Our age gap bothers my friend

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Dear Meredith,

I've been dating this guy for over half a year now and we couldn't be any happier! We're a perfect match, and I'm head over heels in love with him. The only problem is that we have an age gap and one of my best friends always makes it a problem. I'm a year older than my boyfriend (I'm 18), which was something we were both aware of when we decided to get together. To us, age doesn't matter because we love each other so much and treat the other right. Of course, I was super excited to show off my new boyfriend to all my friends and I thought they'd all be supportive. All of my friends knew about the age gap but agreed that it shouldn't necessarily stop us. However, one of my best friends seemed to get really upset by the news and told us how wrong it was. It started to get a bit overwhelming, so my boyfriend and I ended up keeping low contact with my friend until we all had calmed down.

It took some time, but eventually we all sat down for a talk and he apologized for his actions toward us. I'm happy for how everything turned out despite the rough start, but I can tell my best friend still feels unsettled by how we act towards each other (based on comments he occasionally makes). I'm also worried my family and others will have the same reaction as my best friend, which would not only make me feel bad, but my boyfriend, as well. I just want to happily be with my boyfriend and not have to worry about my best friend or family trying to shame us. What do I do?

– Gap Year Lover


I don't understand why this was so fraught. I know that one year seems like 12 very long months when you're young (when you were 16 and 17 that gap might have seemed huge), but it seems like there was more at play for your friend. Maybe it helped for him to see the path of the relationship and to watch you both grow with it. Regardless, he's supportive now.

If other people who care about you have problems with you and your boyfriend – other friends, family, etc. – please ask them to be specific about their concerns. Maybe they'll worry about you becoming serious about someone when you have so much life – and big decisions – ahead of you. This is a real good opportunity to listen to the people you love, ask them questions, and let them know you'd like them to hear you, too.

Or maybe, now that you're within a year of you both being 18, everyone will embrace what makes you happy. Who's to say? All I know is that it doesn't help to hide. If you love the people in your life, you'll want them to know your relationship. Your friend is just one person. Let people in. Show them why you're happy. You can still talk to your friend, by the way. If he prefers to see you alone – if he has other issues – he might as well share. It sounds like you have more to work out.

– Meredith

Readers? Will this age gap shrink? Is this about other things?