How Do I Deal with People Giving My Sugar Daddy and I Dirty Looks In Public?

QUESTION: I’m 21, and a cou­ple months ago, I started dat­ing a man who’s 49. I had never dated an older man before, but we just had this instant connection—he just hap­pened to be 28 years older than me. The age dif­fer­ence never really both­ered me, until we started going out in pub­lic together and peo­ple kept giv­ing us strange looks. We’ve only been dat­ing for a cou­ple of months, but I’m wor­ried that this will tear us apart. How do you deal with people’s reac­tions when you’re a younger woman dat­ing an obvi­ously older man?

CHELSEA SAYS: First and fore­most, you can’t live your life for other peo­ple. If you’re always try­ing to win over everyone’s approval, you’re fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle. At the end of the day, you have to do what makes you happy, and if being with this older man works for you, then all the power to you (and him).

You also can’t choose with whom you con­nect. Dat­ing an older man falls out­side the bound­aries of what’s con­sid­ered “acceptable”—but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just means that peo­ple aren’t used to the bound­aries being pushed that far. It used to be the same way with same-sex and inter­ra­cial rela­tion­ships, and look how far we’ve come on those fronts. If you want to build a long-term rela­tion­ship with this older man, which it sounds like you do, then you need to real­ize that peo­ple are going to take notice because it’s dif­fer­ent, not nec­es­sar­ily because it’s wrong. Besides, what’s wrong with being a trail­blazer? Take pride in set­ting your­self apart from the pack—it’s what we Amer­i­cans do. As long as your inten­tions are true, you shouldn’t let pub­lic per­cep­tion stand in your way.

Since this is your first time dat­ing an older man, it’s nor­mal to feel a lit­tle uneasy when you’re out in pub­lic together. But if after the first few times it hasn’t got­ten any eas­ier for you to be with him in pub­lic, then dis­cuss it with your older man. See how he feels about it. If it’s some­thing that both­ers both of you, maybe now isn’t the time to ven­ture into a May-December relationship.

If you both decide that you want to be together regard­less of your age dif­fer­ence and people’s reac­tions in pub­lic, then talk about how you’re both going to han­dle it. If peo­ple stare, will you acknowl­edge them or just ignore them? If some­one passes a com­ment, will you defend your rela­tion­ship or crack a joke to make it less awk­ward? It’s eas­ier to cross hur­dles like this when you’re both doing it together.