She Craves a Much Older Man
Q: I got to know my boyfriend for a few months before we dated. Now we've been together for over 3 years. Most things go ok, but we are on different paths in life. Still, I love him very much and want him to achieve his goals as much as I want to achieve my own.
But something that he doesn't know is what goes on in my mind. I tend to want to be with older men and sometimes quite significantly older. Sometimes I think it simply has something to do with the way younger people of this world lack respect, hard work, and enjoying some of the simple things in life. I've had a crush on a man who is more than 20 years older than I am, since even before I met my boyfriend. But I refuse to say anything, especially to lose a great friend (the older guy) because I don't know what kind of boundaries I would cross. But he could be more of what I need than my boyfriend is. I could hurt my boyfriend who is only a year younger than myself. I definitely care about him and often think of marrying him. How does someone get around these feelings? Do I say something to my friend or boyfriend? How can I keep from bottling these feelings up inside? -- Lacy, 24
Dr. Susan: You have two obvious choices, Lacy. You can tell yourself that your crush is only a crush and that it has no real chance of standing the test of time once you get to know one another. Or you can tell your long-time boyfriend that something is missing for you in your relationship and you need some time to explore other possibilities. That would be most honest, of course. I have a concern about the way you generalize about "young people" lacking "respect, hard work, and enjoying some of the simple things in life." Do you mean that your boyfriend lacks respect (for you?)? Or that your boyfriend doesn't know how to relax with you and enjoy simple pleasures? It doesn't matter what all the other young people in the world do; your boyfriend is the only young person who counts. Same goes for the older guy you have the crush on. Could you be idealizing him when you imagine that he could offer "more" of what you need? Stereotyping an entire generation is bound to confuse you. It could be that you're not ready to settle down yet, and when you're more mature and ready, the men of your own generation will be more mature too.
One thing you ought to do is stop living a double life. Find a caring and capable person to talk all this over with. And don't marry anyone until you work this out. There could be deeper issues lurking below the conscious level that make much older men so attractive to you. See if you can figure out what's really going on for you.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.