A common theme in emotional abuse is the abuser creating distance between the abused person and their friends and family in order to exert control over them. When you can’t tell anyone that a relationship is even happening in the first place, the potential for abusive isolation is built right in from the start. A predator can easily take advantage of your lack of a support system—they know that if they manipulate and/or hurt you, no one can give you a reality check and say, “WAIT, HOLD UP, THE WAY THIS PERSON IS TREATING YOU IS REALLY NOT OK.” Of course, this also applies to physical abuse–it makes it a hell of a lot easier for someone looking to harm you bodily if they know you haven’t told anyone about the fact that their behavior is scaring you. If any of this sounds like something you’re experiencing, please tell someone right away, even if—maybe especially if—you’re afraid to do so.

Eventually, Alan’s insecurities about my social life rose to unmanageable levels. I didn’t even have to mention my family or friends (whom, keep in mind, he had never met) anymore for him to launch into hateful tirades about them. This finally got me to see Alan for what he was: a by-then-29-year-old who needed to control and manipulate a 15-year-old in order to feel validated. Once I did, I was outta there LIKETHAT.


SO MANY OF YOU ARE CURIOUS ABOUT THIS. The questions in your emails tend to go like this: “If I date an older guy, is he going to expect me to go further than a little chaste makin’-out sooner than I might otherwise do that?” Well, it depends on the guy, but typically, the answer is yes. Since most of these dudes have been sexually active for longer than you have, sex isn’t, for them, the momentous occasion it might be for you, especially if you haven’t had it (or much of it, anyway). So they’re less likely to wait a while before moving past the tonsil-hockey stage.

In these AND ALL relationships, it’s crucial to communicate clearly what your boundaries are, and by this I don’t mean wordlessly steering someone’s hand away from where it’s feeling around on your skirt like 23 times in a row while you’re kissing them. Tell the person that you’re with, in words, what you are and are not ready to do, preferably well before any of those activities are on the verge of happening—you don’t want to have to make a split-second decision in the heat of the moment about what is or isn’t off limits.

If your love interest isn’t willing to respect the boundaries that you set on your sexual activity, that’s their problem. Another problem of theirs is that you’re not going to stick around so that they can try to convince you that THIS IS WHAT MATURE PEOPLE DO and that IT’S REALLY NOT A BIG DEAL and that YOU CANNOT TELL A GROWN MAN TO WAIT. You’re going to leave them on the curb alongside the other garbage bags.


OK. Phew. So, that’s all the stuff I wish I had known! I will repeat here that I don’t think that dating older guys is always terrible or that it will irrevocably ruin your life. Even if you have a bad experience like mine with Alan, you will get over it.

And for all the dangers that come with dating older people, there are upsides—obviously, or we wouldn’t need to have had this li’l talk. It’s nice to be around people who are assured of themselves and their interests, a quality that usually increases the longer you’ve been hanging out on planet Earth. And, of course, there’s the whole face-washing thing. Swoon.

Just be sure—and I say this to you no matter what age your love interest happens to be—that you and of course THEY are responsible and respectful in actions and behaviors; that you are equal partners; that you feel like you can get out of it at any time, for any reason, without fear; and that you are happy.

And remember: Lolita is not a love story. OK? All right, get along. As always, be safe and enjoy, ya little minxes. ♦