My best guy friend from university lives in a different city from me, but we recently caught up over a long weekend when I visited him. He opened up about a big change in his life: A bachelor for years, now, at age 38, he’s been living with a girlfriend for four months. He hasn’t told anyone in his family.
Since I’m the woman he was closest to during those important years on his own, he shared what he believed was a “strategic” decision about his girlfriend, who is 28. He says he likes her a lot, and “maybe even loves her.”
However, he said he’s seen too many couples break up after having young children, and doesn’t want to fall into that pattern.
I agreed that he should take time to be sure that she’s “the one” for him, but I then raised a topic he didn’t like: He’s 10 years older than this young woman.
He tried to brush that off, then later admitted that the age gap is something that has been on his mind as well. Though 10 years isn’t that much, they are from different generations in their thinking. She’s at a more social stage, whereas he’s starting to settle into a quieter way of life
I told him that he’s chosen this girlfriend as if he’s her mentor, not her partner in their relationship.
He didn’t like that much. So, he added, “At least I’ll know her well enough by the time we get married.”
How can I be a good friend when this person I’ve liked and respected for years seems to be judging and testing this young woman instead of enjoying a genuine romance?
Age Divide, Or Love?
Your friend trusted you with his most important news. That’s a compliment which requires you to be fully honest with him, while also being helpful, which is what he’s mostly seeking from you.
Though a couple’s age difference sometimes causes judgemental reactions from outsiders, there’s thankfully less of that during this period of increased diversity among couples, age included. So, she’s young - who cares?
More concerning is her own uncertainty... but that might just be a pattern among her friends who rely on each other for support.
Most important for your friend, is his need to treat his girlfriend as a true partner. It means consulting with her - whether on some household matters, shared responsibilities, and openly discussing any relationship issues as equals.
If there’s an opportunity for you to meet her, she can use your support (but not too many questions).
Wish him and his girlfriend good vibes together!
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother who wrote about her daughter’s insistence as a bride that her cousin can’t bring her baby to the wedding (June 24):
Reader – “She could ask, ‘What is it about bringing the baby that’s so important to you?’ (when any toddlers also couldn’t attend).
“There could’ve been a discussion with the cousin and a decision that she’d find more kind and less stressful. Most moms with babies can be discreet and care for the baby without causing any distractions to the ceremony or proceedings.
“Sharing in the joy of the day and not having bad feelings can both be accomplished.”
Ellie - This reader’s response is very thoughtful and came up with the best way of either helping the new mother become comfortable with being on her own at the wedding (such as, perhaps, with the baby’s grandmother or another babysitter standing by).
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the man concerned about his new partner’s “pink stains” after intercourse (June 17):
“This woman needs to go to a doctor immediately! The same thing happened to me. After 10 years of celibacy, I started a relationship with my new partner, and began to see increasing blood stains after intercourse.
“I attended a gynecologist’s office for a uterine biopsy, and it was cancer! Two years later, after my having a hysterectomy, everything seems fine. I’m forever grateful that I began this new relationship, and that we’re still healthy and happy together!”
Ellie - This column includes readers’ concerns over health matters such as the above letter-writer’s information that raised a grave health concern of her cancer.
So, too, the recent story of an adult son’s debilitating obesity aroused reaction from readers about their own battles with weight. Also, recent letters came from men experiencing male pattern baldness.
These health-related topics also affect people’s relationships.
Tip of the day:
When our own relationships need support, trusted friends can sometimes help with difficult decisions for going forward.