Hello Ms Peirano,
I have been in love with a married man (Michael) for a year now. I know that he really loves me very much and I love him very much too. I'm 22 and he's 60. He has a wife and three children who moved out a long time ago. I often feel very bad with this situation and unfortunately I can't talk to him about it.
Long story short, my problem is that last week he was on vacation with his wife for a week and that's when I realized my life was failing me. I started dating another boy. I wanted to try and just forget Michael. Unfortunately, I didn't tell him honestly that I had visitors.
I tried to sleep with the other boy but unfortunately it didn't work out because I realized that my heart is somewhere else. Now Michael is really mad at me, which I can understand to some extent. I am desperate as I really need him in my life.
I urgently need help and good advice.
Dear Maren B,
when you have a problem, it sometimes helps to imagine what a wise advisor would say about it. I advise patients to imagine a couple (i.e. a man and a woman) in their prime, most experienced counselor age, meaning they have enough life experience, are intelligent, and have their hearts in the right place. The perfect guide!
What do you think this couple would say to you when they heard that you are 22 and in love with a man who is 60? And what does love mean to you anyway? Is it also about feeling good and your partner supporting you?
Do you have a good relationship with your parents? And if so, what do your parents say about it?
I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. In my PhD, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.
Information about my therapeutic work can be found at www.julia-peirano.info.
Do you have questions, problems or lovesickness? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on stern.de.
If I imagine what most parents would say to your 22-year-old daughter who is dating a 60-year-old, they would say: The man is between the ages of your father and your grandfather. How do you envision a future with him when you're 30 and just starting out in life and he's 70?
But now the issue is even more complicated because Michael is also married. What would the smart and emotionally intelligent couple say to you? What do your friends, your parents and other important people say about this?
From my perspective, it looks like this man isn't playing fair game with you. Because he's going on vacation with his wife, even though you're suffering. It doesn't look like he wants to set things straight. He doesn't talk to you about your relationship and prospects, he doesn't follow rules, and he leaves you alone with the pain it causes.
I'm always a fan of managing relationships in a way that makes everyone feel good about the solution. How do you think your lover's wife feels about being in a relationship with you? Do you even know about this? And is she okay with that? You can feel how YOU suffer. So vacationing with his wife is good for your lover (for whatever reason) but not for the women he is in a relationship with.
It is definitely bad for your self-esteem to be treated like this. Put yourself in your lover's shoes. He has the intimate relationship with his wife and the mother of his children. The two are vacationing together, his wife may not know about you. And he doesn't have to part with her and lose his usual home or hear from his children that he is destroying the family.
What do you think his kids would say about him having a 22-year-old girlfriend? What would the clever advisor couple say to you?
I intentionally take you to the level of looking at things from the outside and also incorporating the considered opinions of others. You can usually see things more clearly from the outside. You, on the other hand, are trapped at the level of your feelings and do not have a clear head. And you need both, head and heart, to be happy. In some situations you have to follow your feelings, and in other situations you have to be reasonable and make decisions that hurt at first.
It's an important part of being an adult to weigh up what's good for you in the long term and accept what's uncomfortable for you in the short term. In addition, you already have many painful feelings from the relationship with Michael: fear, dependency, suffering, jealousy. Her situation hurts and holds her captive. And it hurts your self-esteem because you're not being treated well and you're making a loss.
I would advise you to seek advice from smart people and borrow their perspective on the situation. And it's probably best to follow their recommendation when you hear: This man isn't doing you any good. You are spoiling your future! break up with him