Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I'm 10 years older than my boyfriend, which I don't think should matter, but I feel like it's keeping my friends from supporting my relationship.
The way my friends talk about him and our relationship truly upsets me. They refer to him as my "boy toy" and never ask me anything about him of substance. They only ask about sex — assuming it must be amazing because he's allegedly so young and energetic, right? When I bring up serious issues or emotions regarding him, they dismiss me and say things like my relationship must be so easy because he's so young and it's so casual. When I explain it's not casual, they just laugh it off.
Part of me thinks maybe they're jealous. We are all around 40. Of my close girlfriends, most are married and not completely happy. A couple are single and always looking. But I don't think it's jealousy, at least not totally. I honestly think they just don't take him or us seriously because they look at the age difference and assume it's all about the physical aspects. And I don't think it would be the same if he was 10 years older than me.
He's a good man, and he makes me happy. Why can't they see this for what it is?
One of my go-to relationship mantras is this: The only people who know the truth of a relationship are those in it. So take a breath and relish in your truth: you're happy and in love. It's a wonderful place to be. Age differences be damned.
Still, it's incredibly frustrating when our squad falls short and just doesn't get it. We want our lady friends to laud our love affairs and support our happiness, and when they fumble, it's puzzling. But you can't let their lukewarm or dismissive attitudes throw you off balance.
Focus on what's before you: There are a lot of positives to dating younger men (besides the obvious sexual and physical attributes). Some relationship experts argue that successful women will have better luck with younger men because those men grew up more comfortable with workplaces infused with powerful working women and are less likely to try to be controlling or feel threatened.
Indeed, there are plenty of May-December romances with the coy cougar on top. Actress Gabrielle Union is nine years older than NBA hubby Dwyane Wade. Supermodel Heidi Klum has dated an art dealer 13 years her junior. Let's not forget Kris Kardashian and her much-younger man.
My two cents: Ignore your friends' ignorant and corrosive attitudes and focus on enjoying your relationship.
You ask why your friends can't see your boyfriend for what he is? I ask you: How often do they actually get to see him? Your letter only points out how your friends talk about him, not how they act around him. And your regular coffee convo subject matter — sex life, how hunky he is and how you're pretty much robbing the cradle you dirty dog — makes me think he isn't around for those chats.
If you aren't incorporating him into your friends-and-family circle, it's easy for them to think that your relationship isn't serious and that your "boyfriend" is someone you simply keep around for those boring stretches and lonely nights.
Want to change perceptions and shift conversations? It's time for them to stop hearing about him and start literally seeing how awesome he is, how happy he makes you and how serious you two are. Moving forward, make an effort to create more plans that include significant others, not just The Girls. For your friends locked down at home with the kiddos most nights, ask if you can bring over some takeout, some drinks and your boyfriend for a game night.
And like your boyfriend, this final idea might seem out of your age bracket (JK!), but it's effective: Include him more often in your social media activity. Seriously.
The more everyone sees you two together and learns about him — in person, online, wherever — the more they'll understand and appreciate what you have in your life.
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