How to navigate a 25 year age gap
Manhattan based Male 48 - 23 year old female.
I live in the East village in a walk-up apartment. I am single, work at a charity and I do research in sociology. I am clean, decent, respectful, law-abiding, non-smoking, non-drinking. I don't have that much money, but I am an optimist and have a good attitude, a sunny, positive outlook and a good voice. Am Asian.
In February 2020 I met a new neighbour while walking up and down the walk-up, we smiled, said hello, and started to exchange casual greetings. For some reason, I felt that she liked something about me, but I wasn't sure what it was, and put it down to a crush. Also realised that her studio is right across the hall from me, making us immediate neighbours.
She's German, by the way, and a student at a local college, studying a creative subject. Fiercely independent, private and does not seek attention. Doesn't do the usual girl things, wears hardly any make-up and projects a tomboy/ mannish look. Dresses to avoid attention when she goes outside. Confident, well-mannered, no nonsense girl. Fairly attractive.
Then, Covid happened, she disappeared and I went on with my life.
She returned to her apartment in September, and I get to know this in a dramatic way. I am fixing a cupboard late night when there is an angry lass at my door complaining about the noise I am making. I say sorry, and, the next day, I leave some chocolates at her door as a make- up gesture, which she appreciates. I again sense some level of interest coming from her. She tries to get a floor level meeting and informal conversations across the hall going - another female neighbour, also new, joins in, but I stay pretty much put and out of it, and she doesn't like that.
A few months go by and we exchange a sentence or two, but she mostly ignores me after the failed floor get together. I have a biking accident and she starts to look at me from the corner of her eye, checking to see if I am okay, but doesn't say much. Then comes December and she disappears again, to return only in mid-March 2021.
This time round, she greets me with a smile the moment she sees me and tries to get a conversation going. I am not sure what to make of this, and am a little slow to respond in equal measure. By the time I revv myself up to respond with equal enthusiasm, she's gone silent again because she's spoken with the other neighbours only to realise that I have been complaining a fair bit about the other neighbours since they don't quite follow any Covid guidelines. Over the next few weeks, she deliberately makes all the same transgressions of rules that the neighbours have made in the past (and I have complained about) - I think just to see if I will complain about her. I don't make a single complaint.
A few weeks pass, and we continue to meet in the halls and the stairs and occasionally exchange a greeting. I catch her looking at me from the corner of her eyes at times. She's clumsy at preening, but she makes an attempt to preen and play with her hair when she runs into me or when I am within eyesight. I note that the other neighbours start to give me a second look and give a smile to each other when they see us crossing each other and it seems that she has discussed her interest in me with the other neighbours (both girls)
I finally decide to "catch" her for a conversation the next time we run into each other, and we finally have a 10 minute conversation and exchange some information about each other. She welcomes it, I sense that she has been expecting this and probably more, and is a little frustrated by my apparent lack of interest. My suspicions are confirmed as well. I was hoping that she would be 30+, giving us a more manageable age-gap, but, it turns out that she is in her very early twenties, though she's way more mature and sorted than most people at 23.
Then the neighbours arrange a basketball game in mid May, ie 10 days back, and we end up playing on opposite teams. She's a great attacking player and am not that bad at defense. We get to know each other a bit more and she turns out to be a teetotaller. She's also a little surprised, in a good way, to find that I am a teetotaller as well. I use this opportunity to drop hints that I am significantly older than her, though I don't look it.
Long story short - this is a decent, well-behaved, independent person, someone that I could very well see myself spending my life with. I have respect for her and I want her to do well and be happy in life. I would have been bolder and more direct about approaching her, had the age-gap not been 25 odd years.
However, if she doesn't mind the age-gap, then, I don't want to make an issue out of a non-issue. I am not looking to hook-up, or date casually. I am looking for a long term partner, someone I can hopefully marry and have a family with. She seems perfect, and our age gap is the only thing holding me back.
What should I do?
Thanks for the call to action, appreciate your advice.