I recently broke up with my boyfriend because I can’t seem to get past our 14 year age difference. I’m 30, he’s 44. He was my boss for a year and a half before we started dating about 10 months ago. He’s funny, caring, great in bed, understanding and would literally do anything for me. When I first started seeing him, I kept looking for a catch because how could he be so sweet and perfect and never been married? He has no kids and neither have I. I want kids. I told him this right off the bat and he was all for it. I asked him why he’d never had kids and he said it just didn’t happen but he is open to it, he just hadn’t thought too much about it.
Long story short, we spent 10 wonderful months together. Probably the healthiest relationship I’ve been in. I can’t stress what an amazing man he is. I love him. So naturally I broke up with him 4 days ago because no matter what I do I have not gotten past the fact that he is 14 years older. And he could not have been sweater or more understanding about it. When I asked him if he was angry at me he said “Absolutely not. I love you more than I ever thought I was capable of loving someone. I’m heartbroken, disappointed, but there is no anger toward you. All I ever wanted was your happiness.” It was heart-wrenching. Didn’t make this any easier.
We are both adults. It’s not like I’m 20 and he’s 35, but ever since we got together I have not fully been able to get past the age thing. I only pushed it aside because he was so good to me and made it easy to forget that there was an age gap. Still the thought that he might die before me made me anxious. My father was 45 when I was born, and I love him to death, but it was sometimes very different growing up with an “older” dad, and not always in a good way. I’m not positive I want my kids to have an “older” dad like I did— OR is this completely insane and irrational?? I know I should not feel this way, especially after 10 months of dating AND because I’m 30, not a child, AND he would marry me and knock me up tomorrow if I asked him to . I guess I thought the feeling would subside by now and when it didn’t I realized I would have to break up with him before I got more attached (although I’m not sure that’d be possible). So I did last week and I’ve been a wreck ever since. So has he.
My question is, am I being crazy? Is 14 years too much? I should not be so hung up on this, especially because it’s ridiculous to assume that just because he’s older he’s going to go before me. I know how insane I sound. Especially because WHY do I worry about what MIGHT happen in the future if I am happy in the present? I don’t know! But I worried about it enough to break the heart of someone I love and who loves me beyond words. I have never been put in a situation (or put myself in that situation) before and it’s affecting me deeper than I thought it would. I’m looking for some feedback. Tell me to get a grip or SOMETHING because I just broke up with a one in a million man simply because of our age difference…. but I’m just as heart broken as if I had been dumped!
Dear “Feeling Crazy,”
For Christ’s sake, it’s not like you asking for a guy to be a centaur (half-man half-horse), you just want him to be closer to your age! Lol… Okay, let me slow it down… First, let me say that everything you are experiencing is perfectly normal. And you are right to point out that at 30-years-old, when you’re more aware of who you are, and what you want (and want to give) in a love relationship, you’re most likely mature enough to be able to date an eighty-year-old and not be taken advantage of. However, I believe that what you are really torn up about is not the age difference at all, but the fact that you feel you can’t trust yourself in picking a suitable mate. And that’s what I want to help you reconcile.
I’ve been in several “May-December” relationships; and, like your guy, most of them treated me better than any fairy tale I could have ever conjured up. However, love isn’t about grabbing on to a random guy who treats you amazingly well and holding on for dear life. That’s “lack-based thinking” (e.g. “There aren’t many good ones out there,” or “All the good ones are taken.”) You want to shift to “abundance-based thinking,” where there are plenty of great guys out there, (so turn off your TV), and all you gotta do is pick the one your pretty little heart desires (and add “I’ll know it with every fiber in my being” to your wish list, por favor.) Otherwise, with lack-based thinking you’ll find yourself constantly fighting to free yourself from a fear-based love life. And who wants to spend an entire relationship asking the peanut gallery, (i.e those of us on the internet, co-workers, and the bored homeless guy outside the grocery store), to remind you how good you have it so you stay; or worse, looking at other guys/couples and wondering if you threw in the towel too soon.
In “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols,” I talk about the dilemma of using your head versus your heart, and how in reality the two can work together. This is a great example of that. Your brain is telling you that you want great treatment and love from a guy close to your age. But your brain can only take you so far as contradictory thoughts (i.e. doubts) are sure to make their way in. Now you think you’re silly for wanting someone closer to your age, and even trying to rationalize it with concerns of abandonment via death or giving your child a dad with old, washed up balls, etc; but in reality the heart wants what the heart wants. Your desires are directly linked to your unique destiny, not anyone else’s, so quit making yourself wrong and trust yourself. When you trust yourself, you’re trusting in the wisdom that created you. You may not know why you want something, but wanting it is enough.
I might be telling you something different if the age difference never bothered you, and you were, say, doing something sneaky like making up a problem to avoid intimacy. However, you said you were never comfortable with it but pushed it aside in hopes that you, basically, would come to want something different. We’ve all heard stories of times when that happened to people, so I don’t blame you for trying, but, tough shit, nothing happened. It’s okay to want a guy closer to your age, and I wouldn’t try to talk you into staying with this 44-year-old anymore than I would an 88-year-old who also treated you well. And if for some reason your heart does, in fact, want this 44-year-old man, guess what, his age won’t matter. Let your brain digest that, and get on board with your heart.
Additionally, I’d like you to know that the process of dating is a honing process where, if you’re doing it right, the closer you get to knowing and receiving what you like the tougher the breakups will be. But don’t worry, when you get to the right one he will stick. Wild horses won’t be able to keep you two apart. In choosing someone loving and kind you’ve already shown yourself that you know how to honor your heart’s desires so why stop at “he treats me good and is willing to give me babies.” You deserve, and can have, more than that. And as I said in the beginning, it’s not like you’re asking that your dream guy be Justin Bieber (as that’s impossible since he’s taken by me), you just want the dude to be at a similar stage in life as you.
Just because this wonderful man has come into your life and shown you that there are guys out there who will treat you as you desire doesn’t mean you have to pledge your life and love to him. So thank him and go get your man! You’re so close already! You’ve done most of the hard work by setting your standard for great treatment, now all you have to do is be open to receiving it from the young, mysterious guy who currently resides in your heart.
Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.