Occasionally writers will create an article in response to another piece by another writer. For example, in my community, a journalist recently wrote about a tragic pitbull attack on an elderly woman where the woman was killed by the dog. The writer who reported the opinion piece believed the community needed to stand up and do something about vicious pitbulls. As you can imagine, pitbull lovers from all neighboring cities came out against this opinion and another writer wrote an article in response to the piece, taking the stance that it’s not the dog, it’s the owner. You get the idea.
I have come to the conclusion that I owe the world an article in response to something.
Let me set the stage for this.
My writing career started with an article about dating an older man and dispelling the judgments that surround age difference relationships. Through writing about a subject that, frankly, was never really talked about openly on the internet before, I received hundreds of emails in support and appreciation from young women that felt as though I was a pioneer for age gap love. In their eyes and in my own, I was making something traditionally taboo normal, through sharing the details of my relationship on the internet. I often felt like a fairy, sprinkling a little normalcy on a relationship outsiders typically turned their nose up to.
Five years after that first, deeply personal and honest article went live, I have allowed dozens of other deeply personal and intimate truths to slip from my fingertips and into the abyss of the world wide web. These articles have always been in favor of dating whomever makes you happy in this world, regardless of age.
My age difference relationship ended about seven months ago, after seven years together, and I have been having that out of body experience some do when they finally get out of the fog they have been living in and see things clearly.
I have to write an article in response to my own now, in response to age gap love being 100% normal and good.
The first basic thing you should know is I lied. Not completely but I rounded sharp edges, I polished the rust off the damaged spots of my life. I claimed to bare my heart for those reading along and see now, in hindsight, that I only told half the story.
In my defense, I have been wearing rose-colored glasses for the past seven years. I felt that I was being loyal to my boyfriend by not sharing everything, only the parts that made us look good, the parts that made our relationship look shiny. I never had an issue sharing my own personal troubles, my own personal flaws, but I felt this deep need to protect our relationship. To never expose anything that put a light on our bad qualities or the tension that lived behind our closed doors.
I want to be honest this time when I tell you that my relationship ended because of a lot of things. Jealousy, insecurity, abuse in a number of shapes and forms- vices, words, emotions, a lack of emotions, stress, coping skills, grief, hate, love and so on from us both, not just him and not just me but us as a unit. Part of me wants so badly to hold true to all those articles I wrote that said age didn’t matter. Part of me still wants to just let it lie, say it was all these things and not the age difference. Yet, I sit here knowing fully that I will never get myself into another relationship with an age gap.
As much as it pains me, I have to admit that the age difference was an issue and I have to be mature enough to say I was wrong.
Age does matter. At least in the demise of my relationship it did. And it will matter in all future relationships I embark on.
It matters in so many ways and can be tied into each and every other reason that I listed above. I won’t go through specific examples but I will say that being with someone who isn’t in your general age range is beyond hard.
I was just starting my life while my partner’s life was entering a season of calming down. I was headed to 8am business meetings while he was headed to a Monday free of obligations and schedules. I was walking toward marriage and babies while he was walking through the door to happy hour. I actually can’t believe I am saying this but it’s impossible to navigate life with someone who isn’t even on your metaphorical street. Not even the same neighborhood. Not even the same city.
And how sad for one of you to sacrifice for the other. For him to start over, or for me to never start. For one life to be forever altered by the other. Maybe that’s true love, I don’t know. I used to think so, I used to be willing to give up anything for the man I loved. My 28 year-old-self is really, truly glad that I didn’t give up, that there is still a lot of life ahead of me.
Don’t get me wrong, there where issues well beyond being in different life stages but today, I can easily see how age played a roll in all other issues. Either in the front seat, commanding complete attention, or quietly in the back, out of sight but never out of mind.
And there you have it. My truth today, different than it was 3 years ago, both authentic to my experiences at the time. How painful, beautiful and exciting it is to grow in your life, to see things from a different angle and to adjust accordingly instead of staying rooted in ways and lifestyles not meant for you.