I was 41-years-old when I was dating a lovely 16-year-old girl. I made the cardinal mistake of inviting her to my company party. The gossipmonger types engaged in salacious banter that hurt my reputation. I ended up leaving that job.
At 45, I’d asked my then-girlfriend (age 17) to accompany me to my office party. I told her not to volunteer any demographical information about herself and instructed her to tailor her appearance to “look a bit older.”
Unfortunately, a senior VP’s daughter was a high-school classmate with my date and he recognized her right away. The shame and humiliation that I endured in the aftermath forced me to quit that employer.
Today, I’m on an executive track in a senior leadership role at a great company that has much career advancement potential.
I’m 48, and my gorgeous wife of eight months just turned 19. Heeding the lessons of my past, I’m extremely reluctant to take my wife to the party this week.
But skipping it would be detrimental from a networking standpoint.
However, if I attend with my wife, I risk possibly irking many people, especially since numbers of my colleagues have daughters in her same age-range. I don’t think this’ll go well in this #MeToo era. Should I attend the party alone?
It’s interesting that you don’t mention how your wife feels about this decision.
If you hold equal standing and respect in your marriage, despite your 29-year age difference, then her opinion must count equally.
The past is done, yet some facts about your previous relationships are worth reviewing.
Assuming that you were having sex with your girlfriends of 16 and 17 while in your 40s, the following should be noted:
In Canada, the age of consent to sexual activity is 16. However, in some cases, it’s higher (e.g. when there’s a relationship of trust, authority or dependency.) In the United States, the age of consent for sex varies by state, at 16, 17, or 18, with most set at 16.
It begs the question: Back then, how much say did your teenage companions have in your decisions?
They may’ve participated in legally consensual sex, but, when you were ordering someone to hide her age and “dress a bit older,” was that “a relationship of trust” which could have challenged its legality? Some of those “gossip-monger types” might have wondered.
Now for the present. Your wife at 19 now, was the legal age to marry months ago at 18, anywhere in North America except for Nebraska, the one state that sets the age of majority at 19.
So, now, what should you and your wife decide about the imminent corporate Christmas party?
Immediately discuss the choices together, being open and realistic about their pros and cons:
If you decide to skip the gathering, with its opportunities for meeting and chatting up top execs, then without a very plausible excuse, it can dim your career path.
If you attend with your wife, her youth may indeed be off-putting to some with similar-age daughters and/or raise #MeToo thoughts among currently-activist observers, despite her wedding band. That can also risk future promotions for you.
However, IF your wife feels that by going alone you insult and diminish her, that’s a risk to your relationship, and one you apparently hadn’t yet considered.
Your job prospects are important. But not more important than sharing a life of respect and love with a true partner. Decide together.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman fed up that her boyfriend keeps amassing debt he can’t repay, and doesn’t know how to budget (November 29):
Reader – “The time to discuss financial obligations was before they moved in together. The letter-writer did not protect herself by ensuring that her live-in boyfriend would be able and willing to pay debts and bills.
“I’m a man who’s frustrated by seeing women still not protecting themselves by being financially intelligent in relationships.
“She has allowed herself to be taken advantage by this man and still holds out hope that he's going to change. Yet, it's almost impossible to change someone who is financially irresponsible.
“If he doesn't agree to credit/debt counselling, paying his bills on time, looking for a job that meets their financial needs, and setting up a payment schedule for the debt he owes her and sticking to it, she needs to leave the relationship.”
Ellie – Agreed.
Tip of the day:
The age difference often matters less than the nature of the relationship.