Boyfriend or Predator?

I’m in grade 9 and I am talking to an older guy in grade 12. Everyone says that the age gap is weird and that he is “preying” on me but it really doesn’t feel that way. I think he really cares about me and isn’t using me for my body or anything, my friends still think I should stop talking to him but I don’t really want to…how do I know for sure that he really likes me? 

– So in love?

Hi So in love,

Thank you so much for reaching out. It is understandable that your friends are concerned and that you are feeling conflicted about this situation. I mainly want to advise you to put yourself first.

By putting yourself first, I mainly mean to make your physical and emotional well-being a priority. Although there are exceptions, students in grade 9 and grade 12 are for the most part, in enormously different stages in their lives and development. Grade 9’s are just getting started in high school, learning to settle down into this new phase of their life, while grade 12’s are getting ready to leave for post-secondary opportunities and leave behind this phase of their life. Their priorities, experiences, and what they want out of life and relationships are unavoidably different. Therefore, even if he does care and has true feelings for you right now, it’s hard to find a grade 9 and grade 12 that both want the same out of a relationship, both emotionally and physically. I want to bring to light that these different preferences will often lead to one person getting hurt, more often than not, it is the younger individual that is left feeling disappointed. Getting badly hurt in grade 9, when you have your entire high school experience ahead of you, can start you off in a bad mental state. It isn’t my place to tell you if you should or shouldn’t see him, but I want you to know that this is an age gap that should not be overlooked lightly. 

In addition, by putting yourself first I mean that you should prioritize other aspects of your life, especially in grade 9. As someone who is missing their grade 9 life right now, I know better than anyone how amazing grade 9 can be for you. It’s a time in your life when everything is new and exciting. It is also a time to meet new people and partake in experiences that could change your life. 

Moreover, as the high school learning environment is so different from middle school, focusing on your studies is never a bad idea either. Therefore, I would advise you to take advantage of this time of your life and not miss these experiences for a relationship that will inevitably take up your time and could leave you hurt. More importantly, if the grade 12 you talk about truly does care for you, they will understand if you prioritize yourself first. If it is meant to be, it will happen down the road at a point when both your life stages are similar and when you have embraced your high school experience and youth. 

I want you to remember that beyond what his intentions are or what he feels for you, you should put yourself first and deeply think about what will be best for you right now and in the future. Doing what is best for you might not always be what you want to do at this moment but will always prevail to be the right choice. If you want to talk about this further, Richview has wonderful guidance counsellors and senior students who would be more than happy to help you without any judgement. Feel free to reach out to these people and know that you are never alone in this community. We are all cheering for you! You got this!

With so much love,