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14yo In Online Relationship With 20yo

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am a almost 14 year old girl, who recently discovered that she was bisexual. I haven't told my parents yet, but I have given a few friends some hints as to if I am or not. Basically, no one knows except for a few online friends. I recently met a girl online, who is 20 years old, but I can tell that she is not a molester of child abuser because I have seen photos of her and have talked to her on a webcam and on the phone. We live two states apart, and it's hard to keep our relationship a secret because I haven't told her my real age. I told her that I am a 18 year old freshman at college and that I have my own place and work two jobs. I don't know if I should tell her my real age, but I have said to her before that when I get out of "college" in 5 years that we can meet up, then I will be 18 and will be able to go to her place. I'm only just ending middle school and all my friends know is that I have a "boyfriend" who lives in another state and that I probably won't see him until I get out of high school. All of my friends and most of my family would not care if I dated or married a girl, because they love me for who I am, but I am not sure that if my girlfriend finds out my true age, she will not love me anymore. We have been dating for a few months and she is the only person who understands what I am going through, and I'm her 1st relationship and I know what SHES going through. If I were to tell her my real age, when I finally meet her, she would probably get mad and dump me, because I lied to her and I'm the only person who she can trust because none of her family loves her and she is basically a disgrace to her friends as well and I don't want to be another person who she hates in her life. This is a hard long distance relationship and I know how some of these kinds of relationships go down, so I need advice. IF I were to do the following, would it work? : Lie about my age for the rest of my life, don't let my family or friends meet her until I am sure she is the one,
Signed: 14yo In Online Relationship With 20yo

Dear 14yo In Online Relationship With 20yo,


If you really do care about this woman, FX thinks that it is very important for you to come clean about your age. Your relationship right now is partially based on false information about some pretty significant things about yourself. It leaves FX with some concerns about the foundation of this relationship, as well as some serious worries about what this misinformation could mean to your girlfriend. For one thing, someone she cares about is lying to her – that’s not a good feeling. Second, your dishonesty about your age puts her in a sticky situation in terms of being an adult who is dating a minor (it doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law that she doesn’t know). If you don’t tell this person the truth, you are really not thinking about her – and if she is as special as you make her out to be it sounds like she deserves the truth. It is very possible that this woman will not want to continue a romantic relationship with you once she learns that you are 6 years younger than she is – however, FX would view this as a good thing on her part as we do not view romantic relationships between a 14 and 20 year old as healthy for a variety of reasons.

In coming clean to this woman, FX suggests you let her know that you are sorry about lying to her, that you did not want to be at all hurtful to her, and that you realize how difficult this news will be to her given the lack of trustworthy people in her life right now. FX cannot know how she will feel and react – but we do know that by continuing as you are you are just another person in her life she cannot trust since you are lying to her about some very important facts of who you are.

In addition to our concerns about this woman and your relationship with her, FX is also concerned about what you are going through that you are choosing not be truthful with people you meet online about who you are. From what you said, it sounds like you are not feeling really understood and maybe even truly cared for by anyone in your life right now. But setting up romantic relationships with people 6 years older than you is not the healthiest of answers. If you are feeling alone, FX thinks that it is very important for you to reach out to trusted adults who can provide you with some support and guidance – such as a parent, a school counselor, or a private therapist – someone who can help you to deal with whatever issues are going on for you right now and who can help you to deal with any interpersonal issues you may find yourself dealing with so you are not feeling compelled to find online relationships with people so much older than you.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX