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Photo by Stocksy. One early December, my boyfriend and I had our first date. Also note that this was not because I had some notion that we would end up together long-term, but rather because I was embarrassed to be seen in public with him because of our age difference. At the time, I thought that people would judge us and stare, or even worse, someone might mistake him for my son. In reality, strangers hardly know there is much of an age difference between us, and they're almost certainly unaware that the difference is about I went through all of the issues in my head thinking, Why on earth would he want to be with me?
Through the individual stories and experiences shared in Real Relationships, we aim to paint a more realistic picture of love in the world today. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and are not necessarily based on research conducted by The Gottman Institute. I had given up on love. At 36, my decades-long dream of finding my person and having a family was replaced by a new dream of living a full and happy life as a single woman. I imagined traveling the world, hosting dinner parties for other singles, enjoying the unconditional love of shelter rescues, and pursuing my lifelong dream of writing.
Behind me would be the endless disappointments, unmet needs, and invisible feeling that characterized my past relationships. I surrendered and moved on. Then one day, I found myself craving a sandwich.
I stopped at a deli I liked on my way home from work. He made my veggie on wheat, hold the banana peppers. I told him I was. I admired his tattoos and noticed his sexy voice. Surmising that he was 25 or 26, I considered it a shame that he was too young for me. I was Up until then, I would have thought 35 was too young for me.
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A few days later I got another hankering for a veggie sandwich, along with another glimpse of the handsome tattooed sandwich-maker. I was having a good hair day and I felt like flirting. That day I found out his name: Austin. For the next two weeks, I was eating veggie sandwiches like it was my job. Each time I saw him, the nervous energy grew.
We were two fumbling idiots interacting with one another. His nervousness fed my nervousness. I could feel my face imitating a tomato whenever he looked at me.
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My heartbeat sped up. There was an obvious mutual attraction and it was a lot of fun. During that time he had Googled me, read my blog, and found me on social media. He wrote me a message to compliment my writing.
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He did so two days later and I gave him my phone. He called the following day while I was driving down Charlotte Street.
I appreciated his approach—showing clear interest but not being overly eager. We met at a restaurant called The King James.
The conversation was seamless. He had such depth to him and a beautiful openness.
After 20 minutes we had our first kiss and I knew I was in trouble. An hour later, I was in love.
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Yet, there was just something so alluring and captivating about him that I could not resist. To feel this adored, to have this passion raging inside of me, to be this engulfed in pure ecstasy, even for a week or two, was worth having my heart shattered into millions of pieces. I loved who I was when I was with him—vulnerable, playful, generous, and care-free. I gave it two months tops.
Four years later, he is lying here beside me watching a documentary on his iPhone as I type this. We have plans to be married ina year from now. We were mesmerized by and enamored with each other. It truly was a full-blown addiction. Even so, I spent the first two years waiting for it all to fall apart.
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I was afraid to be all-in, daily scanning for s that it was bound to fail. And on and on. This behavior almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I risked losing it all and never really knowing what might have been.
I came dangerously close to that. I was ruled by fear and woundedness rather than love and wholeness. Realizing how much I wanted a life with him terrified me. It felt cruel that it was possible for me to want this man, THIS man, 16 years my junior and who I believed was sure to abandon and hurt me. And so I tried to destroy my desire by collecting any flaw, error, and inconsistency I could find and hurling them at him one by one. The deeper I fell, the more fearful I became, and the more I looked for imperfections to point out and criticize. I thought I might stop loving him if I realized just how deeply flawed and immature he was.
Instead, I had given him good reason to leave me, and I was more fearful than ever that he would. Before long, we were caught up in a destructive and painful pattern. I miss you so much. What can I do for you? Nothing is good enough for you!
Leave me alone! I came into the relationship somewhat more skeptical about ideas such as fate and destiny.
Whatever differences between us have been revealed, he has been accepting. He is young, but also very solid. He knows who he is, what he needs, and what he wants. He is secure and maintains healthy boundaries. He has immense faith. He is romantic and melancholic, stubborn and emotional, artistic and wild. Sometimes he prays with them. Last year I went into counseling to address my unhealed pain and to learn how to love. Since doing so I have made the courageous choice to choose him and this relationship fully.
I have learned to intentionally lift up and admire what makes him unlike anyone I have ever known and absolutely irresistible, and to accept him for everything that he is, including much younger. The fear that the age gap will eventually catch up to us never leaves me. Neither does the untamed love I feel for him. I get excited when he calls. I look forward to our time together. We dance together, goof around and laugh hysterically, cry together during sad scenes in movies, and baby talk to our two dogs, with whom we are both grossly obsessed.
Being with him brings me an unrelenting joy on a daily basis. We fight about the typical things: laundry, cleaning, money, and the rest of it. We have a normal relationship in most ways. I think this really helps. I feel young and alive with him.