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Dear Christine, Worried in Washington

| October 12, 2015

ccc sizeDear Christine, 

I am a 20 year old man dating a 45 year old man.  I am very independent and mature and have lived on my own since 17 supporting myself.  I grew up on the streets and in foster care and my friends just think I’m looking for a daddy and that I’m being used.  That’s not true. My man wants to make it legal and marry me.  The age difference doesn’t worry me like it does my friends but what worries me is his relationship with his ex.  They still communicate a lot and when I ask him about their relationship I don’t seem to get answers.  He just brushes it off.  I love him and can’t imagine not being with him but are my friends right to worry?

Worried in Washington

Dear Worried,

Good for you for your independence and supporting yourself at just 20 years old.  You know that you can always rely on yourself to survive, and these skills and experience will be resources from which you can draw in future trying times.

As far as marrying at 20, what’s the rush?  How long have you both been together?  How did you meet?  Do you share common values, goals and trust each other?  Do you communicate well with each other? (I see a red flag here regarding your man’s ex).   Have you discussed what sorts of things would be crossing a line for each of you that might end the relationship?  Do you know those about each other?  Everyone has a limit somewhere.  Before marrying, first you need to know those things about your own self, first of all, and secondly you need to make sure he knows what those non-negotiables are.  And he needs to be clear with you.  If those limits are not identified and discussed, there’s another red flag.  And if you don’t trust each other to be honest with each other about this and other topics, a third red flag.

There’s nothing wrong with his wanting to be friends, even close friends with his ex.  But there’s nothing wrong with you not accepting that friendship either.  What matters is that you each know yourselves as individuals well enough to communicate and negotiate these issues.  If you can’t agree on this issue, that red flag waves in the gale.

Right now you sound like a couple of lesbians, blurring the lines between friends and ex-lovers.  Even if the new girlfriend knows up front when she dates someone who is still “friends” with her ex, the new girlfriend may not find it comfortable.  So, your friends are right to worry, whether you are lesbian or not!  You are young and your friends are protective.

Remember, gay marriage is legal in Michigan and if this turns out to be a mistake, it can be costly to divorce.  I know a handful of couples that married in Canada on a whim over the past 10 years.  Marriage was romantic, but didn’t really mean anything, but now they are hiring divorce lawyers so they can legally marry their current (different) partner.  Good luck.

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Christine Cantrell, PhD, is a fully licensed psychologist in private practice in Royal Oak, MI.

Ask Christine Click Here: 248.591.2888

Christine’s Website


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