By Thomas Whitfield

I’m 22 and recently started dating someone in his early 40s. My friends have made a few jokes about it, but agree that he’s hot. I’m starting to feel a little bit self-conscious when we go out, like people are looking at us. Is there anything wrong with dating someone this much older than me? – Male, Gay, 22

I think when there is a large age difference between people, the best way to gauge if it’s an issue or not is by examining if you’re both in the same place in life and if you want the same things for the future. As for your friends, unless the guy is a jerk or treats you poorly, they will eventually get over it and appreciate that you’re happy, or at least one would hope they would. Yeah, people might be looking in public; I can’t guarantee that they aren’t. But, why do you care? You can’t control if people will or won’t, so if you’re going to move forward with the relationship, you might as well practice ignoring them.

I turned 47 last week, and I’ve dated a lot of guys off and on, [but] very few serious relationships. Part of me just thinks that maybe I’m done dating. I love my life, and I’m sincerely happy, but I still feel pressure to try and be in a relationship. How can I get over thinking I should be dating someone? – Male, Gay, 47

If you’re single and happy, that’s a great place to be. Contrary to most depictions in popular media, you don’t have to be in a relationship to be happy or have a full life. When you notice yourself thinking “I should be dating,” remind yourself that this “should” doesn’t really exist. It’s not a law or a rule. If anything, it’s just something society has said you “should” want. “The other half” is a fallacy, and you’re a whole person with or without a relationship—which it sounds like you already know.

For pretty much my entire life I’ve dated both men and women. Last weekend my mother told me that I need to make up my mind and date either men or women. She told me she keeps hoping I’m going to be straight when I date men and then has to “deal” with me being gay when I date women. Should I have grown out of this? – Female, Bi, 34

I don’t think we grow out of what gender or sex we fall in love with. You could strategically only date one if you wanted, but I’m guessing that’s not what you want. In terms of mom, you could potentially talk to her about your sexuality (again), or stop introducing her to people you’re dating until things are more serious. Depending on the relationship you have with her, you could also have a more direct conversation with her about why it’s difficult for her. But, date who you want—it’s your choice, not hers.

Sex/Love/Relationship advice? Send your questions to: Instagram: @ThomasWhitfield84