Chances are, you have or someone you know has "dated" an older man at some point as a teenager. If you have, you may have felt special and mature to be in an "adult" relationship — especially since society teaches girls that male attention is desirable and reflective of their worth.
More than 300 women opened up to us, revealing how common and insidious it is for predatory older men to "date" teenagers — so here are 39 of their stories:
1. "I was 17 when an older man started coming to my work and flirting with me. I assumed he was in his late twenties but realized he was in his early thirties after I had gone on a few dates with him. I was aware that this was messed up, but I was not experienced. Guys at my school thought I was a nerd. Here was a guy who thought I was sexy and beautiful. I liked going on dates with him, but I felt nervous knowing how little control I had in any given situation. I lost my virginity to him, and, while it was technically consensual, looking back, I see how weird it really was."
"Fast-forward to a few weeks later, his wife, who I never knew about, contacted me and told me to leave her husband alone. I was mortified. He tried to mess around with me some more, but him being married seemed like the icing on the this is messed up cake.
Again, guys at my school saw me as the quiet nerd, so if you don't think your quiet, studious daughter could fall prey to something like this, think again." —Anonymous, Pennsylvania
2. "When I was 15, I had a huge crush on a staff member at my Christian summer camp. He was seven years older than me and had just graduated college. When I was 17, he convinced me to attend this college so we could finally be together — but also told me not to talk about him because others wouldn't understand. When I started college, he was still on staff and would avoid me in person. My sophomore year, when I was 20 and he 27, he asked me out, but we still had to keep it secret since he was concerned about people asking questions. This continued until the end of my junior year when a professor saw us together a few towns over. I got called to the Dean's office and thought I was in trouble, but they told me that he was fired and asked that I not speak about him to anyone because it would jeopardize my and the school’s reputation."
"We would talk on Instagram when it wasn't summer and I wasn't at camp. He made me feel so special. I didn’t even apply anywhere else for college. At college, he said there was an unspoken rule that staff don’t date freshmen. I believed him and waited on him.
I would do anything just to be with him, so I did what he said and never told my friends or anyone else that I was meeting him. I was 21 and he was 28 when the professor spotted us. At that point, he was promising we’d get married when I was done with school. I was broken-hearted. I’d spent so many years waiting on this guy and doing everything he said — missing out on normal experiences for someone my age all for me to have to act like it never happened.
That was almost 10 years ago, and it has affected my dating life in major ways. It’s a big reason why I completely reject the church now." —emileem3
3. "When I was in high school, senior boys hit on freshman girls and kept in touch with us after they graduated — so they'd be in their early twenties flirting with high school girls over AIM. I remember thinking I was 'so cool' because two of the cutest former seniors regularly talked to me and had taken me on dates. When one of them took me to a concert, my cousin — who was the same age as them — saw me and was like, 'Why are you with him here?! He is too old for you!' At the time, I thought he was being overprotective."
"Looking back now, that is SO creepy. My cousin had every right to be worried. Why could they not take college-aged girls on dates?
Moreover, a lot of the boys in my class did the same to freshman girls when we were seniors. It seems like they learned from the men before them. So sad." —Anonymous, Massachusetts
4. "I was 18, a freshman in college, and he was 36. I thought I was so cool for having an older boyfriend. What I realize now, at 34, is that I wasn’t cool; he was just creepy. He would introduce me to his friends as his 18-year-old girlfriend. Every time, he would mention my age."
"Neither he nor any of his friends had anything in common with me. I felt so insecure because they were actual adults, and I wasn’t even old enough to go to a bar." —lindsayb4bf85de3d
5. "I was 15 and fond of my high school teacher who was 45 at the time. I told him I really liked the way he taught his class. Then, he called me to a private place, hugged me, and, in my ear, told me that he'd had dirty dreams about me. It made me feel special. Long story short, I ended up going to his place to have oral sex. I found out later that he had done this same thing with other girls from school. It took me 15 years to understand that he was a predator."
"We saw each other for six months, and I eventually learned that he was married and had a kid my age." —marthamtzmedina
6. "When I was 15, the 28-year-old uncle of my nephew (on his father's side) was sweet and cordial with me. One day, I was asked to help him carry bags downstairs, where he kissed me. I was shocked and had no idea he liked me, but I thought that I must be really attractive to grab the attention of an older man. From then on, he would pick me up from school, take me to his place, and try his best to initiate sex. Our conversations were awkward as we had nothing in common, but I kept telling myself 'opposites attract.' I told him I was a virgin and scared because it was intimidating to be with someone older and experienced. He kept trying until one day, I yelled, 'No, stop, I don't want to,' as he was pulling down my pants, while I held on to the buckle to keep him from taking them off. He immediately got upset and said, 'Who else are you going to lose your virginity to? Someone your age that doesn't know what they are doing?'"
"Immediately, I felt uncomfortable and saw that this 28-year-old man was just acting on a sick fantasy to be with someone young and a virgin, and that was all that mattered to him.
His pressuring me to have relations felt like rape. I kept going back and forth in my mind over whether I should have, or whether I did the right thing by cutting all contact — which was quite hard since he was my nephew's uncle.
I have a daughter now, and I want to teach her that this is not OK, nor is it a sort of badge of womanhood to grab the attention of a man in your teenage years." —Anonymous, Massachusetts
7. "Fifteen years ago, I was legally an adult but still a teen. I dated my recently divorced boss who was 24 years older than me. I was looking for a casual, good time, and we both like to travel, so it was fun. It went over my head that he was too old for me because, in most ways, he was closer to my maturity level than others his age. After a couple of months, I realized he had a pretty significant drinking problem and tried to get out, but, shocker, my job became threatened. He became extremely emotionally and psychologically abusive, then sexually abusive. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist and dropping out of school because of my mental state. To get away from him, I took an international internship, which my work approved. However, he disclosed our relationship out of spite, and I was fired. He received no consequences and dated another employee who was younger than me."
"There were no policies around dating at my work. Ultimately, I ended up staying overseas for nearly a decade. He still drunk-dials me once a year and leaves a voicemail about how delightful he found the times he sexually assaulted me. (He's blocked, and, yes, I've changed numbers, but that piece of s#$% is crafty.)
At the time, the age difference didn't seem like a big deal. But now that I'm older, I look back and think, 'What kind of degenerate, emotionally stunted creep...?!' Even if it's legal, it is NOT OK!" —Anonymous, California
8. "I started dating a 26-year-old man who had previously dated two of my high school friends when I had just started my senior year of high school. I was 17, which we both knew was the age of consent in Missouri. We got married when I was 21. Now I’m in my thirties, in the middle of a horrible, high-conflict divorce — after having children with him and realizing he emotionally and sexually abused me for half my life. When we began dating and started having sex, my body would be covered in bruises and bite marks from rough sex that I didn’t understand I wasn’t consenting to. I came from a bad home life and didn’t know I deserved care and respect from a partner. Our relationship was built on a huge power imbalance, and I have always been scared of him."
"He was controlling and dictated when I could be out of the house, how much money I had access to, and who he approved of me spending time with. He never hit me, but he preyed on my insecurities and shame to control me.
It’s taken years of therapy and working on myself to understand that I was abused, but I’ve gotten help and support and am finally beginning to heal. I really wish my parents had intervened and stopped me from being with him. I moved in with him before I graduated from high school, and I feel like I wasted all my youth in this miserable marriage." —Anonymous, Missouri
9. "When I was 16, I met someone who said he was in his early twenties. At the time, I lived with a mom going through substance abuse. It was easy to do as I pleased. He would only take me out at night and where no one would see us. Hotels, his sister's house when she was gone, his truck in a park — and it was always only sex. Never a movie or going out to eat or anything. After a few months, he told me he was in love with me and confessed that he was almost 30. I look back now as a woman in my thirties, and I'm disgusted that he knowingly took advantage of a teenage girl in a bad home situation."
"He also confessed that he was actually married and had an elementary school-aged son." —Anonymous, Texas
10. "I was 17 years old dating a 22-year-old guy. I thought I was so cool for having an older boyfriend in college, and I ignored multiple red flags. He would talk about his ex nonstop and had an anime/hentai obsession — to the point where he would constantly compare my body to fictional characters. We were having sex one time, and as soon as he finished, he turned to me and told me, 'You know, my friends think you could stand to lose 20 pounds.' I’m 30 now, married with a baby, and my stomach literally TURNED when he popped up in my DMs asking how I’ve been."
"We never went anywhere. It was purely a physical relationship, or we'd hang with some of his friends in their basements.
I broke up with him after about three months, and his mom reached out to me multiple times, offering to take me out to lunch to talk about getting back together with her son." —cheezesamwich
11. "When I was 17, I met a man who was 30. He quickly gained my trust and pushed himself into my life as the one I should turn to for everything and the only one who really understood me. Whilst we were 'friends,' he would list the reasons why anyone my own age was too immature for me to date and how they couldn't give me the freedom and responsibility I apparently needed. To his friends, I was some joke prize. They'd clap him on the back for having a really young girlfriend. He soon got me pregnant and stuck in a toxic and abusive relationship. He then played on my age as to why I didn't understand what real relationships were like. He made me think I couldn't leave him because if I did, it proved that I was the child he thought I was who couldn't handle an adult relationship."
"He cut me off from family and friends. Again, he'd use their immaturity as a reason to get rid of them — despite him being just as, if not more, immature. He would apologize after being abusive, prey on my emotions, and pretend to cry only to carry on the abuse as soon as the dust had settled.
I finally got out, but it took me until my twenties — when he was nearing 40 — to realize how much of a hold he had over me, how he had groomed me for this when I was too young to understand what I was getting into, and how bad this was." —Anonymous, United Kingdom
12. "I grew up in the world of theatre, and as a young teenager, I had a crush on an older man who was quite prolific in the local theatre scene. He was always kind to me. The minute I turned 18, he reached out to me on social media. He was nearly 30, and I was fresh out of high school. He was very complimentary and made comments about how he’d watched me for years. At the time, I was so flattered, having never had a man show any attention to me. I didn't realize I’d been groomed. I let him pressure me into all sorts of sexual situations, and he would sext me regularly. It was an unhealthy, imbalanced relationship. When I broke it off to date guys my age, he became aggressive on social media, outwardly bashing me and trying to destroy my reputation. The whole thing really fucked with my head and put me in a place I was never comfortable with. I felt guilt and gaslit for leading him on when I was hardly more than a child."
"Years later, his brother was arrested for pedophilia. This guy was hardly better. He just kept his fantasies to himself, waited until I was legal, and took advantage of me. I’ve been dealing with the fallout ever since." —Anonymous, USA
13. "I met the high school soccer coach of a different school at a graduation party for one of his players. I had just graduated, too, and we dated for that summer before I left for college. His friends never wanted him to bring his 'high school girlfriend' around, especially because his best friend taught at another local high school. I hated them for it at the time."
"Now, I relate much more to his friends. If one of my friends (I’m 27 now) was dating an 18-year-old, I would be very uncomfortable with that friend bringing their partner to parties I’m hosting. Massive red flag." —Anonymous, California
14. "I was around 13 when I first formed a relationship with a man who was 8 years older than me (then 21–22) when we first started communicating. I was the 'little sister' figure of his then-girlfriend, which is how we met. I began chatting with him at her request. She was using me as the middle man between them when they were fighting. We ended up becoming close, and before I knew it, I truly believed I was in love. I would lie to my parents so I could sneak out and see him. He never pressured me to do anything, and he was the kindest and most caring person. The first night we spent together, I was 15. It was New Year's Eve. He intended to get me drunk to have sex, which I didn’t know. I ended up getting too drunk and got sick. He took care of me and made me feel safe, which further influenced my love for him. I’m 32 now, and I just realized that this man was a predator LAST YEAR."
"Over the past 20 years, we never 'dated' officially, although I did have sex with him when I was 25. I’ve ruined many relationships in an attempt to be with him, and I’ve hurt a lot of people because of him. I finally cut ties with him in October 2019.
In a way, I was under his control for most of my young adult life because I was never able to let go of that relationship. The relationships and bonds you make when you’re that young really do stay with you, so it’s important to make sure you are forming bonds with the appropriate people." —Anonymous, New York
15. "I was 16 years old and crushing on my stepmother’s brother. He was in his late twenties or early thirties. He took me to a strip club, got me served, and tried to have sex with me that first night (I was a virgin but so in awe of him). Luckily, Aunt Flo was in town, so I said no. We fooled around, and he held me until we fell asleep. This went on for a few weeks, but, thankfully, I never agreed to sex. The worst part, I realize now, is that the two times my stepmom caught me in his bed in the morning, I was the one in trouble. She said that if it happened a third time, she would tell my dad, and I would be in serious trouble."
"Seriously WTF?!" —Anonymous, Ohio
16. "When I was 16, we met at a party with a bunch of drunk teenagers and him, almost 30. We hooked up the first night — or at least, that's what I was told, as I was close to blackout drunk. The 'relationship' continued for a while. He was possessive, sexually abusive, and tried to control me. He's from a wealthy family, and their sons always got what they wanted."
"Even years later, when I would run into him, he would tell me that no one left him and he would have me again. Creep." —Anonymous, Pennsylvania
17. "I was a junior in high school, and he was my 28-year-old boss at my first job. We got along right away. Little by little, we began texting more intimately and sexting. A close coworker of mine noticed our flirty ways at work and told me to stay away from him and that he’s bad news. I didn’t want to get him in trouble so I denied it. He ended up getting fired for something else work-related. After his firing, I found out he had done this previously to another girl I went to high school with and also worked this job. That’s when I realized that this was his thing; he preyed on high school girls."
"He would know how to gain our trust in a new situation to make us feel comfortable and included. I still find myself thinking back on what a creep this guy was and how wrong this was for someone that much older to prey on their younger staff." —Anonymous, Illinois
18. "I used to serve him coffee when I was 16. He worked at the GameStop down the street. We chatted for a while, and then I turned 17 and was headed into my senior year of high school. I thought I was mature for my age so even though he had graduated college, it just didn’t seem like a big deal to me. He was 23. He pursued a relationship with me, and by 'relationship,' I mean we would sneak around and hook up. I should’ve known it was problematic when I had to 'make up' a college and major to meet his parents. I thought it was funny at the time. Now, a decade later, it makes my skin crawl to think about."
"He never wanted more than sex, and, for some reason, I had enough insight that I wanted 'more,' and we stopped seeing each other." —seraeke
19. "A 40-year-old married cop with kids asked me out every day from when I was 16 until he broke me down four months shy of my 18th birthday. He would sneak me and my best friend into bars to drink with him and his 43-year-old married cop partner. They would follow us home in their police cars when we'd drive home drunk. We'd meet and make out in his car at a park in the dark while he was on duty. I thought I was so grown. I bragged to a coworker about what was going on, and she threatened the cop with telling his wife. He never bothered me again. She also told my mom. I was mad back then, but thank god for her."
"She cared enough about me to help me. I hadn't had sex with him, but I would have if it had gone on any longer because he was coercing and grooming me. He would’ve been the first man I had sex with too.
Sherri, wherever you are now, I thank you very much." —kmlw71
20. "I was 18; he was 33. Originally, he lied and told me he was 30 'because 3 more years made the gap seem bad.' Six months into our relationship, I caught him cheating with a 22-year-old. He had the audacity to blame her and her drinking, and then credit me for 'being more mature.' He was verbally and physically abusive. Despite growing up with a good family, I felt alone and stuck. I was naive enough to believe his lies for another year — until my mother knocked on our apartment door on Christmas Eve and sat in the hallway, refusing to leave without me."
"My mother is a saint for so many reasons, but she saved my life that day." —Anonymous, Pennsylvania
21. "I started 'hanging out' with my (now ex) boyfriend when I was 17 and he was 26. I thought it was so romantic that he waited until midnight of my 18th birthday to kiss me — so fucked up. My dad always refused to meet him, and, looking back, I’m surprised his reaction wasn’t worse!"
"During that relationship he stole my car, pressured me into coming back from my long-anticipated Europe trip early, and stole thousands of dollars from me." —Anonymous, Manitoba, Canada
22. "I had just turned 18 and graduated high school. I was still a virgin, and I met a man in his early thirties. He was blonde and built. He made me feel like he was really into me. After talking and a few dates, he asked me to come back to his place. While he didn’t come right out and say it, the implication was that he wanted to take my virginity. When I told him I wasn’t comfortable with that, he got huffy and told me he never wanted to see me again. When I asked him why, he said, 'Because you’re a tease. That's like dangling a steak in front of a tiger and not letting him eat it.'"
"Needless to say, I was hurt and ended up losing my virginity to some guy in a bar a little less than a year later just to get it over with." —Anonymous, New Jersey
23. "I was 11 when I met him. He was 16 and a friend of my sister. He was a protective, big-brother type. Over time, we developed a friendship in our own right. By the time I was 15 and he 20, it was no longer platonic. We were together for five years. It wasn't until my thirties that, with the help of my therapist, things became clear. He wasn't a big-brother type — he was grooming me. He wasn't my partner; he was a predator. I wasn't his equal; I was his victim and remained so for many years. Statutory rape is rape. It’s time we start acting like it."
"At first, it was a secret, something just for us. We were so intense; we were so complicated. Other people wouldn't understand. He was my world. He made me feel loved and understood and that no one else could love or understand me the way he did. He was the best friend I would ever have, the greatest love I would ever know.
He cheated on me the whole time. How dare I complain since he never promised me a normal relationship? So I stayed." —melmisstornadon
24. "When I was 18, working as a beauty advisor at a drug store, a 44-year-old married man began visiting me every day. He told me that he lived across the street from me and had been watching me. He brought me gifts, food, money, etc. I 100% had daddy issues and accepted his advances — albeit with so much fear and anxiety — but I desperately wanted to fill a void inside myself that made me feel utterly worthless. This man was a predator that played the part of a hero saving me from my difficult upbringing. When I hugged him, I felt like I finally had a father figure, as sick as that is. I dared not tell my mom and lived a year of hell as he used me over and over. When I cried and begged him to let me go, he pinned me to a wall and told me I can cry and scream and call the cops, but he will never let me go."
"He had seven kids, the oldest of which was older than me. He also cheated with other women and told me about it. He continued harassing me until I told my mom everything, and she and my brother confronted him as he followed me around a grocery store calling my name.
After it was over, he still threatened me and tried to sexually harass me for years, visiting and circling my store up to four times a day looking for me. I would die of anxiety every time and hide in the storage rooms. The managers had to blacklist him.
I hated myself for so long for what I did, but now, as a 25-year-old woman, I recognize he was a predatory asshole." —selene3g9
25. "It was never even dating. I was 14, and he was 18. Our families were friends, and they treated it like it was so adorable that I liked him. We would constantly text, and he created this narrative that he was in love with me, was waiting for me, and trusted me more than anyone. But he would mostly ignore me when people were around, and he would be grabby when we were alone. I was attached to him emotionally for years. Looking back, I’m angry that my family didn’t realize how disgusting it was. They should’ve seen how inappropriate it was and given me a safe way to shut it down instead of encouraging it."
"While his 'grabbiness' was never enough to be considered assault, as a 14-year-old, it was enough to constantly skew my perception of things." —marissaa4ce2b3666
26. "My Sunday school teacher, who was in his fifties, was a respected member of the church and a local professor. He taught from history books along with the Bible. I was 15 and thought that was cool; my classmates didn't. Soon, I was the only kid showing up. My parents never questioned it. Eventually, 'class' meant discussing my life. By my junior year, he'd (successfully, unfortunately) encouraged me to apply for college in a major I didn't want because I was 'too smart.' Then, he asked me to tutor his daughter, who was my age. Instead, when I came over, he'd have me take walks with him while she did homework alone. In my senior year, he abruptly divorced his wife and left the church — by which point I'd realized he was a creep."
"A year into college, my brother told me his daughter had dropped a gift off for me. Later, she admitted it was from her dad and wanted an explanation. Ten years on, it still scares me when men are 'too' friendly or helpful.
And to address it: My relationship with my dad is very supportive. My mother invested a lot of time in telling me I was unattractive and not very smart. Besides all this, my family doesn't really believe in sharing emotions or personal issues with other people, so he kind of checked all the boxes at the time. I was never attracted to him; he just (ironically) made me feel hopeful at the time. I promise to everyone here: You weren't stupid, and it may be difficult, but you will learn grace for your teenage self." —mallmoth
27. "When I was 16, I bagged groceries at my neighborhood grocery store. Some dude came in and flirted with me. Eventually, he asked me out, so I told him I was 16. His response was, 'You’re really mature for your age, and 26 isn’t that much older than 16.' My teenage self (along with my then-underdeveloped frontal lobe) completely agreed with that statement. I got into a huge fight with my parents when they (rightfully) refused to let me date him."
"Clearly, they didn’t understand how mature I was, and slamming my bedroom door while blaring 'You Oughta Know' was the way to prove my maturity.
At 34, I frequently remind my parents of this fact and thank them for not letting me date the creep!" —ashleyp459897ecc
28. "When I was 17, I met a guy on MySpace who was 34. We maintained a long-distance relationship for a year. Then, when I was almost 19 — after an assault traumatized me and prompted me to get out of Florida — I moved to North Carolina to live with him. I stayed in a relationship with him there for six years. By the time I was 25, I gained enough maturity and introspection to realize that I was groomed by this person and in an inappropriate relationship. The age gap at my particularly young age meant we were absolutely in too different of places in life to have a relationship that would be fulfilling to both of us. I was too young and naive to see this at first; he was not."
"He wasn’t physically or verbally abusive, he wasn’t unfaithful, we rarely argued, and he did work hard and pay all the bills the entire time we were together. His family also welcomed me, nurtured me, and supported me lovingly while I was there.
I finally told him I wasn’t happy, the split was amicable, and I moved back to Florida with my family within a week." —skirkwood88
29. "When I was 15, I became very depressed. The only person that was really there for me was my 34-year-old teacher. He used to check on me throughout the day and text me until late into the night. At the end of that school year, he and his family moved. We stayed in touch, however, and would see each other every summer. The summer I turned 18, we met to catch up as usual, and he ended up texting me about what a beautiful young woman I'd become and how he'd fallen in love with me. He left his wife and was insistent we be together. We dated for about a year. I still struggle today with how he groomed me as a child and worry I'll never be OK again."
"That summer I turned 18, our catch-up had begun by chatting about how I was going to college near where he lived. He talked about how I might visit him and his family if I had the time.
He eventually went back to his family and had his wife break up with me over text for him. He is disgusting to me today." —flowerpower5335
30. "I was 18 and met a 50-year-old man on FetLife — a social network for BDSM. He manipulated me because he knew I was pretty overweight, poor, insecure, and curious about BDSM. He was into terrible things. I will never forgive myself. I thought I was smarter than this. I grew up extremely skeptical of strangers, particularly older men. This man forced me. He gaslit and manipulated me badly. I felt like I owed him my body and time, and that’s when I realized I needed to get out if I wasn’t able to stand up for myself.
"I felt like as a grown woman, I should be able to say no, and if I couldn’t, then I didn’t have any business in these relationships. I’m trying to forgive myself, but it’s humiliating. I’ve never heard of an age gap that extreme." —sleepingclaire
31. "When I was 19, I worked at my former Catholic grade school. The new gym teacher was super cute, single, and in his thirties. I friended him on Facebook because I had a crush on him. We talked over Messenger for a day, then — in person, with children around — he was just kind of like, 'So when are we going to have sex?' I told him I wasn’t interested in just sex, so he told me in exchange for sex he would take me out on a date. I was able to talk him down to a blowjob in exchange for a date. After work one day, I gave him said blowjob and never heard from him again. I got fired a few weeks later."
"When I confronted him about getting fired, he played dumb and pretended like he had nothing to do with it." —megana4a765863c
32. "When I was 15, my friend and I would go to her then-boyfriend's house so she could see him and have sex. I'd sit on the living room couch and watch TV until they were done. Then, the boyfriend's older brother became interested in me. He didn’t immediately make a move. He groomed me. He would come out, sit next to me, and watch TV. Of course, he loved the show I was watching, so we had a 'connection.' He made me feel seen and wanted, which, as a freshman in high school, was not an everyday feeling. After a month or two, he started wanting me to come over without my friend. That’s when the sexual relationship started."
"He was my first; I fell 'in love.' His longtime girlfriend started calling me about four months in. She would cuss me out and scream at me to leave her man alone, but I couldn’t.
Finally, one night at a party, my best guy friend walked in on us and figured out what had been going. It just ended after that. I honestly didn’t think anything was wrong with the situation until I was in a group therapy session for sexual assault survivors. I still haven’t fully processed everything about it, but it definitely changed me." —ryannelyse12
33. "I was 16; he was 26. I pursued him, relentlessly, but he went along with it. He didn't let things get physical until I was 18 and 'had some more experience' because he didn't want to be responsible for being my first anything. It was supremely messed up for a man 10 years my senior to behave in such a manner. I know I looked much older, and I know I acted like I knew what the world was about, but I was a child. He should have patted me on the head and moved on."
"I only had my mom, who worked all the time, because my father died when I was 9. I look back on it all now at 35 — how many years I wasted pining for him, how he indulged me, and how he encouraged the attention. I felt so special that he was paying attention to me." —sarahg139
34. "When I was 18 and a freshman in college, I had a 'super-hot' professor who was in his mid to late thirties. One day, I went into the classroom after class to look for an earring that had fallen out and said to him, 'Sorry, I lost something.' He responded, 'What? Your virginity?' I was over the moon that he was 'flirting' with me. Needless to say, that 'flirtation' carried on over AIM, where he started saying how I was definitely a virgin and how I couldn’t 'handle his 8-inch c***.' He kept checking to make sure I was 18. I thought this was very 'special' and that he 'liked' me because I was a top student and an actual relationship was forming. Now that I’m the age he was, I see 18-year-olds as kids. It was a sick abuse of authority and a vulnerable young girl’s innocent crush. "
"I was naive about sex still, despite having had boyfriends in the past, and was going through a hard time at home. The 'flirtatious' (but actually extremely sexual) DMs kept up until I casually mentioned how I had mentioned him to my sister. He freaked out and responded, 'You’re my student, and you’re very young. You have parents. Your sister could tell your parents.'
Then he started acting as if he had not spent every day after class flirting with me and like he had never said extremely sexual things to me over AIM. Of course, I thought I had done something very wrong, and it sent me into a spiral of depression.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I realize that my depression at that time was not due to 'rejection' but being sexualized by an authority figure that I had looked up to. I was also a very young-looking 18-year-old. I know that if he did it to me, he likely did it to other girls, and I can only hope that one of them had the strength I lacked to speak up and get him in trouble." —jessicaf22
35. "I was 19 dating someone 19 years my senior. It started online. I thought I was happy. My family was super sketched out but supportive. I started seeing flags two years into our relationship. We'd go on trips, and he'd tell his friends he was fitting the bill, which he was not, as I always went halfsies on everything. He would ALWAYS mention my age to anyone that would listen. Most hurtful of all, he had started putting me down in front of our friends. Things got worse when I was admitted to a prestigious university that he never thought I would get into."
"After four years, I realized I was more mature than he was at 43 and that he was actually very insecure. I was so young and dumb. At that point, I still didn’t break things off. The biggest favor he ever did for me was cheating on me with a former student of his." —carolineb465318e8e
36. "I was 18, and at my graduation, my teacher — who was always really flirty, always complimented me, and made me feel special — finally made his move. I had never been with a man before, so I thought I was hitting the jackpot. We slept together for six months. He sent me on errands: to pick up dry cleaning, pay his bills, etc. I never saw it for what it was. I was so humiliated at therapy when I finally spoke about it. He dumped me the year I turned 36 for a 17-year-old girl whom he married and has two kids with."
"Last I heard, he was pissing off families and parents with the comments he was making to their underage daughters as their teacher. I’m 32 and see him now for what he is — wish I knew back then." —mariyam48a3e9fc0
37. "I was 17, and he was 27. He was a rebound after my appropriately aged first boyfriend and I had broken up. I was so enamored that a 'mature man' was interested in me, but in retrospect, he was only with me because actual women his age knew he was an emotionally manipulate lowlife. He idolized Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead (a real starving- wounded-artist type), and I’d saved up hundreds of dollars at my waitressing job to buy him a real electric guitar. He dumped me repeatedly on and off to keep me hooked, and I was willing to do anything to keep him."
"One day, after two years of that shit, I literally woke up and was like, 'What the fuck am I doing?' I packed up what I had of his and dropped it on his doorstep while he stood there like a blubbering mess.
I haven’t spoken a word to him since. He began grooming a 16-year-old a few months later." —meanbeans
38. "I met him when I was 18, working at a store in the mall. He worked mall security with the city police department and was 33 at the time. When I turned 20, he asked me out. He was my first serious boyfriend. For the first six months of our relationship, he was super nice to me. Then it was like a switch flipped, and he was awful. He was verbally and emotionally abusive. He would make me feel like all our problems were my fault, and I was the reason we fought. If I ever made him mad, he would throw my purse out the car window or my clothes out on the front lawn. I was with him for five years, and he left me when I got pregnant."
"We would constantly have a huge fight, 'break up,' get back together, and it would be great for about two weeks before it would start over — just a horrible toxic cycle.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I realize that he was a classic narcissist. While I don’t want to say he was a 'predator' since I was 18 when we met, he did befriend me and sweet talk me for two years — then as soon as I turned 20, it was like it was OK for him to ask me out because I wasn’t technically a teen anymore.
He has nothing to do with his son, and last I heard, he’s married to someone who is 20 years younger than him. It all turned out for the best because I married a man who is so good to me and my son. My husband will be adopting him next month, and I can put all those bad memories behind me." —gprice41721
39. "I was 16. The guy I was with was 18 or 19. Everything was always, 'Oh, I did this for you, so do this for me.' It had gotten so bad that one of the times I refused to sleep with him, he blew up in my face, going off about how he had to beg his friend to give him a ride to my mom's house, and he had to do his friend's school work, and, 'Oh, how can you do this to me?' He left, and I just cut all ties with him after that."
"I knew him from high school. I was still in high school, but he had graduated and was attending college at that point. Yikes." —mfkattt