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Why Does Age Difference in a Relationship Matter?

Updated on June 25, 2012

How Stella Got Her Groove Back. An excellent portrayal of the complications and heart felt decisions involved

Age is just a number but boundaries are important

I think that would depend, entirely, on your motivation for the relationship. Are you planning a long term relationship with marriage as the main goal? Are you just enjoying the relationship for the short term?

In any relationship we have with others, especially romantic ones with a much younger person, we should be going into them with the other person’s best interests at heart, as well as our own. I will give you a perfect example of this as seen through my eyes.

I have a friend, whom I will call Sally, she is a 52 year old professional woman who seems to have it all. She looks like she’s in her 30’s; she’s very successful, lives in the country in her own home. She, apparently, has a very sexy phone voice.

Through the course of her daily business, she struck up a conversation with a young man, 28 at the time, living in another state. This young man, whom we will call Ray, was immediately drawn to her voice and became infatuated to the point where he called her several times a day just to talk.

Of course Sally was flattered by this attention but she was 48 years old at the time, 20 years his senior, and had no intentions of ever meeting this guy or letting the conversation get out of hand. However, in a short time, the conversations began to continue well into the wee hours of the mornings.

She learned to respect him as a man instead of looking at him as a child, her son was only a month younger than he was. He owned his own business, was very responsible and reliable; he loved his parents and sister and provided for them as well.

For two years she refused to meet him in person but continued her verbal friendship with him. They exchanged photos of their favorite things and places as well as themselves. He could keep up with her in politics, religion, business and many other topics, that, and his patient pursuit, was what made her fall for him. She agreed to meet him in person.

Their first face to face meeting was what romance novels are made of. They looked into each other’s eyes and smiles erupted as they reached to hug one another after nearly two and a half years of truly devoted courting on his part.

He never stopped touching her from the moment they met until the moment he left, always a hand at the small of her back or holding her hand. While sitting on the couch after sharing a meal he would tell her of his home and his country playing with her fingers while they talked. He was always gentle, coaxing her to trust him in small increments, drawing her into him like a moth to light. Somehow, maybe through the hours and years of conversations, he knew she had been hurt and didn’t want to frighten her off in any way. He didn’t try to pursue physical intimacy at that time but soon made plans to see her again.

His visits became a regular thing; their relationship blossomed and bloomed in amazing and beautiful ways. Their future together seemed like it was all sewn up with a bow on top. It was a done deal in his mind.

A couple of years later, on Christmas, he asked her to marry him. He had a beautiful diamond ring, got down on one knee in front of family and friends and said all the right, beautiful words. She wanted very much to say YES!

The problem was this: she loved him; she loved him so much that the difference in their ages started to eat at her with guilt. She started thinking about what a wonderful father and grandfather he would be. What a devoted and loving husband he would be. She knew deep down in her heart, if she truly loved this beautiful young man, she would let him go. She said no.

That tiny little word changed their whole relationship even though she explained that her dreams for him were to fall in love with a beautiful young woman, get married and have children, to be happy and fulfilled. He didn’t buy that for a minute. His heart was broken, he felt betrayed and used.

She, on the other hand, felt justified because she didn’t want to wake up in twenty years, look into the eyes of the man she loved and see regret. She just couldn’t, wouldn’t take that chance.

They continued to see each other for another two years but the bitterness he felt started corroding the relationship. The phone calls got fewer and further apart. His visits grew further apart. He became like a wounded beast the longer she refused him and she would stop answering his phone calls.

Bottom line is this: No matter how much you love someone or how flattered you are by the attentions of a much younger person you have a moral obligation, as the older, hopefully wiser of the two, to guide them in the right direction. If you aren’t willing to go the distance then don’t even let it get started. You could lose a very deep and wonderful friendship in the process, as Sally did, one that she has missed each and every day of her life since.

Her biggest regret is that she will never see pictures of his handsome happy face at his wedding or while holding his baby son or daughter in his arms. She will never know how he is, whether he’s alive or dead. They have no contact now at all and probably never will again.

I’m not saying all May/December relationships end in this way, I’m sure they don’t. I’m just saying that before you start one do two very important things:

1. Make sure you know how far you are willing to go in that relationship.

2. Make sure the other party is in complete understanding of your boundaries and agrees.

Hopefully, if you do those two things, you may be together forever or remain friends throughout your lives and remember your romance as a beautiful stop along the path of life and love.

public domain photo reproduction
public domain photo reproduction | Source

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