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Parallax - Advice

August 25, 2003

Does age matter?

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I'm the father of a seven-year-old girl. I recently became engaged to a girl whom I've dated for the past two years (I'm thirty; she's twenty.) I've dated her since she was out of high school and she was always pushing for marriage. Recently she lost a lot of weight (she was heavy most of her life) and now she suddenly needs her space. Have I lost her? She still acts like she loves me but I'm getting mixed signals. Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Daddy,

That depends on her market check. And she will check. Her value has significantly increased and it's no longer clear you are the suitor who clears her new market price. There really is nothing you can do other than to let her have her look-see. She will conduct her scan now or after you are married.

You might as well let her conduct her analysis and decide if she still finds you equally attractive. It's much better to break up now than go through a whole marriage and divorce saga.

Frankly, it's not clear why a twenty-year-old who is discovering herself should take on someone who is thirty with a seven-year-old daughter. Welcome to dating someone ten years your junior. Of course there are the benefits you no doubt appreciate, but you are now experiencing the drawback of the capriciousness that comes with youth.

There are other drawbacks as well, of course. But I'm sure you know what you're doing.

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His view:

Dear Daddy,

The reason you are getting mixed signals is not that she woke up one day and decided to make your life Hell. No. It is simply that your lovebird is confused. She is enthused by her weight loss, and the corresponding increase in confidence that it has infused her with—perhaps even an unexpected surge in the degree of attention she now gets from other men.

All of a sudden, life is looking very different for her than it did a few weeks or months ago, back when all she could think about was locking you in.

If you want to protect your daughter from a chaotic and perhaps ill-fated relationship, the best course of action is to call off the engagement and let your girlfriend bounce around for a while in her newfound lightness.

But lookout for the day when she comes back, twenty pounds regained, asking for her ring back. You don't want your future to be at the mercy of diets and workout regimes.

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