I am thirty-four and my girlfriend is twenty-two. We have been in a romantic relationship for two years. About a year ago, a “friend” of hers invited her to go out, and since that time it is as if she has had a secret relationship with him…. I know that she lies to me and is cheating on me because I have caught them exchanging photos and messages…. I have forgiven her and continued to love her, but I don’t know if I should stay with her, hoping for more, or stop seeing her once and for all….

Today we are not exactly boyfriend and girlfriend, but actually more like very close friends; but that is not what I want…. Sometimes it seems like she is taking advantage of me and other people…. She says that she loves me, but sometimes I don’t believe her and other times I do. I do love her a lot and am faithful to her.

Dear Friend,

We are happy that you are asking for advice. It seems to us that you have gotten confused and need help to sort it all out.

You start out calling the girl your “girlfriend.” Yet a few sentences later you admit that she isn’t really your girlfriend but actually a very close friend. So even though you want to claim her as your girlfriend, you know that she really isn’t.

She goes out with another guy, and you have to check up on her to find out the truth. She lies and cheats on you. And sometimes you think she is taking advantage of you. All of this leads to one simple fact: you are deceiving yourself by imagining that you have a serious relationship where there is none. The fact that she says that she loves you means nothing, as she probably says those words to most of her close friends.

We do not believe that age differences are necessarily important in romantic relationships. However, when one of the couple is under twenty-five, the age difference does become more significant. A twenty-two year-old is just beginning adult life, whereas you, at thirty-four, are twelve years older than she is. At her stage of life a twelve-year age difference could lead to a multitude of problems.

So the answer to your question is that you should stop seeing this girl and stop imagining that you have a meaningful relationship with her. She has every right to see whatever men she wants to see, and you should not be checking her photos or messages.

We recommend that you put more time and effort into finding friends that are closer to your age. One good place to find friends is at church. Look for a church where the people have been changed through their personal relationship with God. Then look for friends who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and have a daily relationship with Him. Ask Christ to forgive you of your sins and to guide you in finding new friends.

We wish you the best,