LoveFAQ is a weekly advice column for geeks, by geeks about love, life and maxing out your romance meter. Got questions for LoveFAQs? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Love FAQ,
About two years ago I met this girl online. We got along great, and we'd play plenty of text-based games together. It got to the point where we started asking about each other in the real world.
Awhile back, she suggested that she come visit me in real life, and I agreed. But a couple days later, she tells me that she's 17! (At this point, I'm 19 years old.) Well, that's no problem really, because she said her birthday was in December, so I'd only have to wait a couple months before actually taking her on a date. But then...
After her birthday, I ask if she'd like to come visit. Again she tells me that she's only 17. Of course, I call her out on that, and she breaks the news that she was actually only 16 before.
So now she says she's 17. I'm 20. Now it's getting weird. But she makes the argument that she was afraid I'd stop talking to her if I found out she was underage -- which is a legitimate concern, as I probably would've. So again, I'm waiting.
I like her. She's a real sweet girl, very smart and she encourages me whenever I feel down about myself. But is what I'm doing a bad thing? Cause honestly, I don't want to be a pedophile. Hell, I am waiting until she's 18. But what if she says that I have to wait another year?
Do I wait for these extra couple months to actually meet her? Or is this a danger zone I'm not seeing?
-- Suckered by Sweet Sixteen
For what it's worth, I do believe that you're not some Humbert Humbert creeper out trolling for little girls. But let's face it: you are rather fixated on one.
Yes, I get that she lied to you about her age, and that when you began your relationship, you thought she was much older. But you know now. And you're continuing it anyway.
She's seventeen. (Maybe younger, who knows? She's lied to you before.) She's a teenager. Even if it'll be legal in a few months (maybe), that is too young. You know it. I know it. We all know it. But the fact that you have to ask if it's a "danger zone you're not seeing" makes me wonder if you actually believe it.
It's easy to gloss over just how young she really is when you're not there in person, listening to her prattle on about math tests and homecoming and how parents just don't understand. You only see what she chooses to share with you.
But that's not really knowing someone. To have a real, meaningful relationship, you have to see what the other person doesn't realize they're putting out there, too -- including what they don't want you to see. The body odor, the high-pitched laugh, the spinach in the teeth, etc.
You don't see any of that. So in your mind, you can fill in the gaps and make her into the perfect girl. She's safe. She can't hurt you. (But the courts can. Don't forget that.)
I'm not saying cut off all communication with her (although it's not a bad idea). Just don't pin all your hopes on a girl whose biggest concern in life is whether she'll get her chemistry homework in on time.
Stop putting your life on hold for her. Get a girl your own age, someone who's real and not just a fantasy you cling to because she's safe.
Because if I could tattoo one thing on every internet user's forehead, it would be this: Online girls who lie about their age are never, ever safe.