One Question Quiz
Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyJanuary 25, 2024

Help Me Hera: Should I roll the dice on a Dungeons & Dragons based romance?

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

Not only am I nine years older than her, I’m also her dungeon master.

Want Hera’s help? Email your problem to

Dear Hera,

I (30,f) find myself in a predicament. There is a girl who I find incredibly attractive, and who I have chemistry with, but there are a couple of issues:

1. She is nine years younger than me, and

2. I currently DM a Dungeons & Dragons game she is a player in.

Both of these could be navigated and be non-issues, but she recently confided in me that she has been somewhat socially isolated of late, and that she really appreciates me including her in the game because of this. I feel like if “anything” happened, as long as we were open and communicative that everything would be fine. 

Would everything be fine? Or is there no way the scales could be balanced in any way that could be fair? I haven’t had a relationship in a while and want to pursue some form of something with her, but I don’t want to hold an unequal position of power over her either.

‘No that’s not what I meant by dungeon master’

A line of fluorescent green card suit symbols – hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades

Dear Dungeon Master,

You’re sitting in a dusty old tavern. It’s a cool evening, in early spring, and there’s the smell of roasted ham and sawdust in the air. A fire crackles merrily in the hearth, and the tavern echoes with the sound of laughter and 6+ HOUR PLAYLIST OF AMBIENT MEDIAEVAL LUTE FOR ADVENTURE AND EXPLORATION. A sudden breeze cuts through the room, making the candlelight flicker. You look up and see a stranger, silhouetted in the doorway. 

Forgive my delight. It’s not often I get to answer a lesbian themed Dungeons & Dragons question about appropriate age-gaps, even though it’s precisely what this column was invented for. I’ll try and keep the fantasy ambience to a minimum, but forgive me if I get carried away. 

I can see why your age gap has you worried. Nine years is a lot, especially when one of you wasn’t alive for the fall of the twin towers. But it’s not inherently exploitative. Like most legal relationships, there’s no hard and fast rule. The question is largely vibes based, and depends on the two individuals in question. A 25-year-old geologist and 50-year-old wildlife photographer, brought together by a passionate love of volcanoes? Romantic. That guy who hangs around the video game arcade, trying to strike up a conversation with teenage girls about Neon Genesis Evangelion? Creepy. You’re just a year short of the traditional yardstick, half your age plus seven. But when it comes to love, the arithmetic isn’t always so simple. 

My personal feeling about age gaps is when the youngest party is over 25, the question officially becomes nobody else’s business. Calling into question an adult woman’s ability to meaningfully consent to sex with Robert De Niro is frankly insulting. That doesn’t mean dating younger people is out of the question. But it’s worth taking a little extra care, if only because it’s easier to unintentionally fuck up someone’s life. 

There are different kinds of age gap relationships. There are the Leonardo DiCaprios of this world, who exclusively date young Italian supermodels. There’s no point losing sleep over this. I can only imagine everyone involved is handsomely compensated with lavish Mediterranean holidays and expensive wristwatches, not to mention Leonardo DiCaprio. 

Then there are those who intentionally seek out younger partners precisely because they’re easier to manipulate, or because people their own age won’t put up with them. I know a few people who dated guys like this, and they almost always lived to regret it. 

Then there are normal age gap relationships, where two people have a surprising connection, and have to navigate the ensuing social awkwardness together.

The fact that you’re considering the power dynamics is a good sign. But all relationships are built on uneven ground. Power is a mysterious and fluid force, which can’t easily be calculated. Not to mention, there are plenty of different kinds of power. Financial. Social. Life experience. Green card status. Being insanely hot. If we all tried to fuck people with identical stat sheets, nobody would be able to have a relationship outside their own race, gender, income bracket or character class. 

As a dungeon master, you have significant power over this girl. Such as the power to unleash a horde of vengeful goblins, or raise a skeleton army from the dead. Of course, you should wield this power wisely. Don’t send her to rot in the lost caverns of Tsojcanth if she rejects your advances. But in terms of your age gap, what responsibilities do you have?  

You have to accept a few basic realities, such as accepting there’s a higher than normal probability of you getting dumped for a guitarist named Jethro, or your girlfriend quitting her job and running off to South America to work a tourist riverboat. These are developmentally appropriate activities, and there’s no point getting mad at a 21-year-old for acting like a 21-year-old. As far as possible, make sure your age difference doesn’t stand in the way of your partner experiencing all the terror and joy and infinite variety of youth. Be prepared for her parents and friends to treat you with suspicion, until you earn their trust. Try not to use your nine years of extra life as an excuse to bulldoze your younger partner, or emotionally outmanoeuvre them. But as long as you have a foundation of mutual love and respect, I don’t see a problem. 

In fact, the biggest difficulty has to do with your campaign. This girl is obviously thrilled to have found a new social group. It would be a shame if you confessed your feelings, and it scared her off Dungeons & Dragons forever. But what’s love, without a little risk? 

I say wait until your campaign is over. This way, if things get awkward, you don’t ruin the game for everyone. There’s nothing worse than trying to prevent the Black Spider taking control of Wave Echo Cave, when the DM and resident paladin are having some weird interpersonal conflict. Wait until the next logical break in the game, and then give that D20 a roll! 

Want Hera’s help? Email your problem to all the previous Help Me Heras here.

Keep going!