October 13, 2015 at 9:21 am #85351Maria MangoParticipant
I’ve been in a relationship for three years with a really incredible guy. We’ve had so many good times and also some incredible challenges over the last few years and both of us have grown up a lot emotionally. The only problem is that we are thirty years apart (I’m 26, he’s 56) and we have always been mindful that we are in two different places in life. Up until a year ago we had decided to just have fun together and try not to worry about where our relationship was going. Since then I moved a new town which is an hour away from where my boyfriend lives in order to go back to college. Our relationship has really suffered from the distance and because we are both so busy.It has also suffered because we both realized that we want completely different things in life and can’t give each other what we both desire in a partner ( I want a career and a family, he has already had both of those things and wants to retire). Despite our best efforts we sometimes devolved into arguments and petty stuff, which was not ideal for either of us.We also stopped having any intimacy but are still very affectionate in all other aspects.So a few days ago we decided to break up for a little while to get some clarity. While we love each other dearly, neither of us wants to be in a relationship with each other for the moment but we are not ready to be friends either so we’re in limbo-land. I have been pretty miserable without him but also excited to begin a new chapter in my life. I feel very conflicted, how can you love someone so much but not want to be with them at the same time? Where do I go from here?October 13, 2015 at 10:28 am #85353anitaParticipant
You feel emotionally attached to this man, this is the love you feel, emotional attachment: a comfort when with him, anxiety when separated. Isn’t it? That is what “the heart wants”- comfort, the feeling of safety that comes from being in the presence of the person you are attached to, the person in whose company you associate with comfort.
His age could be a factor in your association between him and comfort, safety.
Not unlike a child’s need to separate from a parent in order to make her own way in the world, you are drawn to making your own way while you still need that comfort. A limbo. One term for the stage is “separation-individuation.”
What do you think?
anitaOctober 13, 2015 at 10:35 am #85354AlisonParticipant
It’s been months since I’ve visited this site and your post just happened to be the first one I laid my eyes on when logging in. I really feel for you. You know there is so much potential for you outside of this relationship–you’re only 26!! I do believe that vast age differences in relationships can work, but as you mention, you have to be on the same page. The feeling of love can only carry a relationship so far–if there are fundamental differences such as the desire for family, religious beliefs, etc., those don’t bode well for even the most loving partnerships. You have SO much ahead of you, things that he has already achieved in life and has no interest in pursuing.
It may not feel like it but you sound like you’re in a very good place. You already seem to have the clarity you seek and like you know what you want out of life, which is pretty impressive to have figured out in your 20s. You should really take this time apart to see how you get along on your own, without him, and focus on the goals you’ve set for yourself. I promise you if you keep busy with school and making plans for your future, and make sure to nurture yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, this will become less and less painful with time. I know it hurts now but you will eventually be able to look back on this relationship with gratitude for the good times and the lessons learned. You’re absolutely on the right track.
AlisonOctober 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm #85367Maria MangoParticipant
Anita: Thank you for your feedback! Yes I do believe he is somewhat of my security blanket. I don’t get along with my mother and my father died when I was a kid so I had very little support until I met him. We have been together for a lot of the biggest lessons in both our lives so its hard to leave that comfort zone. However, I would like to have a more equal and balanced relationship where we take care of each other instead of him always looking out for my needs. I know in order to become a more independent person, I have to “leave the nest” but it is a scary prospect for me. I don’t know who I am as a single person, I’ve always defined myself in relation to others in my family or in a relationship so this is a big step for me. I look forward to the challenge but I am also extremely anxious.
Alison:Thank you for your kind words! Its reassuring to know that I am headed in the right direction even though I sometimes don’t think I am. I am really dedicated to living a life on my own terms and I know if I make hard decisions now, I’ll be setting myself up for a better life down the road, its just hard to wrap my head around all that at my age! I always appreciate the support of the wonderful people like you guys here on Tiny Buddha, always willing to lend a little perspective. Thank you both!October 13, 2015 at 7:27 pm #85374anitaParticipant
leaving the nest, letting go of the security blanket, terms you use, are scary prospects, not only for you. A young child stays around his mother, then goes investigate away from her for a little while, then comes back to her, then goes investigate maybe a bit longer. It is in best circumstances a gradual process. You didn’t experience this with your parents, so you are lingering around this older man. Do it gradually, somehow, not all at once. Bit by bit. Somehow do it gradually, like the young child in my example…?