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Have you come to believe that your attractiveness hinges on you being the “daddy?”

My current relationship is on its last legs and I feel like I’m in a rut. Most of my relationships with these guys have lasted, at most, six months. The trouble is that I am 45 and only really attracted to guys in their early twenties—it’s the porn I watch, the guys I cruise, who I fantasize and imagine myself with. I love how fresh everything feels with these men and that they often look to me for advice about their troubles. My current bf has struggled with the drug and prostitution worlds. I had so much hope that I could show him a healthier path only to have his drug addiction ruin our relationship time and time again. Friends have encouraged me to widen my horizons and date closer to my age, but it would just feel unnatural and fake. Where do I go from here?

Alex

You make a strong case that really young guys are the sole object of your romantic and sexual affection. A quick look at hookup profiles will highlight how fixed our desires can become over time (for example: “only into guys aged 20-22 with beard, visible abs and uncut 12 inches”). While there’s a possibility that your intense focus on young and troubled men is a hard-wired orientation, I think it’s worth exploring any wiggle room in your romantic repertoire as it’s just so limiting. With just a little reflection and curiosity, it’s possible that you could escape the tiny romantic box you’ve come to occupy.

Your role as caregiver/saviour seems to be a big theme in your relationship history. The obvious danger of assuming this familiar position is that it leaves you deprived of a reciprocal relationship where you also get to receive support.

What’s more important is recognizing how this role gets your rocks off. Does it offer you a sense of control? Have you come to believe that your attractiveness hinges on you being the “daddy?” Does it feel too vulnerable to be the one who has needs? Does being with someone so much younger help you feel like you are stalling your own aging process?

There are youthful men out there who don’t need you to rescue them and are fully capable of offering an equal and balanced partnership. The guys you’ve dated have brought a lot of chaos into your world. Your orientation, thus far, might be less toward young men and more toward a certain brand of intensity or drama. Be careful not to confuse drama with true intimacy as they can mimic one another. But even if you could find a well-adjusted young man to share your life and bed with, there will be no way to bottle his youth so that it lasts forever—nor will his youth stop your own existential clock from ticking away. Also, as you cultivate a stable longer-term relationship with someone, you will see that it’s impossible to constantly maintain the initial excitement—that new car smell wears off. It will be up to you to find a way to get close to someone without all the hijinx to distract you from what could be a very real and equally fulfilling connection.

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