“I feel like you’re sleeping with my father; it’s just weird,” she said when I revealed the age of my older man. After years as friends, she never minced words. We had spent our college years together dancing, drinking, and flirting with guys our own age and we were also, as the cliché goes, like sisters.
I anticipated her skepticism when I told her I was dating someone 25 years older than me, but I was confident she would get over it. Not only did she help us plan our wedding, but over the course of five years, I could tell she had grown to like him; or so I thought.
While shopping in Chicago, our long-term friendship was pitted against my loyalty towards him. We were perusing the floors of Ralph Lauren when I said the antique furniture in the store was old-school and garish. I turned to walk towards the elevator and heard her say to another one of our girlfriends, “I don’t know how she can say she doesn’t like antiques. She’s married to one.”
Initially, I didn’t respond and just stepped onto the elevator, with my girlfriends following closely behind. The minute the doors closed, I couldn’t contain my anger, or my tears.
“How dare you say something so mean and thoughtless about my husband! He has been nothing but nice to you and he takes care of me and treats me better than any man ever has.” Tears rolled down my face.
“I would rather be with an older man who loves me and respects me, than with a younger man who treats me like crap.” The crappy man dig was directed at her husband, who was a leading contestant for having the worst qualities in a husband.
I stormed off of the elevator and out onto Michigan Avenue, practically running to get away from them. I could hear her panting behind me, “I’m so sorry, I really am, I was only kidding.”
She continued to apologize profusely; I told her it was okay, but in truth, my heart was breaking. This was the first fight we’d ever had. In 15 years, we never said a cross word to each other, but the minute she compared him to an antique, I saw red and couldn’t let it go without confronting her.
Only a day passed after we returned home before she called me, crying. She asked if we were okay, and of course we were. We were friends too long to let a thoughtless comment come between us.
I learned that weekend that I love my older man enough to stand up for him, and I love my friend enough to forgive her. If you’re a lady in love with an older man, remember to clearly set the boundaries with your friends; your age gap relationship isn’t a joke and neither is his age.