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Parallax - Advice

June 10, 2002

Double-digit gap

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I'm 22 and I have a male friend who's 43. We've been friends for a year. Lately, I feel like he's flirting with me (nothing sexual). He always notices what I'm wearing and compliments me (especially when I wear a certain outfit). He teases me (in a good way) and I run into him in unexpected places. I have other male friends his age, but they treat me like a daughter (and I think of them as father figures). Things are different with him. It's not that I think there's a future for us...I know there isn't. I'm just wondering if I'm reading him right. Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Young Thang,

Sounds like he's interested. He shows all the signs—flattery, concern—it's classic. So you do, in fact, have an admirer.

The question is whether you are interested. If you are not, you should give him a clear signal that a relationship is not a possibility. It sounds like you aren't quite sure, though. If you are not interested, you should really cool it. Go out in groups only, stop wearing that outfit and shut down his flirting—he'll get the hint.

If you continue as is, he will eventually make his move and you will be put on the spot. If he makes a move and you decline, you may lose him as a friend. If you don't decline, you have definitely lost a friend. Decide now, while you still have all your options.

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His view:

Dear Young Thang,

There is no such thing as non-sexual flirting. Please make a note of that and refer to it in the future, as circumstances may require.

Yes, you are reading him right. You could be his daughter, but you are not. You are legal, and old enough to make up your own mind.

And why does there have to be a future together? He may not want a future with you, either. In fact, I can almost assure you he doesn't. If you like him, and he likes you, the only thing holding you back would be idiotic social convention.

I don't think large age differentials are conducive to healthy, long-term relationships, but I don't see them as an impediment to short and sweet ones.

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