I find myself struggling with an age gap.
The gap between my husband of 11yrs (together for 20+) and myself is not insubstantial; he’s almost more a contemporary of my parents than my peers, though not quite. But the gap between him and his girlfriend of 2 years is enough for healthy biological grandparenthood, and I can’t seem to shake the ick. Though many of our shared friends are aware of the relationship, I’m too embarrassed to discuss it openly with them, never mind my family or my own friends. I just can’t stop thinking that there’s something wrong with it – and something wrong with me for letting it go on.
Do you have any advice for dealing with this? They’re both perfectly decent, reasonably responsible adult humans. It’s not perfect but we’ve gotten to a place where everyone’s getting what they need to be happy, and we’re all learning and growing. But this is proving to be a major obstacle for me – they both want to be out and I REALLY don’t – and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thank you! And thank you for bringing back your blog – your archives have been a treasure trove of enlightenment and support for me over the last several years.
You’re quite welcome. I’m glad the blog has been useful.
On the surface, there’s not much wrong with two consenting adults doing whatever. Right?
You say that the age gap is big enough for biological grandparenthood. I’m doing a little lip biting with that. That seems… like it’s trying to make the gap more dramatic. Are we looking at an age gap of thirty years or an age gap of more like fifty? This is not in any way trying to blow off concerns about age gaps. They can be real.
I’ve been involved with someone who I was about fifteen years older than, and that makes me biologically old enough to be that person’s mother since I achieved menarche much younger than that. At the time of the relationship, I was pushing 40, they were in their mid-twenties.
Was I concerned about the potential for a significant power imbalance? You bet I was! I did a lot of checking in about that, as I knew I was much, much more experienced than that person — in almost every respect.
For me, that is the real “age difference” concern — the very real potential for power imbalance.
How did your husband handle the power imbalance between the two of you when you started dating since he is so much older than you? Is your concern coming from that? To me, a big power imbalance is the only real reason a large age gap is really questionable.
Being embarrassed about a partner’s partner is a rough one, and I get that. Makes you question the person’s taste and judgment and how you are valued. I get that, too.
Do I think someone in their sixties pursuing someone in their twenties looks a bit silly? Yeah, kinda do. Thing is, there’s a big big difference between “looking silly” and “behaving unethically.”
That’s the real question. Is your partner behaving ethically?