Older Women & Younger Men

Older women and younger men have been getting together for as long as there has been love in the world. The problem is not the age difference. The problem is the presence or absence of maturity. If an older woman is looking for a younger lover to be in control of, to ‘parent,’ this will be a problem.

This form of control in a love relationship is called dominance. Dominance in a love relationship indicates that the dominant person is assuming, consciously or unconsciously, the role of a ‘parent’ in an adult love relationship.

The problem with this emotional arrangement is that it does not encourage the growth of individuality in a love relationship for either lover. The person in control is limited by the position of dominance never to fully explore and experience personal vulnerability and need in the love relationship.

The person dominated remains in a childish relation to the dominant partner. Dominated  lovers do not grow either, for an even more obvious reason. When you are chronically dominated by your lover, you never get a chance to take charge and directly experience your own leadership in the love relationship.

People who go looking for lovers to dominate them in love are also under the influence of displaced parent-child relational needs that were transported into their adult love relationship from past love-life disappointments. As I have cautioned at many different times and in many different ways on this website, you can’t make up for past love-life disappointments in your family of origin by playing out parent-child roles in your adult love relationship.

This is the most common way of ruining an adult love relationship. You have to grieve the loss and move on. Inevitably, parent-child roles in an adult love relationship will be outgrown. It’s just a matter of time. In my experience, when they are outgrown many adult love relationships do not recover from the conflict and hurt that ensues.

The only way I know to avoid this love-life calamity is to ensure that your love relationship is balanced and emotionally equal from the beginning. One way to do this is to eradicate any form of dominance in the love relationship from the start. No one person in the love relationship is in control. Imbalances of control and power in the relationship are mutually treated as a problem and corrected right away.

This is an agreement made between lovers because of the age difference in the relationship. Going into the relationship from the very beginning, both lovers should take advantage of any and every opportunity to share their feelings about their age differences and their views of the potential advantages and disadvantages. Talking about potential problems before they become problems is one way to avoid problems.

Another pitfall involves the issue of children. If a woman has already had her children, or has no interest in having children, this should be shared and discussed at the beginning of their relationship, at the point where a commitment has begun. The longer you wait to have this discussion the greater the potential for painful disruptions in the relationship.

For some younger men, having children is an important part of their future love-life. Despite efforts to keep this topic to the side, as feelings grow in the relationship it is important to find out whether this desire for children is strong enough to dissolve the relationship.

I believe that if the love is ‘true’ a decision not to have children and the resulting disappointment will not be strong enough to break up the relationship. This is a good example of the types of topics that need to be discussed in a love relationship from the very beginning.

One of the more painful love-life scenarios is when a younger man falls in love with an older woman who has chosen not to have anymore (or any) children, leaving her younger lover to struggle with the conflict between love and a personal feeling of procreative responsibility. Beyond these two potential pitfalls, the matching of younger and older age lovers can often be a source of enrichment for any love relationship.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. T. Jordan







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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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