My 40-Year Old Boyfriend Only Wants to Be Around 20-Year Olds. Will He Outgrow This Behavior

My boyfriend has a new entourage of 20-somethings he wants to be with constantly. We are both over 40. We all met through a local common interest group. (We are all vegan in a not-progressive southern town, so this is a relatively rare thing).

Of all the people we’ve met through the group and our volunteer work in the year we’ve been together, he is only interested in being friends with this group of people young enough to be our children. One of them is now his roommate.

I like them all fine, but other than being vegan I don’t have much in common with them and I definitely notice the vast age gap. It’s to the point that we cannot have a meal out, or do anything it seems without at least a few of the group being invited along. It feels like the only time I get my boyfriend to myself is when we have sex or sleep.

For a while I hoped it was kind of a big brotherly thing, but then he told me that when he hung out with a man his age he felt like the man was much older than him, but when he’s with a 20-year old he perceives no difference between the two of them. That worried me. And frankly the “I’m just a big kid!” thing is not exactly sexy.

I haven’t broached this topic with my boyfriend because I didn’t really know what to say…I don’t want to sound like a drag, or like I’m giving him an ultimatum or trying to control his behavior. I was afraid that would damage the relationship. So I just waited to see if the novelty would wear off, but it hasn’t and I’m reaching the end of my rope.

Other than this issue he is a great guy with a good job, very kind, we share the same values and have good physical chemistry. We had been talking about buying a house together but at this point I just don’t know how invested I should be in this relationship. My fear is that since he evidently wants so much to feel/be 20 years younger it’s only a matter of time before he’ll want to date someone younger too.

I would be most grateful for your advice!
Jocelyn

Jocelyn,

This is basically the plot of “While We’re Young” with Ben Stiller. And, not to give anything away, I don’t think this ends any better for you than it did for his character in the movie.

Now, to be fair, there is a whole lot of information I’m missing: namely, how long you’ve been together. It’s much easier to cut bait on a man after four months than four years, you know?

Regardless, it seems you have found yourself dating a Peter Pan. Either he doesn’t want to grow up, he doesn’t identify with grown-ups, or he’s making up for the camaraderie he lacked as a kid.

A good boyfriend may be disappointed that you don’t like his friends, but would be invested in coming up with a commonsense compromise.

I’m not sure if the actual answer really matters – no more than it matters for any number of incompatibilities. You need to tell him your feelings – not that he’s lame for hanging out with kids born in the 90’s, or that you’re insecure that he’s going to leave you for a younger woman – but that you don’t derive the same pleasure from this group as he does. And while you don’t want to change him, and are not the type of woman to try to forbid him from anything, you would appreciate if takes your needs into consideration when planning your mutual social life.

In other words, you’re not finger-pointing; you’re problem-solving.

A good boyfriend may be disappointed that you don’t like his friends, but would be invested in coming up with a commonsense compromise that allowed you to take a break from the commune from time to time.

Give that conversation a shot, see if it moves the needle, and, if not, know that there are no shortage of fortysomething men who would scoff at the idea of a twentysomething roommate. Find one of them instead.