Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I’m 46, dating a man who’s 14 years older than I am. We were friends for years and years, when we were both married, and always liked each other enormously. He got divorced, and then later I did, and an affectionate friendship deepened until it was love. Which is great! And we’re happy! And we’re good for each other, and we’re partners like we’ve never had (or been) before. We realize that maybe we can make it last, maybe not. Divorce taught us not to take these things or each other for granted, and we’d like this to last till … what is statistically more likely to be the end of his life than mine.
Which brings me to the point. As our friends and family are realizing this is not a brief fling, we’re starting to get the, “When you’re x, you realize he’ll be x+14,” which — yes, we do, because that is how time works. And if I could click my heels together and have him be EXACTLY the man he is now, with the experience and the hard lessons, but also be 46, then maybe I would.
But since that’s impossible, I’d rather be with him at his age than with anyone else who is not him.
My question: What are we overlooking? What is love blinding us to? If our friends are clumsily trying to identify a serious but non-obvious point that they’re not saying in a way we can hear, I don’t want to dismiss it. So far, I’m aware that it’s a trade-off, and so far it seems worth it.
I can’t figure out why people care enough to say anything. And do they think you can’t add?
If there’s a “DUH” here, this is it, and I’m beaming it telepathically to your friends. It looks suspiciously like people exercising their need to leave their authoritative mark on other people’s business, and there’s nothing like an age gap to give them something to grab/blab onto.
That is, unless they have something else they’re trying to say and are hiding behind the age thing, in which case, people, just say it.
Re: Age Difference: What they’re saying is, “You know the age difference intellectually, but you don’t know, really know, what it will be like when you get there, and it’s likely to be hard.” Which it likely will be. That is NOT a reason not to go forward with a true partner. We’ll all face hard stuff, including illness and death of loved ones, and it won’t be easy, and we will have rough times. But I know people who have married much older partners, and it’s a rare exception who wishes they hadn’t spent those years, however few and however painfully they ended, with their beloved.
I mean, do they think that by forgoing the good years you may have with this man, you will be magically shielded from experiencing grief and difficulty? What are you supposed to do with those years instead?
Right. Even those who “really know” don’t know how life will treat this couple. When in doubt, be happy for people who are happy.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.