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Child relationship is ‘secret’ and there is a big age gap...should I care?

(256 Posts)
Elbad Fri 08-Nov-19 10:51:39

I hope you are all going to tell me I am definitely being unreasonable and/or overreacting/being overprotective.

My child is 21 and dating a nearly 40 year old. They are keeping this a secret as it will impact adversely his (boyfriends) work. I did a bit of digging as I wasn’t happy about the age gap…primarily because my child is quite inexperienced, and the need to keep it on the lowdown. This is a first relationship scenario for my wee one other than some very casual dating with a friend that didn’t work out about two years ago.

There seems to be a bit of a history of younger partners. One was just 17 when he was 34-35ish.

I don’t know if it’s just me and I shouldn’t be so squeamish. I do appreciate age differences aren’t a biggie but I always thought that it was more appropriate for older people and not very young adults and grown men. Throw in a level of innocence and inexperience and it just seems a bit grim.

Tell me I am being a ninny?

LordNibbler Fri 08-Nov-19 10:53:31

It really is none of your business. Your daughter is an adult.

Mrsjayy Fri 08-Nov-19 10:55:30

I have a 21 yr old and I would be all over that and make iftmy business

BinkyBaa Fri 08-Nov-19 10:56:39

I'd be concerned but all you can really do is offer support if it goes wrong. Your child is old enough to choose to date a much older person, even if there could be a worrying power/status imbalance. Is your child a man or a woman? I'm not sure you say but if it makes you feel any better, large age gaps are a bit more common in the gay community.

Mrsjayy Fri 08-Nov-19 10:57:16

Of course you can't stop her seeing him but he is keeping it a secret would be my starting point.

peachgreen Fri 08-Nov-19 10:57:36

Yuck. I don't think you're being a ninny at all - it would make me deeply uncomfortable too. There's a definite power dynamic there, and the desire to keep it secret is also a bit of a red flag imo. Why would it impact his work? Does he work with young people?

That said, I don't know what you can do, really. I would gently and kindly raise your concerns with your child - without casting aspersions or seeming paranoid, just saying that a person in a first serious relationship at 21 is going to be in a very different place to a person in their 40s who has had multiple relationships, and that difference in experience could create a dynamic where it would be possible for your child to be hurt or not treated very well, and that while you support their right to make their own decisions entirely, you do want them to be aware of that possibility and be careful to protect themselves and not allow themselves to be taken advantage of. With the usual caveats about loving them and wanting nothing but their happiness, and supporting them in whatever choices they make.

Walnutwhipster Fri 08-Nov-19 10:58:06

I don't think he'll thank you for interfering. He's not a child, stop treating him like one.

strawberrieshortcake Fri 08-Nov-19 10:58:08

@LordNibbler OP never said her child is a daughter.

OP I would be very concerned about the 17 year old ex, that is extremely predatory imo. A one off younger partner, ok but this suggests he purposely seeks out younger partners for whatever reason. They are an adult but I would advice them to be very careful.

sweeneytoddsrazor Fri 08-Nov-19 10:58:40

Age difference wouldn't be an issue as such, although it wouldn't be a preferred choice. However the need to keep it secret is an issue. You can't do very much tbh as they are both adults but I would be saying is this the right thing if it has to be a secret. Do not judge a d be there to pick up the pieces if it goes wrong .

loobyloo1234 Fri 08-Nov-19 10:58:46

Why would it impact his work? I don't think it's actually any of your business as she is an adult

Mrsjayy Fri 08-Nov-19 10:59:53

Yes I'm assuming a girl sorry but I would still be wary and vigilant.

Footiefan2019 Fri 08-Nov-19 11:00:27

is This your daughter who is going out with an older man ?
I will actually go against the grain and say I think some men date much younger women because they enjoy the power imbalance and find it easier to control these younger women. Especially as you say your child has much less experience with dating and sex . It’s easier say abusive or abnormal Behaviour is normal. But then you’ll get people saying they married their dh when they were 18 and their dh was 40 and they’re now 70 with a 5yo personally that’s not for me but it seems to work for some people.

ActualHornist Fri 08-Nov-19 11:00:41

I would be concerned, but how you broach it I don’t know.

The inexperience, the secrecy, the age gap - all add up to an older man grooming a younger (although legal) person into the ‘perfect partner’. I’d be wary.

batvixen123 Fri 08-Nov-19 11:00:53

I think it's a creepy situation and I'd be worried, but I fear there is nothing you can do except be for her when it goes wrong, which I'm sure it will.

Redcrayons Fri 08-Nov-19 11:01:26

Why does it need to be a secret. That would concern me more than the age gap.

cockcrowfarm Fri 08-Nov-19 11:01:51

Whilst it’s true your daughter is an adult, I would also feel not good about this. It’s not impossible for them to have a good relationship of course but I think that the gap is too big. I find it a bit odd that a 40 year old man would be interested in anything more than a physical relationship with such a young and you say inexperienced girl. I also know why a young woman would be interested in this kind of partner but if it was my daughter I wouldn’t be comfortable.

Do you have a close relationship with your daughter that you can discuss sex without her feeling judged?

strawberrieshortcake Fri 08-Nov-19 11:01:53

The OP has not suggested the gender of their child at all, the reading comprehension on this site is extremely poor or people are just making assumptions.

Petrichor11 Fri 08-Nov-19 11:02:11

It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

But unfortunately your child is unlikely to listen to you telling them this! As long as they’re safe from actual harm, it might just be a case of you being there to pick up the pieces when it falls apart.

Of course some relationships with big age gaps work brilliantly. But an older man who only ever seems to date much younger partners? It rings alarm bells for sure!

havingtochangeusernameagain Fri 08-Nov-19 11:02:13

The secrecy issue is a bit off, I'd be more relaxed about the age gap.

I was 23 when I met my husband, he was 32. Not as much as 21-40 but it's still quite a big age gap and its not been an issue for us. I have a friend who is the same age as me and her partner is 16 years older than we are. My mother is 16 years younger than my father though they met in her late 20s.

Why would a big age gap have an impact on the partner's work? Is your child in a vulnerable position at work eg are they a student and the partner a tutor?

EleanorShellstrop100 Fri 08-Nov-19 11:02:40

The thing that jumps out at me is how you keep calling her a child when she’s an adult! I genuinely thought that this post was going to be about an actual child and came on feeling a bit worried about what I was about to read. 21 is an adult, 40 is an adult. I don’t think it’s that weird - I have friends with similar age gaps.

MinisterforCheekyFuckery Fri 08-Nov-19 11:02:41

You're not being a ninny at all. The need for secrecy and the history of him dating a 17 year old would worry me too. How would it adversely impact his work, OP? The only reason I can think of is if they work together (in which case there's a definite power imbalance if boyfriend is not only older but in a senior role) or if he's married with a family and would therefore damage his reputation.

Butchyrestingface Fri 08-Nov-19 11:02:42

The fact that you refer to your 21 yo as “my child” is one thing - I can see that you’re trying to avoid revealing their sex. Not sure why, but hey... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But the reference to your “wee one” is taking the infantilisation a bit far, I think.

theboxfamilytree Fri 08-Nov-19 11:03:16

Sounds like she's been targeted by an abuser.

Time to inform yourself so you can support without alienating. So first off, do not tell her to leave him or criticise her choices.

Get yourself on the Freedom Programme course sharpish and read the women's aid pages about supporting someone you're worried about.

A 17 year old is a child. He is an abuser. Of course you should be concerned.

loobyloo1234 Fri 08-Nov-19 11:03:17

I did wrongly assume it was a DD. Point still applies

thenightsky Fri 08-Nov-19 11:03:52

We had a very similar issue with DD who took up with a 31 year old when she was 16. Awful man. She moved in with him on her 18th birthday and it lasted another 6 months before the scales fell from her eyes and she realised she was being abused. He had got more and more controlling, stopping her going to college or seeing friends or family (major jealousy issues). One day she rang me asking me to help her move out quickly whilst he was at work. Within 2 weeks he'd taken up with another 16 year old. Grim bastard.

Wait it out a bit OP. I know its difficult, but I'm so glad we did. If we'd forced our opinions on her, she'd have dug in for the long haul with him I'm sure. She needs to come to the realisation herself.

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