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I feel foolish soliciting advice on relationships because I have a Ph.D. myself and should be more sophisticated when it comes to these things. However, while I was raising my son alone, working full-time as a teacher, and pursuing my doctorate, I had no social life.

It's a bit embarrassing to admit that I hadn't had a relationship for 20 years! If a man who would have loved my son had come along, I would have been happy, but it never happened.

When my son was in college and my mother passed away, I suddenly became very lonely. I enrolled in a dating service and met three attractive and successful men. None of these relationships evolved into anything permanent, but at least I gained a bit of experience.

Five months ago, I met a man who is seven years younger than I was. He is in so many ways the man of my dreams-intelligent, tall and handsome, kind, funny, and generous. At first, I was hesitant to date him because he said he had been looking for a younger woman since he thought he might still want children.

When I am with this man, I'm blissfully happy. He has a boat, and we spent some indescribably joyous times together this summer at sea. I feel as if I love this man, but I have never dared to speak the words.

He seems, in his actions, to show love for me, but he never talks to me intimately. Once in a while, I'll send an email suggesting the depth of my feelings for him, but he always responds casually, avoiding any talk of feelings.

I'm 53 and would like to find a partner with whom to share my life. I've been told by so many people that I'm a real "catch," and that I shouldn't settle for someone who is not of my "caliber." However, I'm very superficial when it comes to appearances. I know this is a flaw in me. Although I've had many men attracted to me, I am not attracted to them.

How long should I hang in there to see if he could also love me? I have a tremendous amount of pride and don't ever want to make a fool of myself by blurting out my feelings, only to find out he doesn't feel the same.


Ella, some people get a Ph.D. because they want to put the word "Doctor" before their name. Some people do it to advance their career and make more money. But other people get a Ph.D. because they have an absolute passion for their subject. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of their passion. Its fulfillment is its own reward.

So it is with love. You want to share your life with someone, but you seek to apply a qualification. You want love to be contained in a certain outer package, but love, not the package, is what makes a person the most attractive person to you.

There is a punishment for being superficial and a price to be paid. Your desire for appearances is a wedge between you and the love you seek. If the man you are dating shared your outlook, what would he think? "She is too old for me. I could easily get a woman 10 or 15 years younger than she."

That might sound hard, but does it not reflect your own attitudes? Do you think he is unaware of the basis on which some women date?

There is no reason you cannot date others while seeing if anything develops with this man, but what you are really looking for is a sense of connection. Focusing on appearances puts your pride, and the opinion of others, ahead of love. It's a little like earning a Ph.D. to make money and then wondering why you don't feel inspired by your subject.

Wayne & Tamara

Wayne & Tamara are also the authors of Cheating in a Nutshell, What Infidelity Does to the Victim, available from Amazon, Apple and most booksellers.

Kristel Hayes


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