You’re Too Young For Me

You’re too young for me / but I can keep a secret / I’m in total control of this situation – Rooney, Daisy Duke

There’s something we need to talk about. There’s something we’ve been blissfully ignoring as we fell into this flirtation, this relationship, this excitement. There’s something neither of us wants to admit and so that makes it even more important to say. We’re living in the honeymoon right now. The reality is: you’re too young for me.

I love a lot about you. I love your energy and your enthusiasm. I love your ambition, the way you turn into this fascinating little creature when you’re motivated. You have so much future ahead of you. You can really accomplish all the things you want to do. You’ll change so much in the next five years. I have no doubt you’ll do all the wonderful things you want to do — and then some.

But I’m settled. I know what I’m going to do and where I’ll be. I hate to pull a “When I was your age” but when I was your age, months seemed like decades and now? Now, I’ll look back on something that feels recent and it will have happened four years ago. Time doesn’t necessarily mean change for me anymore — and for you, well I’ve seen mere days influence your entire world.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s amazing. It’s beautiful. You’re in the middle of an incredible time in your life.

You don’t need to act like you’re above all that for me. And you certainly don’t need me.

Not that you aren’t mature. You are. You’ve almost got me convinced this could work out. I want to believe it could. I like everything about you. I want to throw around excuses and say you’re different. I want to say the chaotic forces of your life have made you older — wise beyond your years. And they have in many ways. But emotionally? In reality? You’re still your age. You can’t change that. You shouldn’t want to. You shouldn’t be trying to grow up so fast.

I’ve become cynical as years have gone by. I’m not as open to love as you are. I used to fall head over heels like you do. I used to race toward love and nicknames and commitment, but those things never worked out for me. You haven’t had any of that yet. Sometimes it scares me, the way your face is so expressive — it shows me everything you feel. You look at me like I’m special or lovely or magic. Like I know something you don’t maybe. Truth is: I don’t know anything.

Why do you even want me? You want someone who you can grow with, someone to share experiences, someone who is changing just as much as you are, someone exciting.

You’ll resent me. You’ll resent the nights in. You’ll resent the adult responsibilities. You’ll resent the exhaustion.

I’ve fallen in love before. I’ve had my heart trampled on. This hasn’t happened to you yet and I don’t want to be the one to do it. I want to keep you — smiling and wanting and ready for life — just as you are.

I know you’re going to become an amazing person. I’m sorry I can’t be there while it happens. TC Mark

image – Helga Weber


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  • Nick

    well said.

  • Jonah

    sucks for you. seems like you just have resigned yourself to being a pessimist. thats not a “young” thing – life shits on everyone. every day you gotta renew your enthusiasm and optimism.

    • Optimist

      Agreed. It sounds like she’s offering excuses. Maturity is a spectrum, and experiences really CAN make someone who’s 20 as mature as someone who is 30. Will there be differences? Yes, of course. But it’s no excuse not to have a relationship. Stop being bitter and try to find the real reason it’s not working, for his sake.

  • Daniel Driver

    No problem ,you are too old for me too.

  • Alex

    “Truth is: I don’t know anything.” Havent you just ruined your own point? You just told me how you know I’ll change in five years. You just told me I’ll resent you.

  • navidson

    this hit me in the gut.

  • nana

    this made me cry. never commented b4 but i just had to. i’m involved with someone younger and while there’s only a 2 year gap, I’m terrified of ruining tmy precious man-boy

    • Jk

      2 years?! That’s literally nothing.

    • Gabriella

      Your precious man-boy?

      • Domino


    • Jen

      2 years? you seriously think that counts as an age difference? No it does not.

  • CM

    I went through this at the beginning of the summer. He’s 20. I haven’t been 20 in almost a decade. I loved the innocence of being that young and never having had his heart broken. I treated him like glass, lest he become as jaded as I am about love and relationships. Needless to say, it ended. It did open my eyes to the idea of walking into something with the idea that I shouldn’t have to be on constant guard and looking for the red flags. I can’t say that I’ve read a more relatable post on TC.

  • Anon

    This left me in tears….I am the younger one. Im her..him. So deeply lusting and loving after a man who has scars from his stories while my flesh is still fresh, rotting, and bleeding. I Can’t help but want to try and grow up so fast but you make me. Make me want to join you, to face the battles with you. But I can not. I should not. To fight the urge to be with you, to hop on that plane, get in the car and just go, backpack through South America….All of it. I want all of it. All of you. But I can not. I should not. This is goodbye. Not directly, and really…Truthfully…Maybe this hasn’t affected you the way I have been. But goodbye darling, just for awhile. Call me sometime. Four years sound good?

  • leecourt

    Reblogged this on leecourt.

  • Darren


  • Dasha

    This is just an elaborate cover up for your own insecurities right? I mean…this alone –

    “Truth is: I don’t know anything. Why do you even want me? You want someone who you can grow with, someone to share experiences, someone who is changing just as much as you are, someone exciting.”

    You think you won’t change ever again now?

  • frank

    well written and sad. in a somewhat similar situation myself, and it’s not fun.

  • Joe Seydl

    What sort of age difference are we talking here? Comon, give us numbers. 28 vs 23? 35 vs 20?

    • Stella

      19 vs 36.

    • OHYEAH

      20 & 29…but we’re getting along pretty well so I’m not so sure of this article…and that’s scary coz what if maybe this is true?

  • May

    wow, this really resonated with me. cried reading this… I’m 34 and he is 31… and there were so many things that were great about our connection. not a huge age gap but more important was the experience gap. your approach to relationship changes when you’ve been through something major heartbreak before. you’re more cautious, you take things slower… and neither way is better or worse, it’s just harder to be in synch. and as for the future. I’d want kids in the next few years, and he would have done that for me, but truth is he’s 5-7 years away from really being ready for that. and I don’t want to be the cause of that resentment, and making him grow up too fast.

    • DK

      I still don’t believe that 2 or 3 years, even 10 years, is that big of a deal. The age gap seems to be a way to mask and excuse other problems and incompatibilities within the relationship.

  • Sherene Chen-See, Health Writer

    Only a woman would write or think this.

    • Thea

      Incorrect. The comments show there are men who think this. And I’m a woman who couldn’t disagree more with this article.


    True facts. As much as we all want to be above it, sometimes reality just gets in the way. Well said writer. :)

  • Seattle

    Lolwut. This feels emotionally dishonest, which is not what I’ve come to expect from January Nelson. If you liked the person, the age difference wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter enough, anyway, to preclude or end a meaningful relationship. He’s not your equal, or you don’t have enough in common, or he’s not fascinating enough. Don’t blame it on the age difference! I’m sure that’s a contributing factor, but it can’t be the whole story because people mature at a variety of rates.
    Also, I doubt this person is younger than 20; he could very well appreciate nights in as much as you do. ”The exhaustion”? You’re in your 30s, not your 60s. And you’re still growing as a person.
    I don’t know, the whole article feels weirdly shallow; it’s hard to imagine its being based on real life. Because if he’s such a kid, how did you fall into flirtation with him in the first place? I thought women were hypergamous.

    • H

      Agreed 100% For much of this article, I thought it was a joke or a parody.

  • Ashley

    I love a man who is 11 years older then me and I feel like these are the thoughts that are present in his mind. So I shall pretend he wrote me this letter and move on. :'(

    • Laura Walters

      Ashley, mine is 12 years older and I’m doing the exact same thing…

      • borisa

        mine is 26 and I am doing the exact same thing ;)

  • Rihanna

    January Nelson is not one person; it’s the all of the thought catalog editors writing under one name.

    • OHYEAH


  • Sunset

    This made me sad. I am currently in a 10-year gap relationship. I’m 23 and he is 33. Now I hate myself because I am just watching our relationship slowly fall into pieces. There was a time I wished I looked older than my age, that I had a stable job like him..and sometimes I asked myself if I can really make him feel better, if the words that’s coming out of my mouth inspires him, if he is learning from me, too..if I am making the right way to comfort him. And then I got tired. I love him so much but I am so tired now :(

    And then I read this line here and hits me: “I know you’re going to become an amazing person. I’m sorry I can’t be there while it happens.” … I just couldn’t help but cry when I read this. When I become an amazing person, I want him to be there..until forever

  • East Coast Ele

    Hmmm, my parents are eleven years apart but they’ve been together over twenty years. Kind of creepy though, I came pretty close to giving my number to an older man tonight. How timely.

  • anon

    I’m in a wonderful relationship, we have a thirteen year age difference. This has never bothered either of us. When I come across stories like these I (very) briefly wonder if I’m missing something, whether I should be feeling like this too; then that all disappears and I realize that no, we’re okay right now and we will be okay. I don’t think an age difference is the root cause of any relationship issue. It’s a personality thing, like someone mentioned above.

  • borisa

    I am involved with a man much older than me (the age of my father) and this article kind of hurt me (?) almost made me cry, cause you have written what I have been thinking of all the time. simply it will not work because he is already settled and living a much different life than me. our interests are totally different (except for a few things we have gone through together just as fiends). it is totally crazy and I have no idea how to handle the fact that he is far away for me (moved) and he will never be mine…

  • Jeannie

    my grandmother is 6 years older than my grandpa and he’s her second husband. yet they are greatest and most perfect power couple that i know of. have faith!

  • lrs

    even though we aren’t that far apart in years, he’s loved before and i haven’t. it’s made him a more bitter person for it, a little callous, while i still retain my wide-eyed notions of romance that he can’t humour anymore. he doesn’t want to break me like he’s been broken. sometimes i think it can work despite it all, but reading this…fuck.

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