Dear Cheryl: I've started seeing a friend. We've shared the same social circles for two years. Things have been getting more serious lately and we're both OK with it. He fits all the criteria — he has a good job, we have shared interests, etc. But he's almost 20 years older than me. He'll be 60 this year. What are your thoughts? — I'm the May in This May-December Romance
Dear ITMITMDR: If you're interested in dating and not interested in getting married anytime soon, I can't see that the age difference matters. It's so common, I doubt you'll get a second look. But if you're thinking long-term, that's another story.
Nobody can tell you whether your friend will go parachuting on his 80th birthday like former President H.W. Bush or he'll need to have his diaper changed. The bottom line is, as in any relationship, there are no guarantees. Your friend could outlive you. He could remain healthy and you could die prematurely. He could stay vital and you could become incapacitated. He could wind up pushing your wheelchair and dispensing your meds.
But chances are that's not going to happen. His body and/or his mind will probably break down before yours. If you marry him, you'll probably have to deal with his deteriorating health. And since women generally live longer than man, you'll probably spend your last 20 or more years of life without him. Ask a 60-year-old divorced or widowed woman how easy it is to find a new partner. It's not.
Whatever you do, just be sure to make the decision with your head as well as your heart.
Dear Cheryl: I'm going to be a senior in high school this fall. However, my boyfriend of two months is going to college in September. It's very awkward bringing up the subject of whether we should stay together or not. What should I do? — I'm the May in This May-June Relationship
Dear ITMITMJR: It's not fair to either of you to demand exclusivity when you're both so young. Sit your boyfriend down, and tell him that you care for him and hope that your relationship continues, but that you expect him to date, and you'll do the same. If you two are meant to be together you will be. But in the meantime you both need to be free to enjoy your lives.
Dear Readers: "Confused" recently wrote about the relationship between her boyfriend and his 19-year-old daughter-in-law. He spoils her and takes her side during arguments between her and his son. She even told him to kick "Confused" out of the house. "Confused" said she sometimes thinks of doing harm to herself "just to get even."
I told her to leave. I said: "Something weird is going on in the house. You need to separate yourself from the situation immediately and then get into therapy. Hurting yourself to get even is never, ever an option."
"Confused" has written back.
Dear Cheryl: "I'm afraid that if I leave I might not be able to come back. I love my boyfriend, but I can feel that our relationship has gone sour. When I tell him this he says I'm wrong. But he also said I should move out and that he would visit me twice a week. — Still Confused
Dear Still Confused: My advice still holds. Get out, and get into therapy.
Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."