Dear Virginia, I'm a 48-year-old man and I'm in a relationship with a 71-year-old woman. I have had a predilection for mature woman since my teens; I am wondering if there is something wrong with me in that I have no urge to settle down and raise a family with a woman nearer my own age. I met my current partner online three months ago and we meet once a week for sex – there is no commitment either way. Will I find happiness elsewhere, or am I simply programmed for a single life?
Yours sincerely, Kevin
If you were writing to me in your twenties, bemoaning the fact that you could only have sex with women who were past the menopause and that you were desperate to have a family and settle down, I could understand your problem. I might even recommend you saw a sex counsellor to talk things over, even though sexual predilections are incredibly difficult to alter, however hard you try.
But at 48 you've left it a bit late to ask for help. And it doesn't seem as if you really long to have a stable family life at all, anyway. This arrangement you have is perfectly happy for both of you, so why not just feel lucky that you've found someone who turns you on and who's turned on by you and who doesn't ask for anything more?
Perhaps in some ways you'd prefer to be what you think of as "normal" – part of a nuclear family. But remember that loads of people who are in relationships and have children are not particularly happy. A lot are, of course, but if you have a family it doesn't necessarily follow that you'll be happy.
I saw a slogan on a board the other day that read: "Accept yourself! Everyone else is taken!". It may be twee, but it's a slogan that you could take to heart. Some people can only fancy people like their fathers: others can only fancy people who are the exact opposite of their fathers. Some men only fancy blondes, others can only get satisfaction from going to bed with women with huge boobs. Some women are only turned on by money, others by addicts. Just thank your lucky stars that you're not the sort of person who only fancies underage girls, or married women. It seems to me that your particular sexual penchant is a very harmless one. And as you have no interest in having anything to do with this woman except going to bed with her, then you don't even have the added complication of people around you gossiping about your relationship.
There's nothing "wrong with you" at all. You're just you, in the same way as the woman you're involved is just her. I bet she's not wringing her hands and wondering if there's something wrong with her. She's just enjoying the moment and is very happy to have found you to have some fun with for the time being.
Remember, too, that as you grow older, you will grow closer in age to those mature women that you fancy. When you're 60, who knows, you might find a nice 65-year-old with grandchildren with whom you can settle down at last, if that's what you'd like. Something to look forward to?
Maybe you've changed
There's nothing wrong with having relationships with people older than yourself, if it makes you happy and brings you real joy. There's also nothing wrong with a person who doesn't want children. But clearly something in your current situation is troubling you. Is the sex you have with your current "partner" joyful and kind? It sounds a little cold and engineered, leaving you wanting something richer and more emotionally satisfying.
It sounds like you have reached a stage in your life where you perhaps wish to examine why you have spent your adult life in relationships with women (dare I say it?) your mother's age. Have you subconsciously chosen women past the "settling down" stage to avoiding committing to these things yourself? Perhaps you didn't feel ready to settle or have children before, but if you do now there is very little possibility of this happening with a 71-year-old lover. This "predilection for older women" might be a little outmoded now for you now. Get back on some internet dating sites and offer yourself for some dates with women your own age. To think of only being attracted to a certain "type"– whether by age or race or class or background – is extremely limiting when there are so many wonderful people out there. Go out there and see what you might find.
What do you want?
Age difference in itself does not have to preclude happiness in a relationship, but I'm left wondering how you personally would define happiness. Does it include emotional intimacy and sharing your life with someone else at an everyday level as well as the sexual element? You describe your current partner only in sexual terms and seem unclear about whether you're happy. Is that because you're craving more emotional intimacy but confusing it with physical sex ?
Would you say, from your past relationship history, that emotional intimacy has been difficult to achieve? If so, giving thought to the possible contributing factors would be a helpful way forward.
Next week's Dilemma
My husband's always been a bit possessive. He said once we were married, he'd relax, but now he demands to know where I'm going to be every minute of the day and checks up on me by ringing or texting me. He says my clothes are too sexy, and wants me to cut my hair and wear flat shoes. I can't even talk to a man without him questioning me for days. He says if we have a baby that'll make him feel less threatened, but I'm not sure. What can I do?
Yours sincerely, Antoinette
What would you advise Antoinette to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas @independent.co.uk, or go to www.independent.co.uk/dilemmas. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Naked Wines ( www.nakedwines.com)Reuse content