Alex's Answer

Can 17 year olds date over 18s

Your Question

Can a 17 year old date someone over 18 year legally? 


Hi there, you are very welcome to Ask Alex.  

Thank you for reaching out to us. We understand that it’s not always easy to share how we’re feeling, but we also know how important it is to talk about our worries or concerns.  

You have asked if a 17 year old can legally date a person over the age of 18. The law in Ireland says that a person must be 17 years of age to be able to consent to engaging in a sexual act. ‘Sexual activity’ covers a lot of things, from kissing, touching, touching under clothes and touching genitals, to oral sex, sexting, sexual talk or penetration. The age of consent is the same for all persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and consent can be withdrawn at any time.  

To answer your question- yes, at 17 you can legally date someone over 18 if there is full and free consent from both of you. However, it is a crime in Ireland for a person to engage in a sexual act with someone under 18 years old if they are or have previously been in a position of authority over them. This could be someone such as a stepparent, teacher, sports coach etc. Even if the young person is 17, it is still illegal in this case.   

Here is an article on dating and relationships which you may find useful: . It can also be helpful to chat to someone in your life who you trust and feel comfortable talking to about dating, relationship and consent. This could be a family member, friend, teacher, or coach. This is a really good website which gives factual information on relationships, consent and much more

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you are very welcome to chat with the Childline Team by phone on 1800 66 66 66 or through Live Chat on Childline services are free and confidential, and are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.   

Thank you for reaching out to us.  

Take care of yourself,    


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