QUESTION: I’ve been dating Mr. Wonderful for almost a year now. He’s gorgeous, single, and rich. At 42, he’s 18 years older than me, has never been married, has no kids, and looks like he’s no older than 30. I want to be able to love him, but knowing that he’s that much older than me keeps getting in the way—am I being shallow?
CHELSEA SAYS: There’s nothing shallow about it. It’s perfectly normal to have reservations about getting serious with a man who’s 18 years older. A May-December relationship comes with baggage that you don’t usually get when you’re dating someone who’s around the same age as you. What is shallow, however, is letting the relationship persist without addressing that there’s something wrong—he may be falling harder and harder for you, but you’re still sitting on the fence.
Maybe his age isn’t the real problem that’s holding you back—otherwise you wouldn’t have started dating him in the first place. There’s something else that’s keeping you from really committing and you need to identify what that is in order for you to fix it.
One way to figure it out is by making sure that you’re both on track when it comes to big decisions. For example, if you want to eventually get married and have kids, but you’re dating a guy who’s in his mid-40s, single, and childless, you need to reevaluate why you’re in this relationship. He may not be interested in marriage, but has no idea that you are—if it isn’t something you agree on, it can cause serious problems down the line.
Are you worried about the age difference affecting your sex life? Money? His ability to commit? Like I said, his actual age isn’t the issue here—your reservations are about a bigger issue that stems from the age difference. I’ll be the first one to tell you that dating an older man isn’t easy. He’s basically in a different stage of life, and unless you’re both on the same page, the relationship will never work.
If you can’t pinpoint what the real problem is, then maybe you need to just accept that a May-December relationship isn’t for you and it’s time to get out. If your older man is more committed than you are, it’s not fair to string him along until you sort out your feelings.
Here’s what it boils down to: if you can’t handle the baggage of a May-December relationship, then you should stick to dating men who are closer to your age. You gave it a shot and it didn’t work; cut your losses and stick to what makes you comfortable.