Should He Expect to Be Understood?

Q: I finally let myself be open to a new kind of relationship. The last few women I pursued weren't interested even though I felt they were receptive. I don't think I was misreading their signs, but they kept being too busy for more dates. Maybe that's why I'll never get a woman.

This new woman is near my age since the others were much younger. I'm a 50-year-old personal trainer and keep myself fit. I was accepting that she wasn't in her thirties and I was beginning to open up to her. I even cried when I told her about my childhood. Then one night I needed her emotionally and she wasn't there for me. I'm very hurt and feel like tossing the whole thing away because she fell short in my time of need. She doesn't understand where I'm coming from. I don't know if I can forgive her. I was expecting her to be more mature than the girls much younger. — Kurt, 50

Dr. Susan: Although I believe we should each be there for one another emotionally, it's not always obvious when someone is really in special need of support. To take her side for just a moment, it's possible that she didn't get how seriously you needed something from her that night. I mean, if she totally blew you off, that would be inexcusable. But if she was tired, or just didn't get it, I'd give her another chance. It can take a while for two people to understand one another's emotional needs.

You don't think you were misreading the signs with the younger women, but apparently they simply weren't interesting in taking your relationship any further. It happens. And now you act like it's such a big deal to date someone near your own age. That would explain why you were particularly hurt by her not giving you what you needed.

Have you let her know you were hoping for a more empathetic response? Perhaps she needs to hear it more directly. If you truly intend to be more open to new kinds of women (i.e., ones not far younger than yourself), then don't give up at the first sign of misunderstanding.

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