My 16yr old daughter has been spending quite a bit of time with her 16yr old girlfriend and her family including a cousin of hers and her young children and also her friends 23yr old male cousin. They spend time water skiing, having bbq's and walking their dogs etc. My 16yr old daughter came to me one night quite upset and nervous and told me that she likes this 23yr old and that they have become really close friends. I was thinking that she was just crushing on him and gently explained that this was understandable as they had become quite close. I then asked if he had any feelings for her other than just being friends and she told me that he did but nothing had ever happened between them physically. I was not expecting this and told her that it was definitely not ok for her to be involved with a 23yr old and that it was very inappropriate and I explained to her the reason as to why it was not ok and she told me that she understood that. As far as I know the two of them have not been anywhere together alone. She has always been very honest with me (as far as I know) and I always want her to feel that she can come and confide in me about anything, so I wanted to handle the situation as delicately as possible. I let her know that I was ok with her continuing to be his friend as long as there were always other people and adults there. A couple of weeks later the 23 yr old texted me and asked if he could come and have a talk to me regarding my daughter which I agreed to. When he came to see me, he was very polite (from a good family) and said that he was very nervous about coming and speaking to me. He told me that he liked my daughter more than a friend but that he felt that he needed to speak to me because of the age difference and didn't want me to think that they were sneaking around behind my back. He said that he had been going through a really hard time recently and that she had been there for him and really helped him by being there as a good friend and that he did not mean for it to happen but he had started to have feelings for her, more than just a friend. I told him that I really respected the fact that he had come to speak to me about the situation but that, I in no way approved of them being in a relationship when he is 23yrs old and she is still a child at only 16yrs old. He said that he understood that and would respect my decision. My daughter has not been spending as much time with him or his family recently, but I don't know if I have made the wrong decision by allowing her to continue being friends with him. If I say that she can't see him at all, it will have an affect on her relationships with the rest of his family and her 16yr old friend whom she is also very close to. I also do not want to push her away or have her stop confiding in me. Am I being too trusting in thinking that they will just remain friends.
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