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Teen Dating Issues/I've been pretty much dating a 20 year old for almost a year.


I'm gonna try to make this as short as possible but it's long and confusing. There's this guy I know. I've known him my whole life. We used to live beside eachother but I moved. Not far just 5 minutes away. He's black and my dad doesn't approve of me dating black people. He judges people because of their color. He didn't used to be like this. He has taken him to plenty of places in the past. They're very much a like. Me and him starting texting one day then started to hangout again my grandpa pretty much raised him, he even calls him dad. After hanging out for a bit, we started dating but had to break up due to my uncle. We still talk and he tells me he really wants to be with me but our age difference is what's stopping it. Neither of us have dated other people and we still hangout, secretly. I want to tell my dad but I'm afraid. There is a 4 year age difference between us. I'm 16 and he's 20. My dad wants me to be with someone who has vehicles and a job. This guy does. He would be perfect in my dads eyes except the skin color. How do I tell him about this? Should I tell him? And could he go to jail because of the age difference?

Haley, this is a tough situation you are in.  First, I'll address the age difference.  Depending on where you live, you might have to wait to date this guy until you are older.  There is something called the "age of consent." It can vary depending on the state and even on the city where you live. In most places, it's 16 or 17, but mostly 17.  I would do some research by asking an adult who you know will give you good information (try your local police department or a school counselor).

If you are legally allowed to date this young man, you will next need to address your dad's concerns.  I would create a list of things he says he likes about a person and, in a very mature, businesslike manner, show him how your guy is everything your dad wants.  Then address his dislike of interracial romance.  Show him how this is HIS hangup, not yours.  You could find a guy who is white, super likable, and all the things your dad wants, and he could be abusive.  He could be a con artist.  He could be a liar.  Your dad knows this kids and likes him - at least by the sound of your letter.  It has all the markers of a solid relationship other than a recently developed hangup about him being black.

And you ask, "Should I tell him?"  Absolutely.  Dating anyone behind your family's back or in secret is wrong.  It's wrong that they would put you in that position.  It's wrong that you would treat your love interest as a "dirty little secret" because you know in your heart he deserves to be loved in a very public, honorable way. And it's wrong to your parents, who are raising and supporting you and deserve to be able to trust you.  Instead, you have to show your maturity by standing up for what you believe and want in a respectable way.  Show your dad how wrong he is without blaming or humiliating.  Instead, find a way to make him see how racist his beliefs are and what an awesome dad he would be if he just faced up to his own shortcomings and overlooked them for the sake of his daughter's happiness and the development of her own value system.  Lead him in this one area of immaturity by being the example.  

I wish you the best!!


Teen Dating Issues

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Suzi Zimmerman


I am a teacher and I write books on teen dating, self-esteem, and values. I can answer questions on making healthy choices, self-improvement, liking yourself, relationships and friendships, goal-setting, values, and how to handle making difficult choices.


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