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Ask Dr. V: The Younger Man & Older Woman Romance

Ask Dr. V: The Younger Man & Older Woman Romance

Dear Dr V ~

I’ve been in a relationship with an “older” woman for about eight months. She’s 35, I’m 24. What really attracted me to her to begin with was that I felt I related better to her than to other girls my age. I appreciated her maturity and intelligence. The problem is, all of a sudden she wants me to move in with her, and she says that if we’re not going to get married eventually, what’s the point of us being together. I feel like the pressure’s really on for the moving in thing because both of our leases are up soon and she thinks it’d work out great for us to move in. I do love her but all this talk about moving in and marriage is freaking me out. She says she doesn’t have time to waste anymore, and if we’re not serious we should end it. Is it all or nothing? Is this just a lose-lose for me?


Dear Mike,

Wait, hold on a second. So you’re already choosing to view this situation as a “lose-lose” as you put it. Meaning it’s a losing option to move in with a woman you just declared your love for, someone you’ve been with for a good eight months (which, in relationship time, is a long time and isn’t a long time, if you know what I mean). I can understand you feeling the way you do, but I think it’d be worth it for you to examine why you feel like you do. I think your personal history may be playing a role. Alas, there may be some external messages that as a man living in this culture you’ve been bombarded with, messages so inculcated in your psyche you believe them to be native truths, when in fact they’re implanted lies.

It sounds like the biggest negative emotion bubbling up for you is fear. From where I sit, all the way over here on the other side of cyberspace in my kick ass Empathy Command Center (all right it’s a home office with a messy desk), it seems fairly apparent to me that, at least in the abstract, you are now having to deal with a fear of commitment. Maybe you’re aware of this, or perhaps if you’ve never been in a position like this before, you’ve convinced yourself you fear something else: a loss of freedom, a loss of youth, a loss of identity by being absorbed into an amoeba like relationship that, like the Borg on Star Trek, will absorb your uniqueness into itself, and resistance is futile.

Can you try and take a more objective view of your relationship with this woman and the feelings we’re talking about? I know that can be a very tall order (It’s hard for me to do when I’m dealing with my own stuff). You might be able to better understand the true source of these fears. Understanding, rationality and knowledge are all like penicillin for this kind of nonproductive fear: they get rid of it pretty fast.

On the one hand, I realize it’s entirely possible that experiences with past partners could have colored your feelings on long-term commitment. The question is, is your current partner just a newer version of the same personality type you’ve sought in the past? Do you find yourself falling into the same dysfunctional patters with this woman that you have with other lovers? If so, you may be trying , through a relationship, to “fix” something deep inside hat can really only be remedied by a true effort of introspection, recognition and resolution of whatever that “broken” thing might be (By the way, that’s essentially what happens in Therapy when the Therapist is doing their job). If after some reflection, this take on things rings true with you, then you at least know where these feelings are coming from and how you can deal with them, aside from ending a relationship with a woman you love. I do realize it’s also possible you’re in a mismatched love affair, but that’s not the feeling I get. If you sought someone out for their maturity and intelligence, I would assume that person sees the same qualities in you. So if two mature, smart people are in a relationship together and truly love each other, there’s no reason not to put in the effort to try and make things work: there’s enough going wrong in the world already.

That being said, I would like to add that another possible source of the anxiety you’re dealing with could be the society we live in itself. Just as the media bombards women with destructive and false meta-messages about body image, beauty, etc., so are young men assailed with the myth that getting married means the end of life, the end of fun, the end of manhood. This trope is played out again and again in movies, sitcoms and other outlets of pop culture. It might be worth checking in with yourself to see how much of that queasiness over moving in (dun dun duuuun!) emanates from you, and how much of it is a kind of knee-jerk reaction you’ve been conditioned to have over years of media consumption.

Ultimately, you will know if you’re really ready to, for lack of a better phrase, take the next step (Ugh. That’s so cliché, but that’s basically where you’re at).  Before I go I’d like to remind you that there are also some really positive possible consequences as well. You and your partner may grow closer together, you may achieve things both as a couple and as individuals that you would never have been able to do on your own, because of the added support of always having someone there for you, unconditionally. It’d be a shame to cheat yourself out of something that could be so very great and real over an emotional boogeyman that is so very shitty and false.

With Love and Light,
Dr. V

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Note: All information in the Ask Dr. V column is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment, please feel free to email Dr. V, or consult your doctor.Please feel free to email Dr. V a confidential question (from you or your guy) for posting on this site at; questions may be edited for grammar and length; emails are only read by Dr. V.