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Auntie SparkNotes: He's 35, I'm 17. Does He Really Like Me?

Auntie SparkNotes: He's 35, I'm 17. Does He Really Like Me?

Hi Auntie:

So here's the deal: I had a relationship with a 35 year old man. I'm 17. He's really sweet and we met at a "company". Both of us really love to talk to each other and we make each other laugh like crazy. He's shy and sweet.

My dad found out about this and he doesn't want me to speak to him ever again. He also talked to the guy — let's call him "X" and said that he must never talk to me again and that he's a really sick man to even consider this relationship.

After this, X came up to me and asked me to call him. I did and he said that he really likes me and that he would end this relationship only if I wanted to.

All I want to know is, how can I tell if he's being sincere?

Really, Sparkler? You're involved with a man twice your age, your family is freaking out, red flags are flying up right and left... and what you want to know is whether or not he's sincere?


And I had almost forgotten the inimitable pleasure of repeatedly applying one's face to one's keyboard.

And look, I'm not saying that a 17 year-old can't make her own choices about how and with whom to be romantically involved. I'm not even saying that it's impossible for a 17-year-old to date a 35-year-old and have it be something other than creepy and inappropriate (although it's pretty unlikely, for reasons we'll get to in a minute). But the girl who's capable of making that choice, and making that relationship work, is a girl who isn't afraid to first examine the situation from all angles, including the really unflattering ones, in order to make a fully-informed decision about what she's getting herself into.

Whereas you seem to be vehemently determined to think as little about what you're doing as humanly possible. And darling, I'm not gonna lie, that worries the hell out of me.

Because to insist that his sincerity is all that matters is to completely ignore things that matter much more—like the fact that most high school students are miles apart in maturity and life experience from most 35-year-olds. And that most 35-year-olds aren't interested in dating teenagers, for precisely that reason. And—and this is the big one—that a mature, decent man would be well aware of both these facts, would fully understand the relationship's eyebrow-raising qualities, and would not be doing things that make it seem even more creepy and illicit and advantage-taking than it already does.

Whereas this guy, who knows that you've been forbidden to keep seeing him and who knows that your family is understandably concerned, is not only not addressing these issues up-front, but asking you to lie to your dad and continue your relationship in secret.

Don't you think it's about time you put aside the question of whether he really likes you, and asked yourself why, under the circumstances, he's pursuing this relationship in a way that invites so much isolation and dishonesty and will cause enormous trouble for you if you get caught sneaking around?

Because I'll give you a hint: at best, this guy's behavior is a mark of stunning immaturity. And at worst, his attempts to bring your relationship underground are manipulative and predatory. And rather than worrying whether his feelings are sincere—which can only be found out through experience anyway—you need to first concern yourself with whether they're appropriate, on the level, and based on the mutual respect and appreciation that real connections are made of.

And on the off chance that they are? Then prove it—by waiting until you're legally your own master, and conducting your relationship honestly and out in the open. Because if there's nothing wrong with your connection, then you shouldn't have to break laws or keep it a secret to make it work.

What do you think: is this guy the biggest creep in creepertown, or what? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, relationships, advice, older men, creepers

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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