While several psychiatrists cautioned against judging relationships like Cox and Catsimatidis' without knowing the specifics and what each partner is bringing to the table psychologically, studies show that there can be long-term emotional repercussions for teen girls who have sex with older men. Ann Meier, a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, studied data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and found that compared to teen girls with a same-aged partner, girls in 7th through 12th grades who had sex with a partner more than one year older had higher levels of subsequent depression and lower levels of self-esteem.
"If they're with a male who has more power and status," because he is older, "this might make it harder for young women to say, 'No I don’t want to have sex,'" Meier said.
C., has looked at contraceptive use amongst teen girls and found that those dating men who are 3 to 4 years older are at higher risk of STD and pregnancy than those having sex with boys their own age.
"Even if the girl would prefer to be using some type of contraceptive, she's less likely to do so if the guy has more power in the relationship," said Jennifer Manlove, a senior research scientist with the organization.
The girls stressed the emotional pluses even more, saying that their older partners were more considerate of their feelings and made them feel special.
They believed their partners would be more faithful than boys their own age because older men were finished "sowing their oats." "They really give adult men far too much credit," Philips said.
The teenagers didn't believe they were being exploited, and no one reported feeling like a victim.
Among the perceived benefits of their relationships were admiration from their peers and their partner's material assets.
"When you start stretching decades and you're talking about young girls, under 19 or so, it's probably problematic," said Dr.I was interested in letting them drive." Prays said she never felt any of the men she dated were manipulating her and added that sex was not the focus.She argued that these relationships are too harshly criticized."Based on 29 years of practice," Lee added, "I don't think you could be that mature at 17. Mani Pavuluri, director of the Pediatric Brain Research and Intervention Center and professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois Chicago, teenage brains are still in the process of developing until age 19 or 20.Before that, teens' "ability to consider and use judgment is still maturing," Pavuluri said, adding that peer pressure can further impact the impulsiveness of teenagers' choices.