Carolyn Hax: Advice

Do’s and don’ts of dating younger

Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: How young is too young? I’m nearing 40 and recently single (no kids yet). I’ve been asked out separately on dates by two guys who are in the mid-late 20s. Too young? I feel somewhat more compatible with the younger men (at least 4 or 5 years younger), in part because I don’t have kids yet. I’ve found that a lot of the men my age or older are already settled, meaning they have kids, sometimes already grown. I still would like at least one child, if possible.

May-December Romantic

The “too young” line is at legal adulthood — anything over that is none of anyone else’s business. For a date to be the right age emotionally, he needs to be mature enough to be dating just for companionship, and to be paying attention to you — meaning, to you as a person and not to the generalities you represent.

That goes for you, too, by the way, because you need to focus on the person on a date with you and not on his age. That includes everyone from these mid-20s people to the already-have-grown-kids people, who, for all you know, may be open to the idea of another child, if they loved raising kids and they love the woman suggesting it. You really can’t lose by valuing individual over category, a favor you presumably hope these men will return. Good luck.

Sorry, Carolyn: We disagree on this one (where you tell a mom not to fight her daughter on getting tattoos). Her parents are shelling out around $100,000 per year for her to attend a private liberal arts college. If this doesn’t give them some say in her body art, what does? I’ll bet if she had to take a semester off or transfer to her local community college she’d come around to their way of thinking PDQ.

Anonymous

Yes. And resent them for it for a good long time.

Thanks for writing in. You’re right that the parents have that kind of say, of course, for as long as they’re paying her way. I was merely noting it would be short-sighted of them to use it, especially over a tattoo, which on the crisis scale barely rates an eye-roll. This arm-twist-by-tuition ($100,000 at the University of Hyperbole) will cost them far more in their relationship with their child than the tattoos will cost their daughter socially/professionally/whatever. Which is supposedly the mother’s concern.

Using money as leverage in general is what people do when their arguments aren’t strong enough to get the job done on their own.

Re: Tattoos: The mom is worried about the daughter changing her mind — but parents can change their minds, too! My parents were very unhappy at my first tattoo. A few years later, my dad surprised us with his own! Then we all got matching family tattoos, and went on a family trip to the tattoo parlor for a couple more.

Anonymous

Tell me you all got Mom on your biceps, even Mom.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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