Saturday, June 23, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Concerns about daughter's beau go beyond age

Q: Our daughter, 25, is seeing a man 16 years her senior. Yes, he's 41. I'm 51. Am I crazy to feel this is just not right? The man's last girlfriend was also in her 20s, and most of his "crowd" is just as young. My daughter's answers to this are, "He's young at heart; he had a rough time and made changes when he reached his 30s; he's a good man." My husband and I have serious doubts. I think even if he were much closer in age, those same doubts would be there.

She doesn't come over to the house with him. I feel the distance between us widening and I'm just a wreck. I don't want to be a hypocrite and say I'm okay with the relationship when I'm not. How do I get past this?

Is Age Really Just a Number?

A: Whether age is "really just a number" is a legitimate and interesting question, but not the one I'd be asking. You veer that way yourself: You suspect having doubts "even if he were much closer in age."

Yes, exactly — because the doubts aren't about his age per se. His age triggered your "ick" reflex because it's close to yours.

The doubts, though, you take seriously, because this might not be love. His backstory suggests he's seeking comfort in your daughter's demographic versus seeking an equal in your daughter. It's unsettling for anyone to see a loved one targeted instead of appreciated, be it for age or income or ethnicity or whatever else.

Speak up again — but with careful respect for your daughter's autonomy and judgment. Your bobbled first tries likely motivated her to dig in to defend her judgment.

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