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Friendships/big age gap

I am 18 and I have become friends with a man in his 60s. We started talking through interests in sport and he began to talk to me about his depression. We have been talking on the phone and meeting up because he feels I am the only one he can talk to despite having a large family. We have never done anything but talk however his family and others don't agree with it. His family put a tracker on his car and found us parked up, talking. They were worried that it was illegal. His family have threatened me about the whole situation. Is what I am doing wrong? Is it illegal? Please advise
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Sam

Hi there,

It always makes sense to be cautious and try to keep yourself safe. A large age gap doesn’t always mean there’s a problem, but it depends entirely on the situation and that’s something you need to judge for yourself. Not everyone is out to hurt you, but staying aware and alert can make it harder for someone to take advantage of you.

It’s unusual for someone who is 60 to want to be friends with an 18 year old – you are at two very different stages in your life. Often when someone’s a lot older then they might want something more from the relationship, like sex.

Not everyone is out to hurt you though and it’s entirely possible that he does just like you as a friend and there is nothing wrong with being friends with adults, so long as nothing inappropriate is happening.

What’s important though is that it’s not kept a secret. Telling people you trust, like your own family, is the best thing to do because they’ll be able to help you to judge if this person is a threat or not. If someone wants you to keep a relationship secret, this might mean something is not right.

It’s really important to think carefully about where and how you meet with this person. Although nothing has happened so far, that doesn’t mean it can’t change in the future. Being alone with him in his car, parked up is not a safe place to be – you should think about meeting him in public, if you’re going to do that.

Perhaps you can look at safer ways to meet him, like through a befriending service. Age UK might be a place to start.

As you are 18 that makes you an adult yourself, so nobody is breaking the law. It would be against the law for him to force or manipulate you into sex, but that’s the same no matter how old people are.

Remember, you can get support by talking to our counsellors at any time.

I hope this helps, take care.
Sam

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