I'm an older woman (almost 50) in a six-year live-in relationship with a 25-year-old guy. The problem is he wants to sleep with other girls. I understand his need to be with other girls, especially at his age. Although I consented, I love him and cannot bear the thought of this. When he slept with two girls, he told me right away and said he'd used protection. I said, "I don't want you feeling guilty about exploring a natural aspect of human behavior," and I suggested taking a break from the relationship. He responded that he loved me and couldn't see his life without me. (He's financially stable, so money isn't a consideration.) Sometimes, I want to say, "This isn't working, and I want to move on." But, that would be far from the truth. I left a financially and emotionally stable 20-year relationship to be with him, and I haven't regretted a minute of it. — Tormented
"I understand his need to be with other girls," you say. Right. So, he'll come home and say, "I slept with these two girls. And I have five more scheduled for next week." What do you do, say "You kids have a good time," then pack his World of Warcraft lunchbox with condoms and a cookie?
Not many women in their 40s can find their way into barely legal bliss. (What did you do, park outside prom and hand out Tootsie Pops and cans of Schlitz?) Unfortunately, the age-mismatched relationship has some pitfalls; for example, having one's youngster stud pop up in bed, six years in, and say, "Hey, wait! I forgot to have drunken hookups!" Even if you are the hottest thing this side of menopause, you can't compete with all the Hottie McBody 20-somethings he's never had.
In theory, you can be all modern and evolved and say, "I love you enough to give you your sexual freedom." In practice, while he's off learning a thing or two from Amber and Tiffany, the position you find yourself in is the fetal one, with bouts of explosive sobbing. There's much that's unrealistic about pledging eternal monogamy, but sexually open relationships don't work for a whole lot of people. Even the late Nena O'Neill, who co-authored the '70s bestseller Open Marriage, came to that conclusion, writing in The Marriage Premise that these arrangements often leave the participants feeling jealous, resentful, insecure and abandoned — sometimes as strongly as they do when a clandestine affair is discovered.
Being with a much younger guy is a bit like being with a rock star. "The power of the least interested" comes into play, meaning that the partner who can walk the easiest calls the shots (like by announcing that he needs to have his cake and his cupcakes, too). Because you left a lot to be with him, there's probably temptation to stay with him at all cost. That's easy to say yes to in the abstract.
And then, some night, you'll have no calls from him for a block of hours and start flashing on all the horrible scenarios: fiery car crash ... or did he bump into a hot pair of twins? Think about the emotional cost of living this way, day after day, and consider whether it might be time to give him that final teary kiss and part as friends with some wonderful memories. (In Bogie's words at the end of Casablanca, "We'll always have Chuck E. Cheese.")
Take a rein check
My husband and I are friends with several couples. He hangs out with the men once a week, and I occasionally join them. Recently, for one of the guys' birthday, the plan was dinner and a movie, but when my husband got off the phone with the birthday boy, he said I wasn't invited. (None of the wives was, including the birthday boy's.) Am I wrong for feeling angry and hurt? — Excluded
Think how angry and hurt men must feel when they're excluded from the wives' mani-pedi night. ("Hey, Frank, should I have her do Blushing Bride or Nudist Colony on my toes?") You're actually taking it personally that guys want a guys' night out? We all know men talk differently when there are no wives around. (Especially to the stripper.) You have some warped ideas about what you're entitled to as somebody's spouse.
You got married, not conjoined. On the appointed evening, let your husband off his leash and smile and wave as he goes. Allowing him his freedom should leave him feeling less compelled to take it — along with half of the house and everything you two own. If you can't quite manage to ease up, you might want to get a jump on deciding which half of your kid is your favorite and whether you'll be asking for the front or the back of the dog.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email@example.com (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society.