What is a reasonable age gap for dating

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METHODS: Data from 1,975 female participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were analyzed using logistic regression to determine whether the age difference between an adolescent female and her romantic partner is a risk factor for sexual intercourse.RESULTS: Adolescent females involved with an older partner have higher odds of having intercourse with that partner than females with partners their own age, after adjustment for demographic covariates.Among females who had had first intercourse between the ages of 13 and 15, having older partners was associated only with truancy.In contrast, among females whose age at first intercourse was 16-18, having older partners was not linked to these negative outcomes.The magnitude of this association is most dramatic among the youngest females—for example, the odds of intercourse among 13-year-old females with a partner six years older are more than six times the odds among 13-year-old females with a same-age partner (odds ratio, 6.4), while 17-year-old females with partners six years older have about twice the odds of intercourse when compared with those who have a same-age partner (2.1).CONCLUSIONS: Young adolescent females with substantially older partners are much more likely than their peers to have sex with their partner, which exposes them to the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Excluded females for whom we could estimate this age tended to be slightly younger than females in the study group (mean age, 14.3 vs. However, the age gaps between excluded females and their partners were no different from those between study group respondents and their partners.

We then calculated the difference between a respondent's age and the age of the partner (as reported by the respondent); a positive value indicated an older male partner, and a negative value a younger partner.

Other covariates that we examined were the respondent's age at the start of the romantic relationship (coded in single years), her race or ethnicity (coded as white, black, Hispanic or other), her religious affiliation (coded as Baptist, Catholic, none or other), her mother's educational level (whether the mother had graduated from college) and whether a "mother figure" lived in her home at the time of the interview.

Having an older partner is associated with early sexual debut.

In a survey of sixth graders, students who reported ever having had a boyfriend or girlfriend at least two years older had more than 30 times the odds of those who had never had a boyfriend or girlfriend of having had sex.

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