The phenomenon of older men liking or marrying younger women is nothing new in India.
But this trend is taking a new form in the world of social media, minor girls are receiving grooming messages from older men in their dms. I’ve experienced it myself when men literally 8-10 years older than me are dming me stuff like, “Oh you look so mature for your age.” and then start flirting.
This is an extremely problematic issue yet is not addressed that often, and in the worst-case scenario, it is NORMALISED. People here sometimes don’t see a problem with a college student dating a middle schooler. Yes, a middle schooler. I saw my friends being groomed by older men when we were in 7th grade. Can you imagine being in that situation and thinking it was normal? Well, we thought that it was. And I wonder how many young girls think that it’s normal or even a compliment if an older guy tries to flirt with them. I can tell you by experience first of all it’s not normal secondly it’ll never be a compliment because it’s such a messed-up thing to do.

The old man is using their experience over the young woman to manipulate her into doing things she does not yet have developed the voice to object to.”

– Cyn Bord, Medium

These are some signs of grooming that if you’re a little girl you should watch out for.

1. Love bombing

Love bombing is an attempt to influence a person through demonstrations of attention and affection. [1]
Love bombing can take many forms from giving you extra attention to buying you expensive gifts. Usually, that’s how a predator tries to impress you and tries to create a romantic dynamic around the relationship.
On social media love bombing can look like showering you with flattery, being overly friendly, flirting, etc.
This is something to be extra careful of if you find an older person who loves bombing you or your friends, call this behaviour out.

2. Manipulation

The usage of emotional manipulation is a crucial ingredient in a predator’s book to influence a child.
They can even manipulate you into a relationship you never gave consent to, and being younger than them you are gullible and hence it is easier for them to manipulate you as they have more experience with things.
They also use phrases like, ” Nobody understands me the way you do.” or even “I might die with you.” All these phrases are used by the predators to guilt trip their prey.
They’ll make you feel bad for calling things out and use many more other types of emotional manipulation to trap you into a relationship with them.

3. Take advantage

This one is the obvious one. They either take advantage of your emotional labour or physically. They might push you into doing things you’re not even aware of and that require consent. And if you say something they’ll have only one thing to say, “People who are in relationships do this kind of do these things.”
And being younger than them you might just accept things as they are. Which you shouldn’t. People should ask you if you’re comfortable before venting, taking photos of you and especially before touching you. And if you say no they should accept it the first time only, if they’re pushing you even after you said no and eventually you say yes, just remember that IT IS NOT CONSENT. Because ally just emotionally manipulated you or made you feel guilty so you’ll eventually agree with them.
I think this is one of the major goals of predators, they just want to take advantage of the younger person either emotionally or physically.

4. Control

These predators have major control issues. The fact that they are choosing a partner who is younger than them tells a lot about how they love controlling others. Young girls for them are like clay models whom they can shape in any form they want to. They want to create a perfect partner for them by choosing younger girls as they are still maturing and they eventually control every aspect of their life.
They’ll try to control what you wear or whom you hang out with. They might even take your social media password and literally invade your privacy. They do all of these things out of their need to control.
If you are aware of these predatory behaviours you can make these things stop before it gets to the control phase. Or if you’re a friend of someone who is being groomed by an older person be sure to take action and educate your friend about these behaviours.

If you are someone who is old enough to understand this kind of problematic behaviour then please educate your juniors and explain these things to your peers. Grooming is such a common behaviour in our country that it needs to be addressed and unless we talk about this issue people won’t even get aware.

“If one sees an evil act he should change it with hand, if not possible then his tongue or heart.”

– Hasith 34, 40 Hadith an-Nawawi

Little girls are so naive and easily manipulated, I wonder if that’s what attracts predators to them. They fall for the illusion of love that is created by men with way more experience than them. If you’re a girl reading this and if some older guy is showering you with attention or affection and if you get the romantic vibes from them, just get out there it’s a literal trap. Not to mention how detrimental it is to a little girl’s mental health. I’m in 11th grade right now and just the thought of dating someone younger than me makes me feel like a predator, I don’t know how when I was in middle school our seniors didn’t look at it in that way. How they tried to date girls in middle school and I’m quite sure many high schoolers still do that and think it’s normal.
We need to change that.