Dear Carolyn: Our daughter, 25, has started seeing a man 16 years her senior. Yes, do the math, he’s 41.
I’m 51. Am I crazy to feel this is just not right? The man’s last girlfriend was also in her 20s, and most of his “crowd” is just as young.
My daughter’s answers to this are, “He’s young at heart; he had a rough time and made changes when he reached his 30s; he’s a good man.” My husband and I have serious doubts. I think even if he were much closer in age, those same doubts would be there.
She says she has a hard time understanding where I’m coming from. She doesn’t come over to the house with him. I don’t want to be a hypocrite and say I’m OK with the relationship when I’m not. How do I get past this? – Is Age Really Just a Number?
Whether age is “really just a number” is a legitimate and interesting question, but not the one I’d be asking here. You veer that way yourself: You suspect having doubts “even if he were much closer in age.”
Yes, exactly – because the doubts aren’t about his age per se. His age triggered your “ick” reflex because it’s close to yours, a normal reaction you need to acknowledge then get over because adults are adults and love is love.
The doubts, though, you take seriously because this might not be love. His back story – young girlfriends, young friends, the “young at heart” coffee-expeller – suggests he’s seeking comfort in your daughter’s demographic versus seeking an equal in your daughter.
So, speak up again – but with careful respect for your daughter’s autonomy and judgment.
Opening: “I’ve handled this badly, I’m sorry.”
Detail 1: “I was wrong to make this about age. Happiness is about the right person, not the right age.”
Detail 2: “And that’s why I reacted: His track record might mean he’s choosing people by age. Not that you’re not lovable for you – you are. That’s what you deserve.”
Bottom line: “Who you date isn’t my business. I just ask that you be watchful – of anyone who has a pattern, not just this guy.”
.. And cross your fingers. Good luck.