Dear Singlescoach: I am a 28 yr old woman and I am dating a 17 year old guy. He will be 18 in 5 months. And amazingly this has been the best relationship I have ever been in. However, there are a few problems… His parents don’t approve (especially his mother) and my sister thinks I’m making a mistake and being foolish. Age of consent in the state we live in is 17, so that’s not a problem. But the town we live in is small and the gossip has gotten so bad about us. People are talking about it like it is terrible. But the fact is that we really love and care for each other. Sex is not what our relationship is about; we haven’t even had sex yet, and we have been together for two months. We get each other; we make each other laugh, we have similar interests, and we are so happy together. I want to know what you think about this. How should I handle parents? How should I handle my family’s reactions? How do I stand up for me and my man? - Patrice Dear Patrice: The biggest cure for your issue is going to be time. If you and your guy are smart, you’ll play it low-key until he’s 18. Going into rebellion mode with all of your family members won’t help - that’s an adolescent attitude and only proves their point. Instead, I recommend that you agree with them - that’s right, agree with them. Simply by acknowledging that they’re right about one thing - this could be a mistake - you disarm them. And they are right - like any new relationship, this one could be a mistake. But it won’t be a serious mistake as long as you give it time to develop one way or the other and you don’t bring a child into the picture for a long, long time. I think you have a bigger issue, and that is the issue of maturity. The likelihood of a guy at the age of 17 choosing the woman he will spend the rest of his life with is slim. I’m not saying it can’t happen - I know people who met in their teens and are still married 30 years later. I’m saying the odds are against it. Most guys at that age have no clue about themselves or how they want to live life, and their relationships reflect that. They simply haven’t matured enough yet to choose something for a lifetime. If you’re smart, you will play this low key for yourself. Don’t build too many castles in the sky yet. You have a huge hurdle ahead of you and that is education. Is he going to college? If not, what kind of living can he make? If he is the one, are you willing to put off marriage until he completes his education? Can you handle the reality that he will meet tons of cute girls close to his age while attending college? Once you get past the enchantment stage of the relationship, which you are definitely in, there are many real-world practical questions to answer as you move forward. Mature couples address these questions through open, honest communication over time (not just one conversation). Mature couples put off sex until they address the bigger issues and feel secure in their bond and common life path. That’s your real issue - letting him and letting this relationship mature before you give away your entire heart.