Part 22 – He’s Younger, She’s Older — Get Over It!

This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: Billy and I go on a four-day bender of sex, drugs & rock ‘n roll. To see all posts in chronological order, Click Here.

The next time I visit Billy, he gives me a lifeless peck on the cheek.

“Is something wrong?” I ask.

“Your age is troubling me,” he says. He’s eight years younger than I, and this is the first I’ve heard it troubles him. The last two men I’ve been with, including my ex husband, were ten years younger, and their response to the age difference was, “Who gives a damn?”

Billy does. He says he’d rather be with someone who won’t get old before he does. I point out that he knew my age from the first time we met. “Maybe your mind is throwing this up now because it’s one thing we can never fix, talk through or compromise about. I’ll always be older.”

He nods. “It’s a brilliant way to check out, don’t ya think?”

I sigh. I have my own doubts about the viability of this relationship. Billy’s not working and has no focus. He shows no ability to see the other person’s point of view—his perception is always “correct” and mine is wrong. He has few friends. After living in Colorado all his life, he has one male friend with whom he never talks intimately, and two women friends who’re ex lovers.

More important is his skittishness. Because of my own ambivalence, I do best with men who really want to be with me and consistently hang in there. “That won’t be the case with me,” Billy says.

What to do? Months later, I’ll read in Pia Mellody’s book, “Facing Love Addiction,” that the love addict has a fatal attraction to the avoidance addict. But on the day I feel Billy pulling away, I think: Okay, here’s a chance to work on my own stuff. Can I let him have his doubts, say what he needs to say and not react? In meditation, I’m using the practice of “allowing everything to be as it is.” Allow Billy to be troubled. Allow me to be troubled that he’s troubled. Allow it all to be as it is, and when I do that, peace drifts in.

Billy motions me to join him on the sofa and we hug, stretching out. “Do you want me to leave?” I ask.

“I’ve been asking myself that question.”

I shift into a different position and feel his body soften.

“That feels… really good,” he says. “I just relaxed.” He begins to stroke my skin with tenderness. I love the feel of his chest, I love his smell, and in a short time we’re in another land. In this breezy, sun washed country, he can let down his guard, shut off thoughts and let the doubts recede like mist. In this realm he’s playful, inventive, always trying new things, and he wants to make me happy at any cost.

Anne Cushman, a writer I admire, wrote in Enlightenment for Idiots: “In bed with him, my body hummed… His touch hooked up two loose wires inside and I was electrified. The more I had of him, the more I wanted, as if in the very act of satisfying my craving, he was carving a deeper and deeper pit of hunger within me.”

That’s what’s happening with Billy now, except we’re both doing the carving. Day becomes night; he says he’ll leave first thing in the morning but he doesn’t. We sip Prosecco with peach nectar, take a couple hits and keep going, headed for the place Ken Kesey painted on his psychedelic bus: FURTHER. It flits through my mind: Is drinking and smoking and fucking the way to enlightenment? Or to oblivion? But I sweep the question aside like a filly swishing off a fly. Besides, the gurus say the way to nirvana is through samsara—the dark unconsciousness. So dive we must.

As the physical pleasure intensifies, so do feelings of merging, union, love. Billy says, “I’ve never felt so close to anyone.” The problem is: when we reach this closeness, I want to sustain and build on it, raise high the roof beam, carpenters. He wants to run. And the more we let go with each other and love flows, the more violent the backlash. When we’re together, he never wants to leave, but when he does, his mind takes over, carping, judging, finding flaws. His emails and calls fall off, and when we meet again it takes hours, sometimes 24, before he relaxes and we can find our way back to that sun washed isle.

“This is his mating dance,” says Wendy, the Buddhist psychologist. “It’s not about you. Just try—I know it’s a challenge—but try to stay detached.” Okay, I think, I’ll try to let go of my expectations. I can’t control Billy, the future or my feelings, but I can allow it all to be what it is. Surrender—that’s the game. And when I feel myself do that, the clouds part. There’s a knowing in me that whatever happens with Billy, it’s not going to do me in. Whether he leaves or stays, I’ll be okay. Really. And when I feel that … I’m free.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT: Is this an opportunity for me to do important work? Is it, as someone said, “another fucking opportunity for growth?” Or is my warning system not working?



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31 thoughts on “Part 22 – He’s Younger, She’s Older — Get Over It!

  1. Debbie


    I truly admire the level of awareness that you were able to maintain throughout the ups and downs(which were EXTREME)during the course of your relationship with Billy. He truly seems like a man who is floundering in his own life, and has not even begun to approach the level of consciousness that you brought to the table.

    I remember when a man that I had been with for a number of months began to “withdraw” and finally told me that he was no longer interested in me “romantically”, I took it very personally and plunged into a terrible depression. It evoked all these demons, long buried, about my own desirability as a woman and ability to be loved by a man(or at all). How I wish that I could have gone to that place you describe – no judgment about him, no judgment about myself.

    I remember telling you in a previous post that Billy seemed to only be able to understand things from his own point of view…I think you have also seen that his lack of intimate connections with others might have been a “warning” sign that he was incapable of reaching a parallel level of intimacy with you. But, as I've said before, you're only human – and we humans crave love and intimacy. I truly wish that you had been the one who could have helped Billy “break through his barriers”, but it's doubtful that anyone ever will. Namaste.

  2. Anonymous

    Sorry – I think it's just nuts. When you read about it, you think “Ok, I can understand that”, but when you think about it in its totality, you can't help but feel the guy is a trainwreck waiting to happen in your heart.

  3. Sean

    Does addiction every really bring pleasure and satisfaction, or does it simply exist as a mask that we wear to avoid reality? The sense of connection you are experiencing seems doomed from the perspective that Billy doesn't really have the ability to form lasting friendship. Without friendship and the depth of commitment that this bond creates, most relationships are bound to implode because there isn't any foundation to support the partnership. I suggest that you enjoy the ride, while knowing this is a oneway trip, without any return reservation. All the best,

  4. Gail

    Seems like your warning system is working, but you're having enough of a good time with Billy to say the hell with it. Which is fine, since you seem self-aware. I like in this section that self-awareness breaks through to deeper Awareness–in the experience of peace with what is, regardless.

  5. Marta

    This is going nowhere or, at least, nowhere positive. What's there to learn? How to lick your wounds? What's there to grow? The inevitable pain in your heart? Don't get it…..

  6. Anonymous

    I'm so glad you read Pia Mellody's “Facing Love Addiction” book. I was going to suggest it in a previous email! This whole thing is classic love addiction, as you seem to know now…That's what makes the sex so great too, speaking from experience, because that's when you feel you “have” him. When he's not in bed with you, you rarely feel it, you just get the withdrawal and avoidance…As I've learned, “When someone tells you (and shows you) who they are, believe them.”
    His lack of friendships and empathy show that he is a narcissist, which isn't really curable. Can't wait to see what you do (did) next…

  7. rick the celestial cowboy

    some relationships are not meant to last. like a firefly, they are there, they dance in beauty and then, sadly, poignantly, they vanish, with only the memories remaining. read BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. and then read it again and compare it with what you have experienced.

  8. Anonymous

    i think i am married to a billy;
    your articles have really thrown me for a loop; we have a child with autism-he never helps-he's muscian- i really want to leave-i think i am a love addict too. i did not get married until i was 38-i went thru one realtionship after another. i really think people like us need polymory-so that one person doesn't suck out our energy-we can just go to the next lover -hahahah

  9. Middle-aged Diva

    Umm. Your warning system is dead. It died way early in this relationship. Which should have ended at the start.

    This just seems so obvious, and even when I was in relationships where the man just wasn't into me as much as I was in to him, I saw it and didn't try to justify it. Great sex is one thing, men like this are another. I had the greatest sex of my life with a man whose ex girlfriend called my house the night we made love. While I would've killed to have had that again, I told him not to come back til he'd handled his stuff. He never came back. I would've felt silly if I'd behaved the way you did in this scenario.
    I'm now married to a man not afraid to commit. That was only open to me when I stopped making stupid choices and justifying them. Which I did in my 30s.

  10. Anonymous

    I wonder if there's anything new that can be added to the comments. For me it's just the time to continue reading the tale to its conclusion.

  11. Eileen

    As a psychologist in the middle of a divorce, I feel that I have my own lens, and have been hesitant to post any comments. It is what it is, and if you can accept this relationship for what it is, and it makes you happy, that is a good thing. I personally am still unable to imagine even having dinner with anyone who has a penis. You are very brave, and I admire that about you. It inspires me, and I am thinking more and more about getting out there lately, partially due to you story. The next step is doing it, I keep telling myself!

  12. Anonymous

    Your experience is why I stopped dating. All of the above–it is a learning experience and yes your warning bells should be chiming red alert. I stopped because I always saw both sides of the story and I had lost my ability to feel outraged and storm out the door. I was okay with the learning lesson and hurt all out the same time and ultimately incapable of doing what I needed to do which was leave the relationship. I know that is what you do with Billy and the sex, drugs and alcohol just help you numb up so you delay the inevitable. You are attracted to what is dangerous to your emotional well being and so am I and by the way I know better but great sex always feels like love.

  13. alexandra

    Are you kidding? If so, whom? This guy is a very large loser, a fuck-pup but nothing else. Your own words reveal it. Sex is your entire dynamic. NOt knowing, I would say you are sixteen years old. A more mature person would never entertain this man because mature people know there is a lot more to loving somebody than fucking somebody. Get it out of your system, (regress pleasantly)….then hot foot it to higher ground. For your soul's sake.

  14. Dr. Barbra

    Yes, detachment. No expectations.

    Did I tell you that my last husband is 29 years younger than I? We had no expectations and now, 19.5 years later, we are still best friends and visit each other all the time.

  15. Christopher

    First let me say I am devouring this as well as your new book (which I received yesterday). This blog is so striking a chord in me I cannot full integrate it yet (I am a 52 year old man). Of course this an opportunity for growth and change whether it is about “fucking” physically or in attitude. School is always in session…yes? What else is the point to travelling this turbulent sacrament of the human condition? So intense in its terrible yet resplendent beauty. I had a relationship 5 years past now, that was so powerful in physical attraction and the resonance of how when making love we were so matched even to spontaneous tantric connection (like we were in a Vulcan mind meld), all it left was the desire for more and deeper connection When I apart we both felt physically pain with desire for union again. I don’t think your warning system wasn’t working, mine was all a cacophony of sirens, (There was no way at all it would I could not even choose to listen so great was my wanting). Is this addiction, I don’t know , when it ended I wished I was dead, The pain was so intense and soul tearing it was exquisite, I friend of mine proclaimed how fortunate I was to be able to strip away all barriers and “feel” so deeply. I would do it all over again starting right now with full knowledge of the eventual outcome. What a gift to have such intensity. All I can say is thank you for this sharing, it is stunning and so very authentic.

    Oh and Billy…mating dance?…more like an noncommittal idiot… what is he 22?. But you knew that in the beginning…leave your bed after making love for a date with another woman? The only you should have said to him after that was “fuck off idiot”…but I know, been there and did exactly what you did. Kick me once shame on you Kick me twice ( or repeatedly) shame on me.

    be well …smile often… love always,


  16. Renate

    It isn't that your warning system doesn't work, it's that you are ignoring all of the alarms! If all you were interested in was “friends with benefits” or casual sex with a guy you trust, this would be a perfect arrangement, but you know you want more from a relationship. Allowing things to “be what they are” isn't an opportunity for growth, it's settling. But look at me armchair quarterbacking! I haven't had sex in 3 years, so I'm not sure what I would do!

  17. Kristine

    Hi Sara,
    Having been where you are I say this from my heart….”You are wasting your precious time,love and energy”! Let him go…..nothing good will come of this….just my humble opinion….

  18. rick the celestial cowboy

    COWBOYS are famous for lying on clouds. there's a wonderful painting in a bar somewhere in new mexico or arizona, where a cowboy is lying on a cloud shaped like a saddle. well, i'm lying on my cloud and smiling — laughing out loud, really — at all these comments that are pro and antii-billy. poor billy. we love to have somebody to blame for all ouor failures, our expectations that don't turn out, and doesn't he make a marvelous scapegoat? well, i personally think sara was lucky to find him. and i think billy was lucky to find sara, a near famous writer who he could add to the notches on his belt. and sara added to the notches on her belt as well. first, she had the cowboy zack, who made rope with skilled hands. sara like all of us wants to remain eternally young, eternally beautiful, which inside she is. myself, when i look into the mirror after a shower, i see a young virile man in his 30s or 40s. and when i am at dinner or in a louge trying to find a new love, i become who i am — a seeker, a sojourner, and a person who has lived. wonderful story, sara. but see it for what it is and not for what you wish it to be..

  19. Bluekelpie

    I think you did not love yourself enough to pull away from this selfish man. Why do you have a high threshold for pain? Respect and blessings, joey

  20. Beauregard

    I speculate that the really good sex changes your body chemistry, creates a rush when you have it, a craving when you don’t. It’s a cunning, powerful and baffling enemy, a phrase many in your audience will recognize.
    It meets all the definitions of addiction including completely clouding — no, shutting down — your judgment.
    So, let’s think through the sex. How often do you think you and he can maintain this pace and for how many YEARS? How much of the rest of your life do you want to spend in bed?
    How does that compare to the amount of time you will actually spend at the Farmer’s Market, reading the newspaper on Sunday morning, taking a hike, or, god forbid, talking about you and your stuff?
    How much time is he willing to spend in company with your friends and how will he get along with them?
    How faithful and supportive will he be while you are on a five-week book tour?
    How much of an emotional drain will he be when you get past this passion and start living and dealing with what is sure to be a trainload of baggage he hasn’t told you about?
    Is getting the sex worth giving up the other 90% of your life? Can you honestly see yourself with him in five years, much less 10?
    Do you really want a relationship where you have to “stay detached”?
    Is it wise to invest valuable time with Billy when you (and we, your counselors) see so many warning signs?
    Seems to me it takes about two years of living together to really get to know someone and that’s after the first evaluation, which he has clearly failed. Even if you think you can really plumb someone faster, how much time and energy do you have left for start-up relationships?
    Or has the answer to that question made you desperate?

  21. Jenna

    “Try to stay detached”? Give me a break! We're talking about a love affair, not a Buddhist meditation retreat. You have a right to care. All of a sudden, bringing up your age when he knew it all along is on the same level as jumping off the bed from a night of lovemaking and announcing he's on his way to another date. This guy isn't just a commitment-phobe: he's sadistic.There's nothing to be learned from him. Get out.

  22. Anonymous

    Hi Sara,

    I think I've been on both ends of this one:
    The sadist and the masochist, and possibly both at once in my last relationship.
    I am now in my late thirties and I have really stuffed myself up because of it for I had, while growing up, strongly set myself up not to be like it and affirmed it all in one very strong relationship I had when younger (as I have written about on previous occasions). So I, like you, know what it is about really.
    You just can't change another person and if they are not with it they need to go and find themselves (if they ever do – but that is not your concern).
    Buddhists can talk conformist bullshit as much as – if not more than in my view – anyone else.
    But the most important thing is though, aside from anything I or others might say, is it your decision. I can't advise because I am still learning myself and always will be (I love letting people be it always feels good to me).
    I can only say, from my point of view anyway, that you know what kind of relationship to look for. You have described it in your writing for a long time. You can find it. You've got everything it takes and you should never doubt it for a moment. It has to be up to you though.
    You are a wonderful person and if there was only eight years difference between us I would not hesitate to go out with you and maybe more (I have been very depressed and never found the words until now).

    If it is not what he wants then it is not what you want is it?

    Lots of love

    P.S. in real love there is this “detachment” you talk of, a great freedom and complete independence to be yourself, but the way the Buddhists talk about things to me often seems dehumanising (they will always want to tell you that you've misinterpreted the real meaning of it too but this is what it feels like for me when I have been on the receiving end of it – and there comes a time when to question your own feelings is to question yourself and undermine your efforts entirely. Who's in charge?)

    Recommended reading Bell Hooks' “All About Love.” (I did all she talks about and just a little bit more and at a younger age).

  23. slohabob

    Dear Sara, There is something to be said for having “friends with benefits,” and maybe that's all that Billy is. You seem to think that you want something along the lines of a fully committed relationship with “Mr. Right.” Many of us thought that you were going to kick Billy to the curb a long time ago, but he kept coming back, and, hey, it sounds like it has been a lot of fun. Maybe, if you were more honest with yourself, you might come to the conclusion that's good enough…at least for now. Best wishes! Bob

  24. BEV HON

    Oh, Deary Me!! Sara… I believe that you are so new to detachment that it hasn't become a reflex yet.

    All the while, Billy is taking note of the subtle change in your attitude, and it sets off his alarm bells. He pulls away.

    When he realizes that you are letting him retreat…. his panic bells will go off. He fears being abandoned.

    He won't like this.

    The more freedom you give him, the more upset he gets.

    This is a setup for a situation in which he will grow really nasty and vengeful, in addition to upset….and since he knows how to push your buttons…. he knows how to REALLY hurt you.

    So he does.

    What a bummer.

    The sad thing is that you really did know this going in.


  25. BEV HON

    Oh, Deary Me!! Sara… I believe that you are so new to detachment that it hasn't become a reflex yet.

    All the while, Billy is taking note of the subtle change in your attitude, and it sets off his alarm bells. He pulls away.

    When he realizes that you are letting him retreat…. his panic bells will go off. He fears being abandoned.

    He won't like this.

    The more freedom you give him, the more upset he gets.

    This is a setup for a situation in which he will grow really nasty and vengeful, in addition to upset….and since he knows how to push your buttons…. he knows how to REALLY hurt you.

    So he does.

    What a bummer.

    The sad thing is that you really did know this going in.


  26. BEV HON

    Oh, Deary Me!! Sara… I believe that you are so new to detachment that it hasn't become a reflex yet.

    All the while, Billy is taking note of the subtle change in your attitude, and it sets off his alarm bells. He pulls away.

    When he realizes that you are letting him retreat…. his panic bells will go off. He fears being abandoned.

    He won't like this.

    The more freedom you give him, the more upset he gets.

    This is a setup for a situation in which he will grow really nasty and vengeful, in addition to upset….and since he knows how to push your buttons…. he knows how to REALLY hurt you.

    So he does.

    What a bummer.

    The sad thing is that you really did know this going in.


  27. rick the celestial cowboy

    alexandra and a couple of other women who think as she does — i believe one woman said she gets sick when even considering dating someone with a 'penis' — are the reason men try out so many women before they settle on one.
    men are drawn to beauty. i certainly am. they are also drawn to women much younger than themselves, especially after reaching the big 40 or 50 mark. some women, like sara, are also drawn to younger women. there are many benefits to having a young vibrant lover in your bed, and that has happened to me on the islands in the caribbean. you think it will last forever, and it never does. think of billy as i thought of lynette and of lilli, two island beauties. they were fragrant flowers, smiling, ripe, ready, willing. like anne murray sang in her wonderful love ballad, WE'LL SING IN THE SUNSHINE, and she advises her listeners to give what they can, and take what they can, and then sing in the sunshine and go on their way. sara, dear sara, that is your only choice with a guy like billy. and maybe that is the only choice for all of the rest of us, no matter how high sounding their words in these posts. you don't need anyone's advice, dear girl. just live and love and keep singing in the sunshine ala JULIET OF THE SPIRITS, one of fellini's best efforts.

  28. wordwarrior

    I have been in love before through the seduction of an older woman when I was 20. Every time we connect was a revelation and everything I knew about sex was learnt through her but she betrayed me by having another lover and left me in the kind of agony that you wrote about. I was in a sex noman's land for quite a number of years. I am now in my 70's and have found someone who really loves me and we have fantastic sex as we are in love. The irony is that my wife and lover is 58 whilst my first one is now in her 80's. I would never swap my partner now for the first one given our age difference. I feel my suffering has rewarded me in the end.
    As for your situation, if I were in your shoes, I would continue to enjoy what Billy has to offer without any commitment or expectation from him but prepared to accept the fact that if it ever comes to an end. So be it!

    I wish you well and have a happy ending though it would seem you will be labouring uphill with this person.

  29. Beauregard

    Some years back I noticed on Match quite a few women specifying younger men, sometimes 10-15 years younger.
    I asked around and got these explanations:
    -Many of you guys can't get it up. She wants sex.
    -We've taken care of parents and kids and don't want have to take care of an old man.
    -So many of you are couch potatoes and have no interest or curiosity in new things like music or events or books.
    Perhaps the first one is valid, although many of us get by with a little help from our friends. And not all women have that kind of libido. I'm 65 and last relationship was sex 2-3 sometimes 4 times a week when mutually agreed and she had orgasms, or said she did, about 70 per cent of the time, as did I. It was always good and often great.
    As for caretaker, I said to my advisors, what about the idea that you might want care, someone to make you chicken soup, or nurse you through breast cancer? Do you think that youngster will do that?
    Couch potato-itis. Yeah, and some women are boring, too. Doesn't seem to be age specific but rather outlook specific.
    So I wondered if maybe this is just cougarism or trophy-ism or searching for youthful validation.
    IMHO, you can hook up with whoever for whatever reason the two of you agree on.
    However, if you are truly looking for more than just a few nights stand (or lay), I can't help but think someone within five years will make a better partner.
    The love of my life (until she ditched me), was a few months younger.
    I hope for that experience again and for the last time.
    Don't think it's workable with a youngster, but if it is for you, bless your heart.

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