I’m 26, a virgin and attracted to a woman twice my age
Published : 25 Dec 2016, 16:36
A young man is jealous his female friend of 50 has fallen in love with another man. Mariella Frostrup says it’s time he finds his own – realistic – sexual relationship
The dilemma I am 26 years old and three years ago I was going through a difficult period in my life following my parents’ divorce after a long marriage. I was befriended by a work colleague, a lovely older woman who is now 50. We have become very close, but not in a physical way. I’m a virgin and have never experienced physical intimacy. That said, I am and have always been attracted to her, but I’ve known from very near the beginning of our friendship that the feeling isn’t mutual, I think because of our respective ages.
Recently, she met a man who she has told me she is in love with. This has been painful for me. I’ve had a physiological reaction as well as an emotional one. Thinking about her with him brings tears, a pounding heart and sleepless nights. I want to remain a close friend, but I feel an overwhelming sense of a lost love. How do I combat these feelings of grief and loss, deal with my jealousy without harming her, and replace my selfish feelings with selfless ones?
Mariella replies Start your own life maybe? It sounds to me like you’ve been treading water for too long and this just might be the event to propel you into a more rewarding interaction with those around you. I’m not convinced you ever wanted a romantic relationship with this woman, although it’s perfectly likely that you entertained the idea of a physical one. Then again, until she found romance elsewhere, the lack of a physical side to your friendship seems to have been of relatively little importance to you.
You don’t explain why you are still a virgin at quite a mature age. That leaves me with an awful lot of unanswered questions. Is it for religious reasons? Or perhaps you are not interested in women. Is the alternative difficult for you for cultural reasons? Or do you simply not have much interest in sex?
These are all questions that you could and should be asking yourself. Honest answers will offer you illumination on your current situation and be conducive to ensuring greater future happiness. I appreciate this latest twist of fate is taking its toll on you, but to recover you need to understand why you feel so bereft. I’m pretty sure that’s not as straightforward as you think.
Putting questions about your romantic life aside, isn’t it typical of the perversity of human nature that you should be fixating on your loss rather then celebrating the friendship you’ve enjoyed? We’re bad at counting our blessings, but this is definitely a scenario where you should focus on your good fortune in having this woman in your life at a time when you really needed her, rather than what might have been. She’s still there after all, sharing her news and keeping you up to date. Her new relationship doesn’t seem to be a threat and has had no discernible impact on your friendship, so celebrate her good fortune and be as much of a friend to her as she has been to you.
What a lucky guy you are to have discovered her shoulder to cry on when you were at an emotional low. In that situation, vulnerable and insecure, it would have been all too easy to fall into an unsuitable but convenient set of arms. Instead, you found safe harbour. In the intervening years if there was more than companionship between you I’m sure you would have unearthed it. It sounds, however, like you need someone to take the reins and she may indeed be a lost opportunity on that score.
Could it be that rather than get over the upset of your parents’ divorce you found alternative parenting with this mature friend? If so, you may be reliving the abandonment fears your parents’ separation precipitated. Put things in perspective: separate irrational responses from rational fears and most importantly start thinking about a relationship of your own.
Remaining a virgin is a choice you’re entirely justified to make, but it is unusual. Letting this upset prove the catalyst for a sexual relationship with a suitable partner is writ large on my prescription pad. Your imagination is running overtime, but what you’re missing is not nearly as elevated or exciting as you imagine. Take comfort from the fact that if you’d had an affair it would have been very unlikely to last as long as your friendship has.
You have a great buddy. Try to be open with her. Tell her you’ve been upset about what you feel is a loss. Ask for her help as you take your first steps toward seeking a lover of your own. I imagine she will be just as supportive as she was when you had to face up to your parents’ inadequacies. Take pleasure in the fact that she confided in you about her relationship; take advantage of her maturity and wisdom, and let her guide you on the path to your own passion.
Spending your days regretting things you haven’t done is a waste of oxygen. It’s far healthier to acknowledge those feelings and then use them to ensure your future expands in tandem with your increased understanding.
If you have a dilemma, send a brief email to email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mariellaf1
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