Dear Love Drive,
I started dating a woman half my age a few months after the end of a particularly difficult breakup with my ex of two years.
She's young, we get along, we've been seeing each other for 10 months, but I don't love her. We have a nice time together but it's not more than that and I don't see a way to continue seeing her.
I've tried breaking up with her several times but I keep coming back to her because I think I'm codependent, and I'm terrified of being lonely. I have a lot of work to do. I know that.
What's a man to do?
Too Old For This, 40 M
I Love The Idea of Dating Younger Women
I love the idea of it. It just sounds so fucking amazing right? Young nubile flesh. Yum.
I also love the idea of eating a whole chocolate cake to myself. That sweet moist cake. Yum!
But the reality doesn't match up with the fantasy. I want to like dating younger women more than I actually do, and I want to like eating a whole cake more then I actually do.
Both of these are behaviors I might turn to if I'm feeling discomfort in my life for whatever reason. I know that dating younger women or overeating will give me temporary relief.
The problem with temporary relief is that it's so, temporary. And I'm often left feeling disappointed and worse once the temporary relief wears off.
Using People And Behaviors As Self Medication
You're using this relationship as an escape from your loneliness. We both know this, you admit it yourself.
It's not the age gap that bothers me, it's the way you're using the relationship to change the way you feel.
As an aside, I don't see a problem with couples with large age discrepancies, as long as the nature of the relationship is healthy, no one is being taken advantage of, and you strictly adhere to the 'campsite rule' which states that the older person has the responsibility to leave the younger person in at least as good a state (emotionally and physically) as before the relationship.
Your relationship doesn't strike me as healthy however, and I think you feel the same way judging by how you describe it.
What you're doing is common. We've been using the consumption of relationships, food, sex, alcohol, tobacco, work, gambling, shopping, and more to avoid having to do the often painful and difficult work that needs to be done if we're to grow as human beings.
The great thing about your situation though, is that you know you need to do the work. Most people go through life blindly consuming everything in their path not aware that what they're doing is simply numbing the pain.
It's An Inside Job
You're not going to find relief in dating young women anymore. It's stopped working.
You'll find relief by examining why you're so terrified of being lonely. And the only way to start scratching the surface of this huge question is to spend some time alone.
When I have a hard time not eating sugar, I stop eating sugar. If I'm consuming more social media than I want to be consuming, I stop consuming social media. If I don't like the feeling of having too much casual sex, I stop having casual sex.
Taking time and space away from an undesirable behavior is the only way I can get perspective on the behavior. And only then can I start to determine if there's a healthy space for it in my life.
So, for you my friend, it's time to go cold turkey. From her, and all other sexual relationships for 3 months. And while you're at it, you might as well give pornography a break too (if you're using it).
The 90 Day Dating, Sex, and Porn Fast
- 90 days of no contact with your young friend or any other past, present, or future lovers.
- No texting, social media stalking, calling, or dropping by.
- No pornography
- No flirting or asking anyone out on a date.
Tell her that you're going to take a break to work on your issues around loneliness and that's going to include a period of no contact.
Stress to her that she didn't do anything wrong, and that she's lovely, and that you'll look forward to reaching out in a platonic capacity after your period of celibacy is over, but that for now it's bye bye for 3 months.
This is going to be one hell of a challenge, but you can do it. And before you start whining about how it's impossible to not flirt for 90 days, stop. You can do this, and you're doing it so that you can eventually not be codependent and needy.
In the meantime, find a therapist to start dealing with your fear of loneliness, your codependency, and to examine your particularly difficult breakup to your ex. I'm a huge fan of therapy and when applied correctly in appropriate doses can be extremely effective in helping folks get over certain barriers in their personal development.
Get to work old man, you got this!