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“I’m 18 and My Boyfriend is 30″

My boyfriend turned 30 a few days ago and I turn 19 in a couple months. I understand that age differences become less of a big deal when you’re in your 20-somethings, but I’m not. He’s a good man, who takes good care of me, is well-educated and has a good job. I hope to tell my parents soon about him, but the problem is that they’re rather old-fashioned and conservative. I believe that at least for a while, my parents will be strongly disapproving. What is the best way to deal with that, and are age differences in a relationship really all that taboo? — May-December

You can help them accept your boyfriend by having plenty of reasons of why you love him and why you’re good together. You’ll need to be prepared to answer whatever questions they have, like where you met, how serious you are, and… why he isn’t dating someone his own age. The key is not to be overly defensive. If you are, it gives the appearance that you’re aren’t secure in the relationship or your choice in a boyfriend. If things are really as genuine and happy between you as you say they are, then let the relationship speak for itself, answer any questions honestly and openly, and accept that not everyone — including your parents — are going to accept that a 30-year-old man has good intentions when dating an 18-year-old girl.

If your parents are willing to meet him, you can introduce them so they can see for themselves what he’s like. If you are financially independent, you really don’t need their approval (although it would be nice). If they still support you, you need to respect whatever rules they might have. You’re old enough that hopefully you’ll be on your own soon and you can do whatever you want.

Do be careful, though. While your age difference isn’t necessarily “taboo,” it is big enough that it could potentially cause a lot of problems. There’s a reason why 12-year age gaps become less of a “thing” as people mature but remain rather shocking between people a teenager and a grown adult. You don’t have the life experience your boyfriend does and that puts you at risk for being taken advantage of. Be smart and proceed with caution.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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{ 96 comments… add one }

avatar Joanna July 18, 2011, 3:11 pm

The real question here is if HE is willing to meet your parents. If he’s not, that’s a big sign his intentions are less than meets the eye.

Don’t start out with announcing his age to your parents. Just treat him as you would do to a boyfriend of similar age around your parents. If they ask, then you can tell them but it’s really not vital absolutely necessary detail. Paint him in the best light possible when introducing him to your parents.

avatar TECH July 18, 2011, 3:16 pm

There’s not much you can do to change other people’s opinions, other than demonstrating that you are in a healthy relationship. We don’t have much in the way of details about your relationship, but I would say this to you or to any almost nineteen year old — hold off on making a permanent commitment to him!
You will change soooo much between now and when you are 25.

avatar MissDre July 18, 2011, 3:24 pm

You are so right. I just turned 25 and I definitely am not even the same person I was at 19…. Hell, I can’t even describe how much I’ve grown, learned and changed in the last 2 years!

LW, I will not make any judgements about your relationship but I will say, please don’t make any serious sacrifices for him at this point in your life. You have SO much life ahead of you. Always put yourself first.

avatar PinkPanther July 18, 2011, 3:34 pm

I just wanted to post and say that I absolutely agree with MissDre and TECH. I will turn 26 in two months and I can’t even begin to describe how much I have changed and grown since I was 19! And like MissDre, I have also grown and changed a lot just in the past two years.

Again, just make sure that you look out for you, and if you have long term goals that don’t line up with his, don’t sell yourself short by giving them up. :)

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 3:52 pm

MissDre. I would have thought you were much older, your posts are always full of wise advice !

avatar mf July 18, 2011, 4:32 pm

Very good advice. I’m 25 and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in a few years. I’m SO glad I didn’t marry the guy I dated at 18!

avatar Rachelgrace53 July 19, 2011, 3:17 pm

DITTO a million times over… I might have killed myself by now. And if not, I certainly wouldn’t be happy or fulfilled and I wouldn’t have been able to pursue nearly any of my dreams.

avatar JennyTalia July 18, 2011, 3:22 pm

I would leave his age out until after they meet him. I doubt that when you go out to your first dinner as a family, they will start with “So, how old are you?” If they have any decency they will ask you in private afterwards. As Wendy said, let the relationship speak for itself. Then once they find out his age, they at least won’t be judging by that first.

I will also caution you, as Wendy did, to ensure that you aren’t being taken advantage of. As a girl who dated older when she was 18/19/20/21, it is very easy to fall for a man who is older and seemingly more mature – and he knows this. The reason it’s not a big deal for me (24) to date my boyfriend (33) is because we are both in the same phase of life – graduated college, have been in our careers for a while, are looking for the same thing, etc. I’m not saying your relationship isn’t real, I’m just saying be careful when you cross life-stage lines.

avatar SpaceySteph July 18, 2011, 3:34 pm

‘I doubt that when you go out to your first dinner as a family, they will start with “So, how old are you?”’
Um, my parents totally would. And in fact have, though in that case I was the older one in the relationship by 3 years. I would prepare yourself for all manner of embarassing parent behaviors, as you should anytime you introduce a S.O. to your parents, regardless of age.

avatar honeybeenicki July 18, 2011, 4:41 pm

My parents would (and have) asked that and other things that common decency shouldn’t have allowed them to do as well.

avatar kdog July 18, 2011, 4:54 pm

I think it’s funny that people are saying you don’t have to tell them his age…I have a feeling they’ll figure out that he looks more like 30 than 20 pretty quick.

avatar Quakergirl July 18, 2011, 8:38 pm

Seriously. And even a basic conversational question with completely innocent intentions is likely to reveal a significant age difference. As in, dad asks, “so where do you go to school?” and the boyfriend says, “actually, I’m a doctor/stockbroker/school principal/your congressman.”

katie katie July 18, 2011, 9:55 pm

/your congressman

lol…

avatar JennyTalia July 19, 2011, 9:50 am

I guess we’re different. My parents don’t point blank ask someone’s age when they first meet them. Sure there may be implications based on a conversation when referencing job or school or something, but they would wait until later and casually ask me his age. I’m not saying to lie and hide the age, that would be obvious that she is aware that there is an issue, but there is no need to lead with that. And I wouldn’t necessarily agree that you can automatically tell my appearance – I know plenty of 35 year olds who look 22 and plenty of 19 year olds who look 30. People have no idea how old I am – I get anywhere from high school to 30 (I’m 24).

avatar Princess Bananahammock July 18, 2011, 3:24 pm

Just keep your eyes open, LW. Sometimes (not always, but sometimes) an older guy dates a younger girl because she will put up with stuff that an older, more experienced woman would not. An ex of mine (we’re both in our early 30′s) just married an 18 year old. All I could think was – no woman in her 30′s would put up with him not holding a steady job, when he is perfectly capable of doing so, and not providing a stable home for his kids. His life may actually look pretty glamorous to an 18 year old.

If you are thinking long-term, try to picture what you’ll need in a partner down the road, not just now. If you aren’t too serious, then just date him as long as you’re having fun and he’s treating you how you want to be treated. And, I completely agree with Wendy. Present your boyfriend to your parents in a mature manner, and they’ll be more likely to respond by treating you as an adult.

Budj Budjer July 18, 2011, 3:28 pm

As a guy in his mid-20′s I find myself wondering what a good, well-educated and gainfully employed 30 year-old man is wanting with a girl that most likely just graduated high school. This isn’t trying to be condescending to the LW – more stating she should watch out for this guy.

Joanna is also right…double caution if he hasn’t expressed interest in meeting your parents. Don’t let his “life experience”, financial situation, or whatever allure he has over you blind you to his intentions. Be careful and mindful of his actions.

TECH also touched on an important point. You are going to change / grow a lot in the next several years so even if his intentions are virtuous you need to be what you need to be and don’t let him affect how you grow in life. A guy his age will be fairly set in his ways and you may find you don’t agree with his life style choices, whatever they are, in 1 – 5 years and depending on his life views you may miss out on a lot of mid-20′s fun.

Heard. I’m 31 and assuming I was single, won’t even date an <27yo woman.
Why? Greater chance of a difference in phases of lives.

Oh, and it's better up here in da 30s! ;)

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 3:39 pm

Whoah…. that’s a very small window there, I.V.R.E.G – i.C.T.B. !

I know. Very glad to not have to peek through that window.

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 3:50 pm

Strange thing, (only) for the past 5 years I seem to attract much older or much younger men :(

Hmm… now, that’s not too bad a thing is it, T.O.M.?

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 4:47 pm

Not always, a guy who was probably half my age tried to “Fake Survey” me at a grocery store on Saturday.

avatar G July 19, 2011, 9:23 am

LOL… why the thumb’s down on that? It is a little creepy, but a freaking hilarious story!

avatar TheOtherMe July 19, 2011, 11:50 am

lol! Maybe it offended someone half my age ;)

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 3:33 pm

We need Anita_Bath’s input here ;)

avatar Lexington July 18, 2011, 8:35 pm

That’s what I’m looking for!

avatar Yozi July 18, 2011, 3:40 pm

My friend dated her high school teacher when she was 18/19 and he was mid 30s. She didn’t think much of the age difference at the time. But when she was on the other side of 21, she realized how different a 21 year old is from a 19 year old. It is a world of difference. And knowing what she knew then she looked back on the relationship and felt taken advantage of.

avatar SpaceySteph July 18, 2011, 3:55 pm

Important point. You may think that you are in a good relationship with a good man but then look back later and see it differently.
A few years ago I found out that a coworker and friend of mine who is in his 30s had been married and divorced. His reason “Well I was young and stupid when I got married.” Me, 22 at the time, replied “Young like my age?” And he said “No, I was older than you.” Meanwhile, I was 22 and well employed and in an LDR with a guy I swore I was going to marry and couldn’t understand how I was considered “young and stupid.” Well let me just tell you, I was absolutely young and stupid, and I know that now. And in a few years, I’ll probably look back at my current age and think I was young and stupid then too.

avatar silver_dragon_girl July 18, 2011, 4:29 pm

See, this whole line of thought just depresses me. Why should I give 100% to my relationships now if I’m going to be totally different in 3-5 years? And what about then? Should I wait til I’m 65 to figure out what I really want to do and who I want to do it with?
Argh. :(

avatar SpaceySteph July 18, 2011, 4:35 pm

I don’t think it means that. I just think you need to be prepared for you and your SO to change. And when things do start changing, recognize that your relationship to evolve to suit the people you are becoming. Sometimes you grow into incompatible people, but I don’t think its the rule.

avatar kerrycontrary July 18, 2011, 4:39 pm

I think it really depends on the person. The majority of people may be young and stupid when they are 22, but I’m sure there are people who aren’t. Likewise you could wait until you are 30 to get married and still end up divorced a year later. While I agree that people change so much in their 20s, which is why it may not be a good idea to get married before you have a good idea of who you are as a person, it is possible for you to change and grow together with your partner.I currently give 100 percent to my partner but we know we want to wait to make a huge committment (aka marriage) until we are a little older. We are both 24 and know that we may change what we want, where we want to live, etc… in the next couple of years. I read that people change a lot until they are 30, and then they kind of coast. While you may change further in your life (as you should, it’s a healthy part of life), the essential aspects of who you are, your values, likes/dislikes, habits, will probably stay the same.

avatar Christy July 18, 2011, 7:04 pm

You should give 100% because you can still have fun and you will learn a lot, regardless of how your relationships turn out. I’m 26 now and definitely regard my college age self as young and stupid. But even with the mistakes, it was a great time and I would probably make a lot of the same choices again.

Everyone is just cautioning not to make huge commitments or life-changing decisions it will be expensive or time consuming to get out of. And I agree with kerrycontrary, it is possible to change WITH your partner. The important thing is knowing if your current goals match up, and being willing to leave the relationship if your goals stop matching (and there’s no way to compromise).

avatar redessa July 19, 2011, 2:06 am

Not at all. I got married at 19. Was I young and stupid? ABSOLUTELY! I’m in my 30′s and I’m a very different person now. But I’m still married to the same guy.

I don’t recommend going off and getting married super young. I’m just saying commitment is a choice. Yes, you will grow and change as a person and so will your partner. Yes, it’s possible that you will grow into people who are incompatible. But it’s also possible for you to choose to use your growth and added maturity in ways that strengthen your relationship. You’ll never know if you don’t put your all into it.

avatar G July 19, 2011, 10:06 am

That’s awesome!
I was going to bring up my Mom. She married my Dad when she was 19 and him 24. Of course the 70s were a different time, but they were still VERY young. They have now been married for 35 plus years and I think still happy. It is possible for people to marry young and have it work.
I would just recommend (like everyone else) to be cautious. Realize what you might miss, LW. The 20′s can be an amazing time, filled with lots of adventure. Try to make sure this guy is worth all the time you are giving him.

landygirl Landygirl July 18, 2011, 5:07 pm

Thumbs up!

I think at any point in your life, you can look back and realize how things have changed, it never stops! Even now I look back at my 30s and think about how I would have done things differently if I only knew then what I know now.

avatar SpaceySteph July 18, 2011, 3:41 pm

I think Wendy brings up a very good point. Your parents (and most people) will want to know why he isn’t dating someone his own age. Be prepared for this question and be prepared with a good answer.
If you don’t have a good answer, and if he doesn’t, then I would consider that a red flag. If his reasons are “all 30 year old women are gold digging bitches” or “my last girlfriend was a whore, I wanted someone who was pure” then I would run like the wind because dude is a predator. If his response is “honestly I am surprised at myself for being in a relationship with such an age difference, but we met at [mutual interest] and thought she was interesting and funny that I decided to give it a chance” then you might have a shot.
Of course even having all the right answers doesn’t mean that your parents are going to like him immediately. You will have to be prepared for some pushback at the beginning. Also remember that your parents distrust of your bf comes from a good place, namely their desire to protect you and keep you from harm. They are not trying to ruin your life or keep you from finding love, they just don’t want to see you hurt- emotionally or physically.
The best way to handle it is maturely- behave like their adult daughter capable of an adult relationship, not like a child. The moment you behave like a child you will reinforce their parental desire to protect you from the big bad man.

avatar Vathena July 18, 2011, 3:52 pm

Agreed with all of the above! Also, LW, you don’t say how long you’ve been dating, but I would add that if you are embarking on a serious relationship, don’t wait too long before introducing your parents to your boyfriend, or at least telling them about him (“So, there’s this guy…he’s so great, can’t wait for you to meet him”, and so forth). If they find out you were dating for a long time, they will feel lied to, which isn’t going to win your relationship any points, and looks like you felt there was something to hide. If your boyfriend and your relationship are on the up-and-up and becoming serious, don’t hide it from your parents.

(Side note: I started dating my husband when I was 26 and he was 39. My mom about had a heart attack when I told her – we’d only been dating for 3 weeks – but has since come around!)

avatar SpyGlassez July 19, 2011, 1:31 am

My college roommate was 20 when she started dating the then-40 year-old guy who has been her husband for the last 9 years. Her parents didn’t think too highly of it, but it was the right choice – and they think very highly of him now.

avatar AnitaBath July 18, 2011, 3:52 pm

I’m 21 and my boyfriend is 38, and we started dating when I was 19. I’ll give you the super condensed version of my story so that I can highlight a few points.

I met my boyfriend, we started dating, and I waited until we had been seeing each other for about four or five months before I brought it up to my mom (I was away at college so it made it easier to keep it a “secret”). My initial plan was to tell her I was seeing a guy, be vague on the details, and after a few more months (so we ourselves could gauge the seriousness of our relationship) I would tell my mom his age.

Well, it didn’t work out that way. She asked for his full name (how can you refuse to tell someone’s name when asked point blank?), Googled him when I left, saw his age, and started FLIPPING out. It was a very messy week, but I eventually pretended to break up with him to get her off my back (even though she knew I didn’t and I knew that she knew, somehow it was easier for us both to pretend). About another five or six months went by, until I got rear ended right by his house and had to come clean again. She was still extremely disapproving, but at least this time she was accepting. I told my dad as well (not sure if it’s only your mom that you’re worried about? My dad actually took it better than anyone).

I waited for her to bring up meeting him before I invited him over for dinner. Ever since she met him, my mom has loved my boyfriend. My family hasn’t put up any fights or made any problems with the age difference in over a year.

So here are my recommendations and things for you to consider, from someone who has been there:

1) Yeah, you think they’re probably not going to ask his age? WRONG. That is like the 3rd question out of a mother’s mouth as soon as she finds out her daughter is dating someone new. Being vague isn’t going to work, about anything. Mothers demand details, and when you don’t offer them up, they know something is wrong.

2) Wait for her to bring up meeting him. That way it’s her idea, she feels more at ease, and you know that she’s at least partially ready to meet him.

3) This may be more personal, but I know in the early stages of a relationship like this (at least for me), I very much took to heart how other people viewed my relationship. Since most people viewed it negatively, it really had me down. Once I got my family’s support, I could care less now. Now I can just brush it off when people give me that, “OH MY GOD WTF YOU’RE CRAZY AND MUST HAVE DADDY ISSUES LOOK” when I tell them how old my boyfriend is. Seriously, you know the one.

Lastly, you say that he “takes good care” of you. I may be reading to into this, but I hope that he doesn’t treat you like a well-kept pet. I firmly believe that one of the reason my boyfriend and I have been successful so far is because we’ve always approached our relationship as equals. We try to minimize any imbalances as much as possible. If he were constantly paying for stuff, catering to me, and treating me like a pet, I’d probably feel vastly different, and it would probably play out in other ways in our relationship as well. Just something to think about.

avatar AnitaBath July 18, 2011, 3:53 pm

Oh, and most importantly, be prepared for her to flip out. Or, at the very least, get a little bug eyed.

avatar SpaceySteph July 18, 2011, 4:02 pm

Nice response!
I also noticed that “take care of me line.” If she’s looking for someone to take care of her, it might explain why she looked for an older man. And if he’s looking for someone to “take care of” i.e. control, that might explain why he’s seeking younger women.
I do think that age gap relationships CAN work, but I think that many times they don’t because the people don’t actually believe “age is nothing but a number,” they are in fact seeking qualities that belong to people of a certain age group- vulnerability, stability, the taking care of/wanting to be taken care of dynamic.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't July 18, 2011, 4:38 pm

That’s a good point…but “taking care of” can mean different things to different people. For me, when I say a guy “takes good care of me”, I mean that he makes me feel safe, supports me emotionally and takes care of me sexually (and maybe kills the occasional spider and opens the occasional door for me). Because, really, I do just fine for myself in all other aspects.

Maybe the LW means something along these lines, maybe she doesn’t. And yeah, if he’s treating her like a pet, that is a big issue.

avatar AnitaBath July 18, 2011, 4:44 pm

Yeah, that’s something that the LW needs to think about and assess herself. The meaning can range anywhere from “He treats me with respect” to “He dons a red silk smoking jacket, gives me a room in his mansion, and a pays me a weekly allowance of $1000.”

avatar PFG-SCR July 18, 2011, 4:27 pm

Very well said, AB – you know I’m very supportive of you and your boyfriend. You are incredibly intelligent, well-spoken and mature for a person of your age, and I think this has strongly contributed to the success of your relationship. That just goes to show you that it’s really about the two people in that relationship, more than anything else.

“Mothers demand details, and when you don’t offer them up, they know something is wrong.”

This is so totally true, but we don’t limit our demanding of details to just our own kids! ;-)

avatar silver_dragon_girl July 18, 2011, 4:31 pm

Mothers are scary that way. I’m not even that close to my mom, and she always knows when something is up. Over the phone. It’s eerie…

avatar honeybeenicki July 18, 2011, 4:52 pm

I’m extremely close to my mom and she definitely has a 6th sense about stuff about me. It gets a little weird. Sometimes I’ll be at work and she’ll email me just to check in and make sure I’m ok and 9 times out of 10, something crappy is going on. When I ask her she just shrugs and says “its a mom thing.” Well, it must be a mom thing and not a step-mom thing because I have to at least be talking to my stepkids to know somethings up. I don’t just get premonitions!

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 5:03 pm

Me too but it also works the opposite way, I always know the second something’s wrong just by the way my mom says hello…

avatar honeybeenicki July 18, 2011, 5:13 pm

Just when I finished typing this, I accidentally called my mom. Or my phone called her. I listen to the radio through headphones on my phone when I’m at work and I took them off to look for something and heard the little ringing sound of a phone call and accused her of calling me when in reality I apparently called her.

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 5:20 pm

One time, I was on a flight back from a business trip and felt like something was wrong with my mom. I kept telling that to my business partner during the whole flight. When I got to the airport my dad had come to pick me up ( even though I wasn’t living at home anymore, he still loves the airport pickup duty ! ) As soon as I saw him I asked if something was wrong with my mom. He said, “how did you know?” she’s in the hospital since yesterday they think she might have had a stroke. ( thank god, it turned out to be something else ).

avatar Slamy July 18, 2011, 5:37 pm

My mom does that too – she’ll call to check on me and say she just “felt worried” and usually it’s exactly when I would have wanted her to call.

avatar Sarah July 18, 2011, 3:59 pm

Eeek, I’m going to be one of those people that is very uncomfortable with this. You’re still a teenager and really wont have the know how to spot a man taking advantage of you til you’re older. The line that struck me was “…who takes good care of me…”. Uh. I could be wrong, but that is exactly the wrong kind of lingo for establishing that this relationship is healthy. A grown man shouldn’t want to take care of you, especially as you’re so young! Its like betting on sports with a guy who already knows the scores (don’t date Marty McFly, kids!), it is a huge risk to gamble so much when the other person knows so much more than you. If you have an instinct to hide things about him from your family (age, fights you have, etc etc) don’t push it off as “social taboos”, there must be a part of you that knows something isn’t healthy.

I don’t care if he’s a Tibetan monk, if my 18 year old little sister came home with a 30 year old dude they’d have to keep all the sharp objects in the house away from me. Even then I’d probably try to shank him from toothbrush I made into a shiv. Whether you think its fair or not, a family’s first instinct is to protect, and this circumstance ends badly a lot. But if he’s willing to run the gauntlet until your family approves, then maybe you’ll know if you guys really can work.

avatar silver_dragon_girl July 18, 2011, 4:07 pm

Or Biff Tannin (Tannen?).

avatar LTC039 July 18, 2011, 4:07 pm

“Even then I’d probably try to shank him from toothbrush I made into a shiv.”

That’s straight up gangsta.

avatar Sarah July 18, 2011, 4:17 pm

My family doesn’t have a motto, but if it did, it would be “Prison Rules”.

Budj Budjer July 18, 2011, 4:30 pm

Does your family accept cigarettes as a form currency?

avatar honeybeenicki July 18, 2011, 4:44 pm

I flipped when I found out my little sister (just turned 18 at the time) was dating a guy that was *gasp* 20. I haven’t had that small of an age gap since mid-high school, so I don’t know why I turned into such a nutcase but I did. I felt very protective of her. She was smart enough not to bring him around me, so there was no need to make a shive :)

avatar Renee July 18, 2011, 4:03 pm

I remember being 18/19, and my mother thought I should date older men. Young men do have maturity issues. There’s reasonable caution, but one can proceed.

avatar Renee July 18, 2011, 7:38 pm

Should note I never took my mother’s advice, I just stayed cleared of immature men.

avatar Schwinny July 18, 2011, 4:06 pm

Why the rush to meet the parents? If you have not been together all that long, there is no real rush for introductions. In fact, I would recommend you wait a while to see how your relationship develops. Start with friend introductions first and work up to family introductions once both you are ready. Also, as others have said, you do not have to declare his age to your parents or anyone else. There is no reason to lie to anyone but you do not have to invite everyone to criticise the age difference right from the start. Let them ask if there is a concern. Having been in your position once at 18 and again now (since I was 31), I can tell you that there is a big difference in how that age gap really works, but a lot of it depends on the individuals not the age gap. Back then, both of us were worried about appearances and it was crippling. In this relationship, we had the conversation initially and decided to see what happened. Occasionally, we trade barbs about who remembers what (Him: Do you remember TAB cola? Me: Yeah, my dad used to drink it.) but that’s about as much worrying about the age gap that we do.

Good luck to both of you!

avatar AnitaBath July 18, 2011, 4:11 pm

Not to be a naysayer, but I just don’t see how it’s going to work to NOT tell the age difference when straight-up asked. When they innocently ask, “Oh, how old is he?” they’re expecting an answer like 18,19,20. When the LW responds with, “I prefer not to say,” or, “We’re keeping that to ourselves,” it raises all kinds of red flags. The mother will most likely go crazy and won’t let up until she has a concrete age. You can maybe get away with that with more distant relatives (which, actually, my mom has suggested to me), but I highly doubt that tactic will work on parents.

avatar Jshizzle July 18, 2011, 8:14 pm

I agree, mom’s always want to know how old…and then flip out if the age difference is more than 1 year at that age.

avatar Quakergirl July 18, 2011, 9:04 pm

Yeah, when my brother first met Quakerboy he pulled me aside and was like “he seems great, but seriously how old is he?!” Of course once I told him he was fine, but parents and siblings will want to know if they think there’s an abnormal age difference. For the record, when my brother met Quakerboy he guessed he was 23– in reality he had just turned 18 and I was 17. I can only imagine the freakout if he had thought he was in his late 20s or early 30s.

Budj Budjer July 18, 2011, 4:19 pm

She may be living at home which could be why the introduction is being rushed. If that is the case and her friends all meet this guy the word will get around to her parents that she is dating a 30 year old man regardless if she wants it to or not.

avatar TheOtherMe July 18, 2011, 4:22 pm

True. And if she tries to keep it a secret, one day, her mom might be driving by and see her making out with him when she should be in school… Ouups !

My mom still talks about that one !

avatar MissDre July 18, 2011, 9:08 pm

I’m 25 and my boyfriend is 6 years older than me. When we first started dating (a little over a year ago) my mom freaked out and wanted to know what the hell a 30 year old man wanted with a 24 year old girl. I told her to chill out. Now she knows him, she loves him to pieces and wants to know when he’s going to put a ring on my finger.

It’s funny, just today she was talking about how men under 30 are just too immature and won’t be able to give a woman what she needs, when a year ago she was freaking out and saying he was too old for me. Go figure!

avatar LTC039 July 18, 2011, 4:16 pm

If your mom is going to have a problem with your relationship, she’s going to have it whether you tell her now, or wait 5 months. I say be honest.
My parents did NOT like my bf when they first met him (he has gauges & tattoos & they’re really conservative). I could’ve waited longer to tell them, but that would’ve just ended in the same result. I wanted them to meet him & get to know him so they could see how great he really is. I remember getting into a screaming match with my mom in the car the day after he met them. Well now they love him. & it honestly didn’t take them that long to accept him. It’s all about getting them to interact with him.
Of course for me it was different, I lived at home so eventually they’d figure out I was seeing someone.
If you really believe your bf is great guy & you guys are going to work out, then let your mom see that…If you have some doubts, well that’s something you need to evaluate. I, too, am slightly put off by that “he takes good care of me” mention you made.
On another note, you are only 18. Just as everyone is saying you will grow up A LOT, don’t lose sight of your youth. Live it up now, because it’s not something you’ll be able to get back.

avatar AKchic July 18, 2011, 4:31 pm

Coming from experience, you need to do a little research into your guy first.

1) Does he have any kids? If so, where are they? Where are the mother(s)?

2) Does he have a criminal record? Any assaults, domestic violence, etc? Any of them against family members, females, girlfriends and especially, mothers of his children (if he has any)?
2a) Does he have any sexual crimes on his record?

3) What is his dating history like? Are you comfortable with that history?

4) Have you met HIS friends/family? Does he have any younger siblings, and do you know them? Have you heard any family stories from them? Do they jive with his versions of events?

I was 18 when I married my 1st husband (we’d been together since I was 16). He was 32. I won’t go into particulars on how we got together (because I’m still not sure how, to this very day), but had I done ANY of that research, I would have run. I went to school with his youngest sister, and while I knew her casually, it didn’t really do much at all to prepare me for just how dangerous my first husband really was. Questions 1, 2, and 3 could have saved me a lot of hassle, and will save you a lot if you choose to employ them prior to making any big decisions with him.

Other than that, if he checks out, I wish you luck. Some May/December relationships work out very well. Some don’t. It just depends on the maturity levels of both parties.
If your parents balk, you could always remind them that 300 years ago, it was common practice for fathers to promise their 15 year old daughters to 30 year old men. But, I wouldn’t.

*Gasp!

avatar honeybeenicki July 18, 2011, 4:31 pm

LW – I am 10 years younger than my husband (but act 10 years older than him). It was hard for my mom to understand the relationship at first, but I did pretty much exactly what Wendy suggested – I introduced him as himself, not as his age. She asked some basic questions that I now know she asked because she wanted to make sure he wasn’t taking advantage of me in any way.

But I also agree with the rest of the commenters – take it slow. You will change SO much in the next few years. I had to grow up quick, so I guess I didn’t see much of a change, but I know for a regular 18 year old, 25 is much different. If you feel like you aren’t getting the life experiences you want/need because of the relationship, it may be a good idea to distance yourself a little. And if you find that you are growing into a person who still works with this man, well great! I waited for a few years before my husband and I married just for that reason.

avatar Elrig July 18, 2011, 4:40 pm

A few months ago I ended a relationship with a large age gap. I’m 20, and the guy is 34. To be quite honest, it was one of the best relationships I’ve ever been in. It would have continued if I weren’t so bad at LDR. Point is, I think the “age-gap” argument is, as a lot of people have mentioned, about the fact that you’re going to grow and change, whereas older men (or women) tend to be more set in their ways. My ex and I didn’t have many age-related issues, except that I started to get uncomfortable with the speed with which he expected out relationship to progress to marriage. He wanted kids by the time I was 25, which, looking at it as just a 5-year plan, is very reasonable… but not something I was willing to commit to.
I think this was one of the biggest issues my family had with the relationship. When you talk to your parents about your boyfriend, don’t bring up his age unless they ask about it. If they do ask, don’t lie! It’ll probably come out eventually, and lying is rarely a good idea. In my case, my parents knew my boyfriend’s age because he worked at the same company as my father (a whole other issue in itself). If they begin to question the age gap, ask them why it’s a problem for them. I think the best way to go about this is to calmly sit down and have a discussion about it. If they begin screaming and yelling (which obviously happens with parents sometimes), try not to enter in a screaming match with them. Ultimately, if you deal with any confrontations about your boyfriend’s age with maturity, your parents will eventually see this, and hopefully realize that “age compatibility” has nothing to do with actual physical age, but rather mental maturity.
When you talk to them about the age gap and ask them what their hesitations are regarding your boyfriend, you may have to reassure them that you’re not about to jump into anything too quickly that drastically changes your life. Honestly, they’d probably be most worried about you throwing away your “childhood” or youth. Though young marriages are common, and often successful, be careful not to feel pressured into anything prematurely. As a man who has just turned 30, your boyfriend may feel that he’s closer to settling down than you would have been, had you been dating someone in their early 20′s

avatar MiMi July 18, 2011, 5:06 pm

Everyone has made excellent points, but I think there’s someone else you should discuss this with: your guy. How does he want to handle this? What is he going to do to reassure your parents of his sincere caring? Does he have your back? What he does here will be educational – you want someone who is forthright and open, who will stand with you if things get uncomfortable, and defend your relationship (if it requires defending) just as vigorously as you do. It’s pretty easy to spot a stand-up guy when you meet one so if your guy is solid, your parents will (eventually) learn to trust him.

landygirl Landygirl July 18, 2011, 5:18 pm

I remember when I was 19 I thought I was very mature and I knew it all. Now of course I realize at 19 I knew nothing. Please be cautious because while you think you may know what’s best for you, sometimes we overlook things in order to achieve instant gratification.

At 19, What seems to you like a mature, confident man to you will look completely different to your parents, people who have more life experience than you do. I admit that I have issues with the older man/younger woman scenario but that’s because I’ve have to deal with more men than a 19 year old girl and I lost my rose colored glasses along the way.

avatar twiglet July 18, 2011, 5:37 pm

Get yourself sorted with a good career * or further education. Show yourself to be an adult, capable of taking care of yourself and making your own choices. Then tell your parents you have chosen this man. But if you can’t do the first bit do ponder a bit before doing the second.You are at the beginning of the peak of your powers,and you really want to limit your limitations.You are very young to miss out on freedom.

*(and anything is a career if you choose to be good at it. I’m a great barkeep and a lousy shop-assistant, you are whatever you are up for.)

avatar daisygarfield July 19, 2011, 12:26 am

When I was 14 I dated an older guy, he was 18 when we started dating. I liked him because I thought that he was cool and mature, with a job and a car. I knew he wasn’t dating me just because he thought I was young and “easy”, but I soon realized that he was dating me because he had the maturity of a 14 year old. As time passed it became more and more apparent that I was more mature than he was.
This is something that LW also might want to watch for, he may not have the maturity that a 30 year old man should. But, if the relationship is as happy and healthy as she says then hopefully her parents will warm to him with some time. Good luck!

avatar SpyGlassez July 19, 2011, 1:56 am

Well, I’m the older woman in a relationship, but there’s only a 2 and a half year age gap. However, I can tell you that as much as I love him, he might as WELL be 20 sometimes. I am definitely more mature than he is, and sometimes that is a huge problem. Some 18 year olds are very mature, and some are very immature; some 30 year old guys are mature, and some are still living the frat dream. The biggest thing is to make sure you are comfortable with the speed of the relationship and that you are able to see him as an equal. Having someone who “takes care of you” by making sure your emotional needs are met is great; having someone who “takes care of you” by dazzling you with shiny things to keep you dangling is not. I would give anyone in ANY relationship the same advice: just keep making sure you are on the same page, and keep communicating.

FWIW, my college roommate is happily married to a man 20 years older than her, and my best friend’s mom is about 18 years younger than her dad.

avatar moonflowers July 19, 2011, 3:03 am

I’m probably a bit too jaded about age-gap relationships ever since my little sister was impregnated by and almost got an STD from a sleazy old douchebag nearly our father’s age (45) when she was 19. At the time I was desperately trying to open her eyes to his real nature (abusive, only using her for sex), but it wasn’t until he got her pregnant against her desires that she really saw him for what he was.

The LW sounds like a mature and astute girl, and the bf is probably a much much better guy than the creep my sister wasted too much time on, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. We all think we know better at 19, but it isn’t until a few years down the road when we finally realize how ignorant of our own ignorance we were.

There are a few questions I feel the LW should ask herself:

(1) Is he truly interested in and loves me for who I am as a person, not just in having sex with me?

My sister had low self esteem and little relationship experience (sheltered conservative upbringing), and she believed her creeper ex when he said no one else would ever love her like he did, or that the best and only way to show adult love was through sex.

She overlooked a lot of his red flags and abusive behavior because she simply didn’t have any basis for comparison. Granted, she was really naive too, but it’s much more likely for young women to be both insecure and inexperienced, and thus more vulnerable to the sex = love argument.

(2) Is he supportive of my relationship with my parents and my peers, or does he try to undermine that?

If he refuses to meet your parents or tries to turn you against your family, or tries to isolate you from your same-age friends, especially guys, that’s a bad sign.

(3) Does he have unequal power over me – financially, influence-wise, etc.?

“Taking care” of you can be good, but it can also make it harder for you to leave him if you become too dependent on him (ie you moved into his place, need his help to make the rent, are borrowing his car or computer, etc).

An older guy might also use his more advanced life stage to make himself look better than your male peers who are in a different life stage (“he doesn’t have money or a car”), even if the older guy himself doesn’t stack up well compared to his own age group. Hopefully that’s not true here since LW says her guy is well educated and has a good job.

I’m glad that many of the other commenters have proven that “age is just a number.” Unfortunately, that was also the advice my sister got online when she was debating whether to date that creep or not – and it takes more time for an older, practiced creep to finally reveal his full creepiness.

There are always exceptions to stereotypes, but there are lots of good reasons why many parents would rightly oppose large age gap relationships too. Having seen what happened to my sister, I think parents are justified in being a little overprotective at first in situations like this.

I really do hope that the LW’s relationship is a healthy, positive, and fun one, and that her parents will be reasonable and open to accepting him if he’s truly a stand-up guy like she described him as.

avatar Marie July 19, 2011, 3:18 am

Age isn’t just a number.Maturity comes with age and I have issues with a 30 year old man being with a teenager.Yes it’s true that men don’t mature as fast as women but swinging the other way and dating someone much older is extreme.There are 19,20,21 year old guys that are mature;the key is to find them.Honestly,what could a 30 year old man have in common with an almost 19 year old girl?

avatar Fairhaired Child July 19, 2011, 3:59 am

Dear LW,

Please listen to everyone and really think about what he means to you, what you mean to him. And ask yourself many of the questions that have been posted here that can help you think more about the depth of your relationship. I especially hope that you listen to how everyone is stating that in a few years you may be a completely different person and have more “worldly wisdom” than you do now.

Also: Please watch “Hard Candy” It has Ellen Paige in it (Juno)

Best of luck figuring out what you want in life, and facing your parents with the boyfriend. I hope that your story turns out better than Moonflowers’ sister. Be cautious, but remember, everyone in the world is different, and things that work for one relationship may not work for a different couple.

<3 Fairhaired Child

Did I mention to watch "Hard Candy"? Because you really should. Don't let your boyfriend watch it with you. k? Cool.

avatar AnitaBath July 19, 2011, 9:30 am

Woah. I hope you meant that “Hard Candy” comment as a complete joke. Because the LW is dating an older man, she should DEFINITELY watch a movie (alone?) about how a young girl tortures an older guy physically and emotionally because the man is a predatory, messed-up killer and pedophile?

I mean, I agree it’s a good movie. I watched it with my significantly older boyfriend (at his urging, actually) because he loves it himself. But…uh….really?

avatar Fairhaired child July 19, 2011, 9:58 am

I mean the movie for the predator part – not that she should act like Ellen Paige – but that the movie is a parents worst nightmare and what they fear (the whole thing with her friend being killed etc)

Thanks for giving away the plot :p it was supposed to he a surprise

On that note I watched it with two of my female friends and one of their then bf (now husband) who was 12 yrs older than her and took her away to England ! Their relationship was sketch to us at first but it shows things can work out. Anyway movie.. When I watched it the first thing I thought was wtf that’s like me at 18 walking into a nursery and pointing at a baby boy and go ” ima sleep with you in 18 years” – good movie but def mind boggling and eye opening

avatar AnitaBath July 19, 2011, 10:06 am

It’s still nothing alike. The guy in the movie is going online and targeting fourteen year olds in chat rooms. The age difference is absolutely nothing like going into a nursery and saying, “ima sleep with you in 18 years.” It’s like two adults approaching each other and talking about the possibility of dating (or, in the case of the movie, something completely different…)

I still just don’t see how you can draw any comparisons between the movie and this relationship, other than the age difference. Even the predator part is just…no. Are you trying to say her boyfriend is going to kill her? Sure, that’s every parent’s worse nightmare. And it can happen to anyone, why try and make it sound like it’s exclusive to couples in age differences and cite a movie about a 30-something man who goes around *spoiler* targetting, killing, and raping young (14 year old) girls to add to his child pornography stash to try and prove your point?

avatar Fairhaired child July 19, 2011, 10:28 am

I’m sorry you feel so upset by this statement that she should watch it. Obviously yes the movie is extreme but it’s a different view point of what could happen (yes like you said even at any age range -CNN for that viewpoint too). If I was her parent and I had seen that movie I’d fear something similar happening to her or at the least her being too easily taken advantage of ( granted I’d prob fear any daughters being taken advantage of at any age)

It’s just my opinion and so were my thoughts when I saw the movie (obviously I’m not stating her bf does such crazy things as walking into a nursery etc). I understand your thoughts too and can see your point. But it’s merely a suggestion within my post about how things can go totally crazy it one is not cautious. If my original post had only been to see hard candy then yeah obviously id be totally out of the ball park crazy biased and an idiot for thinking automatically get bf must be a killer (I’m not trying to say that at all).

Sorry this offended you so :/

avatar AnitaBath July 19, 2011, 10:33 am

I’m not offended. I just fail to see the logic in how you relate the movie to her current relationship. If she watches the movie, it should be because it’s a good movie (and it’s entirely unnecessary that she watch it alone), not because it somehow applies to her more than it does anyone else.

avatar Fairhaired child July 19, 2011, 10:48 am

Last response I promise – the suggestion was for a different viewpoint and so that she could understand why her parents (friends internet strangers) may get freaked out and worried about the age gap.

Also I didn’t say alone just not with her bf – who may get grossed out at the torture part (the video one ) I don’t really suggest that movie to any males bc how gruesome that part is. Internet posts are hard to read between the lines and many things can be read differently by different ppl as is proved often in the many discussions on DW.

Edit also I noticed the thumbs and I wanted to say im not thumbing either way on our convo bc I know both of us have valid points and opinions.

avatar Chantelle July 19, 2011, 2:38 pm

I dated a man who was 13 yrs older than me, for almost 6 yrs, I knew him for 7 yrs. I ended the relationship for reasons that had nothing to do with his age. I was 19 and he was 32 when we first started dating, so I can certainly relate to the situation. I lived alone, had my own life, paid my own bills, worked very hard, and am intelligent. It was extremely unlikely that I would find a 19 year old similar to me.

The key is to know what you’re both looking for. If you’re anything like me, you’ve always been more mature than people your own age. If that’s the case, then your parents will already recognize that in you. If you two are on the same page, have some similar goals, and care deeply about each other then brace yourself.

I would suggest making the meeting something casual, time limited, and in a situation that brings out the best of you both. Maybe a quick coffee in a public place before one of you has an appointment. The more time you spend on that initial meeting the more risk of something being said that everyone will later regret.

The first time my mom met my then boyfriend, he was still courting me. We happened to live in the same apartment building so I called to ask if he could help me with my groceries. I was with my mom, he waved happily, made a joke, and then insisted on carrying all the groceries. My mom was immediately impressed with the quick 10 minute encounter because it showed his good nature and how helpful he was, age never entered the equation.

I also didn’t hide my own concerns about our age gap from him or my family. I recognized the challenges and felt free to communicate them with my family. It showed I valued their opinion, was mature enough to understand the risks and potential problems, and that I wasn’t in some sort of defiant phase trying to prove the world wrong.

Ignore all the people that judge or jump to conclusions about how little you know based on “life experience”. Love comes in a lot of different packages and one of the last things I look at when it comes to compatibility is how old the guy is. Try to have a sense of humor about it all, you’re going to need it. I’m now 26 and have dated men younger, the same age, and older than me; all of which had their ups and downs, age not relating to any of it.

avatar Christy July 19, 2011, 7:45 pm

This is great advice, especially the part about showing you valued your family’s opinion and wasn’t in a defiant phase. My sister (then 25) started to date a man who was 39 years old. The age difference was only one of my parents’ issues with him (he was also unemployed at the time and living off her). Her approach was to dismiss their concerns and act defensive. She was trying to assert her independence but ended up sounding like a grumpy teenager saying “It’s my life, Mom!”.

So my advice is to have serious conversations with them, but don’t be defensive. Acknowledge their concerns, try to understand where they’re coming from, and do your best to reassure them. Show them that you are mature enough to handle a relationship by approaching them like you would any other adult.

avatar Poppy July 19, 2011, 8:36 pm

Don’t waste your youth on older men.

Dying to be indulged for a moment, but can anyone give me an idea of what type of conversation a 30-year old guy will have with an 18-year old girl?
(Dead serious – or you can say, blissfully).

…because I can’t fathom the trail of conversation lasting more than 2 hours for the crickets to start chirping.

avatar kate July 19, 2011, 9:09 pm

I’m with you…crickets.

avatar Jennifer July 23, 2011, 10:42 pm

Are you serious? I was 18 and my boyfriend was 30 when we first got together. A huge amount of what made our relationship so special was the fact that we never ran out of things to talk about. We’ve been together for 5 years now, and I haven’t heard a single cricket chirp yet.

Sorry you had so little to contribute to an adult conversation when you were young, but some of us were actually intelligent people with lives going on and an interest in the world around us.

avatar MsMisery July 20, 2011, 8:37 am

At least it isn’t (supposedly) 16 and 51!!!

avatar Wendy July 20, 2011, 4:43 pm

LW-

Two years ago I was in the same situation as you, I was 18, my boyfriend was 33, and I even faced the same problem. My parents knew about my guy, but didn’t know him, and I was scared to death of them finding out the truth. I wondered how they would react, since my friends had not necessarily been giving me a lot of hope based on thier reactions.

Firstly, he needs to be just as willing to meet them as you are to have him do so. I got lucky in that he more than happy to do so, and calm any fears my parents may have about the age difference.

Wendy is right in that you cannot get defensive or offended by anything. You have to present him as a person you care deeply about, like your parents care about you. No parent wants to hand over their child (because face it, in their eyes you will always be a child), to what may appear to be some ill-meaning older man.

I got lucky, my parents were completely supportive and surprised me in being so. Your parents may surprise you too, and I certainly hope they do. If not, stand strong, I faced a lot of difficulties from my friends and I learned quickly that you cannot let it get to you or your relationship will suffer. I am proud to say my boyfriend and I, depsite the 15 year age difference, are engaged and just had our 2 year anniversary, so be positive, I hope the same for you.

And to anyone who wonders how relationships like this happen, they do. I am not saying every person becomes a magic adult when they turn 18, but some people possess more maturity than others, relationships with age differences happen all the time. What do we have to talk about? Many things. Just because we were not born in the same decade does not mean we don’t like the same shows or watch the same movies or listen to the same music. Really? Anything is possible, and I hear opposites attract sometimes too.Do not judge, since one day you may be in the same position. The heart wants what it wants, sO i’ve heard said, and while I even disagree with certain situations (51-16?), I can disagree, but it is also not my life and now for me to judge.

avatar Anon July 22, 2011, 5:56 am

“You don’t have the life experience your boyfriend does and that puts you at risk for being taken advantage of.”

Please, don’t make general statements like this. Yes, it may be true for most 18-year-olds, but not all. There are 18-year-olds that have more life/work/relationship experience than a 26-year-old still in college and living off his/her parents.

The majority of my relationships have been with people that were up to 20 years older than me, and it’s always been the younger ones with which things didn’t work out. It may not be the same for most other people my age, but not all. And even when I was 17 and a college freshman living off my parents, my best friend was 29/30. I just wasn’t like most 17-year-olds.

Just don’t assume all 18-year-olds have been through the exact same things in life.

avatar Louie July 22, 2011, 8:05 am

You are not giving credit to the guy who appears to be treating her well. Once this woman gets to be the guy’s age, no one would want her, so she ought to grab this guy now while she still can.

avatar Jennifer July 23, 2011, 10:37 pm

Just wanted to comment that I was 18 and he was 30 when I got together with my boyfriend. 5 years later, we’re still happy and in love. Speaking as someone with experience, the biggest obstacle you need to prepare for is the different relationship needs an older person and a younger person have. My boyfriend and I have had to find a lot of middle ground; he was looking to settle down and marry, I was looking to see the world and go to college. Don’t drop your life goals to please him. Make sure he can be patient while you walk the path he’s already had the chance to walk, but be understanding and reassuring. Be prepared for some big talks about the future and be honest about what you want (and what you don’t want yet).

avatar Amy July 26, 2011, 7:24 am

People keep mentioning the maturity of the girl involved as being an important factor but I wonder about the maturity of a man who falls for a teenager? I suspect the physical allure of a young girl, coupled with a possibly less challenging emotional component is a big attraction. As a parent of a 20 year old and a 16 year old, I would be concerned that an adult who is attracted to a teen is probably not terribly mature themselves.

Of course, individual situations vary, but most of the young women involved with older men defend their own maturity and I just wonder about what the attraction for the male is? Isn’t it kind of a stereotype for men to be attracted to girls–and it’s not for their maturity?

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