A reader confesses her feelings for a man who's barely legal. Is she out of line?
You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Q: “I’m a 40-year-old celibate woman. I haven’t really dated in the past five years for spiritual reasons. I’m not perfect, but I have really been living a Godly life for the past decade. The last real relationship I had was over eight years ago. I stopped focusing my life on trying to find a husband and started strengthening my walk with God. I met a young man in church who is 22 years my junior. He is really a good guy; he’s on fire for God and has all of the qualities I’ve been looking for. We have become really good friends and he has stressed to me that he really wants to be with me. He doesn’t think the age difference is a problem, but I do. He says that he’s mature enough mentally, physically and spiritually to know what he wants. I’ve had other women in the church say “don’t miss your blessings.” We have talked about the life changes a woman goes through in her 40s, and he is still okay with it. He is a really nice guy and truly what I want in a man — except for his age. Do you think it’s wise to pursue this relationship?” – Confused
A: Are you really confused or are you just desperate? You are 40 years old and you are debating dating someone 22 years your ”junior?” If my math is correct, he is only 18 years old. This means he is barely legal. I know that being a cougar has become increasingly popular, but I think that you may be stretching or exceeding the definition of being a cougar. When you stated that the women in church said do not miss your blessings because of age, I question if this is what they had in mind. It is commendable that you have been celibate for some years and living a “Godly” life. I am also sure that it makes it easy to entertain being with an 18 year old given that he is in the church and “on fire for God.” I would suggest you stop and have a long talk with God before taking this relationship any further.
An 18-year-old is far from being a “man.” Most 18-year-olds have no real clue about who they are or what they really want in life. Have you asked yourself, what do you really have in common? While he may not think there is an age problem, it is quite clear that you believe there is a problem with age. Being with an 18-year-old would be like taking on a child to raise as opposed to a man to love. I could understand you considering an 18-year-old if you were just looking for a friend with “benefits.” But, you indicated that you had been looking for a serious relationship and possibly a husband. I am not questioning or doubting if he could meet your needs physically. I am questioning if he will be able to meet your needs emotionally as well as financially over time. If you have been waiting on a serious relationship, the attention from someone significantly younger may look really attractive and flattering. However, it will get old while you are waiting for him to grow up. Given that you are an adult, you will have to make your own decisions. As you think about it, make sure you consider your true emotional needs. — Dr. Sherry
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