1. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Age Differences in Relationships

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Duchess-Yukine-Suoh, Jul 21, 2014.

    Would a romantic relationship between a 16-17 year old girl and a 21-22 year old guy be creepy or off-putting to my readers? It's not like "Lolita" or something, it's a normal relationship. Well, , they're hiding from essentially the mafia, but normal relationship-wise. Would this cause me to lose readers?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Not overly.
    I mean, they're basically the same age when you think of a 30yo dating a 35yo and no one bats an eye.
    Yes, she is legally underaged but I can only really imagine her parents caring that she's dating an older guy (Unless he's in school to be a doctor or something, than it makes it okay :p)

    The laws and taboos are very loosey-goosey.
    If no one makes a peep, no one gives a damn.
    But if someone wanted him arrested, they'd just have to tell police he's having sex with an underaged girl and straight to the slammer and marked as a pedophile for life.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    If it's a friendship; an innocent, platonic relationship, it wouldn't bother anyone at all. Shouldn't anyway.

    If it's not, that's much more of a gray area.
     
  4. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    She's an orphan, and her only living relative supports the relationship.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In some states it's illegal if sexual relations are involved. Is there a good reason to have this age difference in your story?
     
  6. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Technically, it's not illegal if they're not having sex and the parents of the younger person approve, in a lot of states. I wanted her to be in high school, but I also wanted him to have a level of experience in the whole mystery surrounding them. I might make her 18 just to avoid complications.
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    You probably could pull it off - with extreme care. Gray area - may create interesting plot tension if done right. Think about the implications rather than ignoring them. I would make her 17 and him 21 just to be safe. 16 and 22 sounds significantly more creepy . Honestly if it were me I would make her 18 - not a huge difference between 17 and 18 mentally, but a huge one legally.

    I would be interested in people's thoughts on age and relationships more broadly. I have a different issue with a romance between a 38 year old woman and a 47-50 year old man that I want to come across as sincere despite the age difference. I think it works with both of them at their current ages, but my storyline has them first starting their on-again-off-again thing years before they finally get together permanently (she would have been 26 and he would have been at least 35 at the time - granted that time would only appear in flashback).

    So what are people's thought's more broadly on when you can have an age difference and when you can't?
     
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  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I wouldn't want my 16/17 year old dating a 21/22 year old, it certainly does happen. There could be uproar from parents if the story was YA (although so many things can cause uproar from parents), but I don't think the general population would be so offended that they would not read it.

    If these are your characters and this is your story, go ahead and write it. Don't worry whether some readers will take offense. You're never going to please everyone.
     
  9. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Really good point on a lot depending on whether or not this is a YA story.

    If this is meant for an adult audience - it could work if it's written with an eye toward the fact that the relationship is a big moral grey area.

    If, however, you are writing for a youth audience, the answer is something to the effect of "OH. HECK. NO!!!!"
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sort of thing happens all the time. Age gaps of 15, even 20 years are not unheard of. 38 and 47 is a heck of a lot different from 15 and 24. The older the people are, the less difference it makes. I think just about anything over age 25 (at the younger end) becomes less of an issue. I have a story with a 15 year age difference.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    But you asked if it would creep people out, not if it was legal, so "technically" isn't relevant. If it's illegal, that suggests more than a few people find it creepy.

    If the two are within 4 years of each other and one happens to be 18 or older, there are exceptions in many states to the statutory rape laws.

    I'd suggest you make her 17 or 18 and make him 21 or 22.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    It's not the age difference so much as the statutory rape issues and the social view of an underage teenager in a relationship with an adult.
     
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  13. GingerCoffee
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    This is the bottom line which is why I asked what the reason for the ages was. If part of the story deals with the issues when an adult is in love with a teenager, then go for it.
     
  14. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's pretty much my take on it too. I think they work fine together at 38 and - say - 49. But seeing as they've had a weird should-we-or-shouldn't-we thing going for a decade or so by the time we meet them, the question is how to paint their early relationship in a way that doesn't make the guy like a lecherous cradle-robber. He's one of my more likeable characters - and I have a feeling the age difference would have been an issue for him early on (which might explain why they didn't get together earlier - later compounded by her descent into alcoholism and his inability to save her).
     
  15. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    ...everything GingerCoffee said. Forget us, just listen to her.
     
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  16. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Alright then! I think I'll make her 17, but she'll turn 18 early on.
     
  17. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good move.
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The age difference comes into play when one or both of the parties is under the age of consent. In the US, the age of consent varies between 16 and 18. So, if this character is 17, in many states, it's not a problem. Given that so many states would give the ok for a 17 year old to engage in sex, even in places where the age of consent is 18, I doubt many people would get up in arms about it.
     
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  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    There was a recent case of the 18 yr old lesbian who had a 14 yr old girlfriend in Florida. The parents of the younger girl pressed charges and the 18 yr old was convicted.

    Florida’s age of consent is 18, or 15 as long as both partners are 18 and under.

    I read a lot about statutory rape laws when I was discussing this case on another forum. In most states a partner 18 or older with a partner 17 or younger is considered statutory rape. In a few states they had that 4 yr age difference consideration (Florida does not) and as you can see from the link, a 15 yr old can be with a 17 yr old, but a 17 yr old can't technically be with an 18 yr old.

    State laws are a mess when it comes to teenage love. ;) And some states are much more conservative than others.
     
  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, the wording in that story makes no sense -- 18 is included in 18 and under. (As opposed to under 18.) In any event, I think the statutory rape issue with respect to this particular thread may be overblown. Teens have sex all the time -- even in states where there aren't exceptions for age gaps, prosecutions are very rare, and somebody has to have an interest in bringing the "crime" to the attention of the authorities to even push for a prosecution. Most typically these things happen when the parents are out for revenge on teen's sexual partner and/or a pregnancy has resulted (being evidence of the sex).

    So, in most instances, unless someone has an axe to grind, the police and prosecutors aren't going to get involved. Of course when they do, that's when the headlines are made -- because it's relatively uncommon that it happens. So, as far as a story goes, I don't think we can say, oh - that would never happen, because he could be arrested for statutory rape. Yes, it could happen, but it's far from a certainty.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    Not sure on the confusion as reported but in the cited case the older girl was 18 at the time but was in the same high school as the 14 yr old who turned 15 before the case went to court. The older girl was convicted after refusing a plea deal that would have required she register as a sex offender for the rest of her life. She was convicted then later the case was mitigated (I forget those details) but one of the conditions was she stay away from the younger girl. And unfortunately she didn't. I don't know the current status of the situation but I do know the ages of the girls involved and the fact the older one was convicted.

    It was a mess. The younger girl's parents were more upset their daughter had had a lesbian encounter and they reacted by using the legal system to resolve their family issues. In my opinion the fact the two girls were both in high school at the time should have made them both juveniles.

    But oh well, people are very judgmental about these matters. And seeing the reactions to both sides of that case tells you it is a very emotional subject for many people.
     
  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it's very creepy. A 22 year old is essentially done with college. A 16 year old is still in high school. The physical and emotional differences between those two age groups are vast. It's not unthinkable, but it is weird. Also, a guy who needs to date a 16 year old girl, when there are plenty of more developed girls his own age, is probably a loser.
     
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  23. Nilfiry
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    The circumstances make all the difference. It is hard to decide without more information, but even if it is not necessarily morally wrong in any way, your audience might not be able to it receive objectively. People are subject to all sorts of bias, so your best bet is to find out how accepting your intended audience feels about such things.

    That is, if you really want your writing to be limited by your audience.
     
  24. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just want to clarify that I'm not saying the Florida story isn't horribly overblown and a real misuse of rape laws. It's outrageous. I'm just saying that I think the whole statutory rape issue isn't necessarily a huge issue with respect to Duchess' story. (Certainly, though, it could be if she were to choose to go in that direction. It's just that she doesn't have to.)
     
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  25. ChickenFreak
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    I think that if the younger character is younger than 18, that will be a tremendous distraction for many readers. Whether it makes sense or not, at least US society seems to feel that age eighteen is a clear bright line that divides childhood from adulthood. What would have people up in arms if it involves a sixteen year old will be, "Oh, well, that's different," if it involves an eighteen year old.
     

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