Posted on 22 January 2009 by Dr. Karen
Dear Dr. Karen:
I seem to have developed an attraction for my 23 year old neighbor since he has relocated to this area. Outside of me being a 44 years old female we have a great deal in common and enjoy each others company greatly .
There are times when the attraction is overwhelming and confusing. I certainly value his friendship and would rather continue at the same pace rather than inject sex and jepordize the friendship. I just need to get past the attraction. Can you help?
…and the problem is????
Are you implying that you are too “old” to date a 23-year old man? or that he is too “young” to date a 44-year old woman? or that somehow, you aren’t “supposed” to have sexual attraction to someone “so much younger” than you?
Where did you get those ideas?
Is it really true that people that are very connected in a romantic way must be a certain age apart from one another? Is there a rule in your head that says, “relationships can’t work between myself and a younger man”?
I’m probably going to get in trouble for my answer, because many people out there have preconceived ideas of what the “perfect” love relationship has to look like. You can have preferences for sure, but was age a criteria on your “laundry list” of desires for your dream partner (see Creating Your Fairytale Love Life eBook).
Good news is, you haven’t told me that he is immature or irresponsible for a 23-year old. You haven’t told me that you mother him and you feel a co-dependent relationship developing. You haven’t told me that’s raking you for all the money you have.
So let me as you this: is the sexual attraction mutual?
And if it is, doesn’t it feel wonderful to be desirable (at age 44), to an attractive young man with whom you feel a strong connection? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the feelings of desire and here you are trying to get rid of it. I’m not telling you to knock on his door and jump in bed with him pronto, but what I am saying is to be OPEN to all possibilities.
In other words, what would you do if you didn’t have the notion or belief that dating a younger man would be “bad” or “unwise”?
To be honest, I had preconceived ideas about my dream partner, James, too when we first met. He looked so young at the park where we first met. He had a cut-off T-shirt on showing off his muscular shoulders, a partially-shaved head, and baggy jeans (like the ones skateboarders wear). I thought he was twenty five at the most, almost fifteen years my junior. And when he first spoke, I convinced myself from his innocence that he was even younger.
When I told him I admired his smile, I was not thinking AT ALL about him being a potential partner, let alone my dream skating/love partner. “Too young”, I thought immediately. When he told me shyly that he had always been attracted to Asian women and that he’d like it if I gave him a call later, I told him bluntly,
“Do you realize how old I am?”
“Uh, no. How old are you?”, he asked
“I’m almost 40” I answered impressively, waiting for a disappointed expression to appear on his face (it never did).
Instead, he looked up hopefully and said,
“Well, I’m 32!” (he lied – he was months away from turning 32)
My girlfriend with whom I was with at the time, turned to me, giggled and said,
“Obviously the age difference doesn’t matter to him!”
And even though we turned out to be only six or so years apart, it took another friend to point out that I was being biased about his age and in her estimation, I needed a younger man because I had “young energy”. I thought about what she said and decided to become present to who James really was, not who I thought he must be based on what was was written on his birth certificate.
The rest is history.
I know, I know. You’re twenty years older, not just six. Guess what? They are just numbers! What you really want to be asking is, “are the feelings mutual?” and if so how do you both wish to proceed?
Do you realize that in some ancient cultures (OK, I’m going to get in trouble for printing this too…oh well!), older women were responsible for teaching the younger men in the community how to make love so that they would be good lovers for their future brides. Again, I’m not telling you that you should both immediately jump in the sack…
What I am suggesting, though, is to decide whether you wish to pursue a different form of romantic and/or sexual relationship just to discover more about yourself and each other…for you to experience the possibilities beyond what your biases and beliefs have told you.
The important thing is this: if you want a mature relationship, you need to be intentional about it. You need to sit back and really get clear on what you are wanting from this relationship. If you are wanting to experience intense sexual passion and attraction, that’s one thing (and that’s perfectly fine). If you are wanting a long-term monogamous relationship ending in a ring and two kids down the road, that’s another.
If you two are really connected on a deeper level, you will be able to broach the topic of your attraction without fear of alienation or the loss of face or loss of friendship. Know what I mean? REAL friends tell the truth about how they feel and trust the other person can handle the truth.
Don’t be afraid about rejection. You are beautiful. You are strong. On the other hand, lavish in the attraction if it is indeed mutual. We are all ONE anyway. We just have taken different physical forms. You don’t necessarily have to make it sexual – you can actually exchange sexual energy without having sex. Even eating can be a sensual energy enlivened with sexual energy. Sexual energy can charge up your day and make you feel wonderful. So use it wisely.
Listen to your heart (not necessarily your head). You may also ask yourself, what would I regret more? You know the saying, “it is better to have loved and lost (and I would add LIVED and lost), rather than never loved (or LIVED) at all.”
Hope that helps.
Dr. Karen Kan
P.S. if you really need some help with how to broach the topic of your attraction, I can help you with that with a private coaching session. It’s too much to write it all here.