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licensedmentalhealthcounselor ♦ February 20, 2013 ♦ 83 Comments Working with teenage girls, there’s a lot of things I worry about because the teenage years are so perplexing, especially with teenage girls who are often searching for a sense of belonging to the point that they are willing to starve themselves, cut themselves out of pain and shame, sleep with boys just to feel wanted, and sadly, even attempt to take their own lives when they feel as if they don’t and will never belong.

This search for belonging, often sends teenage girls into unhealthy relationships that further damage their self-esteem and often expose them to other damaging factors such as unprotected sex, drugs, alcohol and violence.

The thing is, teenager girls often don’t realize just how unequal the relationship with an older man usually is.

Recently a client of mine who is 17, started dating a 23 year old man, and while the age difference isn’t drastic, one has to think, what would a 23 year old man who could date anyone 18 and up, want with a 17 year old high school student? Of course they had a lot of that, often unprotected, but luckily she never got pregnant although she hasn’t gotten tested for any sexually transmitted diseases.

I told her when she initially talked about him pursuing her, his reason was that there aren’t any girls 21 and up that were “cool”, that there just wasn’t something right about a man who should be on the verge of finishing college, dating someone who’s in high school.

If they were good, she was happy, going to class, doing good.

If he was ignoring her, she was depressed, missing class, consumed with anxiety.

During the teenage years, young people are trying to come into their own and often rebel against their parents and other adults, which is why they often chose friends and relationships that their parents disapprove of, including dating older men.I hate when I am working with a teenage girl and she tells me she is dating an older man, usually because I know that this relationship, while to her may be idyllic and dreamy, is more often a disaster waiting to happen on so many levels.

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