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A relationship with a 37 year old guy

So im a 17 year old girl and have recently been seeing a 37 year old guy. He works in the same place as me, and though it seems wrong to some people, there is no abuse occuring here.

Recently my sixth form found out about this and therefore had to tell my parents. This means I am no longer allowed to message the guy i was seeing and have had to quit my job.

I turn 18 in 3 months, and would like to continue seeing this guy because he means a lot to me, and we both cared about each other a lot. But what could happen if i do see him again, after he was told not to have any contact with me?

Will he get in trouble?

Can he be prosecuted in any way?

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Sam

Hi there,

Relationships can work with a big age gap if you're aware of some of the potential challenges. There’s a lot to think about: things like what places you’re able to go together and what your friends and family think about you being together. Once you reach 16 it’s legal to be in a relationship with someone older in the UK, unless they're in a position of trust.

This means if the person is your teacher, your employer or your supervisor then it could be against the law. If it’s just someone you work with or anyone else you know then it’s not against the law.

Really big age gaps might make some people uncomfortable. It’s not often that someone who's 37 can find much in common with someone who's 17. At 37 it’s likely he has had a lot more life experience than you and so people may be worried that your relationship isn't equal.

There can be lots of things that attract you to an older partner. They may be more independent, live away from home, have a job, money or be able to drive. It can feel exciting sometimes that someone more mature is showing an interest in you. You're both at very different stages of life however and that might be a problem for the relationship at some point. Whether an older partner is right for you is a decision you have to make for yourself.

There are a couple of things to think about when deciding what’s best. The first is to be aware that it’s possible for an adult to groom a young person into a relationship. Grooming can involve buying you things, taking you to places you might not be able to go on your own and generally just making you feel very special. These may all seem like good things but sometimes people want something in return and this might be sexual. It’s really important that if you don’t feel comfortable doing something he wants you to do, that you are able to say no.

Secondly it’s important to remember that it would be illegal for him to have sexual photos or videos of you when you're under 18 – even if you’re in a relationship. It would be illegal for you to send him things like this. One of the things an adult might want with a young person is to have access to these kind of photos, which they could share online.

Finally it’s good to think carefully before getting into a relationship with someone you work with, no matter how old they are. If things don’t go well it could affect how comfortable you feel at work, or how people at work act around you.

Relationships are about trust and it’s important that you feel safe and happy and that you’re not asked to keep secrets. In a healthy relationship, both people make decisions about the things they do together and neither person has more say about where you go and who you see.

Thank you for your letter. You can talk to a Childline counsellor about anything that’s worrying you.

Take care,

Sam

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