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To end a relationship with a man because he is significantly younger than I am?

(35 Posts)
thefeeling Wed 04-Jan-17 12:25:35

Until the end of last year, I was in a relationship with a significantly younger man for a year and a half. I’m 38. He’s 25. I and my ex-husband divorced 4 years ago. I met my ex-partner at a bookstore. We shared the same tastes in literature, and that served as a springboard of what was to come. He has the maturity of someone 10 years his senior. In the beginning of our relationship, I didn’t really ponder the bigger picture. I was just swept up in the euphoria and excitement of the moment.

But towards the end I was far more pragmatic. His family gave him stick for going out “with an old woman” and he did say he wanted children one day – I’m way beyond that now. I still love him. Immensely. But with the age difference, I just don’t see a real future between us. He’s very young; has his entire life ahead of him. I’m middle aged. He has called and texted, proclaiming he doesn’t care about the age difference It’s difficult to resist, but in my mind, resist I must. I feel like if I cave in and get back with him, I’ll be holding him back in the future. He certainly doesn’t see it like that but I do. Right now he’s in Germany (he’s half-German/half South African but lives in the UK) and he says when he comes back he wants us to meet and talk.

ElspethFlashman Wed 04-Jan-17 12:27:25

If he wants children "some day" then it's not really fair to either of you.

And he's not actually that mature if he's oblivious to that.

YouTheCat Wed 04-Jan-17 12:28:30

Meet him and talk.

My dp is 10 years younger than me and I've never been happier.

SparkleShinyGlitter Wed 04-Jan-17 12:29:15

I don't personally think 25 & 38 is that big a gap and wouldn't bat an eye lid but if you can't deal with that, then end things and move on.

I am 13 years younger than DH, we have been together 19 years and the age gap has not caused us any problems.

TwentyCups Wed 04-Jan-17 12:31:35

It's a difficult situation, and I really feel for you. I personally don't think an age gap, in and of itself is a problem, but shared goals in life are.

If he envisages having children one day, and you do not, that's not something you can compromise over. It's a deal breaker. Obviously your age plays a role in this, but if you were both 25 it would still be a problem - the only difference is you would have time to mull it over longer.
As far as his family go - I wouldn't let that bother you if he doesn't.

I think you should meet him to talk things through - explain where you see yourself in ten years and ask where he sees himself.

I think over the years your differences could cause huge resentment.

Pinkheart5915 Wed 04-Jan-17 12:35:26

That age gap is fine. Isn't the fact you like each other all that matters here? I don't see the point in thinking "what if one day he wants x,y,z" Nobody can guess or know what they want in 10 years time.

There is no way of knowing what the future holds for either of you, so you need to live for right now. If your being offered a chance to be happy with him right now then I say take it!

Meet him when his back and see how it all goes.

DH is 15 years older than me, we've been together years and it's never been an issue

dingdongthewitchishere Wed 04-Jan-17 12:36:47

The actual gap is not the problem, your expectation of life and your views of the future are.

If you feel that you are too old to have a child now (and fair enough, but you're only 38, so it's really just your choice), and he wants a family, I agree. It might be easier to end it now and give you both the chance to meet the right person.

I think sometimes being with a younger man keeps you young. On the opposite side, look at Catherine Zeta-Jones. She is lovely, but I think she behaves and dresses like a much older woman than she really is. Age does not mean anything, your attitude and comfort does mean a lot. I don't mean women dressing up like teenagers, but some getting in shape, being curious and starting to explore the world, travelling, starting new careers. Is 38 middle age? I don't believe so.

In short, it does not matter how old you both are. You just need to be on the same path about your life.

thefeeling Wed 04-Jan-17 12:37:25

TwentyCups The children element was the driving element to me breaking it off. I can't give him any children. As you say, you can't compromise on such a thing. I don't want to put him into a situation where in a decade - as you mention - he'll harbour a ton of resent.

MummyToThree479 Wed 04-Jan-17 12:41:55

Live for now, why worry over things that may or may not happen in the future. none of us know what our futures hold or how long we will be on this earth so if your offered a chance to be happy then fucking grab it

When his back meet him and have a talk see how it goes, talk about children in the future and make you being "past" all that clear and talk things over.

my nana and grandad have 25 years between them, they are still going strong

Gruach Wed 04-Jan-17 12:43:04

38? 38?

Please let that be a mis-type ...

someonestolemynick Wed 04-Jan-17 12:44:18

No one can really answer this question for you.
It would be sad if the only thing holding you back was age.
First of all, speaking as the younger half of a couple with a 20 year difference, you will need to be able to treat him as an equal. Your main objection seems to be that he doesn't see the limitations implying he can't possibly have thought it through as thoroughly as you have. If this is symptomatic for your relationship and your instinct is to "mother" him it's not a good dynamic for a relationship and you should end it.
Otherwise trust him to know his mind if he's assuring you that you're not holding him back. These concerns seem to be more about you than him. I assume you feel guilty/ greedy or similar for saying a younger man. Why? Because it's not the done thing? Because you are "using" him?

There is the practical issue of him wanting children and you not wanting children. Have you had an open discussion about this. Put your cards on the table and come to a decision together. As it is now, you are not protecting him you are making decisions for him.

GemmaWella81 Wed 04-Jan-17 12:47:36

My dad is 20 years younger than my stepmum...

It was alright when he was 25 and she was 45. Now he's in his early 50`s its awful, she has dementia and is in an end of life phase. All it seems he's done the last few years is care for a rapidly aging partner and missed out on so much and will soon be left alone.

Age gaps can be fine at the start... Maybe not for everyone in the long run.

thefeeling Wed 04-Jan-17 13:01:42

someonestolemynick Well, we spoke on the phone about a week ago and I brought up the point about children. He said it’s ok – he can live without them. But the way he said it wasn’t convincing. It felt like he simply said it because he’s desperate for us to get back together. In 5 years, that can easily change and the resent and feeling of lost possibilities can arise. I fear that.

DorindaJ Wed 04-Jan-17 13:09:50

Your decision, although painful now, is the right decision. You could live for today etc, but that would be merely deferring the issue. He wants kids, and you can't/don't. It is hard.

Ilovecaindingle Wed 04-Jan-17 13:17:23

I met my dh when I was 42 and he was 31. . We now have a 2 year old!!
Been together 4 years and still fab!!
He is a great step father to my kids also.

AnUtterIdiot Wed 04-Jan-17 13:20:40

It's true that no one knows what they will want in 10 years time, but statistically most people are likely to want them at some point. A friend of mine is currently divorcing because she doesn't want kids and he does; they're in their late 30s. They both thought they would want kids when they started out.

AnUtterIdiot Wed 04-Jan-17 13:21:46

Obviously I'm not trying to imply that people should want them, or that it's weird not to. I'm just saying that children are one of those things that most people do want, or don't want to rule out having even if they're not sure.

Elendon Wed 04-Jan-17 13:29:09

My exh met his affair partner when she was 38. He was 45.

At 45 and 52 respectively (it did involve him getting a vasectomy reversal), they are now the proud parents of 8 month old twins.

38 is no age. I had my third at 40.

niminypiminy Wed 04-Jan-17 13:31:30

You are middle aged at 38???

Although fertility declines plenty of women do go on to have babies at that age or later. I did myself. My DH is also 10 years younger than I am.

It's also entirely possible that one or even both of you might change what you want through being together. While it's foolish to think 'we love each other so none of our differences matter' part of serious, long term love is giving up what we want for the other person - as long as both parties are willing to do this. You don't have to have it all cut and dried before you start, and you don't have to say no to a relationship because of differences - but you do then have to be prepared to change and compromise.

catstolemyhead Wed 04-Jan-17 13:34:30

You can still have a baby at 38. Plenty of folks have had children around that age. The question is do you WANT TO? I don't think the age difference is all that significant. The big "if" is the children part. Personally, I think in relationships you have to comprise, but when it comes to the desire for children, that's something you just can't compromise on. When you bring a child into this world, both parties have to be on the same page. There's simply too much at stake.

DailyFail1 Wed 04-Jan-17 13:37:59

The age gap isn't the issue here. It's the vast difference in how you both see your immediate future. A colleague of mine, recent graduate so only 22, married his 40 year old wife last year & they're expecting their first child in the spring. They met online and she told him after a few dates that she was looking for something serious and wanted kids soonish & my colleague did too . So if you do prefer younger men but want kids more or less immediately then you should make that clear from the start really.

niminypiminy Wed 04-Jan-17 13:42:19

catstolemyhead I agree, with one caveat: my DH did change his mind about children. He didn't want them at all, but I did, and he eventually agreed because it was so important to me. We didn't start on the same page but we eventually did arrive on it. That's why I would always want to leave the door open for the possibility of change. Other people see this as very much a deal breaker (if you/he doesn't want them, the relationship must be broken off). My experience - rare though it might be - means that that isn't always the case.

expatinscotland Wed 04-Jan-17 13:42:31

YANBU. In fact, you're being a brave person, you can't give him kids and he wants them, although perhaps not now. Be the bigger person and let him go.

Elendon Wed 04-Jan-17 13:53:25

I'm three years older than my exh. When he met his affair partner, he waxed lyrical about her youth, even though she was the same age as you!

Unfortunately, we live in a society where older women and younger men partnerships are still not accepted. I was always seen by my ex as the older woman and that he was my toyboy! Three years older!

ovenchips Wed 04-Jan-17 14:22:34

Can I ask why you have ended it?

Is it because you know he will want children in the future and you don't/ can't, and are trying to save him from future resentment/ heartbreak/ inevitable split?

Or, are you trying to save yourself from heartbreak in case he splits with you in the future over the no children issue?

I ask because if it's the former (ie for him) then I sort of think that's his decision to make. If you are very clear with him that children won't be happening, and he is willing to forgo them to stay with you, then I think you should respect that decision. Of course he may still end up resentful and split with you in the years to come about it, but again that will be his choice to make (and we none of us have a glass ball to know how we will feel in the future).

If you are splitting with him now because of the latter (to protect yourself from what you see as inevitable future heartbreak/ split) then that is your decision to make. It's different though, as you are not going to 'miss' your chance of having children through pursuing this relationship.

I sort of think you are saying the former though, so think a unilateral decision to split at this point - when neither of you want to be apart - may be premature.

I would think a lot of painfully honest discussion about what you want and what you are prepared to forgo - and what that really means to both of you, needs to be had first before you part ways. Best of luck!

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