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Thread: The next step - how can I manage? OWYM

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019

    The next step - how can I manage? OWYM

    I met my boyfriend three years ago as a friend online. We talked about travel and decided to meet and had a great time!
    I went home thinking that I wish I could meet someone like that- since we were many years apart. I was 48, and he said he was 28.
    I have friends of many ages, backgrounds, etc. So comfortable with that. We went out again, and it was apparent he was attracted to me.

    I liked him a lot, and he seemed quite serious. He wanted to date and have a romantic relationship. I resisted the idea. He basically convinced me that we should try. I thought about it and considered if I took age out of the equation what else would stop me from dating this person? Nothing. Why not?
    Itís so hard to meet someone. He seemed sincere, we got along so well, so we started dating. At first, I held back, believing after a few months it would likely end.
    Instead, he said he loved me.

    I started to believe the relationship could work and tried to keep in mind that relationships fail for different reasons, and itís not like I had a ďdestinationĒ as I do not want to get married and have children. He did not either, which would be my main concern. It was a relief. What I find is that other people seem to want this for you, asking if youíll move in, etc. Things went well. So I introduced him to some of my friends, and they all liked him. My friends are supportive and open-minded.

    I mean, the age difference ďdisapprovalĒ especially when you are the older woman is a pressure created by society. I am independent and resilient and positive. If I want to be with him, then I can handle it. What some stranger thinks isnít their business anyway. Itís something you cannot control. Live and let live. When we were together, it honestly didnít seem to be an issue. We could be seen in public.

    I am an attractive person with everything going for me. (I am often taken for much younger, but for sure the age difference was obvious) Our relationship was really good, honest and enjoyable, lots of laughs and learning from each other. He was stable and seemed mature. We were safe in our cocoon. He was originally from another country but (came here at 20) now a citizen.
    At the citizenship ceremony last fall I discovered he lied about his age. He was 25 when we met. I didnít understand that either. So really we are 23 years apart.

    In his home country, the age difference would not be accepted. His parents lived there, so I didnít think it should be a big deal. Itís not like they lived around the corner. He had a couple of friends though, (same culture) who when we first started dating, he mentioned I was older, (and I believe he lied to them and said 7 years) and they were very judgemental. Almost outraged from the sounds of it. So he didnít want to talk about it. He said that if they said something bad about me, then he would have to stop speaking to them. This bothered me. And I thought, well, they donít really sound like friends. But I accepted that. That was a red flag, and I was making excuses. That was dumb.

    I thought any new friends should not be a problem. He was taking a college course and just finished. He was actually working on edits to his final project, and I stayed over. The next day he was going on a road trip with school friends. I took him to the bank and bakery, and we went back to his place for coffee. Then he said that I didnít have to wait around. His friends were coming to pick him up. I said I wasnít in a rush, but then noticed he seemed fidgety, and he said something else. Suddenly it dawned on me that he didnít want me to be there when they came, didnít want them to see me. So I said ďYouíre asking me to leave?Ē Was he actually ashamed to be seen with me? And I called him on it.
    Why was he worried about what they would think? Some people he has known casually for less than a year? I couldnít understand. More worried about them than how humiliated I now felt? So disrespectful. After three years, his true character was like a rude slap in the face, and there was nothing I could do about it. I donít stay if Iím not welcome. Goodbye.

    He went away for his weekend and called me when he got back, (Monday night) and we discussed it some. He knew what he did was wrong/felt badly. The thing is, he was still exhausted from the all-nighters from his final week and was also about to leave in a day to his home country for a month. Bad timing for a heavy discussion.

    Tuesday he was supposed to come for a nice dinner, but apparently got busy (preparations for trip, his friend may come by) and then said he would come later. I mean, I was expecting him for dinner, and get home and see a message at 5:30 (when I had just left work) He shouldíve told me earlier. That warrants a phone call. That wasnít nice either. So I called him. I could come now he said - but I said no, just stay home, get some rest.
    Wednesday we spent some time before I took him to the airport, but didnít talk about what had happened. I asked, and he said we will, but didnít.
    I was just going to drop him off. Then he said: arenít you going to park? Huh? Ok....So we went in, checked in, and he had a bit of time before going to chat, and inside I was just burning.
    Itís not like I want to break up before he goes on holiday. But I want clarification.
    I calmly said that I donít know why you would want to continue this relationship. You have a problem with how other people see it, and I donít think that will change.
    He said all the right things: I love you, I am so happy with you, I want this to work. What I did was wrong. I can make it up to you, sorry, we can talk more when I get back...and off he went.

    His words were white noise. I was deeply affected by his disrespectful behaviour. You canít enjoy being with me as long as weíre alone. And dismiss me because of what you presume others might say. You canít treat people like that. Itís wrong.
    You should assess people by their actions. Some things are just black and white. He crossed an important line, and I donít see how it can be undone. His own insecurities are what he should be ashamed of. At that point it wouldíve taken a lot to win me back. But I like to believe people can learn.

    Anyway, about a week after arriving, there were several days with no messages.
    At first, I thought thatís fine, since in my heart I am thinking itís over, and really awkward now that heís away. I can use this distance to process the breakup. We will sort it out when he returns.
    Then I thought well, what if something happened? I would never know since I am a dirty secret.
    I mean, I know you get busy, but in this day and age...we communicate every day. I know heís with family and donít expect him to feel obligated to ďreport inĒ but didnít know what was going on. It was worrisome.
    I also do not chase people. I try not to make assumptions. Maybe he didnít have internet who knows? Thatís what actually happened to me; that weekend my router went down, so I couldnít send anything. But he hadnít for 4 days. I am not a needy or demanding person, but based on our routine, I donít think he behaved considerately. It sadly demonstrated he wasnít thinking about me.
    It is usually better to wait. Itís not like I stopped caring about him.
    Finally, he sent something benign. I responded very directly to his message and expressed my concerns, disappointment, and confusion about the sudden lack of communication.

    Then the next few days ok. Now the next bit: he had an interview via Skype and he has been offered a job. A great job. In another city. The city is 5 hours away. The job starts five days after he gets back. So really, itís synchronicity- a blessing from the universe.

    Maybe his lack of messages was disengagement since he knew he was moving? Perhaps he already knew?The tough part will be the next two weeks heís is away, since I know itís over and yet not official. I donít know what heís thinking. What do you say? Short daily messages/photos on IG, just surface stuff, the weather, ugh. I donít know what to do...

    The move away would have been tough, but having this incident before is what really troubles me. I want to be respectful, and I do wish the best for him. I just think he needs to take a look in the mirror and especially not date anyone older again since I wouldnít want anyone to ever feel like I did and be treated like that. Or whatever reason he feels embarrassed by. Or needs to keep secret from others. It shows that he lacks maturity, but age is no excuse. He is an adult and I thought someone with sensitivity for others. Instead he behaved in an insensitive manner to the person he is supposed to love. So the age gap itself is not the problem. Itís not about me. Whether itís age, race, religion, hair colour...Acting on a presumed prejudice is hypocritical. His perception is the issue.

    What I have learned is that he was willing to allow his fear of judgment from others to ruin a good thing. His presumption of other people being intolerant allowed him to mistreat me. Not standing up to potential bullies. Thatís not acceptable.
    Hopefully, he will learn from this experience. Or karma will come for him.

    I donít know what he wants or is feeling either at this point.
    In his message about the dream job, he said: ďI know this is upsetting for us, and I want you to know that I care about you a lot and I love you. Itís just I really need to take a step in my career and this would look great, ...Ē
    This is a perfect opportunity him and the next phase. It is a 3 month contract with a year to be added, (and I doubt he will screw up). The move will be permanent.

    His move ends things naturally, but I donít think I could or should accept how he behaved in any case. Assuming he wanted the relationship to continue.
    I want to be inclusive in my partnerís life. I donít think itís healthy to keep different parts of your life separate; especially if Iím supposed to be so important to you.
    You should accept people as they are. He has demonstrated he wonít. Not me, specifically, but others perceptions, and he has to grow out of that fear of judgement. It makes no sense to me. And people would definitely think worse of how he treated me than our age difference/relationship or whatever heís worried about. Thatís the irony.

    He is at a different stage in his life, too, so I would not date someone this much younger again. Too much risk of changes.
    Usually, romantically, I would go ten years either way. I think itís got a higher chance for success regardless of gender or orientation.
    I feel foolish for allowing myself to feel comfortable and trusting him, and discouraged how it happened. I feel crushed. I should have seen this. Rather, I did see it (no parents, no friends) and ignored it. Third time was the charm. But it taught me a lesson:
    Stop making excuses for others behaviour. This is a repeat for me.

    Even if the next person I date is ďage-appropriateĒ thatís no guarantee of any ďhappily ever afterĒ. It works until it doesnít. Things can happen. Feelings can change, people can move. Right now I am very sad. Itís just so very difficult to be disappointed. Heartbroken.
    We had a lovely time until now. I love him, and have to let him go. I know I will manage and move forward.
    Itís just until he gets back it will be hard since itís not resolved. I feel sick. Having a conversation about it will probably help. All the things we wanted to do together, travel, will not happen. I wasnít ready for this. I had invested. Now I have to let go. Ultimately, he is not ready for the type of relationship I deserve.

    I donít know what I want...no contact, usually thatís what I would do.
    Overthinking now...
    Is it possible to grow from this and (eventually) be just friends (at a literal distance). See how the scar heals? If he wants to stay in touch that is. We still care about each other.
    He will be busy working, moving to his next stage in life anyway; maybe out of sight out of mind.
    I am thinking no contact. If he wanted to let me know how heís doing at the 3 month point that might be ok. If he reached out. Not me. No expectations.
    Should we discuss that/I be open to that? Or just leave the campsite in better condition than I found it and call it a day? Close the door. Often itís better that way. I want to move on too. Iím just saying whether to respond, to touch base if he did. I would feel guilty to ignore. But it may not matter. He may not. I donít know anything at this point. And I am anticipating future feelings. Too many what ifs.
    Too much to process right now.
    We need to talk.

    I have been reminded by friends not to base decisions on someone else, to stop helping, but to put my needs first, what would be best for me.

    I donít want to feel bitter or hurt; I know I must forgive him and time will heal. I just need to resolve what happened, try to understand why his love was conditional. Then to be grateful that it was enjoyable for the time we had. Isnít that all we can ask?
    You just try your best and enjoy happiness where you can.

    The relationship would have ended with his move in any case. I was doing my best to just live in the present and see how it went. And it was going great. Itís too bad this happened but it feels like the universe definitely has another path for us.

    I have to realize I have more experience and am stronger, more courageous, willing to risk/ignore judgement, and definitely would never ever do what he did.
    Doubt is toxic. Compassion and respect is everything. Real love stands up. Proudly.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    I calmly said that I donít know why you would want to continue this relationship. You have a problem with how other people see it, and I donít think that will change.

    He may not have intended to break up with you, but if someone said that to me, I would consider that they themselves did not want to continue.

    This relationship ran its course. You can analyze it however way you want to -- but you knew from the beginning that it wasn't a match and it had an expiration date. you can talk all you want on you are younger looking and have open minded friends, etc. I know he really wanted to date you in the beginning, but you could have kept it as friends only, turned him down or just decided that you were interested in a fling with a younger man young enough to be your son. Or when he would not introduce you to family, you could have had the self respect to end it.

    When he accepted the job he needed to, there was nothing stopping you from suggesting that you transfer or seeing if long distance would work - but i think in your head, you were already out the door and decided it was ending after he couldn't meet up with you that day before he was leaving due to an etiquette breach.

    I think it doesn't serve you to think that this young man wronged you. I think instead, you need to look at your choices - when you see incompatibilty, red flags but you charge ahead anyways -- you need to understand that there are risks. I am not saying all age gap relationships are doomed but he is not on the same page in life at all. You say Love stands proud == but only if two parties are compatible.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member LC8328's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    This reads like a monologue or an inner voice, if you will. Like you're thinking out loud. Which is warranted, especially considering everything that had just happened to you.

    It may be worth pointing out though that it was never confirmed that the reason he was seemingly hiding you from his friends was because of the age difference. At least, not per my comprehension; feel free to correct me. If this was discussed between you two at length and he made it clear that this was the reason, then my present thoughts might take a different route. As it stands, however, we don't know this for a fact so it's *possible* that you might be going down this whole acceptance/ age difference stigma for no reason.

    Please note I'm just playing Devil's Advocate because that's what I do, for myself as well. It never hurts to suggest a 'what if.'

    If I get bad service at a restaurant, it would be jumping the gun for me to assume that the sole reason for it was because I'm asian. It could be for a whole slew of reasons - maybe the waiter was having a bad day. Maybe he disliked me for a complete other reason. Maybe that's just how he is and my perception is wrong. I could go on and on.

    Regardless, let's agree for the sake of argument that the age difference was the reason for his disrespectful behavior. As you said, there isn't much else that can be done about it because you have discussed this with him. I agree that they way the conversation was left at the airport was frustrating. I don't like not knowing where I stand with someone and then left to wonder.

    I don't think there's much to advise you on because you seem to have a decent grip of everything on your own.

    Regarding your questions about speaking to him should he call...don't decide that now. Don't overthink. Give yourself time to heal from this. You seem like an intelligent enough person to where you can decide that on your own when and if the time comes. Personally I am not sure if it would be ideal to be friends with him after all this, but I am not you and I don't know the entirety of your situation.

    I wish you the best and hope you heal from this well xoxo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Thank you for your reply.
    I agree that the resistance to the idea of meeting his family was a red flag, and the cultural friends too. That was a mistake.
    I didnít think the relationship would develop like it did and donít think pointing out ďyoung enough to be my sonĒ necessary. Itís true, but a stigma.
    I have done long distance before and it is not for me. My life has many anchors where I live, stable job, home, my family and friends. His job is likely to mean moving around so itís not realistic. You are right in that I believe I decided to end it after the incident and that he did not intend to hurt me. We are compatible, thatís why I am sad- but he is in a different phase of his life as you said, and so the fit is not complete. Its hard to be in this limbo- i just want to have the conversation and be able to wish him the best. Your perspective on my choices is correct and hopefully I will improve them.


  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Thank you for reading and Your reply.

    You are right, I need clarification for his behaviour to have a better understanding. All I know is that the negative age difference perception of others (judging him) for him seems to be the issue with the family and cultural friends. I didnít think it would be an issue with new friends. Itís not like I was even meeting them, they were picking him up and I would have been walking with him (to my own car). He knows that hurt me. I know it shouldnít matter since the relationship is ending but think I would feel better. I just hope he doesnít date someone he is not comfortable sharing all parts of his life with, when at some level he is not comfortable with himself.

    The limbo is the hard part now...not being able to have a conversation since heís on holiday and I want him to enjoy his visit there. Bad timing.

    Yes, I think you are right about the rest- I am jumping ahead and thereís no need. I should focus on making the ending as positive as possible, since he has such a great opportunity ahead.

    I appreciate your wishes and hope you are well also

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Cloud Nine
    This is more about general incompatibility than age. You are in very different places with very different mindsets. Never try to fix anyone.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Thank you for reading
    Yes, you are right.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Never a good idea to be in a relationship where you are a secret. He always kept you on the periphery.

    This had no legs, as you are old enough to be his mother.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    The challenges and negatives clearly outweigh the positives here.

    I just find it curious that you hadn't caught onto his attitude about this until 3 years in.

    Add in all the references about how you won't live this way. It kind of shades this a little like the leaving was your decision, when it seemed as if he was starting to back out long before that.

    I am sorry. I know you are disappointed.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Thank you for reading
    You are right, and I should not have overlooked that. I thought it was more of a cultural issue. When it happened with new friends I realized it wouldnít work and his moving ends it anyway.

    I wrote this because I have not been able to talk with him and stuck in limbo until he returns from his trip and we can say goodbye.

    Take care

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