Let’s be honest, the dating scene can be really tough to navigate. Not only is it difficult to find someone you find attractive, but it can be even harder to find someone with common interests.
Not to mention other things like age differences, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Initial_Ad8648 was incredibly uncomfortable when she discovered her 19-year-old daughter was dating a 26-year-old, someone who would have been in high school when her daughter was a child.
But when her daughter disagreed with her, the Original Poster (OP) believed she needed to up her daughter’s punishment.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for forbidding my daughter to date a man who’s 7 years her senior?”
The OP and her daughter recently started arguing again.
“This was an argument that has been had a couple of months ago. My [54 Female] daughter Angela [19 Female] just mentioned seeing a post on here about 7 year age gap (she said 20yo male and 27yo female).”
“She made it a point to basically say, ‘See, you’re being wrong and unfair,’ so we decided that I write on here, because I think the situation is very different (and I guess the verdict of online strangers is valuable to her).”
It all started when the OP’s daughter started to attend college.
“My daughter attends a local college right now and apparently, last summer made friends with a few people in one of her classes. They would go out to lunch in between classes and study together.”
“One of the friends is a young man named Carson. She would talk about her friends and I didn’t think anything of it, because they were all young people in college and she doesn’t hide anything from me.”
Then the OP’s daughter started dating one of her new friends.
“I eventually ended up noticing that she and Carson started hanging out more often without the other friends in their group and a couple of weeks after, I discovered that Carson asked her out.”
“Angelica seemed very excited about it and apparently had been secretly ‘crushing on him’ for a while. This was all fine to me.”
“At the end of February, my daughter was making preparations for Carson’s birthday (gift, lunch reservation, etc) and in a passing conversation about potentially needing any number of birthday candles, I asked her how old he was turning, and she said 26!!”
“I was floored and started telling her that that was not okay. If you count the months, it’s just shy 3 months shy of an 8 year age gap.”
The mother and daughter could not agree.
“My daughter started getting defensive and said they met in a non-creepy way and she didn’t even know how old he was for a while because friends’ ages ‘never came up naturally in conversation.'”
“They started liking each other before the age conversation but I think that’s beside the point.”
“She also said I didn’t have a problem up until now, so I couldn’t comment.”
“But looking at her friends, it’s not like any of them looked particularly older than one another, so I just assumed that they were of similar age, even though I understand that not everyone is college is necessarily 18 – 20.”
The OP decided to punish her daughter.
“I told her that while that might be my fault for not asking sooner, she can’t be dating a man who’s that much older than her.”
“I added that as long as she lives with me and her dad, she has to stop seeing him.”
“I pick her up from college, so even though I can’t technically make her stop seeing him at school, she has to leave when I arrive after her class, and I can make sure she doesn’t see him on weekends.”
“She said I’m being unnecessarily cruel, but I’m just being a parent watching out for her.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed with the OP that the age gap was at least troubling.
“My daughter, 24 at the time, met this guy on some dating app, he said he was 27. They dated a bit for a couple of months then it was the holidays and since his family was back east we invited him over on Christmas Eve.”
“A few days before, his Father decided to fly out to see him so we invited him too. It was a pleasant evening but the guys Dad kept dropping innuendos about the age difference, but I, at the time, didn’t see anything wrong with 3 years.”
“Finally, he worked the guys actual Birth date into a conversation and he was 37, not 27. Turns out this guy’s friends had created the online dating profile for him and listed his age lower to help him out.”
“My daughter had known for quite some time but knew we would disapprove so she had not told us. The guy’s Dad also didn’t approve and it turned out he made that Christmas trip specifically to ensure everyone knew the truth.”
“Ultimately, there was a reason the guy was still single in his late 30’s, he was a dud, no personality, no redeeming qualities, and the relationship imploded on its own in short order.” – LOUDCO-HD
“NTA. I don’t get how so many people are saying YTA. She’s fresh out of highschool and not nearly as mature as he is. If she was even 23 and he was 30, maybe it would make more sense, but that is definitely concerning.”
“I think you may be pushing your boundaries by forbidding them to meet on the weekends, but I do completely understand where you are coming from.”
“Also, two years ago she was 17 and he was 26! I’d say definitely let her know but also let her know you love her and are doing this with her safety in mind.” – swaggerthanu
“People who date in the 18-25 range when they’re 10 years older usually either are deliberately looking for someone who isn’t on their level (predators) or they are on the same level, emotionally or life stage wise for reason X, Y, Z.”
“In some cases, the reason is benign (sheltered upbringing, illness, etc…) and they mature and grow along with the younger party.”
“In a lot of cases, they can’t or won’t and the younger ends up actually carrying them for the duration of the relationship (which can be decades).” – owl_duc
“I was a 17 y/o who was dating a 23 y/o and we were together for 4 years. But he was super immature and I wasted a lot of fun years NOT doing teenager s**t that I wanted to do because he was over it.”
“I’m 30 now, just finished my BA, and am starting grad school in the fall. I’m about to marry the love of my life, and he just tuned 40. It’s a larger age gap, but he’s not immature and not taking advantage of me.”
“NAH. It sucks but I hope OPs daughter sees all the comments from everyone and takes it into consideration.” – Antique_Bumblebee_13
“I met a girl at an event once and we really hit it off. Flirting nonstop, having a good time, exchanged numbers, all that.”
“Then I found out she was 18. I was in my mid-20s at the time. I shut it down immediately.”
“Well-adjusted people in their mid-late 20s typically don’t want to date a teenager and deal with the inevitable drama that comes with that stage in life. Most people have a lot to figure out about themselves in between the ages of 18 and 23 or so, and if you’ve already been through it yourself, you generally don’t want to repeat it with a partner.”
“I would be deeply suspicious of anyone his age who was dating someone that young.”
“That said, OP is not making the right moves here if she wants her daughter to stay away from this guy. If she wants her daughter to move in with her boyfriend and minimize contact with OP, she’s playing it perfectly.” – TryUsingScience
Others disagreed and said age could just be a number.
“YTA. As someone who is in a wonderful relationship with an age gap larger than that, I’m not sure what your reasoning is.”
“The only reason that you listed is that he is 7 years her senior… what’s wrong with dating someone more mature?”
“I remember the maturity level of the guys my age when I was her age, and let me tell you, it wasn’t great. If his age is the only reason you dislike him, then you are the a**hole.” – mrschia
“I don’t know, I think it’s a light red flag, maybe, but without further info, you really just can’t tell.”
“My brother met his husband when he was in grad school and my BIL was in undergrad (maybe like 20 and 26, so a little bit closer, but not much) and they’ve been together for more than a decade and married for a couple of years now, and are very happy.”
“Is it a situation that should be approached with extra care and caution? Definitely, 100%.”
“But not every relationship with a bit of an age gap is automatically terrible or toxic or abusive.”
“I know a few other examples of people in my own life with similar age gaps who met around the same age who haven’t had any huge relationship problems. It just depends, and OP won’t be able to determine which it is until she actually meets this guy for herself. She can decide what to do from there if she gets an off vibe, for sure.” – molly_the_mezzo
“OP, that’s your experience and it is fine. My aunt and uncle had a 7 year gap and they met when she was 17! They realized the age difference when she told him she was not allowed into the disco (he thought it was a joke at first).”
“They ended up dating anyway (as you can imagine, my grandfather didn’t love him) and had a wonderful marriage that lasted until he sadly passed away at a young age.”
“So… Yeah, it can work just fine.” – Gonal1
“I’m 7 years older than my husband and next month we will be married 23 years.” – Ok-World-4233
“My fiancé is 8 years younger than me. We’ve been together 7 years and friends for more than 15. Sometimes age is just a number.” – Ok_Collar_802
While the sub was split on the importance of the age gap, they all agreed the OP was going about this entirely the wrong way.
“YTA but hear me out.”
“I’m with you on the ‘he’s too old for you.’ Thing. While I think age gap relationships can and do work, the ones that tend to work start when the younger partner is further on in life. I’m a year older than him, and I work with girls your daughters age and WOW, the difference in life skills, experience, maturity is shocking.”
“However. The way you’re going about it is about as wrong as you can go. Never in history has ‘I forbid you to see that boy/girl’ EVER worked. She’s 19, not 9 and it’s a hard thing to learn but she doesn’t have to listen to you anymore. You’ve moved passed the point of being about to forbid anything. All you’ve done is told her she needs to sneak around with him.”
“If he’s a genuinely nice guy, this will probably fizzle out before it goes anywhere when the reality of dating someone who can’t legally buy alcohol on a date kicks in.”
“If he’s NOT a nice guy, the last thing you want is to romantasize him by making the relationship fun and forbidden and sneaky. AND also ensuring if she does need help or support one day, making her feel trapped and like she can’t come to you for help.” – Confident_Profit_210
“I was married to a man 12 years older than me. He was controlling, and abusive. Get to know him very well if this relationship continues.”
“Don’t push her away. If he turns out to be abusive, she’s going to need you.” – longstringofnubers
“YTA. She’s a grown adult, you cant be dictating who she sees. 7 years isnt even a large age gap, and they clearly have a lot in common.”
“Your control will only push your daughter further away from you, make her hide things, and lose trust in you. She might even prematurely move in with him to avoid your controlling reign.”
“She is not a child anymore, she can make her own decisions. This only has bad outcomes for you. It’s gross you even try to control her like this. Get a grip.” – etherealsnailfish
“YTA. Loosen the reins. You’re not wrong to have concerns, but your reaction is so heavy handed that you are almost guaranteeing that she will push you out of her life.”
“She’s legally an adult, and if you continue to be so controlling, she will simply leave, and you will lose any ability to give input.”
“A better choice would have been to express concern for the age gap and asked to get to know him.” – mimiuniverse
“Mom, I really understand your concern. However, the harder you tighten your grip, the harder she’s going to wiggle to slip out of your fingers.”
“YWBTA (You would be the a**hole) if you demand she stop seeing him. Let her get her heart broken on her own.” – swkoontz
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a small update.
“I will tell my daughter to invite him to dinner next Saturday. I know they’re still friends at school and online, so I’m sure she’ll appreciate this.”
While many on the subReddit could understand the OP’s reservations, they could not get behind how she was handling the situation. Rather than supporting her daughter and talking through her concerns constructively, she was actively doing things that would likely push her daughter away.
And if the relationship went somewhere, whether to long-term committment and marriage, or abuse, her daughter would likely need her mother in the future.