I flipped out because we had barely started college and this guy was in
his mid 30s already, but he “acted and looked younger than his age” and I
was like, that doesn’t sound appealing Friend. Afree their first date,
she was already talking about marriage and having him convert to our
faith and I had a hard time not screaming, because it just all freaked
me out, but I didn’t know what to say without being a jerk. I regret
I regret not saying anything because this friend asked for my opinion
and I was afraid that I was being judgmental and unsupportive—I never
dated anyone before, what did I know? I just felt squicked and thought
she should hang out with more people than this guy and all of his older
dude friends, but I thought that might across as ageist and a–hole-ish.
They’re still dating and that’s her social circle right now. Haven’t
heard from her in four years.
I thought I should probably clarify: I don’t have a problem with people
having friends or relationships with older/younger people! That’s fine
as long as both parties are legal and consenting and are in a
relationship of equal or appropriate footing. My concern for my friend
was that she was young and desperate to date and she just latched onto
this older guy who just surrounded her with all of his older dude
friends and it got so serious so fast.
Don’t worry anon, I’m right there with you! I have known a lot of girls and women–myself among them–who dated older men. There were a lot of similarities in these cases–namely, we were all relatively inexperienced with dating, and these guys seemed like mature ~men~ who would take care of us, when what they were actually doing was targeting a very specific type of girl who would unquestioningly put up with their shitty treatment of us.
I agree with you that there’s nothing wrong with an age difference as long as all parties are on equal footing–but the problem is that age differences usually don’t have that. There is almost always some kind of power play at work there. Guys do this a lot–take younger girls, mistreat them, and then when the girls feel brave enough to speak up, they say shit like, “I always forget how young you are” so that the girls feel compelled to “act mature” by not saying anything and letting the treatment continue. Another girl–considerably older–did this to me, so it’s not limited to men, but they do seem to be the main perpetrators of it.
Your concern for your friend is definitely valid–and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do, because the more you try to urge her away from him, the harder she’s going to cling to him. All you can really do is let her figure things out on her own and be there if and when she comes back. :/