Online relationships, especially for teens, come with risks. To be safe when it comes to dating online, it is important to be educated about online safety and it is CRITICAL to talk to your parents about the relationship so they can provide you with whatever support, guidance, advice, and/or protection is needed to keep you safe.
If you need more information on staying safe online, read the questions listed on our website under Relationships: Dating, Family & Friends, Online Relationships. And if you have not yet talked to your parents about this relationship, go over the following with them:
· Let your parents know on what site you met this person, how long you have been in contact, and what kind of contact you have had (i.e., phone, email, etc.)
· Let your parents know what you know about this person: his age, where he lives, who he lives with, where he goes to school, etc.
· Discuss with your parents any concerns about your age difference in terms of whether it is appropriate for this relationship to continue. A 3 year age difference does not sound like much in the scheme of life, but it but it can be a lot during the teenage years. Social, emotional and intellectual differences can certain be much greater between a 14 and 17 year old then between a 44 and 47 year old. And these differences may be even more pronounced once he is in college and you are still in high school.
· If you and your parents decide together that it seems like the relationship is appropriate and safe to continue, have your parents speak on the phone with his parents so they can get a better sense about him and his family.
· Talk about how this visit is going to work in terms of where he is staying and alone time. Given that it sounds like you have never met him face-to-face, FX does think it would be best for him not to stay with you (if he does not have friends or family he could stay with near you, perhaps he could stay with a male friend of yours while he is in town). FX also thinks it would be wise that for this visit the two of spend most of your time with friends of yours and/or with your parents around. Given that this will be your first time meeting him in person, and because of your age and the age difference between the two of you, alone time should be limited/eliminated.
FX is not here to say whether this is right or wrong – we think you need to decide that with the support and guidance of your parents (or another trusted adult if you feel you cannot rely on them to help you with this for whatever reason). FX can only advise the following:
· Be safe and use precautions when it comes to online dating.
· Be open and honest about this relationship with your parents.
· Consider whether the age difference between the two of you makes this relationship an appropriate one or not.
· Consider whether the relationship is getting too serious or moving too fast given your age and that the two of you have never met in person.
· It takes time to get to know somebody and you have never met this guy in person, so being a little smart and cautious about how you proceed with this relationship and any visits that might occur is certainly wise.
· Don’t put yourself in situations with problem potential. For example, limit alone time with him and don’t have him stay at your house if you have any concerns about dealing with issues like sex.