Younger Guy, Older Woman: Tell Her Kids?
February 12, 2007 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Soap Opera Situation Filter: I'm suddenly seeing a much younger guy - who happens to be the son of a very close friend and, as if that is not enough, is also a good friend of my children AND is currently living on my couch. We've been keeping it secret. Should we tell my kids and if so, a) when and b) how? And if we don't tell them but they find out somehow, is there any kind of preventive damage control we can do now?

There's a 23 year age difference (he'll turn 21 in 2 months.) I was close to his mother and knew him well as a child, but then I moved away when he was about 12. His mother & I have always stayed in touch and she ended up moving near me about 6 months ago, which brought him back into my life, suddenly a devastatingly attractive adult. He's gone through some rough times - last year, his father died and he went through some bad drug problems. He's clean now and serious about staying that way. He's living with us since his family lives way out in the boonies and transportation, etc. is much easier from my house. He moved in about a month ago. He's about halfway in age between my two children, who are 15 (son) and 24 (daughter,) close to both of them and in fact he, my daughter and her boyfriend are currently planning to rent a house together.

Which would all be well and good, except that this past weekend we spent a lot of time together alone and, probably inevitably, ended up in bed. It turns out that the wild attraction I've been feeling for him (that I've been really, really, hopelessly trying to suppress) is mutual. We get along brilliantly - like the same music, the same books, same movies and so on. We have a great time together. We laugh at the same dumbass jokes. And physically, oh. my. god.

He says we should keep this secret: that the fallout will be terrible and I know he's right. This may not go anywhere, probably won't: I know that too. I just am terrified that one of the kids will walk in on us at a bad moment (we're being very careful but hiding stuff like this is hard, and it's a small house.) I'm afraid my children, my son in particular, would be horrified and betrayed and never speak to me again or something. I honestly don't know how they'd react. I've been divorced for many years, so that isn't an issue, but I haven't dated anyone for a long time, either, and they're used to me being alone. On the other hand I think his mother & stepfather would be pretty happy about it: that's not a conversation that's worrying me at all.

I'm trying to live in the moment right now, and I do honestly feel that it's noone's business but ours, but I'm aware that we have a ticking time bomb in the living room here. So. Should we keep on trying to keep this secret, at least for a while and then, if it fizzles or becomes unbearable, noone ever need know? And what is a while, really? Two weeks? Three weeks? Three months? Should we tell them, and if so, how exactly does one phrase something this, um, unusual? And, bonus question, if we do get caught, what kind of damage control will be possible?

Yeah, I know this is kind of skeevy. We've talked about it and he surely doesn't feel any kind of quasi incestuous molestation is going on here. He's been living on his own since he was 17. He's very mature, certainly not a virgin and, considering that by the time I was his age I had a toddler and the beginnings of divorce proceedings, I don't confuse 20 year olds with infants. I'm as taken aback by the whole thing as anyone else, but on the other hand I'm having a great time, so "You should both be dipped in bleach; dump each other immediately and do penance" responses are not really what I'm looking for here.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It really doesn't sound like there's an easy way out of this one.
posted by koeselitz at 5:35 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is tough. Good luck? If he and your kids live together, and you visit, and your kids run to the store, will you be able to keep your hands off each other? I dunno...telling your children that you are sleeping with one of their peers is going to cause a train wreck. (Anyway, enjoy it for the moment.)
posted by taliaferro at 5:54 PM on February 12, 2007

This was a one shot deal you will both remember forever. But that really is all it is.

probably inevitably, ended up in bed

Nope. No such animal. You ended up in bed because you wanted to end up in bed. It was a choice you made. I'm not being judgmental, because you are both adults, but informing you of an important thing you remember next time he's walking around with his shirt off.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:58 PM on February 12, 2007

This isn't about molestation or about being dipped in bleach, this is about a choice of behavior that has every likelihood of ending in even more tears than usual. I vote for trying to keep it secret and hoping that you get over the hump (so to speak) before someone walks in on you. In the meantime, deny if necessary and divert attention if possible. I presume you know this isn't going to be a till-death-do-etcetera thing, so there doesn't seem to be any obvious need to expose it to others who are certainly going to be hurt and upset. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for mutual enjoyment and I don't think the age gap is bad per se, but the situation is impossible. I wish for you the grace to be able to let go sooner rather than later, and when you do, you should get out there and start dating (presumably less problematic guys) now that you've got the taste for it. Keep reminding yourself that a lot of the magic is simply the effect of getting back in the saddle, even though it seems it's all about you and him. And when it's over, if it hasn't caused anyone else pain it'll be a pleasant secret to share with him (and us). Good luck, and I hope this response doesn't fall under the "not really what I'm looking for" rubric.
posted by languagehat at 5:59 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Is this worth risking your relationship with your kids, or his with them?

I think you know the answer already.
posted by konolia at 6:01 PM on February 12, 2007

It would be a good idea for him to live elsewhere regardless of what happens next. If you decide to continue the relationship (or whatever it turns out to be) it will be much less muddled ethically when he is not under your roof. The age difference combined with the living situation brings about questions of influence (on your part) and vulnerability (on his).
posted by ODiV at 6:02 PM on February 12, 2007

Well, if you're both not sure where it is going, maybe you should try to cool things off until he moves out. The longer things go on, the more likely it is you'll get caught. I don't know that I would necessarily have much of a problem if one of my friends was having a relationship with my mother, I mean her life is her own life -- I'd be more bothered by deceit on their part than any sort of relationship they'd be having.

But, if it's just a fling, maybe you should just hide it and never mention it after it's over. Hard to say, either way.
posted by glip at 6:04 PM on February 12, 2007

Yeah, most of all you've got to hide it from the kids.

Seriously, keep it secret until it obviously can't be a secret any more (or it's over, and it can be a secret forever). At least give it a couple of weeks so you can have some semblance of perspective on the whole thing. You're still in the very first flushes of a new thing here, and can't be expected to be thinking too clearly. If you get caught, that's tricky. But you can at least put your best effort into not getting caught for a little while.

It seems like the best case scenario would be the affair fizzling out without any recrimination and without anyone finding out. Maybe you should keep that scenario in mind as you evaluate the situation.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:05 PM on February 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

You mentioned that he and your daughter are planning to move out, and it seems to me that whether the relationship continues or not, the sooner he moves out the better. I'm not suggesting you end it; just that the more time the two of you are together around your kids, the less chance there is that they won't notice something's up.

Of course, that's only part of the issue, because if you two stay together after he moves out, it's still your place or his, both of which will conveniently have one of your kids there...

So I would suggest that you come clean about it after he's moved out -- makes the whole thing a bit more above board. And if you want to keep it under wraps, he's going to need to find his own place.
posted by nomis at 6:06 PM on February 12, 2007

Can you work harder to keep it a secret? Maybe only have sex at a hotel/motel/safe place, or only have sex at the house if your kids are absolutely definitely more than 10 hours from arrival back at home. Lock doors, etc.

And an unsolicited PS from someone who has been in a somewhat similar (albeit less dramatic re ages) situation -- Try not to get too "stuck" on this young man (given the great sex plus the fact that you haven't been with anyone for a while). The situation is likely to be fun but is also likely to be over within a few weeks. And then it can be a secret forever.

If I'm wrong and it lasts, well, good for you!, and it'll be way better for this to come out later (when everyone's not in the same house).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 6:07 PM on February 12, 2007

What do you really want?

Do you just want to keep sleeping with him until... he moves out? He gets a girlfriend? You get caught? I'd look at a cost/benefit of how hurt you will be when it ends, etc. etc.

Are you the kind of person who'll be cool with him, after you're broken up, after he has a girlfriend, and not feel hurt or a little resentful?

Are you willing to enjoy it while it lasts, have to sneak around in your own house for a while?

Are you willing to have a secret that you keep from everyone? And are you willing to deal with the consequences if he tells someone and it gets out to your kids as a rumor?

That's not a "OMFG don't do it!" but I've been in a situation where I thought there was no way out. There's always a way out. It's just that lots of times the consequences aren't worth the payout.

I'm reading far more into this post than what's there, and likely projecting, but if you haven't had a relationship in a while and he's the one who stressed how it had to be secret... Are you sure that, even with the hott sex, you're going to be happy with just being the MILF? Or are you going to be heartbroken when it's over?

Please remember that secret relationships are both hotter and harder than vanilla. So, don't think this is a road test of what being his girlfriend would be like.

Your kids will freak. They will. That's not to say it'll be 100% justified. There's no pixie dust that will make them happy with it. But they're going to be a lot more hurt if they find out by catching you, if they find you've lied to them.
posted by Gucky at 6:20 PM on February 12, 2007

It sounds like he had some troubles and he's doing better. That's cool.

Do not tell your kids. You are not in a relationship with this guy - you're having a fun fling. People have flings all the time with semi-inappropriate partners, and it's no big deal. Do not mistake this guy for your next long-term boyfriend, or husband, or dad for your son. Just have fun with it while it lasts.

Do not let your kids find out, especially your young son. This means no more sex at home. ABOVE ALL DO NOT GET PREGNANT. If you don't do any damage (your kids finding out, pregnancy, transferring a disease, crazy emotional stuff when you break up, etc) you will both probably remember this fondly.
posted by putril at 6:29 PM on February 12, 2007

I'd say keep it a secret, especially since he thinks you should, The fallout would probably last longer than the relationship (and I'm thinking years here). Living in the moment is a great idea. Enjoy yourself but try really hard not to get caught. The secrecy is part of the fun.
posted by BoscosMom at 6:29 PM on February 12, 2007

languagehat writes good sense. There is no reason to announce something this young before you've had a chance to see what will come of it, even in the short term. Keep it secret for a while and see what happens.
posted by OmieWise at 6:32 PM on February 12, 2007

I'm with many of the above; keep it a secret as long as you can. Speaking as somone a little older than your daughter with a mom a little older than you, your kids will probably flip out if/when they find out. They'll probably be grossed out, confused, and a little betrayed. Having a divorced parent in a relationship is always tricky ground to navigate. If the person they're in a relationship with is about your age, it become a pretty monumental thing.

I agree that it's probably best that he move out of your house (if nothing else, it complicates the logistics and power dynamics of the relationship to have him on the couch). I'd put the odds of you getting caught by your kids around 98% if he doesn't, and that is not how you want the situation to come out. However, I don't think it's a good idea for him to move in with your daughter. At that point, you'd be sleeping with your daughter's roommate in your daughter's home and that's just not cool. That would be something I'd have a hard time forgiving if it were my mother and me. He can either be your lover or her roommate, but I wouldn't risk the damage to your relationship with her by trying to make him both.

If and when this thing moves from infatuation territory to relationship territory, then you tell them. Expect them to freak and try to move on once they've gotten over the shock.
posted by mostlymartha at 6:35 PM on February 12, 2007

Strangely, my partner is 23 years my junior -- she'll be turning 21 in a few months. We've been together for a bit more than a year and things are seeming pretty solid.

There've been a lot of good comments here. This (working) is an unlikely thing. Very unlikely. There's always a maturity factor. If he's asking for secrecy right now, he might be having regrets. Give him some time and space. You should definitely be living in separate places, and, sadly, you should also be giving him every opportunity to back out gracefully if that's what he needs.

Don't push. How long should you wait before you say anything? I can't say for sure, but I bet your kids will figure it out before you say anything -- don't lie, just don't talk about it. A couple months, maybe?

Regardless, don't forget that a 21 year old cannot equal your life experience. You might want to think of him as a peer, but he's still got a lot of mistakes to make, and a lot to learn.
posted by MarcieAlana at 6:39 PM on February 12, 2007

This is going to sound harsh and judgmental, but: Stop. Stop now.

Keeping what happened in the past secret will be hard, but is possible. And if someone who would be disturbed by this finds out (which it sounds like is, oh, just about everyone in your immediate circle of family and friends), then "I know I made a mistake but I recognize it and its over and been over for xx days/weeks/months" is at least shows you're taking a responsible step in the right direction.

Much much worse if someone finds out (walks in on you? ew.) while you're still engaging in what you yourself and everyone else will immediately recognize is not-right behavior and you have to promise that you'll change and stop.

Finally, lets go back to this line: he went through some bad drug problems. If you care about him at all, then you should know that this is not a good time for him to be engaged in a relationship that will be problematic and probably harmful in the short and long runs.

I repeat: stop now.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 6:40 PM on February 12, 2007

I have a good friend who is 30+ years senior to her BF, and who was/is friends with the parents, and who wasn't but now is honest with parents. One unlikely couple! And this from a man who is 20+ years senior to his current bride!

From a relationship standpoint, this can work.

From an immediate family dynamic standpoint, it sounds POISON.

The problem is the mixed nature of the relationship of this young man and your children.

Your question belies an obvious intent to continue this subterfuge, and there is a very large chance you will get caught.

If this were the other way around, and the sexes were reversed, you would be skewered here in this liberal oasis of MeFi. Eviscerated. (Witness recent pedophile thread... brrr...)

Think of it... beautiful hot girl, recently drug dependant, sleeping on the couch, seducing/seduced by 30+ year older dad? Tar and feathers, I suspect. Certainly name calling.

Sexual attraction is what it is. Your and his seems toxic and inappropriate for the current circumstance. Do yourself and him a favor and protect your kids. WHen they're gone, do what you want, but right now, you're teaching them to lie, hide, scheme, and succumb to their base instincts in the event you get caught.

Believe me, I am the last person on earth to counsel avoiding large age discrepancy relationships. This is not about the age difference of YOU two, but about the age similarity of your kids and the young man, in my mind. It's about honesty.

If I am wrong, put it out there. Let the kids and his parents know your intent. Sense the reaction. Above all, be honest and above board if you want to purify this situation.

Good luck.
posted by FauxScot at 6:46 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Keep it a secret. Deny, Deny, Deny. Don't put anything such as love letters in writing!! No emails that will create a trail that later will haunt you. The age difference does not matter. It is his intertwined relationship with your family that makes for a likely tumultuous situation. This will not Wendell.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:17 PM on February 12, 2007

Trust your children enough to be honest with them. It is their business; especially your daughter's, since he and she are friends. If you lie for a while and then tell when you feel more confident about things with the guy, they will feel like they have been deceived for weeks, or months, or however long, and like you should have trusted them enough to be honest from the start. If you lie and are found out (and ask yourself: aside from one of your kids walking in on you, are there perhaps more subtle clues that you are leaving?), they will also feel deceived and betrayed. Finally, if things don't work out, can you trust this guy to keep what happened a secret forever? Or will you forever have to wonder if he's going to spill the beans to your kids someday? Any way you look at it, the lying route seems likely to blow up in your face at some point. The best thing to do is be honest from the start.
posted by amro at 7:32 PM on February 12, 2007

For the last 25 years my mother has been living with a guy who is two years older than I am. I can't stand him, but I also don't consider it to be any of my business. As long as they're happy together -- and they seem to be -- it's fine with me.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:44 PM on February 12, 2007

ignore the Puritans -- you're not doing anything illegal and/or immoral, and if God does indeed exist it's very likely that She has more important things to worry about than you sleeping with some younger guy.

it's important to point out that your "children" are not children anymore, they're 15 and 24, ie a teenager and an adult.

will your son get mad? yeah, probably. he'll get over it, especially because he'll figure out that he's not a child anymore and cannot seriously assume that he can run your life, not anymore at least. they cannot really vet your choice of boyfriends -- I'm sure they'd take exception if you tried to do the same with them.

the only relationship that will possibly (probably) suffer massive damage is the one with your boyfriend's mother -- after all she's your friend and you've been fucking her son, that really opens a can of worms for so many reasons, Freudian and otherwise.

anyway, I'd encourage your daughter to move out soon (she's 24, it certainly isn't too early). your son will get over it. listen to your heart -- if you like this guy, go ahead. will it last forever? probably not. but it seldom does anyway.

is it going to be messy? yeah, I guess. but it's not as bad as you think it is. soap opera? maybe, but this is not Jerry Springer material. I mean, he's not your pregnant daughter's boyfriend -- that'd be good material for Jerry! And please do enjoy the lust without guilt -- it's good for you.

Till next time, take care of yourself -- and each other.

posted by matteo at 7:48 PM on February 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you need to put the hold on this until he moves out. For one, you really don't want your kids/friend walking in on you or hearing about the relationship second or third hand. For another, FauxScot is right about the double standard here -- recovering-addict-living-in-your-house is not a healthy dynamic for a relationship, and that would be the case even if you didn't have kids at all. I mean, great sex is nice, but it is not worth risking your relationship with your kids and your friend or fucking up his recovery for. The sex will be even better once he is out of your house because you won't have to hide it (but even then, take it slow for the sake of your kids and friend).

Can I be your bald-headed security guard, Matteo?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:05 PM on February 12, 2007

Listen to matteo.
posted by cmonkey at 8:23 PM on February 12, 2007

Given his young age, the trauma of loosing his father, and his recent history of drug abuse are you sure that you're not taking advantage of someone significantly younger, more immature, and damaged than your self? Are you sure you're not continuing a path of general life-weirdness and stress for this young man?

I'm trying to live in the moment right now

No offense, most of the 43 year olds I know got all of their "living in the moment" out of their systems during their 20s. Shouldn't you be... I dunno, doing grown up stuff?

I think you're being spectacularly irresponsible to the future and wellbeing of your household.

Your actions could particularly impact your young son and his view of women. In other words, your actions today could have repercussions on him for decades to come...

Fortunately it doesn't sound like its too late to pull back from the brink of disaster. So you screwed him... it happens, no biggie. Chalk it up as a fun romp and move on no need anyone should know (although as a 20-year-old I'm sure he will eventually tell everyone he knows about the time he got with his friend's mom...)

You got your groove back. Now see if you're adult enough to find someone your own age.
posted by wfrgms at 9:22 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

In honesty, and motivated by a desire to spare your future feelings - please allow me three predictions:
- it'll end soon
- the best has already happened, it'll go downhill from here
- it'll cause a trust problem between yourself and everyone else if/when they find out which will not go away for a very long time, if ever (as mentioned already, the main problem is he's already connected with your family)

Answers to actual questions:

Tell kids... no.

Is there any kind of preventive damage control we can do now?... To somehow prepare them to be happy with it - no; To minimize damage - yes, stop now while you're ahead and can remember the situation fondly.

Take the compliment but be the one to cut it off, you really don't want to find out what it feels like to get dumped by a 20 year old guy.
posted by scheptech at 9:44 PM on February 12, 2007

I'm sorry to sound like a simplistic, judgemental person but, Break Up Now.

I bet you 100 bucks you'd soon regret getting involved with any 20 year old. And I'll bet you anything you'll very much regret damaging a friendship and your relationship with your children by dating this 20 year old.
posted by serazin at 9:47 PM on February 12, 2007

There is an easy way out of this.








Oh, and I am not being mean or puritanical or anything else. I am being honest. Almost every relationship like this consists of a guy who would fuck pretty much anything that's warm and moist, and a woman who has some sort of emotional problem.

Stop fucking him and go get some therapy. You need it. I am not being mean, and in your heart you know I am right. That is why it pisses you off to read it.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:00 PM on February 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

Goodness. Can I ask you something?

If he were your own age, would his circumstances be acceptable to you?

If you're a single mother who has her shit together, you must be a pretty strong lady. This boy doesn't sound like he's your equal. Somehow I can't help but feel that you deserve better, and not a kid:

*With serious, recent substance issues
*Who's living on your couch
*Who wants to keep your proto-relationship a secret (RUN. RUN.)
*Who is much, much younger than you are, and - I am willing to bet - not as "mature" as you're enjoying believing that he is: he's a recovering addict who doesn't have his own apartment. Guys, come on.
*Who is someone you knew as a very small child
*Who recently experienced a death in his immediate family
*Whose mother will, if she finds out, probably not be as happy to hear this news as you think
*Who is so close in age and peer group to your kids as to almost certainly freak them the hell out (it's frequently disturbing to kids when their parents behaves sexually toward someone on their side of the generation gap, for somewhat obvious reasons, and I think his closeness in age to your kids is more of an issue than your age difference, if that makes sense.)
*Who, I'm sorry, is a twenty-year-old man, and people his age are not known for refusing to have sex when it's on offer, so I'd be leery of reading too much into that.

You are a grown woman. I think you deserve a lot more than this. I think you deserve a man you know it's okay to tell your kids about: someone you're proud and happy to bring home; someone where if your kids know you're having sex with him, they'll go "Ew.... mom, GROSS!" instead of "How could you do that to our family?"

And I think that you even asking a bunch of strangers on the internet about this makes it clear that your inner self knows the deal.

Best of luck to you.

Whether you continue the relationship with this kid or not, please try not to listen to the dulcet, soothing tones of anyone advocating going for it and not keeping it a secret because it's none of your kids' business/they'll get over it. "None of their business" is you entering into a moderately serious relationship with a thirty-something man with his own apartment. "They'll get over it" is them overhearing you have sex with someone who's your peer, not theirs.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:23 PM on February 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Your kids will be devastated. Your daughter will refuse to move in with him anymore. Your younger son will feel like a fool, and like there is a shameful family secret.

If your kids ever find out, you will destroy your family. Your children are teenagers, this is the age they develop life long resentments.

If you want to save your family, stop now, and keep this secret forever. Don't say I didn't tell you.

If you go on, you will lose your children, and ultimately, the guy, and be left with nothing.
posted by markovich at 10:34 PM on February 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Get out now. Absolutely, without second thought, get-freaking-out quicker than freaking YESTERDAY. The only way this might be able to work is if everyone in your family but you has an IQ less than 12. Give munchkin the boot and try to throw it all out to an whatever-age crisis or something. What have you been shooting up?
posted by Quarter Pincher at 12:06 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think "seeing" is a bit of a stretch. You had a nice fling, and it might make for some decent booty calls in the future, once your younger child moves out of the house, but really? This is just a train wreck waiting to happen.
posted by antifuse at 2:14 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's more than slightly possible, that he's suggesting you keep it quiet, because he's a little squicked out by this, and expects any peers or friends who know the situation to be concerned for him, too, and for any girls his age to be revolted by his experimentation with Ms. Robinson. The very last thing an addictive personality early in a recovery needs is additional secrets. Worse, getting you to agree to keep such a relationship secret involves you in a conspiracy, and gives him some control over your behavior, which he may try to use to his own ends later, addictive personalities generally being manipulative and uncaring of others, in the long run. He's not old enough to know this, but you are, which is another reason he's sleeping on your couch.

Beyond that, your friendship with his mother is clearly at risk, as she probably believes you are providing shelter and acting in loco parentis for her troubled kid. If you have been acting in loco parentis, and holding out your role as such to his mother, you've clearly abused that role, with both him and her, as well.

The ethical dilemma results not from the age difference, but from your status as a trusted elder, and a friend of his mother, who is probably expecting you to act in her child's best interests, and to keep her informed of his well being, and support his sobriety and development of healthy social skills and life situations. If he weren't living under your roof, didn't have a history of drug abuse, and you didn't have any past relationship with him, things might be different. But, they aren't. So, don't.
posted by paulsc at 5:30 AM on February 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Here are two things I find remarkable about your post.

1. You admit quite explicitly that you both realize that "the fallout will be terrible." And yet the questions you're asking about whether to continue and whether to keep things secret seem completely disconnected from that fact.

2. It is now Tuesday morning in the U.S. You say that it was "this past weekend" that you "probably inevitably" (!!!) ended up in bed. Soooo, it's been, like, a day or two now. Again, there seems to be a disconnect between the actual time that has passed and your view of the relationship (namely, that you're now "seeing" each other).

If you are serious about asking for advice, and not just interested in chatting about your excitement about this new fling, then here is mine: end this now. That is the best "preventive damage control" available to you.
posted by chinston at 6:55 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Listen to languagehat. The apocolyptica from these recent commenters is the paroxyms of hyperbole that come late in a relationship thread when all the good advice has been given and there is a performative need have their comments read.
posted by klangklangston at 7:13 AM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh for goodness sakes, we all know it's not going to stop now that it's started. Ignore the preachers and especially, the act-your-age-ers. Maybe you need this to break the pattern of being alone. Maybe he's just the right transition guy.

Tell absolutely no one and make him vow to do the same.

Make him move out immediately. Stop having sex until he moves out. Your kids will smell it on you if you continue in the home. If you've been single for a long time, the psychic, physical and emotional shift in Mommy will be seismic. They will feel it -- if you continue in the home, you are SECRETLY HOPING THEY FIND OUT.

Once he moves out, let him do the all work of setting up meetings, etc, even though you'd be better at it. Never ask to 'see' him. Never ask where he's been or with whom when you are apart. Never. Keep tuned in -- you will know when it's starting to stop.

Use a condom.

Don't change your world for him. Don't give him any money.

Be cool if he wants to end it.

Enjoy the thrill and the sex.

I repeat: Tell absolutely no one, including your BFF.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:28 AM on February 13, 2007

as a 20 something who has dated 40 somethings... age is pretty much meaningless (imho). the problem here is the fact that he's living under your roof and that brings up weird power issues. As countless people already said, GET HIM OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. then go from there. Just try your hardest to minimize the melodrama. I really dont think your kids will be like "oh my god, mom is DEAD TO US FOREVER!" but they will be grossed out a bit. maybe ease them into things by letting them see that you and him are friends first? of course this is if things do continue between you.
posted by silverstatue at 8:27 AM on February 13, 2007

Agree with the vast majority of advice in this thread: A relationship (even simply a sexual one) is untenable while he is living in your house. It will strain or even destroy his relationship with your children or their relationship with you, if anyone finds out. If this is just a fling, you can certainly postpone it until he moves in to his own place. If it has any potential whatsoever to get serious, that will only happen if you respect his wishes to keep this secret, which means waiting until he's got his own place.

This isn't illegal but there is a power disparity. Have some class and wait until he moves out, or even better, take the high road and don't date people where your kids may have to decide between their friend and their mother. (I'm not concerned about the age difference, just the interpersonal relationships at stake.)
posted by Happydaz at 10:50 AM on February 13, 2007

I thing this is awesome and I'm totally jealous. In your shoes I would try to keep it under wraps mostly to avoid drama, not because there's anything wrong with it.
posted by 31d1 at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2007

I'd consider this. If you found out that a male friend (your age) was sleeping with your 24 year-old daughter, who he had known since she was a child, how would you react? Would you be horrified, or would you think that she's a grown-up and so is she and its none of your business? Would it bother you more or less if he also had a child who was her age?

I can't predict how such a hypothetical situation would make you feel, but its important to consider whether you're living out a double standard here.

I'd also agree with other posters who suggest that, as much fun as this might be "in the moment" (sure sounds exciting!), it's really probably not worth the years of fall-out you're likely to live with when your secret gets out.
posted by bigd at 3:55 PM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

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