Dear Dating Coach,
I am a second-time-around dater. I got married to my first husband in my 20s, divorced in my 30s and I was single in my 40s. I am now 53 and engaged to a wonderful widower who is 42. I was never bothered by our age difference, but I have gotten raised eyebrows and funny looks from people when they find out his age. If I was a man, I’m sure that no one would think it was strange to have an 11-year age difference. I want to say something to these people, but I just don’t have the words. What do you think I should tell them?
On Tuesday, I heard my husband come up the stairs while I was bathing our toddler. I had been saving an exciting story to share all day and immediately launched into a dramatic reenactment. I told that story with flair. There was suspense, mystery, and a hint of sadness. There were hand motions, dramatic pauses, and at one point; a lone tear ran down my cheek in perfect slow motion. This was cinematic gold. (Sure, it’s ok to clap.) I wrapped our toddler up into a towel and turned to my husband so I could properly appreciate his admiration. He Was Not There. All that storytelling power and I was talking to myself. Well, I think my toddler enjoyed it. Maybe.
Age Is Just…
Mazel tov to you on your engagement. Kudos to you for your determination to find happiness with the right person for you. You met and became engaged to a man you describe as “wonderful,” but are concerned about the judgment you feel from those who hear that your chosson is much younger than you. You want an easy rejoinder, a quick, but pointed message that will put them in their place. You wonder; who are they to judge you, when a man would never be subjected to such behavior for dating or marrying a younger woman.
I hear you. You feel maligned by the “raised eyebrows” and “funny looks.” May I be so bold as to suggest that their reactions are merely surprise at your good fortune? Is it possible that you are misinterpreting their responses? Perhaps those looks mean, “You go girl! We are so happy you found someone so fabulous and youthful. Good for you!” Perhaps the judgment you feel from them is more from their initial amazement at your terrific news. Even if there are a few (foolish and antiquated) people who have a strange preoccupation with age, they too might be happy for you overall.
And Mine is Unlisted.
But in all likelihood, the majority of the reactions you are receiving are not a condemnation that you are older, but rather a joyful surprise that you are marrying someone so wonderful. So instead of looking for those (few) people who are judgmental ageists, believe instead that most are happy for you and say, “thank you” to those raised eyebrows. There is no audience ready and willing to cast aspersions. They are not there. So, ignore those negative thoughts and refocus on the blessing that you have been given.