Ask Ava: How to Deal with Outside Attitudes

Q: Dear Ava. I don’t know if I’d call myself a younger man. I’m 30, but I guess I am dating a woman that is quite a bit older than myself. Tina is 45. We’ve been together six months and have been discreet about our get togethers for the most part. This was because we live in a small town where everyone knows your business. Also, she has children who don’t know about us yet.

We recently agreed to be exclusive and started going out on dates without feeling we had to hide. I was excited about that until we noticed people staring or making rude comments. I want to introduce her to my family, but I’m worried about how they’ll react. Any advice on how to deal with all this?
– Frank, Ohio

A: Hi Frank. This is a great question because a lot of couples with age gaps have to deal with outside attitudes, whether they come from strangers or close family and friends. You did the right thing by keeping your relationship private until you knew it was becoming something more serious.

Negative comments and disapproving looks may stem from jealousy, some people hate to see others happy. Family may be worried you will get hurt. Either way, you can’t let this affect the happiness your relationship brings you. The best thing to do is ignore the negative attitudes you encounter from strangers, and don’t feel you have to go into hiding. You know what you want and you’re happy – that’s what’s important.

Talk to family and close friends about your relationship before they meet Tina. This will give them time to digest the news and sort out their feelings and reactions they have on their own or with you. Let them express their thoughts or concerns and then answer any questions they may have.

I’ve found most negative reactions to age-gap relationships dissipate once outsiders meet the person you’re dating and see you together, how happy you are. Be patient and enjoy your relationship no matter what people think. Society is getting better at embracing all types of relationships.

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