Updated on August 22, 2022
Your Teenage Daughter Is Promiscuous And Sleeping With Older Men: What Should You Do?
When Deb's phone rang just before bedtime, she thought it was her mother wanting to know when Deb would pick her up tomorrow for their weekly shopping trip. But it wasn't her mother. It was Beth, her daughter's best friend's mother. As soon as Deb heard Beth's voice, she knew something was wrong. Deb listened in disbelief and horror as she learned that her 16-year-old daughter Erin had a reputation for "sleeping around" with guys attending the local university. "I just thought you ought to know," Beth said. "Sarah is anxious about Erin but didn't want to make her mad by confronting her. So she asked me to call you". After the call ended, Deb walked down the hall, started to knock on Erin's door but stopped. She had never felt so overwhelmed and frightened in her life. It can't be true that my daughter is promiscuous, Deb thought. What should she say to Erin? How can you bring up such an intimate conversation with your teenage daughter without the conversation devolving into a fight? What if Erin were pregnant at the moment?
Defining Teen Promiscuity
Is My Daughter Promiscuous?
The first thing Deb and other mothers should understand is that a teenage girl who sleeps with older men is not necessarily “a promiscuous teen.“
The clinical definition of promiscuity emphasizes the obsessive compulsion for engaging in "sexually casual" relationships with numerous partners.
Additionally, genuinely promiscuous individuals do not care about the other person’s feelings. Nor are they concerned about their health or the health of their partner.
Unfortunately, the word “promiscuous” is now used to negatively describe anyone who has sexual relationships with multiple partners.
However, psychologists assert that “promiscuity” should only be used when referencing someone who engages in compulsive sexual behavior (sex addiction.)
Let’s be clear, being sexually active does not mean your daughter is promiscuous.
Adolescence is a time of physical, emotional, and cognitive upheaval. In addition to developing physical characteristics of young adult women, teen girls contend with the powerful pull of peer pressure.
Experiencing a constant sense of belonging in high school and participating in afterschool activities is an essential aspect of adolescent life.
When a teenager does not feel like they “belong” or can’t find a way to “fit in,” they may become depressed. Develop eating disorders, use drugs and alcohol or adopt self-harming behaviors, including promiscuous behavior.
What if Your Teen Daughter Sleeping With Older Men?
Erin’s search for belonging, self-esteem, and a sense of self-identity may have led her to seek relationships with older men. Some teenage girls view older men as “status symbols” because they are usually living on their own, have jobs, money to spend, and drive flashy cars.
When young people like Erin engage in sexual activity without regard for the consequences, it can often be a way of rebelling against parents who she views as too controlling.
Some teen girls living in dysfunctional families may think an older man will “rescue” them and take them away from a horrible home environment.
The only way Deb will discover why Erin is sleeping with older men is to simply sit down and have one of the most difficult conversations she will ever have with her daughter.
What Parents Should Know About Teen Girls and Older Men
The first question parents want to know the answer to is:
Why would a 23-year-old man want a relationship with a 16-year-old girl?
For many of the same reasons, a teen girl wants to have an older boyfriend.
It’s no secret that many older men feel a twinge of envy when they see a 60-year-old man with a 25-year-old woman. This reaction is no different when it involves college-aged men dating teen girls.
If you are wondering why older men are attracted or want to date a teenager. The answer is simple, it comes down to ego! However, the roots of the attraction are more complicated and explained in evolutionary psychology, female fertility, and men having as many offspring as possible as a sign of virility.
While the dynamics of why a teenage girl sleeps with older men is not entirely explainable in a few paragraphs, understanding such relationships’ consequences is straightforward.
How To Talk To Your Daughter About “Hanging Out” With Older Men
When parents talk to their teen girl about “hanging out” with older men or engaging in risky and dangerous sexual behaviors. Tell her the consequences, be clear and avoid judgement. Please make certain she understands the risks and the harm that can result from her sexual behavior.
Discuss the potential risks:
- You could get pregnant (unless the teen is already taking birth control pills)
- You could get a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like HIV which can be life threatening.
- Condoms are not 100 percent foolproof
- You don’t know how many other young women this man is sleeping with
- Remind her that adults having sex with minors is a felony. However, parents should not threaten to turn in the man. Instead, they should reiterate what could happen if knowledge of their relationship reaches an authority figure such as a teacher, coach, etc.)
Dealing With Your Promiscuous Teenager
In some cases, promiscuous teenagers may have deep psychological problems that require professional treatment.
High-risk, compulsive sexual behaviors and extreme sexual activity are considered by most experts to be signs of sexual addiction. Mental health experts have conducted studies that confirm that when an individual is diagnosed with compulsive sexual behaviors (sexual addiction), most often, there are other long-term underlying conditions like mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorders (ADHD), anxiety, and substance abuse.
Sexual addiction is also associated with risky sexual behavior and practices like unprotected sexual intercourse, engaging in sexting, unsafe cybersex and activity with multiple partners.
Cybersex is defined as sexual arousal using computer technology, especially by wearing virtual reality equipment or exchanging messages with another person via the internet.
If your daughter is promiscuous, involved in a sexual relationship with an older man, or actively participating in high-risk sexual activity, speak to a mental health professional. You are right to be concerned.
Teens that engage in these behaviors have self esteem issues. Victims of sexual abuse, rape, molestation or trauma victims have been known to use sexual encounters as a way to deal with what’s happened to them.
Start by speaking to a therapist and discussing your concerns.
If your child refuses treatment, therapy fails, she rebels or refuses to change her behavior. It may be time to consider a more aggressive or comprehensive treatment program like a therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment program with experience working with adolescents and sexual addiction.
The Reality of Teen Sexual Promiscuity
- Sex at a very young age, especially when a person is still learning about one’s self, skews one’s self-image and also how they view relationships.
- 34% of sexually active high school students don’t bother to use condoms during sexual intercourse.
- 66.4 % of 12th graders are sexually active
- Each year, there are approximately 3 million cases of STDs (sexually transmitted disease) among teens and about 1 million of them get pregnant.
- Sadly, young people between the ages of 15-24 years old died because of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection; which is the 6th leading cause of death among that age bracket.
Call us today to learn about several options available to parents of troubled teens who would benefit from therapeutic residential treatment involving behavioral therapies, life skills counseling, and academic assistance.
Definitions from Oxford Languages
Wéry A, Vogelaere K, Chalet-Bouju G, et al. Characteristics of self-identified sexual addicts in a behavioral addiction outpatient clinic. J Behav Addict. 2016;5(4):623-630. doi:10.1556/2006.5.2016.071