Ask Wendy

Can I Trust My New Boyfriend?

June 30, 2017
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trust my new boyfriend?
Hey Wendy,

When I met the guy I’m dating I didn't expect anything would come of it, then BOOM we're falling for each other. We’re both in our late 30’s. He's handsome, intelligent, generous and really into me. I'm on cloud nine. As is standard in dating these days I googled him, and I learned that he's a registered sex offender!

I read that when he was 18 there was sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old. I was nauseous and disgusted. When I confronted him, he explained that when he was 18, he was dating a girl who said she was 17, and it turns out she lied about her age, and her parents turned him in to the authorities.

I've gotten over my disgust and am looking at this as a horrible time in his past. I believe he is the man in front of me and not the man of 20 years ago. But (social implications aside) is this naive of me? I don't want to involve myself with a pedophile. I can't settle my thoughts.

Dear girlfriend,

18 dating 15 is not pedophile territory—that’s a high-school-aged boy dating a high-school-aged girl within a reasonable age range.

Unfortunately, how things are reported on sex offender lists varies from state to state. So, you may or may not be able to get all the facts from public records.

That said: Want to know what I was doing at age 15? I was dating a seventeen-year old guy and an eighteen-year-old guy, and yep, I was lying about my age to the eighteen-year old. Should I have? Maybe not. But it was what it was. I also have a dear friend who, on his eighteenth birthday, got woken up at his parents’ home (where he lived) by cops who came for him because his seventeen-year-old girlfriend’s dad was waiting for that birthday countdown to run out so he could bust him. What I’m saying is that your guy’s explanation doesn’t seem all that far-fetched to me.

Sex offender registries were put in place to protect children, but they sometimes fail children. As a society, I think we have got to get better at this. In the meantime, if you can’t settle your thoughts on this one and look at him as the man he is now, you should let this guy go, for his sake. If it really is as simple as it sounds, he shouldn’t have to pay for it twenty years later.

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