AdviceHelp Me Rhonda

Help Me, Rhonda

Too Young? Too Old?

I am a high school senior (in Massachusetts), but headed for college on a scholarship. My problem is a guy who’s smart, sexy and great for me except for one thing—he’s my soccer coach. Just to be clear, he’s not my first boyfriend, and he pushed me away until after I turned 18. He’s not that much older than me! My parents have a similar age difference (and they think he’s great). He really cares about me, but he’s worried about losing his job. What can we say to people who are going to judge based on numbers alone? 


It sounds like the people you are most worried about are the people who employ your boyfriend/coach. His employer will be less concerned with the age difference and more concerned with the fact that he (most likely) violated a school or league policy prohibiting romantic relationships between coaches or teachers and players. And I’m not sure there’s anything you can say to that. As you say, he is in fact dating you, and your current relationship seems to have sprung from your player/coach relationship. It’s hard to get around those facts. Since it’s a question of school policy rather than age difference, the people above him won’t be swayed by your argument that your parents have a similar age difference and that difference is kind of small anyway. Waiting until you turned 18 doesn’t seem to get around the rules, either. So, I think his job is definitely in jeopardy, and he will have to determine his tolerance for that risk.

People other than his employer don’t really care about the age difference, either. What they will react to is the power differential. Romantic relationships are relationships between peers, but when you met your coach, he wasn’t your peer. He was in a position of authority which skewed the dynamic of your relationship. You may not have recognized that at the time, but he did, and that’s why he didn’t pursue you.

In talking to friends or other people who are critical of your relationship, I think the only compelling thing you’ll be able to say is that your parents know about it and are OK with it (if that is, in fact, true). Usually, you’re the person who makes decisions about your relationship, but you just turned 18, so your parents have a role in this. 

Unsolicited, I will ask you this: You’re about to head to college on a scholarship. Do you want to be tethered to a relationship at home? He might not be in high school, but he’s still your high school boyfriend. Is that something you want to take to college?

Single Enough?

I’m a woman in my early 30s, and I’ve never been married. I date a lot, and I would like to get married, eventually, when I meet the right person. Lately, I think because of my age, a lot of the people I’ve met and would be interested in dating are divorced. My question: Is it OK to date someone who is separated and getting a divorce if the divorce isn’t final yet?



Morally, you mean? A qualified yes. In many cases, by the time people are divorcing, the relationship has been over for a long time. And I don’t mean that in a way that justifies cheating; I mean that by the time many people divorce they have been living actual separate lives in separate residences  with separate finances, arguing over the division of assets for a while. If that’s the case, or if he’s proceeding with a divorce and waiting for the 30 days to elapse, then you’re not doing anything wrong by dating him.

Now, should you? If you’re looking for a serious relationship that could lead to marriage, I’d advise caution in dating someone who’s just gotten out (or is getting out) of his marriage. No matter how over the relationship seems to be, no matter how unhappy it appears the relationship was, some things linger. The marriage may be over well before the divorce is final, but the rocky emotional part isn’t. If you’re dating someone who’s still going through the paperwork of ending a marriage, he’s also going through some of the emotional work of getting out of the marriage. And it’s hard to speed that emotional work up, no matter how unhappy the relationship was and no matter how ready he seems to date. Something emotional happens on the day the divorce becomes final. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve watched it happen a few times, and it’s not excitement or elation. It’s closer to melancholy. 

Now, if you’re just looking to date, meet people and have fun, then yes, go ahead and date someone who is just getting divorced. You’re not doing anything wrong. But if you’re looking for a serious relationship, look for someone who is ready to begin one.

Good, Better, Best

My current job is good in so many ways. I make enough money (I’m actually comfortable, not struggling, for the first time in my life); I like my colleagues, and, on paper, I’m supposed to be doing the kind of work that I love. The day to day reality of it different, though. A lot of my time gets swallowed up by administrative BS and low-level management stuff. It’s an extraordinarily maddening type of BS, and it cuts into the time I should be spending doing the work I was hired to do. I’d like to make a move to another job where I could focus more on actually doing the work I love. None of the openings I’ve seen in this area have been quite right for me, though. I’m willing to take on a longer commute, but I really love Athens and want to continue living here. Should I just resign myself to staying in my current job? Wait for the perfect position to open up? Some days I get so frustrated I tell myself I’m going to quit tomorrow, but, of course, I can’t do that.



Right now, Torn, you should stay in your current job, but you shouldn’t resign yourself to staying in that job, unchanged, forever. You’re in the strongest possible position to search for a new job: You already have one that you like well enough; you’re making enough money, and there seem to be openings in your field in the area. Keep a few things in mind while you look. No job description exactly captures the day-to-day work of the job. If a description doesn’t seem like a perfect fit but is in the ballpark, apply for it anyway. The interview process will be you learning about the position as much as the employer learning about you.

If a listing does seem to describe the perfect job for you, by all means apply, but know that there are probably aspects of that job that you won’t love. So don’t be disappointed when you learn about them, and keep this in mind when you’re waiting for the “perfect” listing. Even the perfect job will be imperfect, so give all the ones that are close enough a chance.

Don’t worry about wasting your time or the interviewer’s. Going through the application and interview process as much as possible will be valuable for both of you. It will give you a clearer picture of what’s out there, what you want and what you don’t want. And, very, very importantly, it will get your name out there. People in the same field know each other. They mention names to each other. Once people in your field know you’re looking, they’ll pass your name to other people. (See also: meeting people and dating.) Then, when a great position that matches your strengths and preferences (which people will know about because they’ve interviewed and gotten to know you), your name will pop up. You know how that apple fell on Newton’s head? That only happened because he was sitting near an apple tree. You need to position yourself near the orchard so some apples might fall nearby. Or into your lap.