Relationships & Age Gaps :/

I know this whole thing is very silly - I have very few close friends to talk to about these things & I know a public chat board isnt really the place for "close friends" necessarily, but I find that the people on this site listen & help.
So I thought I'd come here with my issue.

My boyfriend & I have an 11 year age gap, we've been together for a year and a half. Generally we're quite good together.

I'm not necessarily a typical 21 year old. I have trouble socializing when it comes to developing close relationships, particularly with women. I have trouble understanding most social norms & I usually have to think about the norm before performing it. In some waysI choose to have few friends & it doesnt bother me. I have considered to be an old soul - but I think it's just because of my interests in studies among other things.

He is not necessarily a typical 32 year old man either, he works from home with his own business & is also a professional dancer like jazz/ballet, etc. We do share an interest in dance & he does train me.

Occasionally it feels like he expects more from me emotionally. My love language is words - to be told or reminded. His is acts - when I do something for him, or support his work.

I've just come home from an argument we've had at least 5 times. I have these dresses, they're a bit baby doll - and he told me once, that he doesn't appreciate them. He says they make me look younger & him older, that they make him feel insecure & that he doesn't like to be affectionate with me in public if I'm dressed this way.

Though I understand, my feelings were hurt & I was very upset. I stopped wearing them around him. Today however (4 arguments & some months later) I had a job as a facepainter for a childs party & wore the dress. I went to see him at his house after. I figured it was okay since we weren't going out. Before I was about to go home, I changed out of pajamas & back into my dress, he looked at me and said, "It looks cute"

It was a compliment, but I felt angry. After all this time of me thinking he dislikes it, avoiding wearing the dresses no matter how much I love them - now he says he likes it - but only a certain way which he cannot explain.

after some talking - he says to me frustrated, "you can wear it never mind - I've just come to accept your age." I didn't know what to say... "You're allowed to act your age" he says.

I feel..hurt...and a bit offended. That my personality & style has to be something "to be accepted" over a year after we've been together. And what does my age have anything to do with being hurt about him not liking the way I dress? I don't understand...he made me feel childish & immature. It was really hurtful.

He claims that because of my younger age - my priorities are not the same as his, and they will change as I age - as will my clothing. He has "more important things to worry about" than the way I dress.

We left on an unhappy note & he said he'd rather not talk to me at the moment, which is how he deals with things. Taking time by himself - but for me it's torture...the silence - the waiting. Feeling rejected on top of everything.

I'm so sorry it's so long - and it seems to silly about some dresses. I suppose it's just been building up & even though everyone likes to say I'm an old soul - I used to feel he was the only who could really see it. And for now I just feel like I child wearing womens heels standing next to him. But I'm hoping that feeling is only for the time being.

-rant rant rant -

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15 replies since 6th June 2011 • Last reply 6th June 2011

Coming from an older age and a longer relationship I can understand what he's saying. You are younger by a lot and he has to deal with the fact that things he's already gone through and learned you have yet to go through or learn. You two are at very different places in life which is a hindrance to your relationship from his point of view. You may be considered an "old soul" but mentally your maturity isn't there yet. You're brain has 4 more years of growing to do and let me tell you from experience, you do a lot of growing up and changing in those last 4 years. It does seem silly to fight over a dress, but having had a recent argument myself with my boyfriend over a dress you’d be surprised at how un-silly it is to your partner. Men see your appearance as a direct reflection of them. Your boyfriend is in his 30s and dating a girl in her very early twenties and that makes him appear creepy and he’s aware of that even if you’re not. It doesn’t help him or make him feel good knowing you dress as young as you are or even younger at times- it adds to his feeling that he is doing something wrong or that he is taking away something from you. He realizes it’s unfair to you to ask you to dress older than you are so that you can blend into his life but as a couple it’s unfair for you to dress in a way that is inappropriate for your relationship.

And trust me that I understand where you’re coming from also. I wanted to wear a dress my boyfriend had picked out and purchased for me last year for our 6th Anniversary to an upcoming wedding but he didn’t think it was “contemporary” enough- he used that word knowing how much I hate it. It was really frustrating for me because I didn’t want to go out and purchase a new dress to wear to a wedding that I didn’t really care to go to in the first place. I gave in and decided to shop for a new dress anyway since the wedding was for his best friend and not for people I really knew. Of course he later changed his mind and wanted me to wear it which just ticked me off even more because it was stressful for me. In the end it seems like a silly argument but knowing that I was representing him at the wedding and that it was important to him that I looked appropriate for it made me realize how un-silly it was.

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My two cents: I'm 25 and I dress in bright colours and am well known for it. I joke that I dress like a 5-year-old picked out my clothes. When I dress in calmer colours people ask if I'm ok and why I'm dressed funny.

To me, my clothes are part of who I am and who I want to be. I don't wear low cut shirts or mini skirts but you can't please all the people all the time. My boss once told me she didn't like my mix matched socks and thought I shouldn't wear them. I told her I'd quit before I changed them. She's never said anything about them again and my coworkers play "spot the difference" and scold me when they match.

I wouldn't date or be friends with someone who insulted or told me to dress differently because of how they feel when they're with me.

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I can understand where your boyfriend is coming from. Most babydoll tops hide a woman's curves thus making her appear younger. I would consider it a good thing that your boyfriend feels uncomfortable when you look younger than you are. I would consider it worrisome if he encouraged you to exaggerate your youth. I would assume that the age difference matters more to him then he lets on. He probably feels guilty that he is dating someone so much younger then him. Most men that are dating younger girls are taking advantage of the situation. It doesn't seem like you boyfriend is that type of guy, but perhaps he is concerned that your relationship appears this way to outsiders.

Plus he may feel threatened that you will attract a younger guys attention. Maybe this is not the case, but generally when my husband doesn't want me to wear something, it is because it is either too tight or revealing. Generally it is something I wouldn't even consider inappropriate, but then again I dont think like a guy.
I'm sure your guy wants to promote the best aspects of your personality and is only trying to help you appear the way it sounds like you want to (intelligent, mature, reliable) Your clothing and appearance is how people will judge you, if you appear well put together they will be less likely to assume you are being taken advantage of and more likely to take your relationship, and you seriously if you are not wearing the same outfit a 14 year is.

I think you can still show your personality and discard the offending tops. Obviously they remind him of the age difference and only cause strife in your relationship. If this is the only issue between you why not focus your attention on something more important.

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Pinkweeds - I understand what you're saying now, you're right that I should try to dress in a way that at least doesn't make him uncomfortable with me.
I guess I forget how we are seen to the public because I spend very little time thinking about short..I don't care how we appear to others. We're already "odd" culturally & we get a lot of looks because we're in the Philippines & I'm white and he's Filipino (yeah its really silly - but it's abnormal & people will stare) Which he's not used to since he's always blended with the crowds & I can imagine now, when you said dressing appropriately for the relationship, that feeling insecure could have only added to his stress from us being different.

It also feels good to know that you understand where I'm coming from as well.

@Lacey - I'm really similar, my style is a little eccentric & when I go out in regular jeans & boring shirt. The people that do know me will also ask me if I'm okay Tongue He hasn't necessarily insulted me, it was just a pang of guilt that I wasn't making him happy & then feeling a bit rejected when I thought he didn't like the way that I was.

@Felicity W. - I understand what he means too, and you have a lot of really good points. I don't know if he feels guilty for being with someone as young as me, Im wondering if I should ask him.
I did ask him how he felt about me, "acting my age" when we were somewhat arguing - he said that he doesn't feel anything, that it's just the way it is. As silly as it sounds, it is actually the only issue we have.

As a general though..
I feel - that this issue has transitioned from "The Dress" age. Which I don't know if that is something else entirely.
I don't really know what to do now, what to say to him. I've decided to let go of my dresses & forget about wearing them all together even though he's said I may wear them.

but I guess....what now? How should I interpret acting my age..I don't really know how other 21 years olds behave. Should I feel the discomfort that I feel for what he said? What can I do for him now?
I'm confused. and uncomfortable

And you guys are amazing - this is why I love this site so much. I feel like I could talk about anything here & I'll always get constructive feedback from people who take the time to think & listen to the problems of people they don't even know personally. Thank you. Really, thank you - I don't know anyone else who I could talk to about these things who I feel would understand.

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It’s a hurtful jab for you that he said you act your age. It could also be considered a compliment depending on which way you turn it. Regardless, I wouldn't make it into an issue. One thing my boyfriend and I have learned in the many years we've been together is to let things go. When we get into an argument, we fight it out right away and then we go off into our separate corners and cool off and after a few hours we'll be able to calmly, and a little uncomfortably talk to each other about neutral subjects (i.e. how was your day? how is work? when do you get off?) that sort of thing. The fight is over with; it isn’t going to end your relationship unless you let it. So move on from it, don’t let it tear at you. Chances are he just threw those words out in the moment without any intention of them being taken seriously and even if it does really bother him it’s better to let him come to you to talk about it calmly then for you two to fight over it because you’re pushing the subject.

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You're right. I'm trying my best to give it time & let him come to me when he's ready - but it's no easy feat for me. Currently he's not really talking to me - I havent slept yet & I would love to move on from this.

So far the little that we've talked - he says he's frustrated with me & the way I argue, feels I force him into talking. I'm not sure if it's true.. but he would rather avoid conflict all together and be alone.

He said to me that we should be able to have a relationship without arguing. Im really uncomfortable with that idea because I don't think it's normal. I believe conflict is a part of human nature & it's a matter of handling it. No such thing as relationship utopia. He says I should try to be less sensitive.

Perhaps he's right.

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About what you said about having a relationship without arguing:
my fiancé (23) and myself (21) have very minor disagreements which he calls arguments but I call them differences on opinions. My parents, on the other hand, argue everyday day, at least once a day. When I confronted my mum about it she said that it "is their way of communicating". I don't like this at all but apparently it works for them, despite threatening to leave each other about once a month for as long as I can remember.

I don't like arguments because I was brought up in a household where my parents argued and I got the blame for it. I think arguments can be prevented by people thinking before they speak and considering the consequences of the words that may get said.

You will disagree over things, It's how you handle the disagreements which could end up in an argument or not. A simple thing such as not wanting to go see a movie that he wants to see, or deciding on what to have for tea could spark up an argument.

People say you shouldn't change for the one you love, but sometimes you should change. He could try to be more sensitive as you try to be less sensitive.

You could come to an arrangement where he doesn't say anything about your dresses and you don't say anything about some item of clothing that he has which maybe you don't like or wish he didn't wear out in public.

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You're 21. 21 year olds wear baby doll dresses so he's right - you're dressing your age. But that shouldn't be a problem. I know that some people have said not to turn this silly dress fight into a big issue but maybe it is an issue.

Maybe he does feel uncomfortable with the age gap and I feel that if you give in and give up the dresses and sweep this under the rug that the latent problem is still going to linger and it's going to come up later.

You said that you now feel like a kid playing dress up in heels beside him... Well if you give up your age appropriate clothes and start dressing in older clothing just to appear older and make him more comfortable then that's when you'll be playing dress up. Nothing good ever comes from lying to yourself.

I believe you should talk to him (if he's still not freezing you out -which isn't cool) and tell him how his statements made you feel and really ask him if the age gap is a problem. I know that when it's just the two of you that you get along fine but it's when you're in public together the friction starts but that isn't right and that's nothing to build a relationship on.

In my opinion he should either come to terms with your age and your age gap and embrace it (baby doll dresses and all) or maybe this relationship isn't right and you should go your seperate ways.

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Nikki I like what you meant by each of us trading efforts - me less sensitive, him a bit more sensitive.

Lo - Im hoping to find out about how he really feels about it all, you seem so strong & confident Happy

I want to thank everybody for taking the time to read & respond. You guys all offered really good and different point of views & I feel like I can see jus a lil more. I'm gathering everything I can and we're agreed to jus relax on it & really talk about it in a couple days when we see other. He has work & we are both busy this upcoming weekend, so maybe on monday.

Gonna lay it all out on the table and see what we can do.

Hopefully it all works out for the better - which is all I can really ask for Tongue

here's to having faith! <3

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Hi Miki, I hope things have started working out for the better for you. I just felt compelled to say that I feel that you should always be able to wear what you want to wear without your partner making any comments (unless they are 'you look stunning').
I'm currently on my way to 27, and the difference in me through my 20's has been the biggest changes since puberty. I am extremely fortunate to have had a supportive partner who has grown with me (he is 28) and we have gone through a lot of good and bad times together. My point is, you will change a lot and 'find out who you are' during these years, and I think you should embrace your youth as you only get it once! If I could go back to my 18-21 year old self and give myself the confidence I have now, I wouldn't, because its been fun getting here!
I also noticed that you said you found it difficult to make friends, and was just wondering if you have tried to join clubs or do any hobbies with others? The best way to get confidence in this area is to keep trying and to talk to new people. The more you do it, the easier it will become!
Best of luck with your future, and embrace your youth! Happy

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My fiance is a bit older than I, he's 24 and I'm 20, but we've never had an issue like this... then again it's not as big an age gap as yours is.

But if you're tired of him disliking the way you dress, maybe he's the one that needs to grow up? If you're 21 and wearing cute dresses, it's better than being a typical 21-year-old that wears short shorts for as much of the year as possible. If the way you dress makes him that uncomfortable, you should tell him that you'd rather dress in what makes you feel right than dress like you're older than you really are.

If you want to go for a compromise, ask him to go shopping with you to pick out clothes you can agree on. Or maybe wear some jeans or leggings under the dress for a more stylized, mature look. Sometimes it's all about accessorizing properly to give you a look that's agreeable.

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My hubby is 30 and I am 23 but its almost like we have the opposite problem. I have always been more mature than others my age and even though my hubby is responsible and works to support our family he is a bit silly and immature. Sometimes its hard to deal with but most of the time I tell myself if I dont want the bad things about him than I dont get him. anyways I hope everything works out for u!!!!!

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Natty K Congratulations on you & your awesome sounding partner Happy I wish you guys best Tongue I'm trusting everyones word that the finding of ones self occurs in these slightly older but still young ages Tongue

I do have aside from crafting, I make many acquaintances very easily, and have many through dance. There's people I train with, work with. By friendship I mean - regular group of people to spend time with for fun Tongue But I'm not unhappy - it's mostly my choice to be that I believe. I have a hard time with most social situations. \
But I will embrace my youth! A part of me will forever wish I didn't have to grow up & the other part will look forward to growing up.

Monika - thats a seriously good idea with him. I think I'll do that. Luckily enough it's not everything I wear that he dislikes, thank goodness. He just doesn't like my taste in dresses, but we will compromise & I'll still be wearing them occasionally ^__^

Chelli B. - I like that philosophy - take the bad with the good stuff - or get nothin at all Tongue I wish you & your family luck!!

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But it's been discussed - and the discussion became very long & tiring since it acted as a vortex for all other discomforts, insecurities, etc etc and I feel like everything was discussed. It was exhausting, but it came out okay.

He's attempting to be more sensitive about how he says things & how he approaches things, while trying not to expect a 30 year old woman to come out of a 21 year old woman right this instant, and most importantly to me, try not to care so much what strangers thing and how they look at us when we walk around.

I'm going to attempt to think about the motive behind some of his often poorly thought out comments, since verbal communication is not his strong suit, before I get all upset & try to accept his motive more than his comment. Be less sensitive, and more aware of his discomforts.

Among other things, but so far we're fine. It seems so silly, but so important that all this started with a little blue dress.

Thanks everyone! Happy You ladies rock! :3

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