One of the most controversial discussions on social media in recent days has been the predatory nature of relationships, where one partner is a teenager and the other is “older”.
When it comes to romantic relationships, people say age is just a number. In today’s world, a 30 year old woman can fall in love with a 50 year old man, and a 65 year old woman can be in a relationship with a 41 year old man. Most importantly, they both agree that they are grown up and love each other enough to be together, right?
The world no longer dispproves of relationships where the age difference can be clearly seen. But when does the age difference become a predator in a relationship? As an adult, at what point do you realize that people with certain demographics were taboo even though they were legally of age?
As a 79-year-old woman, do you date a 20-year-old guy because he’s “legally an adult” and you don’t expect people to react? As a 79 year old man, would you date a 20 year old woman and expect a pat on the back? The age difference doesn’t even have to be that big. It could be a man or woman in their thirties who is constantly in a romantic relationship with a teenager.
This topic has garnered different opinions. Some people claim that when you are 18 or older, anyone can choose to be in a relationship with you. Now it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be in this relationship or not. Others insist that relationships in which one partner is “immature” tend to be manipulative and predatory. Parents need to know that young people – including adults – should be off limits.
The dynamics power and imbalance in a relationship transcends beyond age differences. Sometimes it’s about the wealth of experience a person gains over time or the exposure a person gains over the years. Anything that can be used by one over the other. A 28-year-old man who has never had a formal education, lives in the countryside most of the time, has little access to basic infrastructure, and has no different forms of exposure is different from a 28-year-old Ivy League graduate who lives across the city, read a lot of books and stay in certain rooms. When the two come together, the power dynamics will be different and such relationships tend to be manipulative. The power imbalance can also be financial. In a house where one party is financially dependent on the other, there is no financial balance.
This also applies to age. When a partner is more naive and has far fewer lives and relationships, there is almost always an imbalance of power. As a man or woman in your thirties, if you constantly want to date teens, or constantly have to maintain the legality of your relationship in terms of the age difference, doesn’t that make you a natural predator? You have a wealth of knowledge for more than a decade, which allows you to easily exploit and manage teenagers who do not have your knowledge, experience and even finances. You both don’t work at the same frequency or grow at the same pace – you’re way ahead.
An 18 or 19 year old is the legal age, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he’s still a teenager trying to swim through the murky waters of life. The average 18 year old is still trying to figure out who they are and will be happy to accept anything or anyone that resembles their fantasy or promises a better life. Compared to you, such teens have no experience with the complexities of relationships – and life in general. As an adult, you should not take advantage of this.
The validity of a number does not make the relationship fully compatible. Almost anything can be “legal” to different people. Even those who marry with 11-year-old children claim that it is legal according to their religion and beliefs. The fact that a teenager “already did Ashewo”, “grows up so fast”, “already had a sugar daddy/mummy”, “threw his/herself at you” does not make a relationship good. If you have a relationship where there is an imbalance of power that could make the younger person vulnerable to coercion or harassment, you need to sit in a corner and re-evaluate your value system.
You don’t catch everything they “throw” at you, that’s why you’re an adult.