In May-December matchup, May needs to consider herself
Q: I'm facing a situation, and I honestly have no clue how to deal.
I'm in a sort-of relationship with a man who is 13 years my senior (I'm 21), and we have a lot in common. I am genuinely attracted to him in more ways than sexually; he is just an incredible person. And he's already expressed his attraction toward me.
The only thing that's stopping us from going to the next level is the fact that he feels slightly uneasy about our age difference. I don't — I like dating an older man, especially one who makes me feel the way he does. But this uneasiness comes between us; he keeps telling me he wants to take things slowly, and that he doesn't want to "take advantage of my youth" (his words, letter for letter).
What does that mean?
I tried asking him, but I get responses like "You're younger than me, and . . . I don't know . . ." or something along those lines. It frustrates me, because I'm really falling for him, and yes yes, I'm young and a bit naive, but there is something there. I can feel it.
How can I show him that we've got real potential, and help bring down the walls he's placing in between us? Or, better yet, should I break down these walls?
13 years in between
A: I'm not saying he is manipulating you, but if that's his intent, he's doing a bang-up job. Textbook, really.
" 'I want you, I do, I just . . . can't . . .' he said, abruptly turning away as if the sight of her tore at his soul." Barf.
Now, it's possible he really is torn about what to do. If his attraction to you is strong but he's embarrassed at his cradle-robbing impulse, or finds himself wincing at your 21-isms, or likes the attention but wants nothing more than a fling, then that push-pull could easily produce the result you're seeing: a guy who won't jump in and won't walk away.
There's barf in that scenario, too, though. He's 34! By now he should be saving the Hamlet routine for the many truly wrenching choices the average life offers.
This one's a comparative no-brainer. You're both adults. Either you suit each other, in which case he should embrace you without apology; or you're mismatched, due to age or whatever else — in which case he should take a cold shower and free you to find someone else. Or he admits his flingy intentions and stays only with your consent.
While these may appear to be suggestions for him — and if he's reading this, they are — they're also side-door suggestions for you: Don't romanticize his inability to make up his mind. Already it has you plotting ways to make up his mind for him, i.e., to win him over, gah.
That's sucking your mental energy away from the task of figuring out whether he's right for you, which is THE question when you're dating. Whether you're right for him is his problem to solve.
On top of that, getting swept up by the "real potential" of Mr. (or Ms.) Walls Between Us leaves you open to two types of people: manipulators and wafflers.
You don't want either of these, no no, no matter how "incredible" they may seem.