Nancy writes, "I have begun dating a man twice my age. I am 38 and he is 76. He is in very good health for his age and I am in very poor health for mine. I have had Fibromyalgia for 14 years which has made me unable to work and has caused me to become much less dependant. Burt and I have been neighbors for many years and have enjoyed each other's company. His wife recently passed away of a long illness. I miss her and so does he, of course. Oddly, he and I have gotten very close very quickly after her death. We talk of her and miss her and love her. But we feel so comfortable in each other's presence that it is difficult to not be moving towards a decision point on whether or not to have a dating/more intimate relationship. Our chemistry is phenomenal. We get along like gasoline and fire. I am grateful to read your article and will seek out the book 1,000 Questions for Couples. I wonder, however, is there any information you have or even any opinion about this situation? Are we being completely foolish? We feel wonderful together but quite awkward out in the public, with family, other neighbors, and friends because of the obvious negative comments we are afraid we will have to suffer. Please help?"
- Love just happens and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is the beauty of it. So if it is love, then congratulations. You must celebrate your love and enjoy every moment of it.
- You say that you are in poor health and I am assuming that you have not had any substantive relationships during your illness. Thus, a relationship with a man who understands your situation and still offers you all his love, is great.
- At the same time, I see the problems that you will face. So the questions that you have to ask yourself are:
(a) What do you want out of this relationship? Companionship, affection, intimacy, or anything else, or a combination of some of these.
(b) Do you want to get married some day? If so, then this is not the right man for you no matter how much in love you both are. Why? Because he is approaching his time and his physical condition will deteriorate much faster than you can imagine. And so will his performance in bed.
(c) What about children? Do you want some? I am no doctor but from what I know he should not father children at this age. Not only they can have illnesses but you will basically be left to raise them alone.
(d) Don't worry about what others will say because people will talk. Always. If not this, then there will be something else. Eventually they will get used to it, but by spending time with him, there is an opportunity cost. You are taking time away from meeting other men.
(e) I think he just misses his wife terribly and men who have been married for that long can not face loneliness. Since you were there for him, he is seeing a person who is a perfect substitute for his wife. So it works for him but I am doubting if this works for you. I know a lot of women that are happy dating much older men but I am skeptical about this case.
(f) Love is beautiful and you come across as someone who is in love. But at the same time you are doing the right thing by thinking about these issues now. There is no need to breakup right now. But you should continue to look. You have a long life ahead and eventually you might want to find someone you can spend the rest of your life with.
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