Woe Is Me! “My Friend Is Texting A Much Younger Woman. Do I Intervene?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“A man I know is texting with a much younger girl, who is almost half his age. Obviously, I had to confront, but he says “the girl is coming on to me, not the other way round,” and nothing wrong happened because they’re “just texting.” How do I knock some sense into this man’s head?”
— Holding Back A Barf
RD: So, it sounds like he already knows you think it’s creepy. As a friend, I don’t think you can do much more than that, sadly. Maybe send him some articles that talk about power differentials in older man-younger woman relationships with such a wide age gap? You can’t make him not talk to her, but you can talk to him about red flags, both in his and her behavior, that need to be looked out for that specifically pertain to age, power and lifestyle differences. At the end of the day, I don’t think this is your responsibility to knock some sense into his head, as you said. You can tell him why you think it’s creepy, if you have the energy and if he has the willingness to listen. Not more than that.
DR: Knock some sense into him, you cannot — as Yoda would say. I don’t think it’ll be helpful if you appeal to his rationality, or his innate kindness, in the hope that it would make him back off. This is a perversely selfish man driven only by his, umm… tharak, for lack of a more accurate word. Organize an intervention, perhaps? However, if you don’t have the energy to engage, don’t. It’s not your responsibility to ensure he behaves like a decent human being. It’s more important for you to preserve your sanity, first and foremost. If you choose to do that, do remember to give him a piece of your mind over a text, or over a voice note, telling him what an absolute cockroach of a human being he is. And then, very quickly, just block him before he can come back to you with some pathetic excuse for this behavior that’ll make you want to pluck your hair out.
ADT: Oh that’s an exhausting situation. I’m so glad that you’re concerned about this. Young people are handed sexual agency in a very emotionally turbulent age-range, which sometimes makes them seek out things that they will deeply regret and dislike themselves for in the future. Plus, adults who should know better than to encourage this, often do it anyway for various reasons that are of no value in comparison to the mental damage it will cause for the young girl here. Perhaps, if you feel strongly about this, you could reach out to the girl herself, or some friends you know she can trust, and attempt to lead her towards cutting this man out of her life. This is because you’ve already spoken to this man and he seems uncaring of the implications of his actions beyond his need to get off. If he’s a friend, I’d suggest you inform him that you’re cutting him off till he can understand why “she’s coming on to me” is the shadiest possible defense for his behavior.
AM: Hi, this sounds very gross. I’m glad you decided to speak to him once, but sadly, that’s the only thing you can do. Whether you want to stop or go ahead by speaking to him once more is completely your choice. If you do, do let him know that this is emotionally exploitative and if anyone, it is him whose responsibility it should be to stop engaging even if she’s “coming on to him.”