Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week: What do you do when your BFF is dating a much younger man and seems happy, but you just can’t get past the age difference? Email email@example.com
Dear Scary Mommy,
A few years ago, my best friend got divorced from her husband and the father of her two young kids. I fully supported her throughout the separation and divorce, and was happy to be there for her during her time of need. She was blindsided by her ex’s betrayal and it took a long time for her to recover. Fast forward three years later, and the first man she starts dating is 28 years old (for context, she’s 41). They’ve been seeing each other for a few months, and she wants to introduce him to her kids. I want her to be happy, but honestly I can’t get past the age difference. I seriously doubt a 28-year-old single guy would get serious about a middle-aged mother of two, and I don’t want her (or her kids) to get hurt again. I haven’t expressed my disapproval because I don’t want her to feel judged, but I don’t know how much longer I can pretend it doesn’t bug me. If it were her ex dating a much younger woman, we’d absolutely judge him! Isn’t this the same thing?
Well, I have good news (aka a cold, hard truth) for you: your BFF’s new relationship has nothing to do with you. You’re allowed to have feelings about it, especially because you’ve been a good friend and I believe you genuinely don’t want her to get hurt again.
But at the end of the day, you can’t control what other people do, who they spend time with, and how they lead their lives. You can just be there for them if it works out, and, of course, if it doesn’t.
Have a little faith in your friend—I’m sure she doesn’t want to go down a hurtful road again either, much less drag her kids along for the ride. But she also deserves the right to be happy and to find intimacy with another partner. You haven’t mentioned anything about her behavior being worrisome or this guy’s influence being questionable, so I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she’s got something good going here.
As for the double standard age difference thing—no, it’s not hypocritical to judge an older man who dates a much younger woman. Why? Because the power and privilege men have ins society, coupled with their greater likelihood of being predatory in general, is entirely and statistically different from older women and younger men. Older women don’t have the same social capital and predatory inclinations that men do.
Basically, your friend isn’t a creep. She’s connecting to a man she cares deeply about, and he happens to be 13 years younger than her. In the words of Lucille Bluth, “Good for her.”