Caught in a difficult situation

Xevyon

Member
Hello, so I've met this girl at a concert of mine 1 month and half ago. She became a fan of our music and I talked a bit with her in the concert but she seemed a bit shy so I didn't push conversation too much. One day later and sent a text to congratulate us. I was the one to reply on our official page and noticed it was her.

As we were needing someone to do a photoshoot for us and I noticed she did have some photoshoots with merch from a brand of a friend of ours I reached out to her.

She seemed eager to do the photoshoot. I kept things mostly professional and did only a few questions here and there. She seemed still be a bit shy too so I didn't press her much to talk and kept mostly on topic.

So we kept arranging stuff for the photoshoot, only talking irregularly and I didn't think too much of it.

However, 2 weeks ago we were talking about some photoshoot stuff and eventually started talking about a bunch of unrelated topics and her curiosity did an 180 and started engaging much more and overall feeling more confident.

We then spent these last 2 weeks talking everyday.
We would talk about many things and she did become much more open, talking of herself too (while still being a bit insecure).

Basically last Thursday, out of the blue she invited me to the medieval fair from my city to hang with her and other two people (a couple I knew, one of them being our band photographer). She is not originally from here and was studying quite far, her original city is around 45 minutes from here however.

It went by pretty well and while she was a bit shy at first, by the end of the night she talked a ton.
Thinking about our day, I realised this could be someone I could develop strong feelings. I know a part of it is infatuation but still I felt we clicked really well.

Now comes one of the problems. I never asked her age and she seemed mature and her style/looks made me think she was around 23-26 years old. However I found out when we were on the fair that she was 21. (Yeah I know, could have asked sooner)

I am 31 so she seems too young for me despite being mature.
So right now I'm struggling between having developed some feelings for her and needing to end them.

The day afterwards I basically couldn't bring myself to talk with her so I gave some short answers to her texts and haven't engaged in any way until today.

We have one photoshoot coming up this week so I know she will reach out again probably tomorrow. I will talk about it but I just feel like not talking at all.

I'm not even sure if she has some or any feelings at all. Quite likely she hasn't so hopefully on her part it won't hurt her if I'm more distant.

Of course there is the whole poly thing which makes it even worse. ( I have a girlfriend of 7 years btw). I don't want to be responsible to maybe harm her with that too.

I basically wrote this mostly to vent out, tbh. If anyone wants to give an opinion or advice I'll read though. But I guess there isn't much that can be done here.
 

Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
I hope writing that out helped.
If you're not into a 10 year age difference then sweet as, you're just not into it. Kindly let her know (don't just be a ghost, that's just rude) and then go on about your life.

You could text something as simple as, "it's been cool getting to know you and so I've been reflecting on the age difference between us. It's just not something I'm comfortable with, including even as friends. After this photoshoot, for me it is best if we don't text or hang out anymore."

Don't get bogged down in the whys. Just be the responsible older person and say what you need to say.

I'm sure with a bit of courage you can find your own words.
 

Bariah

Member
Hello and welcome.
Now comes one of the problems. I never asked her age and she seemed mature and her style/looks made me think she was around 23-26 years old. However I found out when we were on the fair that she was 21. (Yeah I know, could have asked sooner)
Entirely from a personal perspective, I see no problems. Of-legal-age people can make consensual decisions and maturity is a scale. Yes, as a rule of thumb trend, most often people stick to a span of about 3-5 years age gap limit when they consider relationships, but there's no shame in dating someone younger (or older), especially if there's a a strong or growing connection. I am reading here that you might not be comfortable with your age gap, that its not your thing, but I'd also stress to question whether or not your discomfort is your own regarding this person specifically and their age, or if you are simply uncomfortable because of what attention you might attract if you date someone somewhat younger. Personally, I know some 18 year olds that are more mature than I am, more polyamorously minded, and exponentially cooler than me in almost every way, and if they expressed interest I'd date them in a heartbeat with absolutely no regrets, regardless of social implications. Again, this is just speaking personally, but I wouldnt close a door to a potential partner just because of a number, all things abiding.

Of course there is the whole poly thing which makes it even worse.

Or exponentially more wonderful if balanced and healthy. If you haven't learned much yet about poly relationships this site is a wonderful resource for learning about making it work if you're interested.


I have a girlfriend of 7 years btw). I don't want to be responsible to maybe harm her with that too.

And if you are interested, it sounds like a constructive conversation with your girlfriend about how she feels about an open or poly relationship would be an absolutely critical step 1.

Best of luck and rock on.
 
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Xevyon

Member
I hope writing that out helped.
If you're not into a 10 year age difference then sweet as, you're just not into it. Kindly let her know (don't just be a ghost, that's just rude) and then go on about your life.

You could text something as simple as, "it's been cool getting to know you and so I've been reflecting on the age difference between us. It's just not something I'm comfortable with, including even as friends. After this photoshoot, for me it is best if we don't text or hang out anymore."

Don't get bogged down in the whys. Just be the responsible older person and say what you need to say.

I'm sure with a bit of courage you can find your own words.
Thanks for the reply Evie. No I didn't ghost her at all. We had a small exchange before yesterday and after that she didn't reach out afterwards. I wouldn't ignore her.
While I would prefere that gap to be smaller I'm also aware that I might be too "sentimental" right now and maybe once I can remove these feelings right now I have no problem with being friends with someone 10 years apart. In friendships I feel there is no problem. These things are however tricky though, never know how long will take to feel ok with it.

If however I felt I couldn't come to terms with it and control my feelings then yes, I should be a responsible person and tell her as you say.
 

Xevyon

Member

Entirely from a personal perspective, I see no problems. Of-legal-age people can make consensual decisions and maturity is a scale. Yes, as a rule of thumb trend, most often people stick to a span of about 3-5 years age gap limit when they consider relationships, but there's no shame in dating someone younger (or older), especially if there's a a strong or growing connection. I am reading here that you might not be comfortable with your age gap, that its not your thing, but I'd also stress to question whether or not your discomfort is your own regarding this person specifically and their age, or if you are simply uncomfortable because of what attention you might attract if you date someone somewhat younger. Personally, I know some 18 year olds that are more mature than I am, more polyamorously minded, and exponentially cooler than me in almost every way, and if they expressed interest I'd date them in a heartbeat with absolutely no regrets, regardless of social implications. Again, this is just speaking personally, but I wouldnt close a door to a potential partner just because of a number, all things abidi
Thank you for your reply! While you made valid points and I also did emphasize she seemed mature to me I'm still unsure. I don't really care what people in general will think but I also don't know how she feels dating someone older. Also in our conversation while we debated a lot of topics, relationships and a "us' was not one of them. I guess you are seeing it from a more optimistic perspective and I'm being more of a downer about it.
Or exponentially more wonderful if balanced and healthy. If you haven't learned much yet about poly relationships this site is a wonderful resource for learning about making it work if you're interested.
That is also true, but I am not sure if she is even remotely interested in poly. I'm pretty sure she is mono.
And if you are interested, it sounds like a constructive conversation with your girlfriend about how she feels about an open or poly relationship would be an absolutely critical step 1.
I've been poly for 5 years, my girlfriend tells me is not her thing but was quite accepting. She even made a thesis about polyamory and in theory she understands it. She just doesn't want to personally do it cause she doesn't feel like she has the time or patience to find another partner.

I meant it could be bad for my love interest, not my girlfriend. Sorry I didn't made it too clear.

I never had another partner after becoming poly. I tried going into the dating scene and it never went anywhere. I tried to stick with dating sites or online places where I already knew people were poly but it has always been hard cause I live in a small country/small city.
I wasn't actively looking for something with her sort of happened to get interested and now I'm here. Haha

Maybe also cause I was very unsuccessful with it I'm kinda more expecting another failure I guess.
 

Bariah

Member
I'm pretty sure she is mono.
Doesn't hurt to breach the topic if you choose to keep this person in your life. Might help make your position in your own life clear to her if you have a conversation about the conflict you later outline in the casual sense, about how...
I've been poly for 5 years, my girlfriend tells me is not her thing but was quite accepting.
She just doesn't want to personally do it cause she doesn't feel like she has the time or patience to find another partner.
I never had another partner after becoming poly. I tried going into the dating scene and it never went anywhere.
I wasn't actively looking for something with her sort of happened to get interested and now I'm here. Haha

You never know. It could be an appropriate convo to have with her.

Sharing these details, regardless if a conversation with her boils down to "Hey, I can't really continue contact because of x, y, z", or if it boils down to "Maybe we could explore a deeper relationship, so long as you understand these details and how important it is to keep my own integrity, for myself, my partner, and for you.", a mature person would likely respond positively, and maybe even view it as an opportunity to learn something new. Not to mention the opportunity it would afford you to actually experience the opposite of
Maybe also cause I was very unsuccessful with it I'm kinda more expecting another failure I guess.

It's a trap to view yourself in the light of a failure, even if you "fail". Ludwig Wittgenstein, a brilliant turn of the 20th century philosopher and logician has a quote I love and butcher that basically says, "What might be the truth of a matter today, tomorrow it may not be the case any longer!" It's a reminder, in this case, that even under the light of a "failure", the raw potential that we create by seizing opportunities allows us to see true change, and that change can happen literally overnight, or even in a second.

While this is without a doubt your choice and in your control, I relate and see you figuring things out for good outcomes.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Xevyon,

Age is just a number, so you are 31 and she is 21, that is not a problem as long as she is mature for her age. On the other hand, if you feel you can't afford to get any closer to her, that's understandable too.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I can see how a 10-year age gap, when she is only 21, could be a problem. Now, if she were 31 and you were 41, things would be different. But at 21, she is still in late adolescence, and in a very different stage of life from a 31-year old.

But the main problem I see is that she seems to be thinking of you as a dating partner and asked you out on a double date. You went out without telling her that you are poly and have a long-term gf! If you do tell her that, the age difference might not even matter. Most 21-year olds are not into polyamory.

I would recommend keeping things light and not talking every day. But if she asks you out again, immediately tell her you're poly and see how she reacts. If she's as "mature" as you say, maybe it won't freak her out.

There is no need to rush into a sexual/romantic relationship, in any case. Get to know each other as friends, especially given the age gap.
 

Xevyon

Member
Doesn't hurt to breach the topic if you choose to keep this person in your life. Might help make your position in your own life clear to her if you have a conversation about the conflict you later outline in the casual sense, about how...
That's true. Im just being a downer about it, i guess. But i think might be too soon. I don't know her THAT well yet. But yes, maybe talking in that way might work best.
You never know. It could be an appropriate convo to have with her.

Sharing these details, regardless if a conversation with her boils down to "Hey, I can't really continue contact because of x, y, z", or if it boils down to "Maybe we could explore a deeper relationship, so long as you understand these details and how important it is to keep my own integrity, for myself, my partner, and for you.", a mature person would likely respond positively, and maybe even view it as an opportunity to learn something new. Not to mention the opportunity it would afford you to actually experience the opposite of
I don't think she would be judging tbh, but at same time, doesn't mean is something for her to persue.

It's a trap to view yourself in the light of a failure, even if you "fail". Ludwig Wittgenstein, a brilliant turn of the 20th century philosopher and logician has a quote I love and butcher that basically says, "What might be the truth of a matter today, tomorrow it may not be the case any longer!" It's a reminder, in this case, that even under the light of a "failure", the raw potential that we create by seizing opportunities allows us to see true change, and that change can happen literally overnight, or even in a second.

While this is without a doubt your choice and in your control, I relate and see you figuring things out for good outcomes.
That's actually very inspiring. I'm gonna save that quote haha.
Well, she started asking me today if im ok cause she feels my energy is off/diferent, i told her i would talk when ready for now.
 

Xevyon

Member
Hello Xevyon,

Age is just a number, so you are 31 and she is 21, that is not a problem as long as she is mature for her age. On the other hand, if you feel you can't afford to get any closer to her, that's understandable too.

Regards,
Kevin T.
Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I guess some of the conflict i feel is that is shouldn't be too paternalistic and decide for her either.
 
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Xevyon

Member
I can see how a 10-year age gap, when she is only 21, could be a problem. Now, if she were 31 and you were 41, things would be different. But at 21, she is still in late adolescence, and in a very different stage of life from a 31-year old.
Thanks for the reply!
Yes, that's true and that was my main problem. But as i answered above I'm conflicted cause i feel it would be paternalistic to not even give her an option to decide.
But the main problem I see is that she seems to be thinking of you as a dating partner and asked you out on a double date. You went out without telling her that you are poly and have a long-term gf! If you do tell her that, the age difference might not even matter. Most 21-year olds are not into polyamory.
My thoughts about us hanging out was that it wasn't a date. I didn't see it that way and I assumed she asked more people to come so it would be a casual hangout cause they are my friends too. I wasn't trying to be decieving either.

I was also going to tell you that I don't even believe she has feelings for me, however today she has been asking me today how i am and that she feels "my energy is off/different". This might not a proof of anything but made me think twice about that statement.
I would recommend keeping things light and not talking every day. But if she asks you out again, immediately tell her you're poly and see how she reacts. If she's as "mature" as you say, maybe it won't freak her out.

There is no need to rush into a sexual/romantic relationship, in any case. Get to know each other as friends, especially given the age gap.
Yes, that does sound like a good plan for now. I don't have any rush either. I think is the combo of me being poly and she 21 that made me go into overthinking mode.
 

Bariah

Member
Yes, that does sound like a good plan for now. I don't have any rush either. I think is the combo of me being poly and she 21 that made me go into overthinking mode.

Reading your response to Magdlyn, it became clear to me that you might be having "Choice Paralysis", and having to think about so many complicated variables will do that to you. Mag's answer helps to alleviate the pressure. Your response to both Mag and the girl is promising in that you are keeping cool and collected about it. Sounds like you're going to put the convo on the backburner for a bit and reevaluating when things become clearer to you how you want to approach the more complex parts of having in-depth conversation. Good call.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hi Xevyon,

Yes, she is old enough to make her own decision, let her decide once you have told her that you are poly. Deciding for her would be paternalistic.

Regards,
Kevin T.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, she is old enough to make her own decision. Let her decide once you have told her that you are poly. Deciding for her would be paternalistic.
I disagree. Both parties get to decide if the age gap is something they are comfortable with or not. I don't see that it's a "paternalistic" issue. Say the 31 year old was female and the 21 year old was male. If the woman decided she didn't want to date "a kid" and would rather date a more mature man closer to her own age, it would not be "paternalistic," would it? Ironically, in the patriarchy, older men very often delight in dating much younger women whom they can control under the guise of protecting or teaching them. However, that said, it's not out of the question in any gender configuration to have an age gap, as long as everyone is an adult. Some younger people really do crave guidance, and some older people enjoy being helpful mentors, in a perfectly pure way.
 

Xevyon

Member
Reading your response to Magdlyn, it became clear to me that you might be having "Choice Paralysis", and having to think about so many complicated variables will do that to you. Mag's answer helps to alleviate the pressure. Your response to both Mag and the girl is promising in that you are keeping cool and collected about it. Sounds like you're going to put the convo on the backburner for a bit and reevaluating when things become clearer to you how you want to approach the more complex parts of having in-depth conversation. Good call.
Thank you for the reply. Yes that's exactly right. We didn't even meet in a dating app or similar so I'm not even sure she sees it that way either. We are going out next week for a dinner. We didn't set it up as a date but maybe is best to tell her, even if I introduce it more like a casual thing, trying to not make a big deal out of it.
I'm not too good at this and never had to do it before so makes me nervous I guess.
 

Xevyon

Member
I disagree. Both parties get to decide if the age gap is something they are comfortable with or not. I don't see that it's a "paternalistic" issue. Say the 31 year old was female and the 21 year old was male. If the woman decided she didn't want to date "a kid" and would rather date a more mature man closer to her own age, it would not be "paternalistic," would it? Ironically, in the patriarchy, older men very often delight in dating much younger women whom they can control under the guise of protecting or teaching them. However, that said, it's not out of the question in any gender configuration to have an age gap, as long as everyone is an adult. Some younger people really do crave guidance, and some older people enjoy being helpful mentors, in a perfectly pure way.
Thanks for the reply! As I said I'm unsure about it, in part due to how she might feel about that "gap" too. So my conclusion after introspection and your comments would be to at least give her the opportunity to reject it if she is not comfortable rather than me deciding to shut the door without she having any input.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
We are going out next week for a dinner. We didn't set it up as a date but maybe it would be best to tell her, even if I introduce it more like a casual thing, trying to not make a big deal out of it. I'm not too good at this and never had to do it before, so makes me nervous, I guess.
Yeah, if she's only ever seen you alone I would bet she thinks you're single. Try to bring up your gf somehow! Mention an activity you two did together, or something like that.
 

Xevyon

Member
UPDATE:
I'm sorry guys, I failed you all.
We ended up going out and I was trying to see if i had an opening to talk about the poly stuff. However, the conversation turned south when she started talking about her recent breakup. It was quite recent and this made me second guess if she might need time to heal and I could be rushing things, so I got scared of maybe putting too much on her plate.
She generally seemed interested to be around me but told me she was a bit intimidated by me (not in an "I scare her" way. Mostly cause we both play guitar, she is a fan of my band, and she feels a bit l"lesser" cause she doesn't have the motivation to do music, etc.).

I didn't try any moves on her either, but she got close to me, touching me sometimes and leaning her head on my shoulder.
We set another date, though I don't know if will be happening. She told me she will tell me when she was free to come to my city. Honestly, I have no idea if she will actually set a date though.

If she does I can't let this slip again or I honestly don't deserve her. She has always been so kind to me.
You guys are free to scold me now. Hopefully, she sets the date and I can still salvage this.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
So... basically there's this young adult woman who recently broke up with her BF, and is coming around you and your band doing some photo work and kinda hanging around like a fan girl? Maybe kinda "hinting" she wants to date but you aren't sure?

And you are attracted to her but feel weird about the age gap? Honor your own feelings then. And don't date her right now because you think she's too young at 21 and would be happier about it if she were 25.

I myself prefer a 3-5 yr age gap but my parents and aunts and uncles? Some are in 10-17 year age gaps. I think the only people it matters to is the people actually involved so long as nobody is a minor, and it's not like a young adult getting preyed on/groomed or something by the older adult. Or vice versa.

To me? In those shoes? I would keep my life easier and decide to give this one a pass.
  • One, she JUST broke up. If she's looking for a rebound relationship or woobie person it does not have to be you.
  • Two, you don't feel good about the 21-31 age gap at this time. You should not have to talk yourself into ignoring or overlooking one of your own turn offs to date someone. When all you have to do is wait. She won't be 21 forever. Or give it a total pass and look for someone who is ALREADY 25+ in age.
Think about it...
  • 11 + 21 would just be gross. Some young adult messing about with a prepubescent.
  • 21 + 31... legal, but actually emotionally prepared? You are not excited about it.
  • 25+35... you sound like you could deal with that better.
  • 51+61... what's the big deal?
See how over time these age gap things change? Rather than go back and forth on it, you decide to pass for now. Maybe 25-35 feels better and you ask her out then if you both are in a dating place then.

Or you want a 25+ yrs old person RIGHT NOW, in which case you give this one a pass and just move on.

But DECIDE SOMETHING. Which then makes deciding subsequent things easier. Because you align your behavior to the main decision.

I didn't try any moves on her either, but she got close to me, touching me sometimes and leaning her head on my shoulder.
You think:
  • I decided to give this a pass. This isn't like cuddling a dating partner. So I am not comfortable with her touching me like that.
Solution:
  • I need to state my boundaries. "If we're becoming friends, great. But I am not comfortable with this kind of touching. This is friends, not dating. Please respect that."
  • Esp if she's just broken up and wants to use you like her new warm body woobie person.
We set another date, though I don't know if will be happening. She told me she will tell me when she was free to come to my city. Honestly, I have no idea if she will actually set a date though.

Concern:

I decided to give this a pass. I need CLARITY that this is just hanging out as friends and not like a romantic date.

Solution:

You could speak up then before she's in town. "Hey, I need clarity. This is setting a date to hang out as friends when you next come to town, right? And not like you asking me on a non-date date, but really... it's a romantic date? I've been getting mixed messages."

If she does I can't let this slip again or I honestly don't deserve her. She has always been so kind to me.

Are you NOT wanting to let this go? You DO want to date the woman?

Then just ask her out properly on a romantic date. She will tell you "yes, thanks" or "no, thanks."

If she's always been kind to you? Be kind back by providing CLEAR INTENTIONS rather than pussyfooting around.

You guys are free to scold me now. Hopefully, she sets the date and I can still salvage this.

What exactly are you trying to salvage that you broke or messed up?

I don't scold. But I will gently suggest you consider no longer being your own bully. The " I don't deserve her" down talk stuff. Why do that? Is this a habit?

And why not? You think you don't deserve to be around nice people?

I could be wrong, but most of this sounds like you not being direct in your communication with her and trying to mind reader or guess what she's thinking so you can ask her out and not risk her saying "No, thanks." Like you want to know the answer is gonna be "yes" before you ask the question so you don't have to feel yucky.

And kinda upset you can't magically do that. So it feels yucky anyway.

I suggest you become more firm of purpose.

This "what if this and what if that" only seems to be cranking up your anxiety around it rather than moving anything toward some kind of conclusion.
  • Decide if you are going to bend your age gap preference thing for this one or not.
THEN
  • Decide to ask her out now
  • Decide to wait til she's older to ask her out
  • Decide to never ask her out. Interesting person to come along... but came at the wrong time so "no."
This fence sitting thing doesn't sound like a pleasant place to sit. So... for what it is worth? I suggest getting off the fence.

Galagirl
 
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MeeraReed

Well-known member
So you still didn't tell her you're poly and have a girlfriend?

Ugh. I am going to be blunt here.

The #1 thing I figured out between age 21 and 41 (now) is how to suss out when a guy is actually seeing someone else and being vague about it. (I mean, I think I figured that out by age 28, but even now it stands out as the one thing I remember about being 21 and that I realize I didn't know how to navigate then, and definitely had to learn the hard way).

At 21 I would assume someone was totally single if they didn't mention a relationship. And that might have been true for many people age 18-21, the default is that you are often single at that age. But as people progress through their 20s, it gets more common for people to be in a relationship than single. So at 25 or 28 you might assume that anyone you meet is more likely to be in a relationship than single. But that was a surprise to me, and at 21 when I did meet a 28-year-old who paid attention to me, it wouldn't have occurred to me to even ask if he was seeing someone--I assumed since he clearly liked me that he was single.

I was incorrect. He swore later that he had never "directly lied" to me about it. Oh okay, thanks so much. Obviously he didn't try that on a woman his own age.

By 28, of course, I knew how to just ask directly if someone I like is seeing someone. Wouldn't even have occurred to me at 21.

And by then I could also read people better when they were being indirect or vague. And walk away if they couldn't communicate directly.

Yes, poly adds some complications to all that. I do sympathize that it can be hard to know when to tell someone I'm poly and seeing someone if we meet in a way where it has not come up obviously or organically.

But here is the thing. If this girl were you own age, she would know how to ask you things directly. Like ask you on a date, ask if you are single, etc. Being direct instead of hanging around like a fan girl and waiting for you to take the lead. Grown-up communication.

That's what most 21-year-olds can't do yet, unfortunately.

And it's on you to come clean about yourself, or walk away before confusing this poor girl any further.

At this point you are leading her on.
 
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