Big Age Difference

Q: I have been working around a 23-year-old woman for two years now. She is single, articulate, intelligent, and beautiful. We've gone on long wilderness backpacking hikes, sharing a tent, and she's invited me to dinner both at her home and at restaurants. We've sat for hours in quiet two-way conversations. At times, she has leaned to me in a way that suggests a kiss would be welcome.

The problem is that I am 58. So far, I have resisted trying to form a sexual relationship because I really value her friendship. She comments how I am more physically fit than many of her younger acquaintances and how she loves being with me. My retirement income is good, but there is no gold digging potential. I am not looking for the stress of a trophy wife. I am also concerned that a younger woman would end up having to care for me in my old age and then be at an age where she would have trouble starting over. Could a love relationship be a real possibility for us? -- James

Dr. Susan: Short answer? Yes, it's possible. I do think you're jumping the gun, though. You've already imagined yourself dead and her trying to find a new mate some years down the line. And all this without exchanging a single kiss! It sounds like she's very attracted to you and might be open to a sexual fling. How about talking with her about your true feelings? Let her know you like her so much as a friend that you would never do anything to mess that up, but you also sometimes imagine taking your relationship further. See how she reacts. Are you open to the possibility of having an affair with her? Or are you thinking of asking her to marry you? Would you be open to having kids with her, if that's something that's important to her? If she wants children at some point, and you're way past that, maybe you ought to just hang onto the friendship and value it for what it is. But let me warn you: if you continue to share tents in the wilderness, it may get tougher and tougher to keep your pants on. You're playing with fire, and Smokey the Love Doctor says Be Careful.

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