Far Apart in Age and Culture
Q: I have been dating a 35-year-old man for about a year. I am an American, but he is not. We are both studying for doctorates. We met in school and we started off friends and ended up in a relationship. He loves to have sex with me, but he does not like to hold me or kiss me. Do you think we can go the distance even with our age difference? -- Carrie, 59
Dr. Susan: A 24-year age difference can be monumental, though I've heard from readers who have been quite happy with their much older spouses (both men and women). Your cultural differences can be huge, too, and they can sneak up on you. So that at first you only see how alike you are, or how you balance one another, and then later, you start noticing more essential differences that get in the way of compatibility. Another thing to consider is that, already, your needs for emotional connection seem to be far different. You want to be kissed and held, while he prefers a more direct sexual connection. He is not likely to change after a year of behaving this way, knowing what you like and need. You are likely to continue to be frustrated by not getting what you need to feel really close. I see so many complications for this relationship that I don't know what to tell you. I suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with him to find out how he feels about a future together, how he sees the two of you in a decade. Then you can decide whether that is a future you want to work hard to be part of.
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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.