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If you’re under 18, someone 6 years older than you may not be the safest person to have sex with.

Some people are only interested in having sex with people they think they can easily impress, control, or even intimidate. A person who wants to have sex with someone much younger than them — especially someone in their teens — may think they can use their older age to have power over the younger person.

It may also be illegal. The “age of consent” is how old a person legally needs to be to agree to sex with someone — these ages vary state by state. If someone older than the age of consent has sex with someone younger than the age of consent, it’s legally considered rape.

If it’s illegal, you may feel like you need to keep your relationship with this person a secret. If it feels like you can’t talk to your parents or another adult you trust about your relationship or you’re worried you might get the person you’re having sex with in trouble, that’s not fair to you. A relationship that makes you worried,  scared or like you can’t ask for help isn’t a sign of a healthy and safe relationship.

Dating and having sex with someone closer to your own age could mean you have more in common, more equal power, and have similar experiences.  All these things can make it easier to build a healthy relationship — free of secrets, free of someone having too much power or control, and much safer.

Tags: sex, teens, consent, relationships