Dear Prudence

Help! My Boy Toy Has Turned Into More Than I Expected.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

An older woman gazing at her younger boyfriend, and a younger woman giving the whole scene a side eye.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by ChristiTolbert/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Yuricazac/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Q. My boy toy: I have been dating a man 11 years my junior; it’s been a year now. I didn’t expect it to last this long and didn’t intend for us to be at a place where he is talking about marriage, especially not this soon. Prior to us dating, I lost my mom and went through a divorce. We started dating five months later. My ex did a lot of crap, and my boyfriend didn’t run away, and he was there to hold me every time I had a mom meltdown. We have different political and religious views. The past few months have been challenging. We’ve had heated discussions about politics.

What’s difficult is that when we’re together, we have a great time. We travel well together. I went back home with him to meet his family; I really like his parents and got along great with them, as did my daughter. But my daughter doesn’t like him. I’m torn. I really care about him, but I’m not sure if our love and age difference will stand the test of time. What should I do?

Seek clarity where there is confusion and specifics where you experience vagueness. You say that your daughter doesn’t like him—what, particularly, doesn’t she like about him? Has he been rude to her? Indifferent? Is your daughter a minor? Does she live with you? If she’s an adult living independently, you might take her feelings a little less into account than you would if this were a question of someone she has to live with even part time. What are the biggest differences between your political and religious beliefs and his, and do any of them seem like an incompatible gap in values? Or do you feel ethically comfortable agreeing to disagree? When he discusses marriage, do you discuss it with him? You don’t say whether you want to marry him, and I can’t help but wonder how much you’re actively participating in this conversation. When someone else brings up the possibility of marriage, that’s the time to start speaking honestly and openly, even if all you can say is “I’m really not sure.” It’s not the time to let them make assumptions from your silence.