herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Is he too young?

QUESTION: I AM a 34-year-old woman dating a 21-year-old man, and my friends are horrified. They see a youngster, while I know he's a sexy, smart and sincere man -- and a breath of fresh air after all the arrogant players I've dated. I always have a great time with him, and we're never short of things to say. I'm dangerously close to the age when I should be settling down and my biological clock can probably be heard ticking as far as Beijing. Am I fooling myself, or could a younger man have real feelings for someone of my vintage?

AIf you're happy and enjoying the relationship, then why try to fix what's not broken? Your friends are entitled to their opinions, but it's ultimately your decision to date whoever you like. He's a consenting adult who obviously finds you attractive and wants to be with you. If it was an older man with a younger woman, nobody would bat an eyelid.

As for your desire to settle down, this is an issue that you will have to sort out between you. If he's as smart and sincere as you say, then I would imagine he's aware that with a slightly older woman comes the possibility that she will want a family sooner rather than later.

My advice is to raise the subject with him when the time is right and get it all out in the open. Clear communication and understanding of what each other wants are key.

QA close friend married a few years ago and now has two beautiful babies. The problem is she starts most conversations with "When you're married . . ." or "When you have children . . ." I had a dental appointment recently and was terrified and her response was: "When you have children you look forward to a trip to the dentist as a break from the screaming and crying." I'm sorry, but is everything I do going to be brought back to the fact that she is married and has children? What should I say to hold onto this friendship?

AIt sounds to me that your friend means no harm but she is probably so consumed by motherhood that she finds it difficult to relate to somebody who is not a mum. I doubt that she means it in a malicious or derogatory way, but if it's affecting your friendship, then I would encourage you to broach the subject with her.

Gently explain that while you're extremely happy for her in her role as a wife and a mother, you're not in her position, and it makes you uncomfortable for her to constantly bring up the fact that you're not a mother or married. As she's a close friend, I've no doubt that she'll be understanding and apologetic for her behaviour. Don't let this lapse in her judgment ruin a good friendship.

QI am an 18-year-old daughter of a single mum and have always had the best of things: holidays, designer clothes, a car for my 17th birthday, and jewellery for special occasions. Following the break-up of my mum's relationship, we've suddenly no money. I went to see her ex, who has been part of my life since I was nine and discovered he's a married man and has moved on to a new girlfriend.

He had no interest in the fact that I can't afford to pay my car insurance or go on holidays with my friends at Easter. I know my mum is the heartbroken one, yet I feel I've lost out, too. How could he have done this to me?

AI'm terribly sorry to hear that you and your mum have been through a tough time. But you must focus on adapting to your new situation instead of moping around and thinking of all you once had. Unfortunately, it sounds as though you became too reliant on the money and generosity shown by this man. But you're an adult now, which means you must be mature and accept that he has moved on.

You will have to learn to fend for yourself. It may seem unfair right now but, believe me, you will benefit from learning that if you want something in life, you must work hard for it.

Good luck.

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