Dear Harry and Louise:
I have been with my girlfriend for almost two years now. She is absolutely beautiful, our sex life is fantastic, and I enjoy spending time with her. But I’m concerned about our difference in age. I’m 37, and she’s 23. We met at a bar when she was a senior in college. It took us a few months before we had our first date (she was getting out of a relationship), and I was having fun playing the field. So much time had passed between our first meeting that my expectations were pretty low. Nonetheless, we hit it off. Let me say it again: She is gorgeous, and frankly the best-looking woman I’ve been with. I like our relationship the way it is now, but I’m contemplating marriage and kids, and am worried that she may be too young. We’ve talked about our “future” together, and she says she could envision herself with me for the rest of her life. Am I crazy for worrying that while she says this, she may at some point realize she wants to experience life and date other men before settling down?
Along the same lines, she is mature beyond her years, like most women, and gets along with my family and friends. But because she’s much younger, I feel she doesn’t always have as much in common with me and with them, and sometimes I’m worried I want someone who has more life experience, so to speak.
While it may sound trite, I just don’t want to waste my time or hers. Am I blowing this age issue out of proportion?
Old And In the Way
• • •
There is no one right move that will guarantee a happy future together. The two of you sound like the perfect couple on paper. Move? Paper? Are we completing a chess play or a math equation? This isn't either—and therein lies the dilemma.
Ask yourself this question: Do you love this girl? You never did mention the "L" word, which is fine; it may be there and you simply inadvertently misplaced it. You already have so many of the other necessary parts of a great relationship (on paper): attraction, fun, getting along so well. If you do love this girl, then why in the world would you consider leaving her now because of a birthday problem?
Stay with the girl, continue to grow together, continue to expand each other’s worlds and bring joy to each other’s lives. This may culminate in a lifetime commitment and wedded bliss. Or it may not. Step off the timeline and focus on what makes you happy together, not on the mismatched numbers that don’t look so perfect—on paper.
You are certainly not wasting each other’s time if you are each other’s warm place to come to.
• • •
Valid concerns, my friend, but let me begin by saying: "Lucky boy!"
You have begun a relationship with a woman you find beautiful. And you have great sex. And she actually "could envision herself" with you for the rest of her life. And she happens to be younger by a few years.
I fail to see the problem in this picture, and am tempted to advise that you shut up and get on with it. As my friend Jim said when he saw Louise, "Marry her!!!"
With regard to her age, we've both met women at bars who are 45 and behave as if they were in high school; we both know women who are 23 and have enough depth and candle power that we want to spend years with them.
What concerns me a tad about your query is that you never mention the "L" word. Are you in love with this young lovely? Is she in love with you?
If you have no doubt on that score, then I would share your concerns with her about your age difference. Be honest. The question of whether she wants to date other men could be corrosive. You must trust that she won't dust you for a younger man.
• • •
Think about the "L" word and your concern about life experience. Do you want a woman who has had many boyfriends, or a girlfriend who has something to talk about? If it's the latter, then think twice before you travel further down the love path with her. You should seek the back-and-forth conversational delight while fully clothed.
Fully clothed or not, as an older man with a young, beautiful wife, I can understand both your fears and your hopes. It's worth the risk.
Harry and Louise will be taking a short holiday from answering your questions. Please look for our next column on Tuesday, January 3.
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