Dear Virginia, I’m a 48-year-old man and I’m in a relationship with a 71-year-old woman.
I have had a predilection for mature women since my teens; I am wondering if there is something wrong with me in that I have no urge to settle down with a woman nearer my own age. I met my current partner online three months ago and we meet once a week for sex - there is no commitment either way. Will I find happiness elsewhere, or am I simply programmed for a single life? Yours sincerley, Kevin
If you were writing to me in your 20s, bemoaning the fact that you could only have sex with women who were past the menopause and that you were desperate to have a family and settle down, I could understand your problem. I might even recommend you saw a sex counsellor, even though sexual predilections are incredibly difficult to alter.
But, at 48, you've left it a bit late to ask for help, and it doesn't seem as if you long to have a stable family life, anyway. This arrangement you have is perfectly happy for both of you, so why not just feel lucky?
Perhaps you'd prefer to be what you think of as “normal” — part of a nuclear family, but remember that people who are in relationships and have children are not always particularly happy.
It seems to me that your particular sexual penchant is harmless. There's nothing “wrong with you” at all.
You're just you, in the same way as the woman you're involved with is just her. I bet she's not wringing her hands and wondering if there's something wrong with her. She's just enjoying the moment.
Remember, too, that as you grow older, you will grow closer in age to those mature women that you fancy. When you're 60, who knows, you might find a nice 65-year-old with grandchildren with whom you can settle down at last, if that's what you would like.
Maybe you've changed
It sounds like you have reached a stage in your life where you perhaps wish to examine why you have spent your adult life in relationships with women (dare I say it?) your mother's age. Have you subconsciously chosen women past the “settling down” stage to avoiding committing to these things yourself ?
This “predilection for older women” might be a little outmoded for you now. Get back on some internet dating sites and offer yourself for some dates with women your own age. To think of only being attracted to a certain “type” — whether by age or race or class — is extremely limiting when there are so many wonderful people out there.
Annabel, by email
What do you want?
Age difference in itself does not have to preclude happiness in a relationship, but I'm left wondering how you personally would define happiness.
Does it include emotional intimacy and sharing your life with someone else at an everyday level as well as the sexual element?
You describe your current partner only in sexual terms and seem unclear about whether you're happy. Is that because you're craving more emotional intimacy but confusing it with physical sex?
Would you say that emotional intimacy has been difficult to achieve? If so, giving thought to the possible contributing factors would be a helpful way forward.
Terry, by email