Dear Suzie, I’ve fallen in love with a man 13 years older then me (im 20) and I know my parents won’t approve. Not only is he so much older but he’s Asian and my parents are really racist. What can I do?
Age differences are tricky things to assess. The older you get, the less they matter – if you were 40 and asking about a man of 53 I’d probably laugh and tell you to ignore it. But a 20 year old with a man of 33 is another matter.
He’s a full adult and you are just moving into adulthood. He has a considerable advantage over you in authority, experience, power and influence. The motives and reasons behind his attraction to and for you may not be as clear-cut or as honest as you think, or as they might be if you and he were of similar ages. He may relish having someone who is impressed and impressionable; you may like having a father-figure. Both may make for what appears to be a satisfactory relationship at this stage but one with undercurrents that could either be harmful, or that will limit what you could have together.
And while race should have nothing to do with it, when you choose someone from a different culture you have to be sure wanting to defy or shock your family is not your primary motive. If you pair up with someone your parents neither like nor trust you may be setting up a situation in which you lose the support system of those you love – and you don’t want to do this if the person you are choosing actually relies on that happening.
If your parents love and respect you, they will listen to what you have to say on the subject of your choice of partner. If you assume they will be opposed to you and start out sneaking and hiding, let me assure you that you will be proving to them you are immature and don’t deserve to be treated like an adult. Or that, indeed, you feel guilty about your choice, which implies you feel it is something of which to be ashamed or to conceal.
My advice would be to sit down with them and tell them how you feel and why. If you can put a good case as to why this is the right man for you and that you would like them to meet him and welcome him into your family, they may surprise you.
If you can neither talk with them or make your case, either they are unremitting bigots…or you may be the one making the mistake. If it’s the former, ask friends and other family members to support you and back you up. In the end, at 20, you have the right to be with whom you choose. But if you can’t be open and honest and offer a clear explanation as to why he is The One…then maybe you should be thinking again about why you find him so irresistible.