An 18-year-old girl who I'm interested in dating's parents want my info
February 27, 2013 8:29 AM   Subscribe

An 18-year-old girl I met online who I'm interested in dating's parents (who, I should note, are still financially supporting her) want all sorts of my info before they'll let her meet me and I believe they want it regardless if she meets me here or if I meet her there. Her parents want, among other things: My address and addresses and phone numbers of various family members of mine; scans of pieces of my ID; to check if I have a criminal record. Is it wrong of me to want to withhold this info from them?

Maybe I'm being irrational here, but I don't feel it necessary for her parents to invade my privacy like this in order for her to meet me. I'm a private person and definitely don't want her parents to, among other things, talk to my family members to make sure I'm not a serial killer or rapist. Couldn't they just, you know, trust their daughter's judgement? The girl is positive I'm not a serial killer or rapist.

For the time being I'm choosing to withhold my info; this has the girl and her parents pissed. She's telling me that my privacy is more important than meeting her and her parents are all suspicious of me now. I of course expect her parents to eventually gain info about me—I don't plan on witholding my info from them forever and expect them to gain info about me in the manner that people typically gain info about others—but them demanding all sorts of info like this from me when I don't even know jack shit about them just doesn't seem right to me.

The girl and I have been talking to each other online for many months now and things have, for the most part, been fine and dandy. Though I'm not really the type to consider myself to be dating someone before actually meeting them in the flesh, regular cam sessions with her have really allowed me to get to know, like, and trust her; you could say we're already dating. I should add that the girl is the one who showed interest in dating me and meeting me. Before she admitted to liking me, I never had any plans to meet her in the flesh and expected our friendship to be confined to the online realm. I should also add that there's quite a big distance between us—about six hours—and we live in different countries: The girl is an American from the north-eastern USA; I'm a Canadian from south-eastern Canada. Also, in case anyone is interested: I'm more than half a decade older than her and am male.

I asked a friend about this situation of mine and this is what they had to say:

I probably wouldn't give it to them. It's a needless invasion of privacy. Not having a criminal record doesn't somehow magically guarantee you won't rape the shit out of her.

But the biggest issue I have is that she's an adult and her parents don't really have the right to dictate who she can and can't meet. Maybe they're paying for something, I dunno. I just think, you know, if you're gonna be in a relationship, pandering to her controlling parents maybe isn't a great idea...

Then again, if you think it will really pacify them, sharing it can't hurt.

I want to meet her but also don't want to have to give my info out in order to meet her. I believe she can't visit me without her parent's approval because they'd be providing her with at least some—not all (she has money saved up in the bank)—money to visit me.

What should I do? Guide me, MeFites. This girl is great; I don't want to lose her.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (96 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Based on the fact you won't give up that info, I wouldn't let my daughter date you. It isn't like they know people who know you, and they have no way of knowing whether you are a nice guy or a pervert.

If you feel this all invades your privacy, find someone else to date.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:31 AM on February 27, 2013 [41 favorites]

If you want to date her, you have to be okay what she wants. She's an adult and she wants her parents to be involved in her love life. If it's too much of a privacy invasion for you (and it would definitely be a privacy invasion for me personally), you should not date her... or teenagers living at home in general.
posted by theraflu at 8:32 AM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

The girl's not old enough to be in a serious LDR with someone in a foreign country. It has nothing to do with the date on her birth certificate.
posted by drlith at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2013 [28 favorites]

The fart in the elevator here is really your age. You say you're half a decade older. Does that mean exactly 23, or more like... 27? If it does, they're probably trying to wave you off.
posted by Oktober at 8:33 AM on February 27, 2013 [24 favorites]

You don't know who they are, I would not give that information to online strangers. Offer to meet them in person would me my suggestion.
posted by jennstra at 8:34 AM on February 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

Personally, I would run in the other direction. This is not going to be a one-time thing where they check your credentials then back off. They are going to be involved in every aspect of your lives together and will continue to exert control over their daughter.
posted by amro at 8:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [21 favorites]

This is a time for diplomacy and/or moving on. Have you tried to discuss this with her (or them) and tried to meet somewhere in the middle. Like, you give them some ID about you but draw the line at them contacting family members or getting bank information? I think their requests sound unreasonable. At the same time, the internet is full of stories about people meeting online and then turning out to be totally not who they said they were going to be. So I think caution is not that far out of left field. So they've given you some hoops to jump through and instead of trying to negotiate you've just refused. I don't think that's a great way to start a relationship with these particular people. Again, I'd side more with you if forced to choose. However, I don't think this is going to go your way if you stick to your current plan. Dating someone who is this close to their family, both geographically as well as whatever other ways, is going to require compromises from you. It doesn't sound like that is something you want. I would either be prepared to negotiate this issue in good faith and give a little or admit that this isn't actually the right relationship for you.
posted by jessamyn at 8:36 AM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

I think it's a really bad move to try to date someone who does not have agency.
posted by grouse at 8:36 AM on February 27, 2013 [123 favorites]

Other than the scans of the ID part, I personally don't think asking for this information is strange. To the parents you're a random internet stranger, and there are enough horror stories out there about strangers on the internet for them to be concerned. Also, you're more than half a decade older than her, which is a lot different than if you were another random 18 year old kid. I find it strange that you're 23-28 and want to pursue something with an 18 year old you met online, so I can't imagine how the parents must feel.

If you think she's worth it, I would give the parents the information... minus the ID scans. Alternatively, maybe you can talk to the parents and come to some type of arrangement where you meet in public places, with them present, for a period of time until they're more comfortable with you and then they can visit you and meet your friends that way.

But honestly... it's only been a few months, I would say it's not worth it if you aren't comfortable coughing up the information.
posted by Autumn at 8:38 AM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

It sounds to me like you are being groomed for identity theft. "People on the Internet aren't always who they say they are" goes both ways.
posted by kelseyq at 8:40 AM on February 27, 2013 [67 favorites]

Ask them if they're willing to surrender to same id/information up to you. Then ask them how they feel about being asked that. This sounds more like a scam than star-crossed lovers.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

She's 18, you're at least 26 and you live in a different country. Am I right?

They financially support their daughter and they're probably trying to make sure you're actually a person and not a Nigerian prince in need of a bank account in which to deposit a check. I think they're being reasonable. If you were her age and in her town, I'd think they're being unreasonable.

Have they cam-met you? That might ease some of their concerns. Then everyone can make sure that everyone else is nice and real.
posted by mibo at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

I had far more independence than that when I was 18 (I was living away from home), and would have told my parents to take a running jump if they tried to control me like that.

The fact that she has not done so and is implicitly supporting her parents in their attitude suggests that this is not a situation you wish to be involved in. But maybe propose some kind of compromise - you show them ID (in person) but they don't contact your family members, perhaps?
posted by altolinguistic at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2013

She's telling me that my privacy is more important than meeting her

Yes it is. She's exactly right. Its a stone fact that your privacy is more important than meeting her. Drop this one.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2013 [27 favorites]

I think it's irrational of them to ask, but it's even more of a red flag that they feel the right to do so in the first place. It's especially a red flag that's she's going for quite an invasive privacy check too-- it doesn't sound like she's really old enough or mature enough to handle an international long term relationship at all. The age difference is significant, and I think you should think about that in terms of your respective futures. Five years when you're both in your twenties is one thing, five years when one of you can't legally drink in her own country is another.

Seriously, are they going to ring up your siblings and parents and ask for a character reference? What on earth would they do with your license? Is this the first time she's seriously dated any one?
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:42 AM on February 27, 2013

An 18 year old living at home (you have not said if she is still in high school or is in college, which would make a substantial difference) and being financially supported is under the agency of her parents, whether she or you likes it or not. Even if she is legally an adult. And if, at 18, I told my parents I was going to another country to meet a man I met online who is more than half a decade older than me, they would be more than a little concerned about knowing who that man is. Scans of ID seems a bit much, but they are not out of line to ask for something. They don't know who you are or what you want with their teenaged daughter. You and she may know you aren't a terrible person, but they don't until you give them a reason to. If this poses an invasion of privacy issue for you (and I'm not saying it shouldn't), then this probably isn't going to work for you and you should find someone with more agency.
posted by picklesthezombie at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Your friend has it right.

if you're gonna be in a relationship, pandering to her controlling parents maybe isn't a great idea.

I'm assuming that you are an adult. You should be dating other adults. This girl is not an adult. Maybe someday she will be. But right now, you really need to go back to being just friends with her and date someone that is making their own decisions.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 8:43 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Gah, don't date children. Problem solved.

If she can't live life on her own without the constant supervision of her parents, still a child, regardless of age.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [56 favorites]

I don't think you should date this person because I doubt her parents are going to become any less of an influence on her and her relationship with you, even if you gave them everything they are asking for.

Consider that they know what they are asking is unreasonable, and they are hoping you will say no so the relationship will end without them forbidding her.

If you choose to move forward, the best thing to do is start a relationship with her family. Have cam sessions with her parents and start telling them about yourself. And offer to go to her and meet them all at the same time.

Couldn't they just, you know, trust their daughter's judgement?
Well sure, they could. But clearly they don't. There may be reasons for that you don't know about yet, or they may just be those kinds of parents. Either way, arguing with their premise isn't going to get you very far.
posted by juliplease at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

How about waiting until she is out of her parents' home, has developed more independence, and is free to meet you when she wants without needing mom and dad to sign off on it?

I know you think she's great based on your electronic interactions under controlled circumstances, but you really don't know how she conducts herself in person. That's something you can only learn by spending time together, repeatedly, in a variety of situations.

I think the logistics here are not in your favor.
posted by nacho fries at 8:44 AM on February 27, 2013

This all seems weird and like too much hassle, to be honest.

I understand why her parents are cautious, and I also understand why you don't feel like you need to undergo a background check just to meet someone. But as soon as you start doing transborder dating online with someone with an age difference, I guess these are the hurdles that present themselves on either side.
posted by modernnomad at 8:47 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Her parents have a right to demand whatever they want to demand and you have a right to move on if you don't like their requirements. But keep in mind that endearing yourself to a girl's parents can be a faster route to her heart.
posted by Dansaman at 8:49 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should never give scans of your ID to someone you don't know online. Maybe they're just crazy, over-protective parents, or maybe they're elaborate scammers who want to steal your identity. The data elements you describe match what I needed to provide to get an enhanced federal government security clearance. You're right to think that this is nuts. Either way, I don't see much positive for you. If I were you, I'd offer to meet all of them at once, and if they say no then move on. You don't want to be part of this family.
posted by Kurichina at 8:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Honestly this sounds creepy as fuck. You've got a girl barely out of high school living at home who wants to meet a some guy from another country who won't give out any credentials outside of whatever interactions they've had over the internet.

Couldn't they just, you know, trust their daughter's judgement? The girl is positive I'm not a serial killer or rapist.

Fuck No. Teenagers are, and I mean this in the best possible way, idiots. There's no way in hell I'm trusting my daughters judgement when even she has no context outside of what you've spoon fed her.

Even the fact that your hesitant makes me more suspicious of you, if you cared about my daughter half as much as I do you'd be willing to validate your bona fides.

And BTW Gentlemen's rules if half your age plus seven, unless you're under 24 your should be probably finding older women to date anyway.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [60 favorites]

There is really no reason you have to be in this situation. She needs to get out of the house and meet people IRL. You need to stop hanging out with 18 year olds on the internet.

She's telling me that my privacy is more important than meeting her

It is!

Both of you: go outside. Hang out. Meet people. Travel. Socialize with grownups. There's no reason to have to fill out forms in triplicate when you want to meet up with friends. Downgrade your ladyfriend to penpal. That's really what you guys are.
posted by deanc at 8:51 AM on February 27, 2013 [16 favorites]

This is all around not a good situation.

1. People can be very different in person than they are on the Internet. You've developed a fairly longstanding relationship with the Internet-self of someone you've never met, and have cultivated an elaborate mental model of who you think this person is, and because you've never met in person, that can be quite different from who that person really is. You're not interested in her, you're interested in your mental model of her.

2. Identity theft, yeah. I might be willing to go along with giving up scans of my IDs if the father would do the same. But probably not.

3. You are interested in someone who can't/won't make decisions for herself. This will lead to frustration. Never mind the fact that she's at a very different life stage than you are.
posted by adamrice at 8:52 AM on February 27, 2013

Couldn't they just, you know, trust their daughter's judgement?

She's a teenager, she's their teenager living under their roof, and you Some Older Guy From Another Country. They certainly could trust her, but it's not like turning 18 suddenly makes a person immediately mature and immune from making the sort of bad decisions about men that teenage girls are basically guaranteed to. I really can't imagine you can't see how this situation can easily read as a bad decision from her parents' perspective.
posted by griphus at 8:52 AM on February 27, 2013 [21 favorites]

I met a guy I'd had been friends with online for 4 years before I'd met him, just friends with the potential to be more, and we exchanged similar sorts of information before we met for the first time. Scams exist, people have the right to protect themselves.

She is 18 years old, she doesn't really know you from a bar of soap, specially if you have only been talking for a few months, if you want to meet up then that's the rules she's playing by, and good luck to her, if that is what her and her family need to feel safe that is their choice. If you don't want to do that then that is your choice.

Can you offer to cam with her parents, maybe if they "meet' you and you talk to them you can come up with some sort of compromise on what info they want.

Oh that guy I was friends with online, we've known each other for 9 years and celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary in a month.
posted by wwax at 8:53 AM on February 27, 2013

Frankly this sounds like the post you'll be linking to in 6 months for your follow up question "my girlfriends parents are controlling and interfering in our relationship", I'd opt out personally.

BUT that's me and I don't know this girl. If you think she's worth the hassle then I'd look for a compromise.

In my mind Full Name, Phone Number, Alt Phone Number and (verifiable) address are all reasonable things to request from a stranger I am traveling out of the stranger to meet.

Family/friend contact, IDs (unless we're talking some serious redacting) are not.

If you're serious about pursuing this relationship I'd actually suggest you travel to her first. You're the fully-functional independent party in this transaction, so go to her, meet the parents, be charming. If that solves it and they seem normal, great! If they remain overly involved and pushy then write this whole thing off as life experience and go find an adult to date.
posted by dadici at 8:56 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't feel it necessary for her parents to invade my privacy

Well, of course you don't. You already know what they'll find out and know it's not significant.
But they don't share this knowledge.

She's telling me that my privacy is more important than meeting her

As you say, she's an adult, yet you want to dismiss this observation since you don't like it. You want to pretend this is only about her parents. Perhaps she wants to pretend this too.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:58 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

18 is a weird age, in so far as she's an adult but barely and only recently. 18 and still in high school is also a lot different than 18 and just finished her first year of college away from home. If she were 17, which she presumably was just a few months ago, would we even be having this conversation? You say you've been talking to her online for many months now. How many months? *Was* she an adult when you started talking to her online?

I think her parents' demand to run a criminal background check is perhaps a bit overboard, even if only because I'd generally assume that someone who can make it over the US border has a relatively clean record on that account. But I don't think wanting to know more about you and who you are before inviting you to fly thousands of miles to visit (read as: PROBABLY HAVE SEX WITH) their teenage daughter is wildly unreasonable, no. They're going about it in a not very diplomatic way, of course, but in their minds the fact that you're not willing to cooperate means one of two things: either you have something to hide, or you don't care as much about their daughter's safety as they do. Neither case speaks all that well of you.

And if she's angry at you and not at them, then there's really two possibilities: either she's so thoroughly controlled and under their thumbs and has been for so long that she just accepts it as normal, or she agrees that having more information about her internet suitor makes sense but she doesn't want to say that she doesn't 100% trust you.

And frankly, if she doesn't 100% trust you, that'd be smart. I'm sure you're probably a nice guy. Odds are you are. But I don't know that. And neither does she. Nor do her parents.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Interesting to see the diverse answers here. I think bitdamaged and adamrice were especially on target.

My two cents:

The parents' specific requests (aside from your own address and phone number) are unreasonable; complying with their requests is setting yourself up for identity theft. You have no way of being sure of their motives. It's an unreasonable invasion of your privacy

Their concerns about their daughter's safety are valid. Older foreign internet guy dating barely legal girl SCREAMS redflag, regardless of how nice and wonderful you yourself may be. Sure she's technically passed that imaginary line where society deems her an adult, but the parents are obviously still involved and have a right to protect their daughter. The daughter's judgement is, I am sorry, suspect.

If their concern is safety a compromise might be to require that you only meet when they are present, at least the first few times, or at least in a known public place.

That said, I don't want to be judgey but I agree with those who are expressing the feeling that the large age gap here combined with the long distance relationship just gives off a bad vibe. You might be better off cultivating relationships, irl or online, with people who are actual independent adults.

I think the responses you're getting demonstrate that in an objective description of your situation to someone who doesn't know you personally you come across as creepy.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2013 [18 favorites]

Some of the information, yea, fine, they want to know who you are. But, asking for scans on ID? IDENTITY THEFT, yikes! Seriously, run, I would be inclined to think this a scam, especially because the girl is giving you a guilt trip over your privacy!
posted by kellyblah at 9:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

The girl and I have been talking to each other online for many months now

Ouch. This is an associated problem. The two of you haven't met yet, despite being only 6 hours apart. Six hours is NOT a big distance; that's a weekend visit. You should have done this a while back.

With online relationships - believe me, I've been there - the longer it stays online, the more 'artificial' it becomes, usually unintentionally as each person builds up an increasingly inaccurate persona of the other.

There's also the fact that no matter how long or how short an online relationship is, it may not click in real life. And you've just spent a large chunk of time and life you cannot get back, to a relationship that, well, never became a real world relationship. I had an on-off relationship that went on for several years that didn't click at the first RL meeting. But another one did click after two weeks - and we're engaged now.

The identity thing in your case only complicates and warps this further, as there's now some extra doubts on both sides. Whatever you choose to do, the worst option is one which continues the "not yet met in real life" phase significantly.

If it doesn't work out, and you do the online relationship thing again, for the love of Cthulhu, meet within a month if possible.
posted by Wordshore at 9:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some of the information, yea, fine, they want to know who you are. But, asking for scans on ID? IDENTITY THEFT, yikes! Seriously, run, I would be inclined to think this a scam, especially because the girl is giving you a guilt trip over your privacy!

I agree, this sounds like a scam to me.
posted by sweetkid at 9:07 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

1/ My address: fine, reasonable.

2/ Addresses and phone numbers of various family members: not fine, because that's an invasion of other people's privacy.

3/ scans of pieces of my ID: fine, reasonable.

4/ to check if I have a criminal record: fine, reasonable.

Were you a guy dating my teenage daughter, #1 and #3 would be my requirements, and I'd use them to run #4 without discussing it with you. And, for whatever it's worth, as a grown woman using an in-person dating agency, 1 and 3 were also what I had to provide.

"Trust, but verify" is wisdom for the ages.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't write of this relationship due to her age alone, but think of it like this: She is under no legal obligation to get her parent's approval to go see you or have you come visit, yet she still has made it an ultimatum. Doesn't that tell you something about her maturity level relative to yours?
posted by Think_Long at 9:14 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you ried writing the parents and the daughter a well-reasoned email? "I am happy to give you my name and contact info and the names and contact info of < family members who have given you permission >. However, just as you don't trust me right out of the gate, I can't trust you. Providing you with my ID creates an extreme risk for identity theft. Please don't ask me to risk that." See what they say. If they go off their rockers? Probably not worth it.
posted by AmandaA at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2013

18 is not an adult, it's a child. Brain is still growing and all that.

Neither she, nor her parents know you from a bar of soap. They're asking your to prove that you are who you say you are, and not a Dog.

If I were a parent, one thing I'd be worried about is Human Trafficking. This is how pimps do it. They attract girls on the internet, and then isolate them from their families and then they're never heard from again.

Also, why would you be interested in someone who is so much younger and less experienced than you are?

The difference between 18 and 25 is HUGE! A lot bigger than 32 and 25.

She and her parents have a right to know who you are, and no, no one should take your word for it. That would be irresponsible.

I'm kind of wondering why you're not asking for the same in return.

"Lisa, I totally understand why you and your parents would want my bona fides. Let's exhchange."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:19 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

anonymous posted">> I believe she can't visit me without her parent's approval because they'd be providing her with at least some—not all (she has money saved up in the bank)—money to visit me

Can you go visit her, instead? That way you could meet the parents face-to-face and prove that you exist, show them your ID, then take her out for a date. For lunch. Dropping her off at her home at a reasonable hour.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:20 AM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

This girl is great; I don't want to lose her.

Do you know that saying, "There are a lot of fish in the sea"? There really are. I'm not questioning whether this girl is great but there are lots of girls who are great, and they come from all different kinds of circumstances. Some are 18, others are closer to your age. Many live outside your country and/or 6+ hours away, but many others don't.

I honestly don't mean to make light of your emotions by saying that. But it's important that you keep perspective. This is a person you haven't met, someone who, in your own words, you are "interested in dating." Saying "I don't want to lose her" in this circumstance indicates that you lack perspective.

I don't feel it necessary for her parents to invade my privacy

Your question doesn't make clear what's happening. If you have spoken to her parents and they asked for scans of your ID and a background check, then yes, they are seeking to violate your privacy. However, if you have not talked with her parents and you are getting these messages through the girl as an intermediary...then she is seeking to violate your privacy. Which is it?

I have known people who ask their parents' permission and obey curfews past the age of 21. That's fine and I'm not inclined to feel judgmental about it, but when an adult tells me, "I've gotta get home, my mom won't let me stay out late"...for practical purposes, I don't hear the second half of that sentence. If an 18-year-old girl is asking for scans of your ID, then she is asking for scans of your ID. Yes, she may be doing it at her parents' behest, but she is doing it, and the fact that you seem willfully blind to that strikes me as unhealthy wishful thinking.

rape the shit out of her

Don't use that phrase, even quoting your friend.

I should add that the girl is the one who showed interest in dating me and meeting me.

Why did you feel the need to add that? Why are you being coy about your age when your question is anonymous? Those are red flags, to me. You seem defensive about appearing creepy. I hope this comes off as gentle and polite as possible, but I really wonder why that is.
posted by cribcage at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2013 [47 favorites]

One question I have is, do her parents require this level of information from local boys her age that she has dated? If yes - then there are some serious boundary/control issues. If no - then, to me, they're just trying to protect their barely-adult daughter from some older man from another country who has been having webcam sessions with their precious daughter, and now wants her to come some distance to another country.

Identity theft is a concern - I would black out parts of the different ID numbers on the cards (I'm guessing they would want Driver's Licence and possibly Health Card (especially if your province puts your photo on the card). I'd be very hesitant to provide a copy of your SIN card - although even that, if you black out the last 6 digits, all they could tell is the province you got the card in from the first 3 digits, assuming they know how to decode that. No way would I ever give a scan of a credit or debit card, even with everything blocked out.
posted by PGWG at 9:24 AM on February 27, 2013

She is 18 years old, and she still lives with her parents. You are at least 25. If I were her parents I would not have even let this online relationship progress to this point, let alone let her meet you in person, without checking up on you. Hell, I met an online date last week (I am 28), and I made him tell me his full name, address, where we were going to be and a bunch of other stuff that I could pass on to a safety person "just in case".

This age difference is weird, and you have to respect her parents feelings (especially as they still financially support her). She is still a child in their eyes (I am assuming she has never moved out or supported herself financially), and they are trying to protect her. This isn't about you or your privacy; she is their baby. They probably don't want to see her taken advantage of by (in their eyes) a much older man.
posted by fireandthud at 9:29 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

More parents should take this approach; people would be in a better place. The girl is very fortunate to have such parents in her life. What you see as an inconvenience is one of the most fundamental jobs of a parent.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

Dude, my 21 year old son is dating an 18 year old girl and I'm worried that the age difference is too significant. You won't say how old you actually are even to us and that right there is a big giant enormous red flag to me as a parent. Face it, you're too old for her. Go find a woman - not a girl, a woman - your own age and date her.

The other thing that's ringing all my creepy bells is that you want her to come visit you. Why can't you go visit her? Not to be sexist - well, ok, to be sexist - but the default is that it behooves the gentleman in these situations to make the effort and visit the lady, not the other way around. Given the age difference and presumable income difference, that would be even more the case here. The northeast US and southeast Canada aren't all that far away. If you're really into her and you're really within about 5 years of her age than go visit her, meet her parents: man up and take the heat. If these things are not true, then gently disengage and proceed with the last sentence of the first paragraph.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2013 [31 favorites]

Given the time of year and her age, it's a safe bet she's a teenager in high school. I think her parents are being remarkably smart and relatively cool about this... If you can't go along with their requests, you shouldn't be spending time with their child.
posted by cecic at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

This would be a much different question if it were, "The girl I've been chatting with online wants my info before she'll meet me, what should I do?" In that case, I'd say that it's reasonable to want verifiable information that you are who you've said you are, and it's reasonable to want to meet in public, etc.

However, this isn't just a question of trust and privacy between two adults who are deciding whether to date. You are an independent, self-supporting (I assume) adult man. She is a legal, albeit very young, adult who is both financially dependent on her parents and also relates to them as a child. She is in a stage of her life when she thinks it's reasonable for her parents to be involved in her personal life to the extent of giving her permission to date someone or not. And, you know, that may be fine and healthy or it may be overly-sheltered, but that's where she is right now.

Age aside, she is not yet independent enough to have a relationship with an adult.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:36 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think this is probably not worth it, period, but I agree with those who say that a reasonable compromise would be for you to go visit her and her parents.

Have you talked to her parents? Is there a reason you can't?
posted by mskyle at 9:38 AM on February 27, 2013

Are you absolutely certain she is 18? Are you absolutely sure her parents are actually open to the possibility of you two meeting? It seems more likely to me that her parents are having none of you and she is the one actually wanting your personal details so she can "prove" to them that you are not a criminal. Consider the possibility that she is younger than 18. Seriously.

If you are both so into each other, and her parents approval is required, then there shouldn't be any issue with you Skyping with them. If she balks at this idea then she's likely hiding something. If you're not willing to talk with them, then you're really not as into her as you think you are. Have them Skype with you. Hold your ID up in the chat so that they can see it and cover up the license number so they don't have too much of your personal information. If they want to do a background check they should have enough info with your birth date and full name/address to get started.

All that said, it doesn't sound like you two are a good match at this time given the circumstances.
posted by TheCavorter at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Viewed from the opposite perspective (our 18-year-old daughter met some 30-year-old guy in a different country over the internet; he promises not to rape the shit out of her), and taken in the context of all the bad things that can happen over the Internet (stalking, identity theft etc), their concerns and requests are pretty reasonable.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:42 AM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

My gut reaction, informed by past experience, is to say that there's a good chance - not a guarantee, but a chance - that her parents are like this for a reason, and that likely as not (and though everyone wants to believe they're special), you're not the first older guy she's been into online, and possibly it's ended badly before.

Just adding a possible dimenson to it.

Anyway, as far as what you should do:

If you want to go through with meeting her, offer this compromise: Your full name, phone number and home address. Tell them that other peoples' contact info is not yours to give out for something like this, and that you are not comfortable giving out your ID to people you don't know. If that isn't enough for them, I'd call it off.

Actually, I'd be dropping the whole situation at this point anyway. You say you're more than half a decade older, which could be a pretty broad range of ages. She's 18. There's a really strong probability that her life experience is very, very different from your own. She lives six hours away, in a different country, and you've never actually met. You have no idea if dating her is an actual good idea or not, just that you're interested in it, and even at this early stage of the not-really-relationship, she is very much under the thumb of her parents.

It's easy to idealize someone when you only know them from the internet, to think you really have a sense of who they are and what they're like. This is a lot of trouble for such an uncertainty. In your position, I'd walk away and focus my energies on finding someone local.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think it's a really bad move to try to date someone who does not have agency.

This, yes. Aside from all the things you're actually asking, why do you want to date someone who is still a child - if not in age, than in lifestyle? 'Still financially supporting' an 18 year old is not unusual, because many/most 18 year olds are children in their parents household, whether or not they're old enough to vote. The fact that her parents are demanding that info of you means that the girl lets them, because... she behaves like a child. (Adults don't usually ask their parents permission to date, and adults whose parents' object to their dating aren't usually given the kind of access to allow them to actually make the dating decisions, they just express opinions.)

This whole situation sounds not-worth-it. Date someone your own age who can make dating decisions themself.

Or, if you're seriously into her and you've decided you're going to date a high school age person, meet her for a date like a high school kid would - at her parents house. Hand over your drivers license, for them to take down the info, then. Have your date in the dining room/backyard/whatever. She's clearly not ready to go out alone to meet you.
posted by Kololo at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2013

I wish my parents had been more concerned when I was a teen dating a 21 year old. It was particularly bad news for me, and countless other teens who statistically are more likely to be subjected to reproductive coercion, unprotected sex, pressure and coercion in regards to sexual activities and other matters, and to have a disadvantage in terms of expressing their wants and needs as equally valid in the relationship. In general if there is a huge power in balance in a relationship and you DON'T think it's a big deal to be navigated carefully and thoughtfully with respect to various developmental stages people go through, that right there is a problem. It's not "no big deal". Her parents are spot on looking out for her and SHE is spot on looking out for herself. She has no way of knowing how trustworthy you are form how nice you are on the computer, are you kidding me? Anyone who demands "trust" that early in a relationship is suspect in my opinion. Neither of you know whether the other is even a real person yet. I have known people who were involved in scams that seemed very sincere and lasted nearly a YEAR.

Statistics like this: "Teenage girls with older partners are more likely to become pregnant than those with partners closer in age. (Planned Parenthood, 2004) Further, girls who get pregnant are more likely to have the baby rather than get an abortion if their partners are older (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1994). A recent study found that 6.7 percent of women aged 15-17 have partners six or more years older. The pregnancy rate for this group is 3.7 times as high as the rate for those whose partners are no more than two years older (Planned Parenthood, 2004; Darroch et al., 1999)."

should make you respect that her family and herself are looking out for her well being. I think they are OFF BASE in thinking that the determining factor is your address and criminal background check; personally if my daughter had a relationship with me where she sought my advice and listened to it I would recommend she not date you at all. I think you should pass on this. Not only do teenagers have terrible judgement, but often older guys getting a taste of the younger kind who are otherwise well meaning can have terrible judgement too. It's not my teen I don't trust in the teen/older guy relationship. A teen can be a perfectly intelligent person and simply not have the experience to contend with the kind of abuse and manipulation that many people do so well (often without even realizing they are doing it making it even harder to spot!). She has requested your info. I understand your hesitance to give it, I think you should respect both that you don't want to share your info and that she doesn't want to meet you without it.
posted by xarnop at 9:49 AM on February 27, 2013 [24 favorites]

Whatever you do, do not give sensitive information like scans of your ID's to perfect strangers. To ask for that kind of information is extremely obtuse and rude on the part of the parents. You have no reason to trust them anymore than they have to trust you. If that is a deal breaker, then move along.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:53 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe the parents have good intentions here, and maybe it makes sense considering your age and her age, but some of these, to me, namely the police check thing and the family and friend contact, are invasions of privacy.

Then again, I've never internet-dated, and I'm a male, so I'm probably out of the loop and these might be appropriate requests considering the situation. The reality is, there are a lot of predators out there.

Then again #2: You have no idea what the parents are like - what will they do with the information once they have it. They could very well be nice people who are protecting their child, or they could be jerks. The reality is, ID theft is real and people can be controlling jerks.

If you give them the info, you set yourself up for potential damage; if you say "no", you might (rightly or wrongly) confirm their suspicions about you. Asking them to send back similar information might be witty, but might escalate the situation.

It sucks, but I'd drop this relationship - not because she's not worth it, but because of the realities of 21st century living and your situation. Internet predators are real. ID theft is real. She's 18. You're 20-something.
posted by bitteroldman at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2013

As involved parents (and, if they're supporting her financially/she's living at home, they probably are) I wouldn't give two green fucks about your privacy. If she's not independent, you're working with whatever rules they give you.
posted by mean cheez at 10:02 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you do want to meet her, why not suggest coming to her instead of having her visit you, a strange older man from Canada? Suggest that you fly/drive down, you all meet together in a public place for dinner so they can see that you're not a creep, maybe you do some family activities once or twice during your visit so they get to know you, you stay at a hotel for the duration of your visit, and have her home by 10 every night. Sure, it's a lot of time to spend with someone's parents when you first meet them, but if you want to seriously date this girl, then why not get to know her family right away if your intentions are good? If you don't want to seriously date this girl, then don't bother with any of this in the first place.

If coming down to them and meeting her parents is not good enough for the parents, then this relationship will never work. Even if the parents are not trying to steal your identity and would pay for her trip to see you once, you don't know if they would keep paying for their 18 yr old daughter to go have sex with a strange older man in Canada in the future. Until this girl is independent, there is no guarantee of this relationship growing. So you might as well find out right away if her parents are reasonable.
posted by at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

You're being scammed. Walk away.
posted by spilon at 10:10 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Honestly, the fact that you are coy about your age and free with hers makes me think you already have some idea that there's something amiss. Her parents are perhaps asking for a bit much, but given how unforthcoming you are even anonymously, I wonder if they have reason to be cautious. Don't hand over the information, but also move on.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:12 AM on February 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

Good god. Everything screams too much trouble. Fine an adult in Canadá to date.
posted by Blisterlips at 10:12 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah...uh, I'm not trying to impugn your particular motives, here, but grown-ass men who date teenagers via the internet? As a group, well, they've got a reputation for being 50% assholes and 50% straight up criminal bastards.

You're not going to find tons and tons of sympathy from any kind of parent on this. Or honestly from just about anyone. Date someone your own age, dude.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

People really think this is a scam? The parents are being entirely reasonable and I commend them for their concern.

Couldn't they just, you know, trust their daughter's judgement? The girl is positive I'm not a serial killer or rapist.

Are you kidding me? If you're a 26- or 27-year-old who wants to date an 18-year-old American living with her parents that you've only interacted with online, you make every effort to convince them that you are indeed a upstanding young man. If this is too much hassle then you date adults your own age who live near you.

I'm not at all positive that you're not a serial killer or rapist.
posted by leopard at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2013 [20 favorites]

Only because you're posting on AskMefi am I going to assume that this is a genuine question and not actually some meta-attempt at finding ways to deceive her parents into trusting you.

But as bitdamaged said, "even the fact that your hesitant makes me more suspicious of you, if you cared about my daughter half as much as I do you'd be willing to validate your bona fides."

Your question: "Is it wrong of me to want to withhold this info from them?" is the wrong question. It's not right or wrong for you to do anything. It's not right or wrong for her parents to request anything of you.

What bothers me, is that you are on here, asking this irrelevant question. The question is whether or not you want to date this girl. If you want to, then it seems like you're going to have to seek the approval of her parents by giving them some identification, and probably getting to know them.

Is it wrong for you to not want to do that? No. But that question too is irrelevant. It merely shows the extent to which you actually like or want to date this person.
posted by SollosQ at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2013

How about offering to pay for a 3rd party background check, such as using an established PI agency? This way they don't get your critical info.
As for them getting your family member's info, imho that's too invasive. How about finding something to celebrate, and have a party via a google hangout with your family and her's?
posted by Sophont at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2013

I'm more than half a decade older than her and am male.

Oh, gee, I wonder why her parents are wary of you?

If you want to date girls - your word, not mine - who are significantly younger than you, live with their parents, and are not financially independent, then you need to accept the fact that most people see this in a less than favorable light and that you need to go above and beyond to prove that you are trustworthy.

Or you can act like an entitled ass.

Find an adult in Canada, or work with this girl's parents.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:59 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

I am confused about why you're confused. Yeah, OP, you're coming of as fully creepster here.

You are asking a barely legal, still lives at home GIRL to visit a WAY older internet stranger in another country? And you wonder why she and her parents are balking?

An 18 year old living at home girl being "positive I'm not a serial killer or rapist" means nothing, and even if she WASN'T positive, she wouldn't say so. This is what parents are supposed to be FOR, when you're a kid, which she is. They run interference so you can be the nice guy/girl.

If you are that serious about dating her, you will go down to visit her parents, tell them who you are, chat them up, tell them you understand and respect their fears, and generally set them at ease. And for god's sake don't be as weaselly as you are in this post. ("More than half a decade? WTF is that?)

If you're not willing to see their very VERY reasonable point of view, you need to leave this girl alone. And when you break it off, don't make it about "your dickish, over protective parents. They are not over protective. The onus is on you to prove you're not as sleazy as you seem.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:03 AM on February 27, 2013 [23 favorites]

Who cares what her parents think? You're trying to date her, not them, and she's 18.

The real issues are:

-This is probably a scam looking to steal your indentity.
-If this is not a scam, this woman allows her parents to make the decisions in her life.

If you want to purse dating her, well enjoy futility, but do not under and circumstances send her parents this information. Asking for it is insane, and one suggesting you do so is insane.

If you're a 26- or 27-year-old who wants to date an 18-year-old

The age difference really isn't that significant. Everyone freaking out about this is pretty dismissive of this 18 year old because of her gender.
posted by spaltavian at 11:23 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

-If this is not a scam, this woman allows her parents to make the decisions in her life.

Considering this girl lives at home and is financially dependent on her parents - yeah? So, she does? That's pretty normal.

I lived under my parents rules when I was dependent on them. Now I'm not, so I can date whomever I want. Them's the breaks.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:33 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everyone freaking out about this is pretty dismissive of this 18 year old because of her gender.

I'd be freaking out if it was guy-on-guy, too. Woman-on-guy doesn't have the same cultural "Barely Legal!!" creep factor. Call it sexist, or call it culture, or call it statistics, but there it is.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you are that serious about dating her, you will go down to visit her parents, tell them who you are, chat them up, tell them you understand and respect their fears, and generally set them at ease.

I'd be very concerned about any 18-year old I cared about meeting up with a mid-20s (or more?) guy from the internet - especially if she was going to meet him rather than the other way around. For that matter I'd be concerned about an adult meeting a long-distance internet "boyfriend" as well. These things can go well but they can also go very badly - and not just in the sense of rape or murder.

There's a lot we don't know that might further explain her (already justifiable) parents' discomfort: your actual age, the tenor of your conversations with her and whether her parents have access to those, whether she was underage when you began talking.

If you absolutely must do this, then go to her town, have lunch with her and her parents, take their concerns seriously and be patient. They want their daughter to be safe and to date people who will be good to her. You can understand that, right? If you are uncomfortable with some of the info they ask of you, then try to counter-offer something comparable. But. If you've breached certain boundaries you didn't mention here, no amount of courting her parents will help you.

Honestly, you are better off dating someone closer to your own age.
posted by bunderful at 11:36 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

The age difference really isn't that significant. Everyone freaking out about this is pretty dismissive of this 18 year old because of her gender.

Nope. When my gay cousin was around that age I worried about him. If he had discussed a situation like this one with me I would have told him to drop it and meet people his own age, or at least local older guys who were friends of friends and known to be generally ok.
posted by bunderful at 11:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Back when I was first meeting people online, especially at a distance, I willingly exchanged driver's license scans with them, which were shared with a trusted friend. Why? Because it made murdering me a LOT more inconvenient.

This was in my 20s and early 30s.

This is not unreasonable. That you don't consider your and her personal safety important says a lot about how much you care for her, or yourself.

If one of my Safety Buddies told me he was going off to meet some rando alone without getting/giving some kind of proof of identity - like, actually traveling for this rather than meeting at the Starbucks halfway between their local offices - I would tell him off and think less of him.

Even when I was 19-20ish and first meeting people online, when I had the self-preservation instincts of an old shoe, I was smart enough to know that there are some bad, bad people out there and that some security standards would be a pretty cool idea.

You should have brought it up first. That her parents did suggests that they are the only adults in this situation.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:45 AM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

The age difference really isn't that significant. Everyone freaking out about this is pretty dismissive of this 18 year old because of her gender.

What? No. I'm a 36 year old woman dating a 30 year old man and even I sometimes worry that our age gap may cause issues someday. "Over half a decade older" is significant, and even more so when one of them hasn't finished (or even started?) college yet.
posted by misskaz at 11:47 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Everyone freaking out about this is pretty dismissive of this 18 year old because of her gender.

I think everyone (as in, the consensus of AskMe and her parents) is being appropriately wary of this situation because of her age and gender and the fact that girls -- and this is a girl just out of high school we are talking about, not a grown woman with years of experience in adult relationships -- are routinely victimized by older men.
posted by griphus at 11:50 AM on February 27, 2013 [18 favorites]

The fact that you are not stating your age here is even a red flag. What is "more than half a decade older"?

Am I correct in assuming that your idea of meeting her is not meeting for coffee on afternoon, but her traveling to a different country, alone, to meet you. Would you let your child (as this person is still her parent's child, and is most likely, in high school) travel (on at least partially your dime) to another country to meet an older man or woman that you knew absolutely nothing about?

The fact that her parents are even considering letting her travel to another country to meet you shows that they do trust her judgment quite a bit.

Yes, she's legally an adult, but she's living in her parents house, most likely in high school, being supported by her parents, and living by their rules. Nothing about that says that she's capable of having an adult relationship. And hey, up until her birthday she was a minor and legally couldn't make a damn decision for herself.

Also this isn't just about gender. I would be wary about this if it was an 18 year old boy going to meet an older woman or man in another country.
posted by inertia at 11:55 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

You don't disclose your exact age, you keep calling her a "girl" (which is appropriate since she lives with her parents) and at the end you reveal that she has (basically) saved up her allowance and its still not enough money to fully fund a trip to visit you. It seems as if you are a grown man interested in having a sexual relationship with an adolescent on adult terms. I think her parents' concerns are totally reasonable.
posted by artdesk at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2013 [26 favorites]

Just move on. This is never going to work out.

One of these things is true:

1. You are (probably one of several men) being groomed for identity theft in an elaborate scam, or

2. You are creepily courting a high school student in another country and then being clueless enough to wonder why her parents are demanding personal information from you as a threshold requirement for access to their teenage daughter.

None of it is good. Chalk it up to a learning experience and go meet some nice girl your own age in your own town.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:06 PM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

Many people reading your question have said you don't consider this girl's personal safety important. Let's give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not true, but it's worth thinking about why some people—and this girl's parents?—are reading it that way.

No, it isn't necessary to give out scans of your driver's license to ensure safety. First of all, because it just isn't, and second, because that wouldn't actually ensure anything. If you have rudimentary skill with Photoshop, you can scan your license and then anonymize it with false info before sending it to her. If you have twenty dollars and a drinking buddy, you can buy a prepaid phone and let her parents call your "boss" to check you out. And these are not huge leaps, either. They are reasonable things to worry that a person might do, if he were luring a girl across borders for nefarious purposes.

So you're being asked to provide security theater, and at a very real risk to your privacy. (The folks crying "Scam!" aren't necessarily crazy.) But that raises the question: What wouldn't be theater? Because you say the girl is "positive" you're not a serial killer or rapist, but if you understand what the word "positive" means then you know that's not true. So, okay. What could you offer that would provide actual security?

If you find that question difficult to answer...? (I do.) Think about that fact.

Generally speaking, people meeting for the first time off the Internet should keep to a public place. You can't murder her in Starbucks. One of the many details you've been weirdly coy about is exactly what you envision happening when you meet this girl. Is she going to travel 6+ hours for a hangout date at Starbucks? There's a pretty broad range of potential scenarios, and you haven't indicated that you have in mind anything that considers her safety. It sounds like your attitude is just, "Well, I know I'm not going to do bad things to her, and I gave my word so that should be sufficient." That is, by definition, a self-centered attitude, and inconsiderate.

As others have said, it's asking a lot of an 18-year-old girl to travel to another country to meet a man with romantic intentions. It is a culturally loaded scenario, and there are concrete and proven reasons to consider it dangerous or unwise. Acknowledge that. Then acknowledge that other people can't see inside your head and nobody is "positive" of anything. Now, assume that you can't travel to meet her (?) and that you don't want to scan your driver's license. What can you offer?
posted by cribcage at 12:17 PM on February 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

I want to meet her but also don't want to have to give my info out in order to meet her. I believe she can't visit me without her parent's approval because they'd be providing her with at least some—not all (she has money saved up in the bank)—money to visit me.

Oh dear lord. I did not even see this before.

I am well into my 30s and there is no way in hell I would do what she is doing - sacrifice my savings to meet someone who isn't willing to meet me half way. Honestly I would expect a man to meet me in my home town for a first visit. And I'm the type of woman who will happily go dutch.

In her home town, if she is uncomfortable in the first meeting, she can just go home.

But if she comes to your town - sounds like she barely has enough to fly there - if she is uncomfortable, or just wants to have coffee and not take it further ..... what then?
posted by bunderful at 12:28 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

[Make your comments without taunting other answerers please, starting now.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You Also say that this dating thing was all her idea at first. Have you considered that maybe the reason an 18 year old girl would chose to make romantic moves toward a much older Man who lives a great distance away- might just be because she isnt mature or ready enough for a normal IRL relationship? You prob want to take serious account as to why this super great girl is trolling the far reaches of the Internet to get her groove on. Just assume that it isnt juat cause you guys are totally soul mates.

Maybe this nice girl just likes "safe" Internet relationships.
Or say She's a scammer.
Now. Why might this be hinky otherwise? Scammers often try to get their marks to walk themselves into compromising positions. Why? Because embarrassed people take longer to report Being scammed.

So best case senerio, youre a nice guy who just wants a chance at love and the girl isnt truly avalable for a ltr. Worst case, some scammers are trying to abuse your more base or otherwise ignorant tendancies. Seriously, dude. Fine someone your own age.
posted by Blisterlips at 12:55 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mefites above have provided many, many reasons why attempting to date a child (she really is) from the internet long-distance is a spectacularly bad move. Let me give you one more reason. Assuming she's real, the scenario you describe doesn't just send up red flags with Internet strangers like us - alarms go off in border officers' minds when they hear stuff like this.

Are you going to creepily coach her to lie to border officers, which could result in her getting barred from future entry? You didn't think she was going to stay at your home, did you? Are you willing to pay to put her up in a hotel in a nice, safe area so that she doesn't end up telling officers she's staying at the home of an older man she met on the Internet? Even then, "Are you visiting someone?" is a common line of questioning, doubly so for a very young woman travelling alone, triply so if you dont live in a major tourist city. So again, is she to lie to the officers, putting herself at risk? And she needs more than just money for the plane tickets - she needs to be able to prove to the officers that she has enough money for food and accommodation for the entirety of her visit. "My internet boyfiend will pay for me," isn't going to cut it.

You need to make the effort to travel to her, and it's not just because we're old-fashioned fuddyduddies. And if you do, you better make damn sure that she's actually 18. Border officers have the authority to detain you, seize all electronic devices in your possession, compel you to give up passwords, and go through ALL your shit. If they suspect that she's actually underage, you could be in for a world of trouble. And if you just read this and thought, "Whatever I'll just lie to the questions, and wipe my hard drive and phone or leave them at home," then you may want to stop and consider what all the secrecy and sneakiness really says about the viability of this relationship.
posted by keep it under cover at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

The fact that you won't visit her first, and respectfully present yourself to her parents, tells me you should not date this person.

Is it possible you've not been clued in on respectful and gentlemanly manners and behavior? It certainly seems like it.

Young women get on airplanes to foreign countries and disappear all of the time. Usually this does not happened between the US and Canada, but it certainly does happen.

Equally true is that there are TONS of Internet identity theft scams, online grifters, and the like.

You should not meet, you should not date.
posted by jbenben at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

It is bizarre that you think their request is crazy.

Quite frankly, how could you NOT think her parents would want to confirm your identity? They're not "invading your privacy" - they're trying to establish who you are, other than OlderDude456 on Skype.
posted by barnone at 1:52 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

What Jbenben describes happens frequently between the US and Canada, actually. It's not unusual at all. You would be surprised to learn some of the cities that have human-trafficking divisions in their police departments, and how busy those divisions are.
posted by cribcage at 1:54 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just to put it in perspective. I met Husbunny on line, we knew each other for 18 months before we met in real life.

I traveled to NY to meet him. I told everyone I could think of his name, his address, his phone number, where he worked, what we planned to do and how often I would check in.

I rented a car, I stayed in a hotel and we had a series of adorable dates while I was in town. Two weeks later, he flew to Florida to meet everyone.

I had to check in with one friend every two hours, even with a text that said, "I'm still okay."

I was 38 years old.

Personal safety isn't a joke. It's smart, and frankly if you don't think it makes perfect sense, then I'm more worried about your maturity than I am with hers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:59 PM on February 27, 2013 [31 favorites]

This has disaster written all over it, from just about any angle you look at.

If it is not a scam, the only redeeming feature is the role the girl's parents are playing.

You, the OP, are not coming up smelling of roses (I could say more, but I think you get the picture).

Go take a cold shower, have a long hard look at yourself in the mirror, and go out and meet some real people and have some real-life, unmediated social intercourse.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yes, you probably look sleazy to them. On the other hand, if her parents or her can't see that demanding that YOU hand over a ton of personal info without knowing who THEY are isn't also sketchy as hell, you should run super far away. Are her parents unwilling to talk or Skype with you? Why has that not happened? Are they willing to give you this information too, to prove they're not scammers?

I mean, I respect people's "stranger danger" bells here on the daughter's behalf, but I also would be really wary of the parents bullying you into this by saying "it's just looking out for our daughter!" if they're not willing to consider that YOU deservedly should have a good measure of "stranger danger" going on here too.

TLDR: don't give out personal information to Internet strangers, even if it's cloaked in "but our daughter's safety!"
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:34 PM on February 27, 2013

This is so sketchy I feel like my skin is crawling.

So, I dated a fellow with a teenage daughter and when she was 17 she had an online relationship with an older guy. She was a few months from 18 when this all went down, but she was living at home and had lived a rather sheltered life. We sat her down and had a "come to Jesus" conversation about the complications and realities of safety when she mentioned that he wanted to fly her out to California to meet him. Not long afterwards, she broke up with him and started dating a kid her own age in town. We all breathed sighs of relief. The town kid may not have been the greatest, but the devil you know, right? Far preferable to the older man in another state who wants to fly my friend's dependent child out to see him.

Dude, it doesn't matter if you're the sweetest man on earth with only the most innocent of intentions. What you are doing is sketchy. What her parents are doing is trying to ward off the sketch. What you are suggesting about you paying for her to come visit without the knowledge of her parents (who are very much involved in her life as parents-of-a-teenager) is sketchy in the extreme. This is not an international booty call. This is an 18-year-old who is dependent upon her parents. I think her parents are acting admirably by putting you through the wringer. You should back off immediately.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:35 PM on February 27, 2013 [16 favorites]

Mother of an 19 year old here. I would never, ever let my daughter travel to another country to meet someone she met online, who won't give basic information about his identity. And she wouldn't go without my support even though she is legally adult. I would invite the person to visit here in my house. Or to travel here on their own expense and meet my daughter in this town in safe environments (including bars and clubs but only those where she knows the staff). I would expect someone five years older than my daughter to be able to travel here. Otherwise, that alone would make me suspicious.

My daughter often travels alone to other countries, I don't control what she does, so she could easily work around these rules. But she doesn't. It seems like the woman you are interested in has the same attitude. Good for her.
posted by mumimor at 3:28 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

Have her parents actually directly made these requests to you?

At any rate, what I think you should do is find an adult to date. I think this is Bad News Bears all the way around, frankly, and probably not worth it to either party.

you could say we're already dating.

No, actually, I couldn't.
posted by sm1tten at 7:00 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Everyone freaking out about this is pretty dismissive of this 18 year old because of her gender.

This is wrong. I have a 17yo son and if in a few months he started up an online relationship with a woman 7 or 8 years older than he is, I would strongly strongly encourage him to put it on hold for a couple years. Under no circumstances would I help pay to fly him to another country to meet her. (I wouldn't be able to stop him once he's 18, but I wouldn't enable such a bad idea.)

I don't even think it's so much about being "gentlemanly." In the hypothetical situation I just suggested, I would expect the woman to travel to meet him if a meeting were going to happen, because she would be the fully grown up and financially independent adult, and because I would expect her to be sympathetic to our desire to meet her in person. And this hypothetical obviously lacks the unique dangers that are risks if the teenager in the situation is a girl.

Not having a criminal record doesn't somehow magically guarantee you won't rape the shit out of her.

You don't just need a new girlfriend, you need a new guy pal too. This is kind of a shockingly horrible phrase to just toss off like that. Or to say in any context ever.
posted by torticat at 7:08 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

This is a bad situation for both of you.

Honestly, if I were her parents and I had the capability of surveying my 18-year-old daughter's online activity enough to demand this information from you I totally would. You're a random older guy from another country. I don't know you from Adam, but I do know it is quite common for people to misrepresent themselves on the Internet and 18-year-olds are easily manipulated and have the common sense of rocks. Her parents are justifiably concerned. Attaining the age of legal adulthood doesn't actually mean you've developed an adult capacity for thinking. There are huge differences between 18 and 23, much less 18 and older than 23. The cam sessions would worry me even more. I would be concerned she is engaging in behavior that would produce screenshots and pictures that could haunt her years down the line.

As a parent, I would find your hesitancy to provide proof of identity sketchy and in line with my worst fears. I find your hesitancy to provide your exact age in this question sketchy.


Honestly, if I were you and I was asked this request I would run screaming for the hills. I would already be concerned with the age difference, because I was an idiot at 18 and wouldn't trust myself to pursue a mature long-distance relationship. And this parental interference sends up even more red flags. What independent adult wants to date someone who so young they still need to hold onto apron strings? Finally, other posters made a good point, how do you know this information won't be used to steal your identity?


There is so much mistrust and bad juju going on here, drop this relationship and move on. This is a perfectly fair request for her parents to make and it's perfectly fair for you to deny it. The problem is the act of requesting and denial has highlighted the inevitable mistrust that arises in these types of relationships. There is not really a way to overcome it unless they do the stupid thing and turn a blind eye to their daughter's misadventures, or unless you do the stupid thing and pass off a whole bunch of personal information to a pack of strangers.
posted by schroedinger at 7:20 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just tell her you've given it a lot of thought, you've realized that you can certainly understand their concern, but for all you know the whole thing is an identity theft scam, so there's no way you're going to send that info, so stalemate and you're both going to have to move on.

Then, you know, do so.
posted by davejay at 7:35 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I met my husband through the internet (I'm a US citizen, husband is Canadian). But before we were scheduled to meet for the first time, which was to be in the presence of my brother, my brother contacted my then internet friend and got his information (phone number, address, employer). My brother confirmed all the details were correct. I was 33 years old. I didn't find out until months later that my brother had done this (my then boyfriend never brought it up). And while it initially pissed me off I knew where it was coming from - my brother wanted to make sure I wasn't getting into something bad. Women, of all ages and nationalities, meet men in foreign countries and disappear, sometimes forever.

I believe them getting your address and phone number is minimal due diligence by your friend's parents. If it's too much for you, find a different friend.
posted by deborah at 9:41 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have a younger sister with a real horror story involving a guy she met online. I mean the FBI knocking on your door kind of story. If she were still living at home and at that age, I would ask a ton more of you than what this girl's parents are requesting, let me tell you.

You have no idea what kind of trouble this girl might have gotten into in the past. Even if there is no dark history there, parents of an 18-year-old girl have every right to completely refuse considering her meeting up with you. The fact that this is even slightly on the table is amazing.

But regardless of that you're still in your mid-to-late 20's and interested in dating 18-year-old girl. I know you're going to bristle at the idea that she isn't as mature as you think, or as capable of carrying on a long-distance relationship with you, but really. A few months of talking means you know jack shit about her or her capabilities, I'm sad to say.

Go see her and her parents. There is no way in HELL she should be thinking about being the one to visit you first. She is 18, has no real money, and this is super creepy on your part.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

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