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I am a 54 year old woman, widowed 17 years, raised my three children, all college graduates, living independently and I just finished my M.S. degree in speech pathology. I now work as a Speech Pathologist in the schools. I had 3 prior engagements and each one walked away. I find dating challenging and disappointing. I recently met a man on a dating single website. He and I clicked right away. He was divorced a year and on his own for at least 4 years. He is out of a 2 month serious relationship that he claims he fell in love for the first time. The woman he fell in love with was divorced 15 years and does very well financially. He is bankrupted, but has a good job. He insecure about the new job, lives in an apartment, works hard to save rent by working on the maintenance of the apartments. I own a very nice home, am financially smart, but need to work on rebuilding a future after raising my children. We immediately became close, I asked him if we are supposed to take this slow? The other day he said to me that "he is sorry that he rushed things." He explained that he is not over the past woman and now wants to take it slow, no more closeness. I asked him if that was the case did he want me to date others? He said clearly "NO." He added that he just wants us to take things slow and learn more about each other. I have been single for many years and can not take another heart break. I do not know why I fell so fast for him? It is not my nature to do so. I am not desperate, but, as friends have told me, I have a BIG HEART, and that I am very intelligent. I know that if a friend told me this story I would ask them why they would want someone with all the financial problems he has. He has to continue paying back his bankruptcy for another 4 years. They will take half of his income. It seems that if I stay in this I can become the rebound. When I said this to him his comment was no, he does not want to break up, he is being honest because he cares about me. He wants us to grow and learn more about each other. He was not able to perform the last 2 times we made love. He said it was because of his not being able to get over someone who did not love him. I have been there done that. I do know it is the lover who does not want us that we grieve the longest and hardest for and that we cannot forget. I am too old and smart for all this, but my heart is twisted. He even met my children immediately for the holidays and they think he is a nice guy. HELP, any advice for an old lady.

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First, at age 54 you are not an old lady. But, if you believe you are old that may be part of your problem. Now, I understand that, at that age, there are many more women available for men than the reverse. I also know the well believed notion that all men prefer younger women. While it is true that, due to men dying earlier than women, there are more women around than men once we reach our fifties. However, plenty of older men want older women who are their age. So, at 54, you are young. For instance, I am 66 and someone who is 74 told me in no uncertain terms that I am young. Well, I am…so, there!!!

Of course, being smart has nothing to do with "affairs of the heart." Surely you are aware of that. Therefore, logic goes "out the window." That is why I am puzzled by your reaction to his wanting to "go slow." Actually, going slow makes a lot of sense. Let me explain:

1. You are correct, he has a multitude of financial problems. In fact, you should wonder why, unless you already know and it is fully explainable. Are you sure he is responsible financially or does he have spending and gambling problems?

2. He is probably scared about getting serious after a divorce and losing the last relationship. Under those circumstances, his fear is understandable. It seems to me that it makes sense to go slow.

3. How much do you really know about him and him about you? It really does take time to get to know one another. As the old saying goes: "Slow and steady wins the race."

4. I am not sure of what you are looking for but I hope it something less than marriage. After all, if you marry you could become responsible for his debts and he might make a claim on your money. That is why many older couples choose to have a modified form of marriage in which there is a non legal and non binding ceremony. Or, they set up very clear prenuptial agreements. Most of us at this age are wanting to protect the financial future of our children and grandchildren and not allow a late in life marriage to interfere with that.

I would urge you to go along with his suggestion about going slow. I have known many other people in your set of circumstances and counselled them to do just that: go slow. My suggestion is not to pressure him and see each other according to some type of mutual agreement. I would avoid any ideas about marriage or even living together.

His sexual difficulties are quite understandable if you stop and think about it. Men have just as many fears and doubts as women about their sexuality, security and attractiveness. Allow time, be patient and his anxiety will pass and he will perform.

You may not be aware of it but, in your enthusiasm about him he may be feeling pressured and fearful. Back off: meaning, date one another and learn about one another. Just date together and have fun with no pressure. That is what I recommend. I know how you feel. You want a relationship and no one can blame you for that. On the other hand, you have money, a house, your children, an excellent profession and lots of good stuff to look forward to.

Best of Luck

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