Ask Sam letter


To Sam

legal dating advice

Hi I'm 17 and nearly 18 but I'm talking to a 13 nearly 14 year old. we both like each other and have both agreed on no sexual acts until she is of legal age but I'm unsure of the law in regard to us dating and things such as kissing. we both care about each other and don't want to get each other into trouble or legal problems. I'm not in a position of power or anything like that.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

There are a couple of things to think about when deciding if this relationship is going to be okay or a healthy relationship for you both.

You first should know and understand the law, but it’s also useful to think about why this law exists. You need to then think about how this relationship is going to work out when you’re both in very different stages of life.

The law that deals with sex with - or between - two young people is part of the Sexual Offences Act. This Act says someone needs to be 16 before they can consent to having sex. The law has a definition of what counts as sex and it generally involves your genitals - so kissing isn't specifically talked about. Just dating isn’t something the law talks about as a sexual offence either, but it could be considered "grooming" if you eventually did break the law and have sex with her before she’s 16. It's complicated and isn't something I can tell you about in a single letter.

There’s quite a big age gap when you’re 17 and she’s 13 - especially if you’re going to turn 18 soon, which makes you an adult. This age gap is not a problem later in life when you’re both adults, but a 13 or 14 year old is a lot less mature than a 17 or 18 year old.

You have a responsibility to make sure you’re not exploiting the fact that she is younger - and you have to be careful you aren't doing this without meaning to. For example, it might be that you start to want to do more adult things – such as drinking alcohol - which she might feel pressured to join in with before she is ready or she may not feel able to speak up when she’s uncomfortable.

It’s going to be very difficult to build a relationship when you’re at such different stages of life. Very soon you'll probably be doing things like going to university or getting a job, while she’ll still be in school. These are very different worlds as you’ll be an adult and she is a long way from that.

There's nothing wrong with being friends but it's important to be realistic if you're thinking about a serious relationship. She has a lot of different experiences to go through still and it's important she enjoys being a teenager whilst she can.

A good way to move forwards would be to talk to both yours and her parents/carers and see what they think about it. If you feel like you need to keep this relationship a secret from them then this is probably a sign you know that it's going to be an unusual and difficult relationship, which could be avoided if you stayed friends.

If you don't feel ready to take that step then try talking to a Childline counsellor – they’ll be there to listen and won't judge you. You can also speak to other young people who may have been in similar situations on the Childline message boards


Thanks for sharing this with me, I hope it's helped.


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