I am a 24 year old lawyer. I like to think that my life is pretty orderly, but nine months ago, I fell deeply in love with a 51-year-old man. This is hugely surprising to me, but it is the most amazing relationship I could have imagined. He is sensitive, kind, funny, generous and, in my opinion, very handsome. The problem is … the age difference! I wonder what I should think about this. I am generally a conservative person who does not like to shock public opinion.
Now, for the first time in my life, I am faced with a big decision: whether to go with this beautiful man or to give up on him and follow a more traditional path. I should add: I never want to have children and neither does he.
Eleanor says: If you’re going to stick with this guy, you’d better prepare yourself for some suspicious questions: what is he doing with someone half his age? Are you sure he’ll still like you when they’re both 20 years older, or will there be another 24-year-old in order by then?
If you are sure that you Know the answer to those questions, your answer when other people ask you may be “buzz”. There are too many people in the world to let them get into your head. You have to assert your rights as sovereign over your own choices at some point; You do not exist to be the aggregate of all that everyone else has to say.
You are very clear about how this relationship makes you feel. Your letter is full of substance and consideration. Think about what it would be like to dump this man: you would try to find a relationship without the age difference, but the fact that you broke up with this man, before finding out if things turned sour on his own terms, will mean that he fixes your memory on the idealization of early romance. This relationship will lurk over the shoulder of your next loves, a beautiful ghost waiting to haunt your living heirs. Whenever your prospective partner has a bad day or bores you or is just dusty and familiar, you will have the memory of Mr. 51 to compare. It’s not fair to them if they fail, and most people fail when compared to a promise of happiness that is thrown away too soon.
Staying can go wrong, of course. You may find that one of the main attractions of 24-year-olds is that, at that age, we are too young to know all the red flags, so we have to go through a complete phase to identify the problem before we that we can break up with him. While we learn, a bored or bully still gets us a girlfriend. However, there is good evidence for this: do your man’s friends vouch for him? his mother; any ex-partner? Does your worship feel like it has you in his sights, or is he worshiping the image of himself reflected in your eyes? And do you feel what you feel for he, Or is it the relief of being free from guys your age who don’t know how to comfort or touch a woman? I can’t give you the answers, but your gut and your core probably know.
What I do know is that the age difference itself, and the specter of other people’s disapproval, are not reasons to neglect your happiness. You will undoubtedly raise an eyebrow, but we’re going down to earth anyway, who cares? You can prove your critics wrong by living what they deny: you are an adult. And adults don’t have to do what they are told.
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