He Looks Old

Hi Meredith,

I met a man a few years ago through work. We had an instant connection but did not date -- the timing wasn't right. I was engaged at the time (later broke it off) and he was dating someone. We reconnected earlier this year and hit it off again. We have been dating for a month but I'm really not sure if we are a good fit long term. I'm in my late 30s and he is in his mid-50s. All my friends tell me I look very young. I still get carded when I buy alcohol, etc.

This man -- I'll call him Joe -- definitely looks his age or older. When we first met a few years ago, he looked more youthful, but I think the stress of his job and the constant travel has taken a toll on him. He has a fit body -- it's really his face and hairline I'm not certain about. When he uses Botox, he looks like he is in his late 40s but when the Botox wears off, he looks 60ish. We have a really great connection, laugh a lot, have great conversation, and great physical intimacy. However, I have to admit I'm embarrassed to introduce him to any of my friends or co-workers.

Joe is very successful and smart, but I can't seem to let go of the fact that he just looks so much older than me. My girlfriends saw a picture of me with him and insisted that I don't date him. And I have to admit, when I look at pictures of him, sometimes I think he is too old. I'm not ready to "take care" of someone yet. And I also think -- what's he going to look like when he hits 60?

My question to you is how important is age and physical appearance? I am sure if he and I dated 10 years ago, we'd be fine. But now I just don't know. I like him so much but to be embarrassed about being seen with someone is not a good sign. I know I'm only going to get older ... at what age does the age difference no longer matter?

– confused and uncertain (and hopefully not shallow), Boston

Please break up with Joe. If you were really into him, you'd be defending the relationship instead of pointing out his flaws. You'd be describing his features as mature. You'd be coming up with ways to make the age difference seem less significant.

His appearance bothers you -- and that's OK. Yes, you do come off a bit shallow in this letter (so does he), but I don't care about that. You're just being honest, and attraction is important. Also, your concerns about taking care of an older person are legit. You want to be with a peer.

I can't give you any stats about age differences and when they no longer matter. All I can tell you is that if you're obsessing over this guy's hairline and what happens when the Botox wears off, you should put him out of his misery and let him go. There's no need to wait this out to see how you feel about his wrinkles in another five years. Just tell him it's not working for you -- because it isn't. Your history with him is irrelevant. After dating for a month, it just doesn't feel right.

Readers? Should she stick it out with Joe to see if his age matters less over time? Is he too old for her? Is there a time when the age gap no longer matters? Is she being shallow -- and if so, is that so bad? Is she committed to trying this because of their history? Discuss.

– Meredith