Just read this whole thread, and appreciate all the thoughtful comments and perspectives, especially about the money issues. My YM is 22, and we have been seeing each other almost 2 years. (26 year age gap) I made some of the money mistakes in the first year, and got taken for a ride. Now, a very different YM feels pretty embarrassed about his past behavior, and has almost gone to the opposite extreme, not wanting to take help from me even when it really does make sense, or he deserves it because of sacrifices he has made for me. But I am not protesting, because I know it is his way of making amends, and also mending his own self esteem, in some way.
But I have wondered about the money issue. He has no career as of yet, and also lives in another country and didn't/doesn't have the opportunities I had at his age. Yet he has alot of talent, and I know that he would find his way, with me or without me. I remember reading somewhere, maybe here, that often this issue of the disparity in career status is resolved by both going into business together. As partners, the issue of being in different rungs on the ladder dissolves. I was relieved to read this, because from the beginning, this was my idea anyway. He is the first romantic partner I have had whom I would really like to be with 24/7 and don't think it would drive me bonkers. That has been my pattern when I visit his country, and recently we spent a month pretty much 24/7 and we both find it so easy. At the end, we cautiously approached the idea of working together again, and are feeling our way now, about what things he is doing for me just to be nice, and what things he should be paid for. As I said, he is very cautious now about taking money, but I know it will get easier as the businesses take off.
I agree that it will even out in the end. I didn't know his age when we met, but had the oddest, almost supernatural experience. When we had our first private conversation, it was like I saw laid out before us the whole trajectory of our lives. (this was a virtual stranger, mind you!) What I saw was that I would come to his country and invest (didn't know then where the funds would come from) and that he would help me run the businesses as they got more and more successful, like an assistant manager, almost, and then when he was older, in his 40s, he would be making some major career moves, and become more high profile, and that I would then fade into the background more, and essentially shadow and support him in building his career. I actually shared this view with him a few months after we started dating, and i think it kept him going, because he felt very insecure about the disparity in our levels of life success. it helps to see the big picture, and there is one. I also like the idea of being able to kick back just when he reaches the age of wanting to aggressively push ahead. I think there are alot of things that work with these age gaps. (Just wish I could stop the skin aging process!!)
I think if I had a cardinal rule, it would be Have faith in your partner, and have faith in the relationship. Doubts can be really toxic, whereas friendly support and understanding in the face of mistakes or ignorance can be so healing and confidence building. I find that he tends to give me what I expect. He has acted his most immature when he was faced with my negative projections on him, such as fears or expectations that he was likely to be immature, or doubting his veracity, out of my own insecurity. Sometimes fear is nothing more than that -- my own projection, with no basis in reality.
So thanks again for the posts, all. I will continue to ponder the material I read here.