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Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Update: “Not His Mistress” Responds

updatesYesterday’s LW, a 23-year-old young woman dating a 41-year-old man who lives with his parents, sent me an email after she saw my response and your comments, and though her reply isn’t so much an “update,” I thought it was worth highlighting here so that we may collectively help her – and maybe someone else in her situation reading this — see the light and avoid further trauma. Her response to yesterday’s column:

Hi, thank you for your response. Well, I did some digging and found no evidence of another woman. He said he wanted to introduce me to his parents last week. The reason it hadn’t happened yet was because my parents are religiously restrictive and his father and my father work at the same community college. Finally, I said I didn’t care if my father knew — that I would deal with the backlash, so he said he would talk to his parents about my situation (so his father wouldn’t go out seeking my dad) and set up a meeting.

I know most people dislike the age gap between us, but for me it’s not an issue. He thought I was ten years older than I am when I met him and I thought he was ten years younger. When we found out the actual age gap, we were about one month into dating and it didn’t phase us because we were already connecting on so many emotional levels.

We are trying to work some things out, but it just seems like everything I say he takes differently than I mean. I’m not sure how to handle that when he gets both defensive and combative. At times, I say something and when I try to elaborate what I mean, he cuts me off and says that I said what I meant. But for me, things are situational and if he misinterprets what I said, I want to try and explain it. Does he not trust me? Does he think I am just trying to lie about what I meant? I find it hard to talk to him because I’m worried that if I say how I feel, he will react with, “Oh so now I’m being invalidating…” or “I’m tired of feeling like the bad guy…”.

How do I say things so he doesn’t feel that way? I have tried saying “Baby, I’m not saying you’re a bad guy or that you meant to hurt my feelings, but when you said this it did make me feel a little hurt.” But it hasn’t worked so far. How do we bridge these communication gaps?

 
Listen, I’m going to try again here even though I know you don’t want to hear it: Your boyfriend, based on your description, sounds like a Grade-A creep. Everything – literally everything you’ve said about the guy – sends up all the red flags. He thought you were ten years older than you are? Puhleeze. He did not. Or, he probably did not. He’s just telling you that so you won’t think he’s the creep he is, dating a woman 18 years younger and only five or so years out of high school. And you only learned each other’s ages after a whole month of dating? That’s the sort of thing you find out about someone on the first date or two, unless you’re deliberately avoiding the topic. And why would someone deliberately avoid discussing age? Well, if it’s a 41-year-old dude dating a woman who’s 18 years younger and probably looks and acts it, it’s because he doesn’t want to seem the creep that he is. He wants to be able to say, “Wow! You’re only 23! You’re sooo mature – I thought you were ten years older!” And then at that point, you can claim that you’ve already learned so much about each other and invested in this relationship, that the age gap doesn’t matter (spoiler: it does).

Beyond the age difference, which you said in a brief follow-up email to me that you didn’t want to focus on because you want to “handle one issue at a time” and right now you’re “looking at the miscommunication,” what you’ve described here is NOT a miscommunication issue. Miscommunication suggests a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation of some kind. Your boyfriend isn’t misunderstanding anything; he is deliberately gaslighting you and trying to manipulate you.

One of the appeals for guys like him in dating much, much younger women is that with young age comes naivety and it’s a whole lot easier to manipulate someone who doesn’t have the life experience to quickly and easily recognize manipulation like someone even ten years older than you are. That you grew up in such a restrictive home also lends itself to some naivety on your part; you’ve probably been sheltered from the kinds of experiences even someone at 23 may have that would help her/you discern authenticity from phoniness. So let me – let the commenters here – help you see what you are missing: Your boyfriend is a phony. He’s a phony and a creep and he in not misinterpreting anything you’re saying – he just doesn’t like it and he wants to control you like he thought he’d be able to dating a 23-year-old very sheltered young woman.

Finally, I don’t care if there’s zero age difference – if you’re dating someone who was born the very same day as you: If the person you’re in a relationship with says something that hurts you and you tell him so, and he brushes it off like your feelings don’t matter or – worse! – like you’re wrong about your own damn feelings, move the fuck on. Not next month, not next week. Now. Because of all the red flags, that’s just about the reddest it gets. A person who cannot listen to or respect your communication is not worth the effort it would take to “bridge the communication gaps.”

***************
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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45 comments… add one
  • Bittergaymark September 14, 2021, 10:16 am

    I have to say the idea that he REALLY, TRULY thought you were ten years older is fucking hilarious.

    What a brilliant way to play that off. He’s clever about that much at least.

    But he’s often quite dismissive about what you have to say and that makes him an asshole. But then — lots of women LOVE assholes…(lots of men to do!) A sizeable percentage of people seemingly only date people so they can be treated like shit. Personally, I don’t get it. But hey — you do you.

    All that said — if you’re bound and determined to date an asshole — stop complaining about them being as asshole. You know. Like being utterly dismissive of your vuewpoint. NEWSFLASH: it’s all part of the package.

    Prediction: his father WILL “by accident) tell your Dad and your parents WILL KICK YOU OUT thus making your more desperately dependant on this jerk.

    You’ll argue with me now. Say I don’t know what I am talking about. And waste a lot of good years on a bad guy.

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    • anonymousse September 14, 2021, 12:13 pm

      You’re such an old soul. That’s a common one.

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  • Bittergaymark September 14, 2021, 10:18 am

    Edit: (Lots of men DO, too.)

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  • Copa September 14, 2021, 10:23 am

    Everything Wendy says is accurate. But when I was LW’s age, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing in my relationships and learned a lot of lessons the hard way. I think LW will have to do the same.

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  • Bittergaymark September 14, 2021, 10:30 am

    PS: I often think the term gaslighting is thrown around far too easily these days. But Wendy is 100% correct in calling it out here. This “wonderful guy” is textbook gaslighting you.

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  • Vathena September 14, 2021, 10:38 am

    Yeah, even without all of the other issues (guy in his 40s dating a woman in her early 20s and still lives with his parents with no plan to move out or even discuss moving out…)

    The way he dismisses you and shuts you down every time you want to talk about something is a deal breaker. He doesn’t “take everything differently”. He plays the victim to get you to shut up and go along. There’s nothing you can do or say differently that will suddenly make him not be an asshole. “Defensive and combative” is not the guy you want to build a life with. You need mutual trust and respect, and you don’t have that. It sounds like you need to move out of your parents’ home when you can – so if you’re not going to break up with this guy, at least don’t move in with him! But hey, that may not even be an option, because my guess is that he will never agree to move out of his parents’ home. I assume you don’t want to move in there with all of them. (Definitely don’t do that.)

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    • CKNott September 15, 2021, 3:36 pm

      This. 1000% this.

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  • Bittergaymark September 14, 2021, 10:44 am

    Yes… the silver lining here is that he WILL NEVER get a place of his own. I forgot that. Eventually, the LW will get real fed up and Move On Already!!

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    • LisforLeslie September 14, 2021, 11:12 am

      He will as long as it’s understood that someone else has to take care of it. Do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, maintenance. I bet he doesn’t lift a finger at his parent’s home.

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  • CanadaGoose September 14, 2021, 11:08 am

    When you started dating, did you not talk about your lives at all? Because college student living with her parents doesn’t exactly scream 33 years old. Dump him. He is absolutely manipulating you, pretending to misunderstand and be hurt so you have to comfort him for getting upset he’s an asshole. He won’t get better. He keeps acting this way because it’s been working for him.

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  • Dumpster Fire September 14, 2021, 11:11 am

    You say “we were already connecting on so many emotional levels.” and in the next breath you say “everything I say he takes differently than I mean.” Ummm…. if he takes everything differently than you mean, you are NOT connecting. The dude’s a creep. Dump him and connect with someone who wants to be with the actual you.

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  • Prognosti-gator September 14, 2021, 11:14 am

    Your response to my comment yesterday (about how your parents are uber-religious and controlling) sheds some light on the situation.

    It’s not as much about the raw age difference as it is about the difference in life-stages. In ten more years, at 33 and 51, there will still be 18 years difference, but it wouldn’t be as much of an issue because the difference in where you are in life isn’t going to be as extreme. You’ve basically just stepped out of your parents’ control (and not 100% as you were hesitant to let them know about a relationship) and are latching onto another controlling situation. Acquiescing to a situation to avoid confrontation is one way that lets controllers control situations. If you’re afraid to bring things up to him for fear it will turn into an argument, he gets his way.

    I’m not sure what you’re looking for here. You wrote in for advice. Got it. Then wrote back to explain why all the advice was wrong. From an outsider point of view, nothing has changed, so the advice is the same.

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  • LisforLeslie September 14, 2021, 11:24 am

    I agree with everyone here. If he doesn’t like what you’ve asked for then he overreacts and tells you that you’re overreacting, you’re making him the bad guy, or telling you what you are thinking (you said what you meant). Seriously, he’s telling you what you are thinking. And it’s a deflective move – let’s focus on the words – not the intent.

    He’s not misunderstanding you, he’s manipulating what you’re saying because he wants his way and he doesn’t want to deal with your needs, wants or emotions.

    This is also the reason that he’s dating women who are significantly younger – not because he thinks you’re an old soul, but because he thinks that you’re malleable and he can “train” you because most women who are in their 30’s and 40’s have opinions and needs and aren’t afraid of setting boundaries or expectations. I’m sure he wouldn’t use those words but I’ve no doubt that he said things like “Things are so much easier with you, than anyone else” or “I love how we’re so compatible, it’s like we think so much alike?” building an intimacy where if you need something different than you’re being difficult and you’re the one making life harder. Because in his mind, you should just do what he likes and he needs, because he’s the center of his universe and he should be the center of your universe too.

    Really – you need to move on and find someone better.

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  • Phoebe September 14, 2021, 11:58 am

    If I had to guess, I’d say the LW probably thinks we don’t understand the situation accurately. She wrote in for advice on how to fix her relationship, not to hear that it can’t be fixed. That’s hard to hear.

    LW: Truly, if he doesn’t care about your point of view, twists what you are saying, and is constantly making you doubt yourself and your relationship, it’s gaslighting. You don’t want this in your life. The age difference and his living with his parents are (icky) red herrings. He doesn’t treat you well and you aren’t happy. You don’t have a special connection, your relationship isn’t different, and you can’t fix this. Get out.

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  • anonymousse September 14, 2021, 12:17 pm

    Think about a 41 one year old man and where he should be and what he should seem like. Like maybe it seems cute that he’s older right now, but think about it this way- where do you see yourself at 31? 35? 40? Probably not living at your parents places and dating guys 15+ years younger than you in college who have their shit together more than you do. He’s a loser. Plain and simple. You can do so much better. I hope you see that and move on. I wish you truly only the best, not time wasted with a dud.

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  • FYI September 14, 2021, 12:22 pm

    “Then your dad will talk to my dad and then …. ”
    I mean, are you sure he’s 41? He sounds like he’s 12. Not even kidding.

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  • katmich15 September 14, 2021, 12:34 pm

    Hi LW, people often gravitate toward what they are comfortable with, and it sounds like you moved from a controlling, restrictive environment with your parents, to a very similar situation with this man. People like this man are very good at identifying how easily someone can be manipulated, that’s why he has zoned in on you. He feels power by controlling you. Please look at the definition and examples below and be honest with yourself about him.

    Gaslighting occurs when the “gaslighter ” “persistently puts forth a false narrative which leads another person (or a group of people) to doubt their own perceptions to the extent that they become disoriented and distressed. This dynamic is generally only possible when the audience is vulnerable such as in unequal power relationships or when the audience is fearful of the losses associated with challenging the false narrative.”
    Examples:
    “Countering: This describes a person questioning someone’s memories. They may say things such as, “you never remember things accurately,” or “are you sure? You have a bad memory.”
    Withholding: When someone withholds, they refuse to engage in a conversation. A person using this technique may pretend not to understand someone so that they do not have to respond to them. For example, they might say, “I do not know what you are talking about,” or “you are just trying to confuse me.”
    Trivializing: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards the other person’s feelings. They may accuse them of being too sensitive or of overreacting when they have valid concerns and feelings.
    Denial: Denial involves a person pretending to forget events or how they occurred. They may deny having said or done something or accuse someone of making things up.
    Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion and questions the other person’s credibility instead. For example, they might say, “that is just another crazy idea you got from your friends.””

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    • Teri Anne September 14, 2021, 4:49 pm

      Thank you for your clear and succinct description of gaslighting techniques. I have read a lot about gaslighting, but this articles makes it more concrete and has helped me see how my abusers have gaslighted me. I have been the recipient of all these gaslighting schemes. The bottom line is that the abuser does not care about the victim’s needs, wants or concerns, and will say whatever they can to avoid the issue and confuse the victim. I blamed poor communication skills for my inability to get my late husband to understand my viewpoint. I was sure that if I found a way to say clearly to him that he was hurting me, then he understand and would stop. In reality, he understood perfectly well but did not care, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with my communication skills. Unfortunately it took me a long time to regain my self confidence.

      Best wishes to the LW, who is already asking herself the right questions about her relationship.

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      • katmich15 September 15, 2021, 12:37 pm

        I’m glad this helped and I’m so glad you got out of that relationship, good for you! Gaslighters are very good at what they do.

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  • Rangerchic September 14, 2021, 12:45 pm

    I really hope you take to heart what everyone is saying here. I wish I would have listened when I was 18 (dating a 27 yo) – but I thought I knew better, I thought if I would just try harder, I thought if I just did everything the “right” way, he would listen to me and it would all work out. It did not – and I’m thankful it didn’t.

    Break-up, live on your own. Your future self will thank you for not tethering yourself to a man who invalidates your feelings and manipulates you into believing your feelings are wrong.

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  • Bess Marvin September 14, 2021, 5:24 pm

    Good heavens, this guy has more red flags than a semaphore school for matators.

    Take the advice you’re getting here, LW!

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  • Ange September 14, 2021, 5:28 pm

    My wonderful (/s) ex used to have this maddening habit of every time I was mad about something he’d say ‘oh you’re just angry because *something completely different to what I actually said*’. It was so infuriating because now not only was I trying to defend my original anger I was also stuck defending myself against the thing he wrongly me of actually being angry about. It’s a very effective technique to make you extra frustrated and feel like you’re being completely irrational. He also was AMAZING when we first got together. It’s called love bombing, you should definitely look it up.

    That ex was also older than me and no surprise, a total loser. He was in his 30s and still couldn’t hold down a job, drank himself stupid on weekends and regularly had to move back in with his parents. The only power he had was making me feel small. There was nothing I could do to make him understand me because he never wanted to. The sooner you realise it’s not about communication and all about him wanting you feeling at a disadvantage so he keeps the upper hand and you accept the crappy life he’s offering you the better.

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  • Dear Wendy September 14, 2021, 6:29 pm

    From the LW:

    Me again, so much more to the equation. I stood my ground and told him all the ways he’s been making me feel via email with links to psychological papers and relationship articles – he dumped me the next morning via voicemail. In that email that I spent hours into, I told him that I loved him and that he needed to let me take the reins and try things my way. His way sucked, I’m always shut down. you’re right. And I filled the email with validations and affection, logic, supportive articles, etc. I had to email him because whenever he would call me rarely, and when he would I would never be allowed to speak. God FORBID that I would say something and mean something else. My first language is not English, so I translate everything I say in my head and to me saying something and meaning it are two different things. I try and explain, and I am not allowed to. So, after the email he called this morning and left a voicemail dumping me and saying that “I know you think you are trying to be helpful when you say things, but the things you wrote actually solidified things for me and I just can’t be your man anymore). I panicked because I am battling many things right now- my relative is dying, i might not graduate on time, my period is late, so many things that I have been bedridden in depression. One battle at a time, I cannot handle all these things. I left him a couple of voicemails basically saying no- that he wasn’t going to dump me over voicemail and sure as hell wasn’t going to dump me when we were fighting. I said that relationships are hard and we were going to try mending things- and then when we were on better terms and looked at one another and said that things were still not working then fair enough. I just cannot break up in an argument, too many untamed emotions are involved. I want to try seeing a partner’s counselor, but he once again is busy during “our weekend” (weekends were agreed to be for us and this is the third one he is cancelling). I feel like I am going crazy, my heart hurts all the time, I am crying randomly, I can’t focus on anything. I love him. I told him that. I just don’t get how we went from being inseparable to this mess. It’s like he won’t let me fix it.

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    • Dear Wendy September 14, 2021, 6:30 pm

      We all think you should break up with him. I think as someone upthread said: it sounds like you’re going to have to learn this one the hard way. Or, if he stands his ground and actually sticks to the breakup, he will save you the drama of a drawn-out tumultuous, dead-end relationship.

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    • Moneypenny September 14, 2021, 6:51 pm

      Damn, what an asshole. He is doing YOU a favor. Seriously. You are not crazy. He has issues. Also, if he wants to break up with you, you need to let him. (That goes for anyone.) He could have done you the courtesy of not doing it via a voicemail, but he doesn’t seem like the type to give you the courtesy of very much anyway.

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    • FYI September 14, 2021, 8:20 pm

      Yes, he won’t let you fix it. So don’t.
      Look, your email “solidified” things for him because now he knows he is not 100% succeeding at gaslighting you anymore. Therefore he’s going to cut and run.
      If you are having to cite psychological articles in an email, then the relationship is over. Really. An article isn’t going to turn him into someone who respects you.
      But, yeah, sounds like you aren’t going to take our word for it. Good luck, and try not to waste TOO much time on this dude.

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    • ele4phant September 14, 2021, 8:57 pm

      Oh boy.

      You may not feel this way now, but believe, he just gave you a gift.

      Go be free, date dudes your own age, gain life experiences, it will all be fine.

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    • LisforLeslie September 15, 2021, 6:32 am

      I highly encourage you to mentally take a break from trying to fix this for one week. 7 days. You have a lot on your plate and this guy is only adding to your stress, not helping you balance.

      In those seven days, think about what you’re trying to save or fix. This is someone who won’t let you speak. Won’t let you air your issues. Won’t let you evaluate how you’re treated and demand better of him.

      The only way you could fix your relationship is to completely and totally ignore your own needs and serve him as he demands. No complaints, no opinions, nothing. That’s not possible and it’s really not healthy.

      I suspect that you viewed this guy as a path out from under your conservative parents. And losing that path is making you anxious. But you’d be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Please start looking for a different path, I assure you, there is a healthier route for you.

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    • Prognosti-gator September 15, 2021, 8:01 am

      Sorry. It sucks to feel this way. But in the end, it actually IS better.

      He doesn’t like that you’re showing a spine. It doesn’t fit into a situation he can control. If he comes to you looking to reconcile, it’ll be with the “condition” that things go back to “how they were.”

      DONT. DO. THIS.

      That’ll be his way of punishing you for having wants of your own. It’ll always be a sword hanging above your head that any deviation from what he wants will mean he’s going to drop you.

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      • Marie September 15, 2021, 11:09 am

        Do not get back together with him!! This is God doing for you what you cannot do for yourself. Soon you will be breathing again! Being your own true, free self WITHOUT him!!! It is actually common for an abuser to break up with his/her victim. A final insult after all the other insults! Another manipulation. I’m sorry that you are currently going through other hardships—those are relatively usual hardships in the course of life. Do not let this abuser take one more minute of your life. You don’t, thank God, have any children with him. Block him. Thank God. Move on. A better door has been opened for you. Walk through it. Don’t look back. Not now. One day when you are free and clear you can look back. You will be SO HAPPY to be free of this abusive man.

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  • Phoebe September 15, 2021, 7:49 am

    PLEASE see a doctor/ get some in-person help at this point. You’re depressed, your period is late, and you aren’t able to think rationally. You know you’re a mess. You don’t need to see a counselor with him, you need to see one on your own.

    He doesn’t need to let you fix this. No one is obligated to let you fix a relationship, no one is obligated to stay in a relationship they don’t want to be in. This will never, ever, EVER be a healthy relationship. Please, get some help if you can’t stay away from him.

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  • H September 15, 2021, 8:16 am

    This guy sounds horribly like my ex. We met when I was in my early 20s (he was ten years older). He was extremely controlling, often telling what I “really thought” when I tried to explain my thinking. After over a decade of shitty, controlling marriage (where I could do nothing right), we split, at which point he confessed that he’d only married me because he thought that I’d had “potential” when he met me and that he thought he’d be able to shape me into the wife he wanted.

    So much about this guy and this relationship sounds like mine.

    LW, please benefit from my mistake. Find someone more deserving, find someone who likes you as you are.

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  • CanadaGoose September 15, 2021, 11:37 am

    You can’t always get what you want. In this case, you have been given what you need: freedom from a terrible boyfriend. And have you ever heard the term “when it rains, it pours”? Sometimes lots of crummy things happen at once. Often, you can’t just decide to only deal with one issue at a time and you absolutely can’t force someone to stay in a relationship with you because you have too much else going on and/or you don’t like the cowardly way they broke up with you.

    Mature adults do not spend hours researching psychological articles and putting them into an email to try and convince their partner to respect them. Frankly, I’d be surprised if anyone receiving an email like that would do anything but run from the sender. Accept the breakup. Get your own counseling and get out from under your parent’s control by getting that degree, a job and your own place. There is way too much drama here. Drama is soul-sucking. Move on.

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  • Bittergaymark September 15, 2021, 11:44 am

    Boy, you are REALLY falling for his crap is you won’t let him dump you via voicemail. Who cares how it fucking ended!?!? Be happy that it ended.

    I now await the update where you are back together and oh so in Love and all is well except he keeps yelling on you. Oh, and he hit you. Once. Twice. Well, t was only a slap once and that other time… the punch wasn’t THAT hard. You must just bleed easily from the nose, so even THAT wasn’t really his fault. And you are sure that once the baby comes everything will just be a-okay…

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  • Swivel Servant September 15, 2021, 11:58 am

    Given your ex-boyfriend, my heartfelt hope is that your period is late from stress or for another reason that is not serious. My second earnest hope is that you take to heart the unanimous advice of Wendy and commentariat.

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  • katmich15 September 15, 2021, 12:54 pm

    LW, I’m going to try one more time, it sounds like you’ve realized that he is gaslighting you so you sent him information about it so he will realize he’s treating you badly and work on being a better partner. Gaslighters do it ON PURPOSE. He knows exactly what he’s doing, pointing it out to him doesn’t do any good, he does it ON PURPOSE. He broke up with you because he thinks you won’t put up with it anymore. So he will go looking for another victim unless you start buckling under again, then the victim will again be you. And BGM’s comment above, that’s the next step, is that what you want? Talk to a counselor and work on your confidence, please, you teach people how to treat you.

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  • Joanna September 15, 2021, 1:13 pm

    What everyone is telling you is correct. This guy is manipulating and gas lighting you. His next play will be to agree to get back together with you, as long as you don’t keep harping on all those feelings and those silly little articles you sent him.

    Also, you don’t get to refuse to let him dump you. He can dump you if he wants, and it’s not something you get to control. I’m guessing that your idea that this something you can control comes from how you were raised. I’m guessing any time you have tried to establish a boundary that your family didn’t agree with they would either guilt you, or punish you until you backed down. The guilt trips are along the lines of making you feel responsible for making another person happy and the only way to do that is to relax your boundary. The punishment can be anything from giving you the silent treatment to insulting you (Saying your not devout enough, you are selfish) to yelling at you, to physical violence. I suspect that this dynamic seems normal to you, and that’s why you don’t see all the red flags everyone is calling out.

    The reality is that the behavior I described above is actually abuse. And if my suspicions are correct, and this is how your family has treated you, then it means your family has been abusive toward you. That could go a long way toward explaining some of your depression. If you have spent you entire life being told you aren’t allowed to have wants or needs, it breaks you down sooner or later.

    Please see a counselor or a therapist. you’ve been hurt, and you need help working through it.

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  • Rick September 16, 2021, 3:10 am

    Wendy,
    What about a lesser age gap of say 9 or 10 years?

    Would it bother a woman if the man was 9 or 10 years older?

    Would this age difference be weird ?

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    • Kate September 16, 2021, 5:14 am

      It would be weird af if she’s 17 and he’s 27. Not weird if she’s 39 and he’s 49.

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      • Dear Wendy September 16, 2021, 6:27 am

        Yep, agreed. The older two consenting adults are, the less any age difference matters. Even a 30-year age gap between, say, a 35-year-old and a 65-year-old is a lot less weird than 10 years when the younger person is a teenager.

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      • ron September 16, 2021, 8:59 am

        I can’t really agree with the idea that the older two people are, the less an age-gap matters. Certainly an age gap between middle-aged people, say 30 and 50, is less significant than when the younger person is high teens/low 20s. But, as we get older and remaining life expectancy diminishes, the age difference becomes very significant. The age gap between the 35- and 65-year olds is very significant. One will be retired shortly, while unless they are rich, the other may still be working for at least another 20 years. The older partner is likely to be dead before the younger retires. The older likely already has, or will soon have, significant chronic health issues. A generality, but people over 70 tend to be more rigid in their thinking and less quick to learn new things and adopt new interests. The majority, if white, are Trumpists, especially if the 65-year old is male, which is usually the case with this big an age gap.

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    • Copa September 16, 2021, 9:39 am

      In this same scenario, if the woman was still a 23-year-old college student living with her parents and her boyfriend was a 32-year-old man (living with his mom or even a successful professional living in his own place), it’d still be weird because these two people are likely in VERY different stages of life. (A 32-year-old still living at home with no desire to move out would still be sad, btw.) A big part of the reason large age gaps seem less weird when both people are old is because that “life stage gap” closes.

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  • Rick September 16, 2021, 7:27 pm

    I still think most women middle aged women would prefer a partner between 2- 4 years older rather than 9 years older.

    I read somewhere that the bigger the age gap, the more likelihood of a break up.
    It said that if you want to stay married, marry someone around your own age.

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    • allathian September 17, 2021, 5:11 am

      Yeah, I agree. Although in my case my husband’s 5 years younger than I am. But it really depends on the person, too. When I was 23 I dated a guy who was 30. I left him two years later because he was too immature for me and I got sick of dealing with his immaturity.

      I mean, people can’t really control who they fall in love with, but I really don’t understand people who claim to be satisfied with a May/December relationship. They certainly aren’t looking for the sort of equal partnership that I’m living in.

      If the woman’s younger, she’s most probably looking for a father figure/sugar daddy, and if the guy’s younger, he’ll stay with his post-menopausal woman until he figures out he wants kids, or else he enjoys being with a more sexually experienced woman who can maybe teach him a trick or two while he has the freedom to play the field because he figures the older woman won’t dump him. I can’t imagine genuine, true love in either case.

      Being about the same age, or at least the same generation, helps, because you’re more likely to have similar life experiences. The whole opposites attract thing is overrated. It’s really hard to build a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand where you’re coming from. It becomes impossible if they’re unwilling to listen.

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  • Suze September 18, 2021, 10:55 am

    I’m 45 and happily married to a man 10 years older. We met when I was 38 and he 48. In our case the age gap never was an issue, because we lived very similar lives – both were business owners in the arts/media, we have loads of mutual friends and interests, and neither of us had or wished to have kids. We were two mature adults wishing for the same life. And, which might seem shallow to pinpoint but actually matters for health reasons – he’s very youthful and in good physical shape. Had he been my age I probably wouldn’t have thought about that, but since I know that choosing a life without kids and with an older man the risk of me being alone in old age increases, so I’m grateful that he takes care of himself.
    With all of this said – age gap or not, compatibility is mostly about being in the same place in life. A 23-year-old and a 41-year-old very rarely are.
    LW doesn’t need one more person to chime in with the choir, but will get it nonetheless: please save yourself from further abuse.

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