DEAR AMY: I am a 53-year-old, never-married woman. I keep in shape, and I'm often told that I'm beautiful. I've had several relationships over the years but never found "the one" guy I wanted to marry. Six months ago, I met a very interesting and intelligent man. I am falling hard for him. Here's the issue: He is 29 years old — 24 years younger than me. He is very mature, and I don't feel the difference in age when we are together. My friends are horrified and remind me that he's young enough to be my son. They tell me it's inappropriate and urge me to be realistic about any future with him. He has told me that someday he does want to settle down and have children with a wife (obviously, because I am beyond child-bearing years, it won't be me). Do you think our age difference is OK for now — or is it totally inappropriate? I understand his long-term plan, but I am enjoying the present and try not to think about the future. All that said, do you find he's not age-appropriate for me? What is the cut off relationship age for a 53-year-old woman?
DEAR MRS. ROBINSON: You are not, actually, "Mrs. Robinson." The fictional Mrs. Robinson (the character from the book/movie "The Graduate") was a middle-aged woman having an affair with a naive 21-year-old man — and the affair commenced after she had basically hunted and sexually harassed him, in the guise of "seducing" him.
Your guy is almost 30 years old. Thirty-year-old adults should be able to engage in whatever healthy, non-exploitative relationships they want. So should 53-year-olds. I fail to see what is "horrifying" about your choice to date this man. If the ages were the same but the genders reversed, your pals would be congratulating you.
Your guy has been honest with you about his longer-term goals. It sounds as if he is engaging in this relationship, having already declared an exit plan. Perhaps this is what your friends are really responding to.
It is tough to dive fully into a relationship, knowing it has an end-date. You may be trying now to protect yourself from the inevitable — and this is bound to affect the dynamic between you two.
But there is something unique and lovely about later-life love, and I certainly hope you can enjoy yourself without worrying too much about how others react.
DEAR AMY: I am so distraught. It has been almost two years since our daughter-in-law stopped speaking to us or attending any family events. I honestly am not sure why. Our son (her husband) has had substance abuse issues and has been in treatment and in AA. Right now, he seems to be doing fine, and he does come out to visit us on Mother's Day and Father's Day, etc., but he comes alone. I can only imagine that she somehow blames us for his issues. This exclusion on her part has also been extended to our other two sons. This breaks my heart every day. I don't want to pressure our son, as I know that battling his addiction issues is a daily struggle. I have phoned, written and texted her, but never get a response. She has blocked us from her Facebook and Instagram accounts. What can I do to reach her and try to bring her back into our family?
DEAR BROKEN-HEARTED: You have tried mightily to bring your daughter-in-law back into your family fold. She is refusing, and is communicating in various ways that she does not want to be personally involved with you.
So ... stop. Your tough job now is to find a way to cope with your discomfort about this relationship, without dwelling on your daily heartbreak.
You and your husband should attend an addiction "friends and family" support group, such as Al-anon (find a local meeting through al-anon.org).
In addition to learning about the complicated relational ramifications of your son's addiction, you will also learn valuable, life-changing lessons about creating and respecting boundaries and — most valuable of all — how to accept those things (and people) you cannot change.
DEAR AMY: "Upset Mom" was losing sleep because of squabbles between her adult children. Why do parents interfere and intervene in these relationships? I'm sure it doesn't help.
DEAR WONDERING: My theory is that parents get involved to allay their own anxiety about these relationships. Essentially, they are intervening so that they will feel better, even if intervention is only a short-term fix.