The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Miss Manners: Is it okay to date a man 25 years younger?


Dear Miss Manners: I am a single lady in my late 60s, but appear to be 20 to 25 years younger. I am in good health and enjoy youthful activities like badminton, Frisbee, swimming, canoeing and camping. My outlook and constitution have always been those of a younger lady.

I have met a law enforcement officer who is about 25 years younger than I. This gentleman is thoughtful, kind, sweet, handsome, very mature in a quiet way and very ethical in his work. We met while participating in community projects together. He asked if I would consider a long-term relationship, stating that he had no issues with my older age.

As we talked, the gentleman stated he was looking for a lady who shared his outlook, ideation and values. He said that he was already taken with me, and asked whether I would be his lady and accept his ring.

I must confess to wishing I were younger, because I would be smitten with the sweet gentleman. Is it appropriate to be with a gentleman 25 years younger, if you find he is in your heart already and feels so close already in spirit?

What if Miss Manners said no?

Yes, this is a test. There is no etiquette rule that mandates the respective ages of an adult couple who want to marry. Society — and relatives expecting a sizable inheritance — may be otherwise biased, but they do not know what is in your and your gentleman's hearts.

If he truly is a gentleman and you are truly in love, then you have Miss Manners’s best wishes. She suggests you ignore anyone who does not agree.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a friend from 20 years ago, when I lived in her area. We worked together and would have lunch occasionally.

I moved out of state, but my son still lived there for a while. When I would go back to visit, I would have dinner with her. She came to visit me once, but the extended time with her was very unpleasant.

I'm embarrassed to say I completely cut off communications without explanation. She continues to send birthday and holiday greetings, to which I haven't responded. I'm ashamed of my behavior, and yet would prefer to discontinue the relationship.

What do you think of my writing this note to her: “I’m sorry for ‘ghosting’ you all this time. Your visit made it clear that while working together and sharing occasional meals was enjoyable, extended visits are less so. I appreciate your attempts to stay in touch. Our son has moved away from your area, so I have no expectations of returning to your part of the country. Please be well.”

Please do not send this.

While disappearing is not ideal, telling this woman that it is only because she is so unpleasant to be around is not going to make the situation better.

As your son has moved, you already have an excuse not to visit her town — and you need not invite her to yours. Surely you can endure her holiday and birthday cards, and perhaps even periodically respond with some of your own — if not for the sake of the current relationship, Miss Manners suggests, then out of fondness for the old one.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin