Chloë is our new ‘agony queen’. She invites you to take a chair, tell her your problems and await her judgement.

Dear Chloë,

I am a nineteen year old guy, play rugby, like cars, beer and going out with my mates. I have dated a few girls my age but a spark was missing. I recently met someone new at work, and she is everything I could ask for. I have told my mates and my parents that she is thirty – my mates laughed and my parents freaked out about the age gap. The truth is that she is actually 45! I am stressing out as everyone wants to meet her. She wants to go public with our relationship too but am not ready for that yet – we either meet at work or at her flat, and she is nagging me to go out for a meal together of the cinema. Shall I tell everyone the truth or persuade my new girlfriend to keep the relationship quiet? Chris

Chloë says :  Oh, I do love a young guy into cougars! So, if I have missed out, what advice do I have for you and my love rival?

Well, on a more serious note, this is a large age gap and it will be bound to raise eyebrows. There may be some positives to this relationship but you believe everyone will only focus on the negatives. And by ‘everyone’ I mean you too. You start your letter by subtly emphasising what a ‘normal’ beer-drinking rugby-playing lad you are, one who wouldn’t ‘normally’ be dating such an older woman. You only meet her in secret – in the stationary cupboard at work or at her flat. How can others take the relationship seriously if you don’t?

Your girlfriend wants to move the relationship to a next level but what is that you actually want from it? To genuinely be with this woman, or because you crave the attention of an older authority figure and want to treat this as a sex for beginners 101? It can be both, and both can be loving and/or sexual, but if you only seek the sexual latter, I think you need to be honest with your partner now before she gets hurt.

Let’s presume you do want to move this relationship forward, and want to be in a genuine loving relationship with your girlfriend. Despite the negatives I mentioned above, there are positives too. Age gaps ‘improve’ over time in the sense that a twenty year gap aged 19 seems huge, aged  fifty it will seem less to you. They can also create a stronger bond between you as a couple – an ‘us against the world’ mentality that can bring you closer together.

Yet your mates will laugh even harder when they discover the truth and your parents ‘freak out’ even more than they did when they thought it was a ten year gap. Are you ready for that and can you cope mentally supporting not just yourself but your girlfriend? If not, my judgement is that this relationship is best tempered and you wait for the time in your life when you could meet the challenges of being in an age-gap relationship.

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