What My Rich Older Man Really Wanted Out of Our May-December Relationship (Not What You Think)

I met Vic­tor on a hot sum­mer night in late July—not long after the dis­as­trous work pic­nic saga with my older man, Marco, where his boss’ wife told me I wasn’t wel­come at work events because she thought I’d steal her hus­band. Vic­tor and I had chat­ted online for a few weeks before we decided to meet in person.

He was taller than I’d imag­ined, much more fit and hand­some, but not par­tic­u­larly my type. He was up to his neck in stu­dent loans, near­ing his PhD and, even though he was uniquely intel­li­gent, he lacked some obvi­ous com­mon sense in cer­tain areas—in a very “boy­ish” way that was cute, but annoy­ing. I deter­mined from our con­ver­sa­tion the first night that he had a lot of grow­ing up to do still, and I guess for­tu­nately, this was enough to keep me from pur­su­ing him sex­u­ally out of bore­dom and lone­li­ness. There was some­thing about the way he was still boy­ish that was a major turnoff; it’s this instinct that has guided my entire dat­ing life. If a man fits the bill, but, like Vic­tor, is not quite mature in cer­tain ways, he gets friend-zoned, no ques­tions asked.

Vic­tor and I spent the evening geek­ing out, play­ing duets, and jok­ing around. I wouldn’t see Vic­tor again for about eight months, although we kept in touch through e-mail and chat. That evening was nice and relax­ing, but after Vic­tor left, I had a sud­den pit of guilt in my stom­ach. Did I just cross a line with my older lover? I didn’t tell Marco that Vic­tor was com­ing, or any­thing about our chats, and I didn’t ask per­mis­sion. So, if you’re doing some­thing you can’t tell your lover about, then you shouldn’t be doing it, right? I chose to not ever divulge this meet­ing to Marco, even though I tech­ni­cally did noth­ing wrong.

Things had been going well with Marco. We had a lot of fun going for motor­cy­cle rides in the nice weather. He arranged for me to take all-expense-paid trips with him to Seat­tle, Port­land, Rich­mond, and Fair­fax while he worked to help com­bat the lone­li­ness I felt while he was away so often. So long as I didn’t broach the sub­ject of his other woman, Karen, or mar­riage, things were great. But I loved Marco and still envi­sioned a life with him. Trav­el­ing with him was one of the most amaz­ing parts of our time together, as I had never trav­eled much, being a small-town girl.

On our trip to Seat­tle, we took an Argosy water­front har­bor tour cruise. It was amaz­ingly roman­tic. I hinted that it would be a uniquely per­fect place to pro­pose, being roman­tic and on the water and all. Well, appar­ently that was the wrong thing to say. Marco drew a deep breath, and with a stern face, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You will never be the woman I need. You will never be the mature, inde­pen­dent busi­ness­woman I pre­fer. You are noth­ing with­out me, and I am not will­ing to tie you to me like an anchor. Yes, you work very hard and do well in school, but if you want to marry me, you have to change a lot more about you to fit into the mold of my ideal woman. You are my lit­tle project, and we are hav­ing fun. So, unless you are will­ing to make these changes, do not bring it up again.”

Luck­ily for me, the cruise wasn’t packed and I don’t think any­one over­heard me get­ting ripped apart by the man I loved. This time, I han­dled it dif­fer­ently though. Hear­ing Marco say these words to me in per­son, face-to-face, was very dif­fer­ent than hear­ing his cold and empty words over the phone. After quickly look­ing around to see exactly how close peo­ple were seated to us, I smiled slightly at him and thanked him for his hon­esty before excus­ing myself from the table. When I rose to my feet, he placed his hand on mine. “Viv, please don’t.” I smiled through the pain I felt deep in my chest, and caressed his cheek before turn­ing and walk­ing over to the piano that was on board.

The pianist had just fin­ished his set and wel­comed me to sit at the keys, so I did. As peo­ple moved to the upper decks, I started to play a song I’d learned by ear years ago. This would be the only time Marco would ever see me play, and he was in awe of the melodies com­ing from the girl that would never be good enough for him, his pet project, sit­ting at the baby grand.