It's been a really weird few months of dating/partnership/singleness for a lot of people, especially as we head into another heat lamp, holiday season. Tell me what you're thinking about. Send your letter through this form – or email [email protected].
I’m a guy (50) who has coupled with a substantially younger woman (32.) Five years so far. No issues with intimacy or compatibility. My issue is this: the other day my right knee gave out for no apparent reason. It hurt – a lot. I told her that I was having trouble and she laughed it off as another thing that goes with our age difference. It still hurt. It DOES go with our age difference.
How do I let her know that "these things will happen" as I age. How do I make sure that she's still all in on our relationship, because I am? I’m not decrepit; I’m just feeling the first effects of age. And no - for your readers - our sex life is fine. How can I get her to understand when I have something wrong?
It sounds like you want two things – for her to stick around and to be a lot more sensitive about your age difference.
Your first concern doesn't seem to be a big problem. She's been with you for five years. You're compatible in more ways than one.
As for the second issue, it's more complicated. I'm not defending her seemingly thoughtless reaction to your knee (sounds like she was like, "lol, well, you're old.), but it's possible she thought that making a joke would take the edge off for both of you. Or maybe this is her way of making light of the scary parts of your age difference. Deflecting with humor is a thing, right? For some, it's a defense against anxiety and awkwardness.
She also might not have understood your pain in the moment. It sounds like the knee thing was many-Advils, two-ice-packs, cancel-the-rest-of-the-day bad. Maybe she didn't get that at first.
It doesn't sound like she thinks you're "decrepit" (not a word I like, by the way). If that's how she saw you, she wouldn’t be making light of a knee injury. More likely, she doesn't notice the age difference often, and when it does pop up, she feels comfortable joking about it. (Or uncomfortable – which causes her to joke about it.)
You can tell her the humor doesn't work when you're in pain – because why would it? You can also tell her what you need, emotionally and physically. This is a good time to learn about each other. Give her the chance to hear you and adjust her behavior. Ask her how it made her feel.
For the record, it's possible that a 32-year-old will start to understand what all of this means soon enough. All bodies are different, but we all have moments of needing help, no matter who we are. Learning empathy now is a good thing for both of you.
Readers? What should the letter writer tell the girlfriend, if anything?