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To Sam

being in a relationship with a 23 year old

Hello Sam.

This question has been spinning in my head for a while now. I've been crazy inlove with my 23 year old boyfriend. I'm currently 17 years old.

I know with law stuff thats its illegal for 23 year olds to date 17 year olds. I'm just asking would I be able to date my boyfriend once I become 18 years old?

Ask Sam



Thank you for your letter, and for taking the time to write to me.

It’s good to hear that you seem to be very happy in your relationship with your boyfriend. However, I can hear that you seem worried about the difference in age.

In the UK there is no law stating it is illegal for a 23 year old to date a 17 year old. As you are 17 and a young adult, you are old enough to decide if you want to be in a relationship with this man. The law doesn’t really talk about dating - instead, it talks about what two people do between them. So, for example, it does say someone needs to be 16 before they can choose to have sex with another person, but as you are 17 anyway, this wouldn’t apply to you.

It’s good to hear that you are in love with your boyfriend. A relationship is a two way thing, and relationships work best when both partners are comfortable being with one another. It’s important that both partners consent to the relationship, and that they trust and respect one another.

So, whilst the law doesn’t specifically talk about dating between adults and young people, people do sometimes become concerned about large age differences. Often it’s not possible for a young person to have the same level of confidence and understanding as an older adult. This can mean that the relationship stops being an equal partnership. This is usually more the case when one person is a lot younger. What’s important is that you feel like your relationship is equal.

One way of testing whether a relationship with someone older is healthy is to ask if they would like to be introduced to the people who look after you. If they want to keep your relationship a secret, this is often a sign that something isn’t right.

I hope this helps, but if you want to talk more about this then you can always talk to one of our counsellors. You can call on 0800 1111, log on for a 1-2-1 chat or send an email.

Take care,

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