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Doug is a wonderful man and we love him." While an age disparity like the 35 years between Hutchison and Stodden is by no means the norm, the recent openness around relationships involving huge age gaps -- especially the ' willingness to feature the Cox and Castimatidis nuptials -- suggests that they may be becoming less stigmatized. How does entering into a relationship with an older man before turning 18 -- or even 20 -- affect the young woman involved?
"It's probably not healthy, or not the most 'normal' relationship."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.Some 16 percent of girls had sex with male partners who were 4-6 years older and 11 percent had partners that were 7 or more years older.According to the NCHS's William Mosher, the average age for first-time sex for women is between 16 and 17.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.There can be physical consequences for young women in these sexual relationships, too.Child Trends, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.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.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.