dear sharideth: letter #5

Dear Sharideth,

My friend has been talking to this girl.  He swears she’s great for him:  She’s funny, very charming (I met her recently), and attractive.  The only problem is, he’s 23, she’s 36, and a mom of two (one of which is a teenager).  He’s asked me for advice on how to handle this, and all I can ever say is “be careful”, although I’m not entirely sure why he should be careful.  What would be something to say to him and not sound stupid?  What do you think of relationships like this?


Friend of The Graduate

dear friend,

my knee jerk reaction was yowza! why would either of them think this is okay?!?  then i thought some more about why it isn’t okay and…i got nuthin’.  i think your advice to him is appropriate though.  as a woman in my late 30’s, who can appreciate the attractiveness, fun, overall hotness of a 20-something stud, there are really very few ways i can see that this can turn out.  let me put them in list form:

  1. she gets bored – the shininess could wear off.  unless she’s busted emotionally, she probably won’t find him fun for long.  they are in two very different places in life.
  2. he gets bored – the shininess could wear off.  unless he’s in need of some mothering, he probably won’t find her fun for long.  they are in two very different places in life.
  3. she freaks out – oh. em. gee. double. you. tee. eff.  “what am i doing?  i’ve got kids!  he’s 23!”
  4. he freaks out – oh. em. gee. double. you. tee. eff.  “what am i doing?  she’s got kids!  i’m 23!” (get where i’m going?)
  5. it works – sometimes these things work out.  what’s the variable that makes it go?  i don’t have a clue.  but i’ve seen it happen.  it’s not even the strangest relationship i’ve seen work.

moral of the story?  i’d leave it be and let it run it’s course.  if you see real disaster signs, then it might be time to say something, but until then, let it play itself out (so to speak).

if i inexplicably found myself single right this second, would i go all mrs. robinson on some unsuspecting 20-something?  no….probably not…i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t…i, uh……

readers…thoughts?  advice?  ever been in a relationship with a big age gap?


8 comments on “dear sharideth: letter #5

  1. Amanda says:

    I’m dating a guy who is 3 1/2 years younger than me. While it’s not a huge age gap or issue it still comes up (usually when I’m referencing early 90s pop culture and he has no idea what I’m talking about).

    I’m completely done school and have started my “career” (using that term loosely here). He’s still in university and consequently, still in student mode. Our schedules are completely different. Sometimes he skips a morning sleep-in to see me and sometimes I’ll stay up later than normal to see him. Which is totally fine. I know eventually we’ll be in the same life stage. 3 1/2 years is not a big deal.

    But…add in a few more years, vastly different pop culture references from when they were kids, children and compleeetely different life stages that will take longer to match up (if they ever do?)…that’s going to be rough. Not to say it won’t work. But it’s going to take a lot of work. And a lot of people are going to be skeptical.

    But my parents have friends who are 12 years apart. They got married when he was 23 and her son was 13. He was only 10 years older than her son! Completely weird, but it worked (and is still working).

    And now the only thing I can think of is “be careful”, so I’ve essentially added nothing to this discussion.

  2. Yes, I have been in “the gap” and enjoyed every single second of it! The only problem I see is that we’re always defining relationships by what we see as the “long term” potential and no one can predict that for any relationship. In fact, my therapist asked me one day if I thought it was time to date someone more “age approproiate” then she said, “Wait, you were married to age appropriate and that didn’t work out so good.” I do agree with your advice. Explore the relationship and it will be whatever it will be. As any relationship is.

  3. G Fresh says:

    The supposed rule of thumb for the acceptable age gap for a guy to a girl is half the guy’s age plus 7 which (when rounded up) would make 24 the youngest that I could pursue without looking like a complete cradle robber. 🙂

    That being said, I don’t know too many 24 year olds with a maturity level that I would be attracted to. And there are even fewer at that age and at a high enough maturity that are marriage minded which let’s face it, at 33 and having never gone through a “sowing my wild oats” phase I’m not looking for a short term fling.

    There was one girl that I was talking to fairly recently (and am still friends with though we don’t talk as often as we used to) that liked me and I her and we got along really well despite her being 10 years younger than me that would have been an exception to this rule; except that she lives 2000 miles away in California.

    Anyway she roadtripped across the U.S. last summer and made a stop in Nashville for a couple of days and we finally got to hang out in person and had a good time, but she e-mailed me a couple days after she left and said that even though she liked me, she didn’t feel like she had a “release from God” to be in any kind of a romantic relationship with me. Still not sure if she was just giving me the Christian version of “it’s not you, it’s me”, but as we’re still friends I don’t think it was. At least I hope so…

  4. Jenn says:

    Advice to the friend is ride it out – but be there to encourage some long term thought. In the short term these things seem great, in the long term they can be disasters. At 23 I found myself dating at 38 year old doctor I worked with – he was funny, supportive, yadda yadda… thing was despite the fact that he was going back to do a residency and we would both be students and seemingly at the same place in life, I was still 15 years younger. I wanted to still have options – kids or no kids and I definitely wanted marriage, where as he in the 15 years that seperated us had decided he never wanted kids, he didn’t want to be married. So he moved on to someone more his age who felt the same way – they have been together since then.

    To be honest I also got really tired of be treated like a child or his younger sister – your friend will likely find the shine dulls when he starts being mistake for her son.

  5. kristinherdy says:

    the current boyfriend-like person is almost 12 years older than me, but he’s the one that’s always been single, and I’m the one who was previously married and has two kids. I think it entirely depends on what you want from a relationship and who is most likely to be on the same page in that goal.

    I want laid back, companionable, fun to talk to and see movies with, good father, but not likely to try and take my ex-husband’s place with my children.

    The boyfriend-like person has always wanted to be a husband and father, but it hasn’t happened for him yet, loves movies and conversation and even though he did most of his growing-up years before I was born, likes to learn new things (And that, we share).

    your advice is good. as a friend, I would just encourage him to make sure he knows what he wants, and if that’s her, go for it.

  6. Listen to these people. And then listen to me. That didn’t sound conceited at all, did it?

    I’ve considered the Cougar card a lot, and I have come to one conclusion: most often, there’s some levels of insecurity and/or immaturity there.

    I had a 30-year-old who seemed mildly interested in me when i was 21. Here’s the thing, though: she was still single and working at Wal*Mart, no plans for her life, but nothing holding her back from pursuing her dreams, either. Sure, I was at the same place, but I knew I was doing something with my life, and by 30 I wouldn’t still be there (heck, three months later I wouldn’t still be there).

    Then there’s the insecurity side of things: she dates down because it makes her feel younger and better when she is appreciated by younger guys. She’ll latch on to a guy who’s weaker (e.g. less mature, less well-established, less experienced) because then she can feel like she’s in control of the situation.

    Remember when I described the “Legitimately Outta Your League Woman” when I first discovered your blog? Yeah, that’s her. See:

  7. Tony says:

    I’ve seen lots of these situations in my role as counselor/pastor. Most do not work for the many reasons that other responders have cited. There are challenges in every relationship, even without age gaps. However, the age gap seems to diminish as the correspondent age of the couple increase. The older the two both are the better. It’s when there is a difference of 10+ years and one of them is in their 20s that seem to be most problematic, not because of age difference, rather for emotional and psychological maturity issues and areas related to personal life goals.

    Know who you are. Be the best you can be. Be genuine and seek to find someone to love who shares your values and goals and at least a few interests.

  8. […] P.S.S. I just found out my funny friend Sharideth wrote a blog on the same topic this week:  Dear Sharideth… […]

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