I have a 23-year-old daughter who is studying in a different city than where her father and I live. I recently found out from a friend whose daughter is at the same university as mine that my daughter is having an affair with one of her professors who is almost double her age. I was in shock – it was something I could never fathom, that my daughter is in a relationship with a man almost my age. I tried to talk to her, but she won’t let me. Every time I try to bring up the topic, she cuts the conversation short and leaves. On the one hand I have panicked and on the other hand I don’t want to lose my child. I don’t know the best way to handle something like this and would like your input.
There are many reasons why a young lady might choose an older man. Sometimes she may be looking for a substitute for the father who may have been emotionally distant. Some others may be fascinated by a man with financial independence or societal power, something she has not experienced in her own social environment.
But it is possible that this choice is due to the fact that the young woman met someone truly remarkable, a person with whom she can communicate on multiple levels, something that she may not have found with people her own age. After all, usually boys of this age mature emotionally and socially at a slower rate than girls.
Something similar may be happening to your own daughter. How you will react depends a lot on the relationship you have already built with your child and also on this man’s character.
If this is a girl who is mature for her age, who usually doesn’t act impulsively and let the chips fall where they may, then maybe she has found a man whom she values and admires and with whom she can build a balanced relationship. In the case that it is a single and not married man who also treats her well, with respect and love, then maybe you don’t need to worry so much. It would help your relationship with your daughter more if you trusted her, accepted her choice, and listened to what she has to say about her man.
But if you find that your daughter’s behavior has changed, that something is wrong, if you see your child unhappy and troubled, if you suspect that her partner is trying to manipulate her, then you should help her understand that this relationship does not help her to develop as a person and to enjoy the joy of love and the tranquility of love.
How easy or difficult this is to do depends on the relationship you already have with your daughter. If it is a relationship of trust and love it will be easier to talk to her, without however directly blaming her for her choice – and her partner, with whom she may be in love.
In the opposite case, she may need a member of your family or circle of friends whom she trusts and loves to speak with her.
The age difference is not the issue per se, but the man your daughter has chosen – and that is where you should focus. If this man offers her joy and love, age is just a number.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.