HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISM AND JUDGEMENT
If you're an older woman involved with a significantly younger man expect to be judged, talked about, criticized and otherwise informed - sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly - that some people don't like or approve of how you're living your life. Some people will feel obliged, in fact entitled, to sit in judgement of your choice and to let you know what they think. "Oh, are you his mother?" is the recognized passive/aggressive form of letting you know you must be a fool for making this choice. It's nasty, disingenuous, and always comes from another woman. Men know you're not his mother; actually so does the woman who's asked the question. It's just her way of making you feel bad. "In 10 years when he's -------- years old and you're ------------- years old, he'll leave you for a younger woman" is another way of making you question the choice you've made. Despite the fact that older women/younger men relationships are as viable as any other kind, comments like these are geared to pushing your fear buttons. People of all ages leave their partners, and do so for a variety of reasons usually having nothing to do with age, but someone is unhappy or threatened by the choice you've made and they simply have to let you know it by making you feel unhappy and threatened. And so it goes. The more conservative and traditional your world, the harsher will the criticism be. Older women who make non traditional choices, especially choices not sanctioned by the patriarchy, will often be forced to pay a price for walking their own walk. Deviating from a traditional path is considered heresy in some circles and must be punished.
We're living in a time when many older women are making a lot of non traditional choices not necessarily having to do with getting involved with a younger man. The surging divorce rate among couples in their 50's and 60's is more often than not initiated by the women. Larger than ever before numbers of women are choosing to remain single and to live alone, to face the hazards of the unknown alone rather than continue living the life they've been programmed for if that life is unfulfilling or unsatisfying. If you are strong enough and have enough self confidence to choose what makes you happy, it helps to set everyone else free. But freedom can also be very scary to those who find change, growth and evolution to be uncomfortable and who choose not to go there. So how to handle other people's judgement?
1 - BECOME AWARE OF ASSUMPTIONS
"He'll leave you when he sees your wrinkles" "You'll end up alone and miserable" "He's just using you for your money." Being aware of commonly held assumptions helps us resist the temptation to believe them ourselves. What other people think affects us. We may not consciously agree with them, but if they state their case loudly and frequently enough they can make us doubt what we know. We are all vulnerable to the collective consciousness because it activates our own deepest fears. Knowing what we're dealing with helps us to actively resist the pressures of tribal thinking.
2 -REASSESS YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
If you find yourself the object of judgement and criticism by your friends, take a look at your values. Are 'friends' who don't support you or your choices the kinds of people you really want in your life? Do your friends care about your happiness or do you make them uncomfortable because you no longer conform to their rules? Are they merely 'situational' friends - in your life because of a common interest or activity? Figure out if the benefits of having critical and judgmental friends are worth the effort of trying to win them over.
3 - GIVE REAL FRIENDS AND FAMILY TIME
There will surely be friends and family members who are concerned about your choice of lifestyle, but their intentions are simply to protect you from being hurt. If you feel that's the case, give them time. As they observe your happiness in the choice you've made, they'll probably come around eventually and be more accepting. The people who are not concerned about your happiness and who are threatened by your choice will reveal their attitudes in time. Be sensitive to those around you, listen to your inner voice, and act accordingly.
4 - HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH
The importance of holding your head high in the face of social censure and criticism can't be overstated. You have done nothing wrong and nothing for which you should feel ashamed. The thoughts you harbor about yourself affect the thoughts and judgements of those around you. If you value yourself and radiate pride about the life you've chosen, others will respond to that energy. The more you feel secure and confident about your life, the more others will also.
5 - BE DISCREET
Especially if you're an older woman involved with a much younger man, don't share the details of your relationship with people who are judgmental about it. Information can become ammunition, so bite your tongue about how hot your sex life is. Be discreet and avoid fueling someone else's jealousy.
6 - CHANGE THE SUBJECT
If people ask you direct and overly personal questions, switch topics. You are not obligated to explain or justify anything. "How's that new diet going - have you started it yet?" Turn the attention away from you and onto the person who's interrogating you.
Remember that your real friends want you to be happy. They may be initially cautious and hesitant about accepting your non traditional choice. This is understandable. Give them the time and space to discover how much happier you are and how much better your world has become. The people who really love and care about you will continue to do so in time.