done by Dr.Jay silverman show- teenagers with troubled childhoods are more likely to be the ones who get into trouble with substances and acting like adult while they are emotional mature as teen. When *Alex was asked about this subject they commented, “Depending on range of age they can be a tad bit more mature than you. Meaning they might want to do things that could be considered  beyond your age, but as long as you know you’re in control, it is fine in my opinion.”  Although as Dr. Ehrensaft stated “Previous emotional attachments with family and peers helped to predict the quality of later relationships and to show patterns that are repeated from one generation to the next” -meaning that the children with the bad relationships as role models are the people who are really most likely to date or chase the older people who are like their mother/father and likely to have those toxic relationships. So, the concern is understandable, even from a teen’s perspective as much and their parents. 

However these troublesome situations could be avoided, it’s the job of the parents to have the conversation of how to stay in control, when enough is enough and how to set boundaries. If they can teach their child how healthy relationships should work- they would be set up and more prepared for dealing with these things, such as how to go about a situation if something is going wrong, and to help guide their child in the direction of what could be red flags. Parents also need to let their child know that they can talk to them about these things, because as *Casey added “ They didn’t know and still don’t know I dated him. They don’t really like dating and they’re strict with me.”

All in all dating someone older gets a bad rap, but really there seems to be more benefits than drawbacks. It makes teens more mature in their personality, in dating wisdom and emotionally. Experiences with dating can help people out later in life and it models how it should be ( when it’s a healthy relationship ) So honestly, if you’re talking to someone older and considering dating them, be cautious, talk to your parents and give it a try! If anything goes wrong, you can always say no and know you’re in control, because if it’s a good healthy fun relationship, it will benefit you in more ways than one

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