Is it Wrong to Use a Younger Man for Companionship?

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I am a 46-year-old, young-at-heart, beautiful, sexy woman. I was married for 22 years and divorced 5 years ago. I love being married but realized I wasn’t with a man that made me happy. I have 2 beautiful kids, a son who is 24 and a daughter who is 21. I thought I would be happily married by now! I keep wondering what I am doing wrong. I’ve read your books, e-mails…

A year ago I met a man who is 13 yrs younger, with no job, new from NY, no money but was very persistent in becoming friends. At the time I was starting my new business and needed a roommate, so he was perfect! So I thought!

It quickly became romantic and he fell deeply in love with me and worshiped the ground I walked on. I, on the other hand, had feelings for him but nothing like that. Selfishly, I don’t want to be alone. I asked him to move out a month ago so I can get my feelings straight. I miss his companionship so severely that I catch myself crying. I know he’s not my future husband but I feel safe with him in all areas. Evan can you PLEASE help me? Thank You. —Shelly

Everybody listen up.

If you flip the genders and re-title this “Is It Wrong to Use a Younger Woman for Companionship”, this could be an email from a lonely man in his mid-40’s, post-divorce.

Objective reality is messy and grey and fraught with danger.

I am confident that if a man wrote the above email, most women would find it abhorrent that he would think of having his younger girlfriend invest her time in him, even though he knew that they were doomed in the long-run. And yet I would think that most readers are somewhat sympathetic to Shelly and can imagine how they’d feel in her situation.

This is why it’s dangerous to tar men as “players” or “users” or “liars” when they’re dating you without long-term intentions. Sometimes, even the nicest people, like Shelly, do something selfish that will have a negative impact on a romantic partner.

While it sounds nice that everyone should state his/her intentions at the beginning to avoid wasting anybody’s time, that’s far easier said than done, folks.

Which is to say that I’m not a moralist. I’m a pragmatist.

And whether I’m telling women that men look for sex and find love, so don’t sleep with him unless you can handle the consequences, or telling men that they’d better pay for the first date or they won’t get a second date, I try very hard to deal in objective reality.

Objective reality is messy and grey and fraught with danger.

What’s right for you is not necessarily what’s right for him.

What’s right for him is not necessarily what’s right for you.

All relationships are about navigating that space between those two realms with a measure of integrity.

So, Shelly, I don’t know how long you were together. A week? A month? Three months? One year? But you claim that he was “deeply in love” with you when you broke up. Fair enough.

If that’s the case, you did the right thing by kicking him out.

What’s right for you is not necessarily what’s right for him.

What’s right for him is not necessarily what’s right for you.

You sacrificed some measure of short-term personal pleasure in order to avoid creating a world of hurt for your younger boyfriend.

This was the most ethical thing you could do — and is very consistent with the kind of thing that I routinely did when I was single. (That’s why I never had a girlfriend for longer than 8 months; the second I knew that I wasn’t going to marry her was the second I got out.)

However, I don’t want you to beat yourself up over the fact that you are lonely and still have feelings for this young man.

Pretty much EVERYONE who EVER breaks up with a romantic partner — presuming the relationship wasn’t disastrous — suffers considerable regrets in ensuing weeks and months. Factor in that you were living together, and, well, it’s almost as if you suffered another mini-divorce.

So what are you to do, given that you’re both sad and lonely and miss each other?

I would say that you should stick to your guns and cut him out of your life entirely. No contact, no hope, no texts, no nothing. Only then can you both ably move on from your unrealistic entanglements.

Yet if you were to reinitiate contact with him, you would have to do so with the knowledge that it’s a long-term mistake for both of you — that the pleasure you’ll gain from sex and companionship is going to ultimately pale compared to the pain you’ll experience when one of you eventually pulls away from the other.

In other words, you can call him up and “use” him again to fulfill your temporary emptiness. Men and women do this every day by staying in flawed romantic partnerships, presuming it beats being alone.

Just don’t kid yourself about the consequences.

You’re going to temporarily soothe your own discomfort, but you’re going to destroy this guy who thinks he has another chance with you.

I don’t judge you either way, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an ethical path out of your situation.

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Comments:

  1. 81
    Dan

    I  miss his companionship so severely that I catch myself crying. I know he’s not my future husband but I feel safe with him in all areas.”

      I am curious about this. Is there some outside factor that makes him something other than husband material? Absence makes the heart grow fonder only a fraction of the time. If you feel sad and alone when he’s not there, and feel completely contented when he is, then what gives? Is it the money? The age difference? Is he a slob? A leper? Because if it’s nothing like that, then what? Can you, yourself, put your finger on it? What feelings  don’t you have for him that you need to have for a husband? If you can nail that down, you owe it to him to let him know. Maybe he’ll have something unexpected to tell you in response.  

    What is love if not a pursuit of happiness?

  2. 82
    M

    I think people would view the situation differently if the roles were reversed because men can produce children for a longer period of time. Women have their biological clocks and thus a man doing this to a woman would be “wasting her time”.   I don’t think that she’s wasting his time.   She thinks he’s madly in love and he may be.   He may also be getting from her what he needs right now in terms of financial gain, etc. and it’s a fair exchange.   As long as she is letting him know that she doesn’t envision marriage and the like, I don’t think she should dump him as long as both are benefiting from the situation.

  3. 83
    sandra

    You always give the best advice. I’m in a similar situation..only I’M the one who’s in love. I’m 49 and he’s 29.   I was doing the online dating thing and determined NOT to date anyone that young (been there done that, and it never worked out..although I will say I did have lots of fun), but he contacted me and he was so adorable, and I really liked the way he wrote. I could tell we would really get along.

    We did..on so many levels, despite the age difference. But..6 months into it, I started realizing I was having feelings, and so for the OPPOSITE reason as this older woman–because I was afraid it wouldn’t last longterm, and because he said he’d want the option of having kids some day–we broke it off.

    I cried, grieved, and got used to the idea that I wouldn’t see him again.

    A few months later he came back because he missed me. He’d been dating someone else but I guess, they decided they wanted something just casual. We’ve gotten back together under the assumption that, this won’t last, and it’s just friends with benefits, or we’re just lovers, or whatever..but I get cues from him that he has feelings too, sometimes. I think he might really be torn. We have such a great time and are so compatible..I sometimes feel he’s very conflicted, so he tries to convince himself and me, that this is just casual.

    Meanwhile I’m seeing other people to hedge my bets. I think he needs to face the fact that, if I find someone with more potential to be serious..he could lose me.

    I personally feel like men can have kids at any age and why can’t we just have a few years or however long it lasts, of happiness? Maybe this is working for both of us–being in a “not a rel’ship relationship”. I don’t know. I just want to show the world that he’s my number one, my priority, and I’d like him to do the same.

    1. 83.1
      Kiwi

      Sandra

      You want to show the world that he’s your number one and he’s ambivalent . You seem to be rationalizing his conflict .

      I think that is the huge red flag for you more than the age.

  4. 84
    Jennifer

    I’m wondering if he isn’t using her as well…..it seems to me he may have enjoyed having a “sugar momma”!!   Sucessful women today find themselves in the same boat successful men have been in for years.   Trying to determine if their love interest is in it for the love, or the perks. 😊

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