Problems with older men dating younger women

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.

For her, they were positive experiences -- she even saw the potential for marriage with some of the men.

For many women, though, these relationships look very different in hindsight.

A few weeks later, ' June 16th Vows column featured the wedding of Christopher Cox, 32, the grandson of Richard Nixon and former campaign aid to John Mc Cain, to Andrea Catsimatidis, whom he met when she was a senior at an Upper East Side high school. This squeamishness is understandable: Hutchison is nearly old enough to be Stodden's grandfather. Of course, men have paired up with younger women -- often much younger women -- for all of human history. Marriage aside, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, found that a significant number of girls lose their virginity to older partners.

As the age gap increases, Manlove explained, the likelihood of using contraceptives decreases.

Judy Prays, a 24-year-old graduate student living in Atlanta, dated older men from the time she was 16 -- intentionally. "I thought it was so romantic and glamorous and adventurous," she said. I was interested in the other person being in control of everything, being the smarter one, the stronger one.

"They were pretty much disgusted." Philips argued that individual needy girls and exploitative men are not the only factors driving these relationships.

"From music videos, to porn, to Disney, this is all sits within this bigger cultural context of media images and cultural messages that absolutely eroticize and hyper-sexualize teen girls," she said.

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