SheSaid Relationship Advice

September 28, 2004

SheSaid Relationship Advice

Question: Almost 10 years ago I meet a man 17 years my junior and for the next 8 years we had a wonderful relationship, very sexual and loving, a big change from my 21 year marriage. We began to experience problems mainly due to my behaviour and ended our relationship but because we still have a very strong friendship and sexual connection, we have now resumed seeing each other on a semi regular basis. We have always had trouble discussing issues even though we are (I like to think) reasonably intelligent people, so much as we still enjoy a lovely time together, we cannot/will not discuss what is happening outside of the times we see each other or what lead us to where we are today.
I occasionally date other men but don’t believe he has had any relationships since we parted but I now wonder how I will feel if he does meet someone else and wants to stop seeing me. He gives me no indication that he is unhappy in our present situation, he has always said he does not wish to marry or have children, and I know I like the freedom to do my own thing, I should state at this time that we have never lived to together.
At times I feel I want my cake and eat it to, as the saying goes, but I really like this man and would miss him terribly if he wasn’t in my life.
Any suggestions?

Answer: Congratulations, you’ve got what so many women in their late 30’s, or their 40’s, 50’s and beyond dream of, a passionate 8-year love affair with a much younger lover that has now settled into a comfortable arrangement where you both have your freedom and still enjoy seeing each other when it suits. I’m having trouble figuring out if you really are looking to change the arrangement or if you just want some assurances that he will always be around. Of course, this sort of relationship only works when it is what both people want. Your letter suggests that this is not true for you and you don’t feel you can talk to your lover about your conerns.

If you have trouble discussing issues, you have identified one of the major hiccups in the relationship. If you want more from the relationship, you have to tell him. Why is it so hard to ask for what you want? Are you frightened that if you ask for something your lover is not willing to give, you must forfeit the relationship? Instead you can choose to shift your expectations if you think the relationship is worth it.

While the two of you choose to date or see other people there is always the chance that one or both of you will meet someone you want to be with exclusively. It is unreasonable to assume that your relationship with this man comes with a lifetime guarantee. My suggestion is try something new…. start talking to each other! Until you start talking, you won’t know if he is unhappy with the present situation. Enjoy what you have and the freedom you seem to embrace and if one or both of you meet someone else, deal with the consequences. That is the price you pay for freedom.

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