Bad Romance


Dear Dharma, 

I have a problem and don’t know what to do.  My close friends are offering conflicting advice so I hope you can help!

I am a single mother of a great 19 year old boy, whom I love to pieces.  We have had our struggles but always seem to come out ok, and with a better relationship.  The problem is this: he has been online chatting and Skyping with a woman for about 5 months now, and has told me he is going to go to her state to meet her in person.

He says they are soul mates and she is totally wonderful.  He has mentioned marriage, as in “I really think she is the one”. He has never met her in real life, and (drum roll) she is 32.

She’s only 6 years younger than me for God’s sake!  My friends are as shocked as I am, but they seem to be in two camps as far as advice.  Some say I have to step in and prevent this from going any further, some say that’s the worst thing I could do, by forbidding it I only make her more attractive.

Help Dharma!  How can I stop my son from throwing his life away?

Mamma Mia

Dear Mamma,

Oh dear.

And ugh, I hate to say this, but your friends who are advising that you step back are right.  Ugh.

This is going to be hard for you to deal with, but you need to think big picture and not just in this crazy moment.  He’s going out there to meet her whether you like it or not, so the best thing you can offer is cautious support.  I don’t know if he still lives at home, but it kind of sounds like he does.  This gives you a bit of influence, but influence that’s waning.  He’s 19 and doesn’t need your permission to do a whole lot anymore.

You need to be his ally, not the enemy.  Tell him that while you have some reservations about all of this, that you trust his judgment and recognize that she seems wonderful (cough).  Tell him your concerns about travelling to another state to meet her for the first time and ask what the two of you together can do to alleviate your concerns.

As in, contact information, accommodation arrangements, back up plans. Because at the end of the day, his safety is the primary concern, and he will not die from a broken heart should it go that way.

And is there any chance you could Skype with her before he packs his bags?  It would be good for her to catch a glimpse into his real world for a minute or two as well, wouldn’t it?  Imagine being her and having to talk to her boyfriend’s mom before he can come out to play… It might help ground her in the reality of the situation, and make things a bit more real for her.

When it goes south…

Anyway, he needs to know he can come to you should the whole thing go south, particularly while he’s there in another state.  You don’t want him “sticking it” to you out of pride should he actually need something and he’s stranded in butt frick nowhere with no one but her to turn to.

I know the age difference is an issue and to “support” this relationship feels unnatural (and you’re not really supporting it, you’re pretending as a show of good faith)… But… and I’m just trying to offer some perspective – would the age difference be a problem in 10 years from now?  Would it be a problem in 10 years from now and if it were a 29 year old woman and 42 year old man?  Just something to think about.

I know, I know, that’s not the case now.  19, he’s still a baby, limited life experience, and she’s all grown up at 32.  The attraction on his part is entirely understandable.  On hers? At 32? Well…

I’m sorry.  My guess is you wanted me to say lock him in a small room under the stairs. Sadly, he’s too big for that and I think it’s a losing battle.  Stay on his side.  That will be the easiest way to extract him from the situation when it becomes necessary.


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1 Comment

  • good advise says:

    Love has a strange way to find it’s way through people. If he is inlove just support him if you go against him he will not be like oh yes, I can’t go because my mom said so. He will be more eager. I don’t think is such a bad idea. You never know what if she is “the one”.
    Great advise from Dharma !

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