QUESTION: I met an amazing man a few months ago and it’s probably the best relationship I’ve ever been in. The only thing is that he’s quite a few years older than I am, but the age difference has never mattered to either of us. Unfortunately, when I told my parents about him, they weren’t very happy. They’re convinced that this is just a phase or a fling, and that I’ll “come to my senses” about our age difference soon enough. How do I get them to accept that I’m actually in a serious relationship with this man? I haven’t introduced them yet because I’ve been too scared, but will introducing them help them to take our relationship seriously?
CHELSEA SAYS: Parents are always a point of contention with May-December relationships. First of all, you can’t really blame them because, at the end of the day, they’re just looking out for their daughter’s best interests. Yes, May-December relationships have become more accepted these days, but not there’s still that perception that an older man is just winning you over with his charm and his money because he’s using you for sex. It can be hard sometimes for parents to accept that an older man can genuinely be interested in a younger woman for more than her body. Putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their side will make it a lot easier to address.
If you’re absolutely sure that you want to commit to a long-term relationship with this man, then I definitely think that you need to introduce him to your parents. They need to see for themselves what you see in him. Introduce him as you would any other man. It’ll make it easier for them to accept that your May-December relationship is serious once they witness what kind of a person he is, and how much he cares and looks after you. And make sure you keep it mature when they meet—you don’t want to make this even harder for your parents by acting like a couple of lovestruck teenagers who can’t keep your hands off each other. As long as you and your older man are both polite and respectful, your parents should start to warm up to the idea of you as a couple. Don’t give them a reason not to fall in love with him, too.
Afterwards, ask them what they thought of him. Inquire about their concerns and address them with a mature attitude.
TRENT SAYS: I’ve been on the receiving end of this situation before. It’s not very fun. Unfortunately, words only carry so much weight. Like any relationship that others disapprove of, there are a number of ways you can show others that you’re in a loving, committed relationship—time and actions.
Phases and flings don’t stand the test of time. If your relationship is serious, it will last longer than your parents’ concerns. At some point, they’ll have to admit it’s real. Or maybe it’s already at that point and they’re just blinded by the age gap. Would they say it’s just a “fad” if you were six months into a relationship with someone your own age? Then why is it “just a phase” if you’re six months into your relationship with him? You might want to bring this to their attention, gently, of course.
While you may have told your family how great your relationship is going, or how much fun you’re having, or how you connect with him, it’s probably not getting through to them. I think it’s a great idea to introduce him to your family. Not doing so might make it look like you have something to hide. Take the high road and plan a get-together. Let them see that you two are great together, and that you’re in a loving, respectful relationship.
This doesn’t mean your first meeting won’t be a little awkward. But then again, you’d probably feel a little nervous introducing any boyfriend to your parents for the first time anyway.
Compatibility is important when it comes to making a relationship work. The fact of the matter is that a lot of younger women are tired of dating men their own age because they are immature. You just happen to have fallen in love with a man that’s older than you; one that is fun, ambitious, and confident; and one who makes you feel loved. And that’s what’s most important.