16 years old dating 23-year-old UK – Is it legal?

Many people say age is just a number in honest relationships. But the fact is age can be important sometimes. Like the age gap matters many times. For example, there can be a big gap if someone who is an adult is dating someone in the schooling year. The adult will be a lot older than the other.

As long as there is no sexual relation, 16 years old dating 23-year-old UK is not illegal. It’s generally not called illegal to date a minor. Suppose the relationship is sexual and involves sexual contact; then the age of both people matter. It also depends on the state in which they live, as each state has its own rules and regulations.

Every state has its own:

For minors dating older people can be exciting, and the age difference will not matter a lot, but it can bring different worries and questions.

Is it legal to have a non-sexual relationship with a minor?

Generally, it’s not illegal to have a non-sexual relationship with a minor. However, just because it’s not illegal to date, a minor doesn’t mean everything is permissible in a relationship. There is still some non-sexual conduct that is illegal in that dating relationship.

For example: in many different countries, while dating an underage person, you have to take specific precautions, as you can break the law:

  • Molesting or annoying a child
  • Lewd acts with a minor
  • Child pornography
  • Giving alcohol to a minor
  • Solicitation of a minor
  • Loitering on school grounds
  • Lewdness in the presence of a child

All of the laws mentioned above can be broken without sexual conduct.

Consent age in the UK

According to the sexual offense act 2003, it’s a criminal act to have a sexual activity between two people in which any participant is under 16. Note that there is a significant variation between the laws around the world and the law mentioned above is only applicable in the UK. It applies to all men and women who are straight, gay, or lesbian.

What counts as sexual activity?

This law is geared towards intimate acts like penetration sex, oral sex, or touching. Technically snogging is also counted as a sexual act. Some people also ask if sending sexy messages or naked photos is legal.

Many people usually do it, but you are breaking the law. According to the law, any sexy photo of a participant under 18 is taken as a paedophilic image. So, if either of you is 18, it’s considered illegal even if you are allowed to have a physical relationship at 16.

What does the law say if one is over 16, but the other is under 16?

If you are over 16 years and are charged to have a sexual relationship with a 13 to 15 years old. In such cases, you will likely end up in legal trouble compared to someone under 16. The next step to dealing with the situation comes with age.

  • 16 years old dating 23-year-old UK

The law seriously deals with people who are above 18, 16, and 23 are a significant age gap that can cause a power imbalance in a relationship that can result in an abusive relationship. In some cases, the younger person is forced into a sexual relationship as he is dealing with the older one expectation.

Even if the minor is OK to have a sexual relationship with the older partner, the law will deal with the older person more seriously. In such cases, the more aged the partner is, the more severe punishment he will get.

  • One partner is under 16, and the other is 16 or 17

It’s still illegal to do anything sexual, and one person is minor, but if you are caught, the law will be lenient towards you. Remember not to pressure your partner into something he is not ready to do.

Things to consider in an age gap relationship

Here are the 05 things to consider when you are in a prominent age-gap relationship:

  1. Different expectations, perspectives, and interests

People having a prominent age gap are more likely to have different interests according to their life stage and want other things. They may not understand your perspectives, worries, and interests.

  1. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they have all the powers.

Significant age gaps in a relationship can cause an imbalance in the powers. It means that one person can influence and control the others person’s behavior. You can feel that the other person is always guiding you to do things in a certain way, saying that they know better. You have to understand that it’s the controlling behavior in a relationship that is not OK.

  1. In a relationship, it’s essential that you are heard and that your feelings and thoughts are respected.

Relationships are all about respect, honesty, and communication. Your partner must be listening to what you are saying and respect your opinion. It can also become problematic if friends or family aren’t approving the relationship. Try to hear your partner’s perspective so he can listen to yours.

  1. You might be looking for a mature person, but what do they want from you?

Some people use money, car, and alcohol access as a tool to attract a girl and get what they desire. A relationship should always be equal and balanced, so consider their expectations before getting into a relationship. Think why they are willing to date a person much younger than them.

  1. Would you still be attracted if there is no prominent age gap?

Most people like the idea of dating someone older than the fact that they want them. Sometimes you are attracted to the older person because they are mature, confident, and older than you. Like people, all relationships are different.


  • What if we are together but don’t have a sexual relationship?

If one partner or both of you is underage but are respecting the law by not doing the sexual stuff, then you don’t have to worry. It’s great to enjoy each other’s company and know each other better with time.

  • Will I get arrested if my girlfriend gets pregnant?

Not in all cases, as it depends upon the age. As long as there is no manipulation or abuse, the CPS accuses the underage couple who are similar in age. Besides, pregnancy is proof of a sexual relationship, but they will still look for evidence of abuse or mistreatment that result in pregnancy. In such cases, age difference also matters. The older person can get into serious trouble if they have a significant age difference.

  • I am under 16, but I am happy with the sexual relationship! That’s fine, right?

No, even though you are happy giving consent to a sexual relationship, in the eyes of the law, you are too young to make such a decision. It will not matter if you are OK with it, as under 16 means it will be illegal for the other person to have sex with you.

  • Does this law apply to gay or lesbian couples?

Yes, the law mentioned above applies to everyone; lesbian, gay, straight, and trans. Age and consent matter a lot while having a physical relationship. And it’s illegal to force a minor into something they aren’t ready to do.

  • What about the people in positions of trust, like teachers?

There are different rules for people in a position of trust with the second person. It will be illegal for teachers to have sexual relations with their students when they are under 18, even if they have already passed the age of consent.

Also Read: 5 signs you are dating a toxic guy


R Sehar

R Sehar

I am a licensed therapist and life coach who specializes in relationships. I help strong, empowered women develop healthy, fulfilling relationships with themselves and those around them. My clients often struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression & addiction. I work with them to create a healthier mindset and lifestyle that supports their worthiness for love.

1 Comment
  1. […] Sixteen years old dating a 23-year-old in the UK is not illegal, as 16 is the age of consent. But 16-year-old is still called a minor as they are not mature enough to make such decisions.  […]

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