Advice Without Consent is a new occasional (i.e., when I can’t find anything else to write about) feature here at Sifwitmify. This is when I take a question from an advice column and give a better answer that the querent won’t, alas, see. Naturally, this is for entertainment purposes (mostly mine) only and shouldn’t be relied upon, used without permission, close cover before striking, this tag not to be removed except by consumer, if erection lasts longer than four hours get fresher jokes.

So, here we go:

Dear Prudence,
I’m 26, and for three wonderful months I have been dating a woman five years older than me. When we first met, neither of us realized the age difference. We share common values, and she gets along well with my friends and brother. The trouble is my parents. They find her “charming and lovely” but are appalled by our age difference. My mother has termed our relationship “weird” and “odd,” which hurts me. They point out that I have not had many serious relationships. I love her and want to see how our relationship fares. It seems to me that this requires a long time, perhaps years. But my parents claim that I must decide within three months whether to marry her or not, since it would be cruel to waste her time on an ultimately futile relationship. Are my parents being reasonable here? Do I have an obligation to decide quickly whether I want to marry this lady? And, should I decide not to pursue this relationship, is there any way I could end it without hurting her?

Oh, good heavens, five whole years! Whatever do they find to talk about? Ahem. This question resonates with me, sort of, because my beloved Deadly Stealth Frogess is an ancient crone six years my senior1, and naturally we represent two totally diferent eras. For example, she saw Star Wars in the theater, while I was born the next year.

Ahem. No one terms our relationship weird or odd, and no one outside our bloody relationship is giving us ultimatums, WTF? Nor does anyone find it apalling. From my parents’ perspective, we’re about the same age. So no, “Not Quite Benjamin Braddock”‘s parents are not being remotely reasonable, or even especially probable—I have a feeling most of this is in the young man’s head. I suspect that, as the one who, after all, invoked The Graduate, the letter writer has a bigger problem with the relationship than he cares to admit, and so hears every evn ambiguously critical remark as being a condemnation, and of the “age difference” in particular. Even the supposed marriage deadline may be no more than a typical anxious mother.

Which is understandable. Even nowadays we tend to expect a man to be older than his partner, as part of the old-fashioned sexist view of a relationship (marriage) as being led by the man. A gap that wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it’s in his favor becomes huge when it’s in hers. Prudence points this out in her own answer: “five years is an insignificant age difference—your parents would hardly be appalled if you were 31 and your girlfriend 26.” So he’s hyperfocused on it, and assumes everyone else is too.

Prudence’s own answer is more about parental overinvolvement. I’ll give her that. If this dude’s parents truly are as nagging as he claims, he needs to tell them to get off his back. I just suspect he’s blowing things out of proportion from needless guilt.

1I don’t really think you’re an ancient crone, sweetheart.