Stop Stigmatizing Age-Gap Relationships

‘Love is love’ should include all healthy relationships

Have you ever been out to dinner and glanced at another table and noticed an older man dining with a younger woman? Did you judge that man? Did you judge that woman? For many, the first thought is “he’s a pervert,” or “she’s probably a gold digger.” These are said far too often when people encounter individuals involved in an age-gap relationship.

Are friendships, relationships, rapports not respected if those involved are not the same age or undergoing the same phase of life? Today, people are so quick to shame relationships if the individuals involved are not of similar ages. People seem to lose their minds over anything above a seven-year age difference. Without any background information, people everywhere are constantly judging relationships they don’t know anything about.

It is important to note that I am not encouraging older men or women to pursue children. The age-gap relationships I am discussing are those that involve two consenting adults. In other words, both individuals must be over the age of eighteen and out of high school. At this point in people’s lives, they are able to process their thoughts and decisions, and dictate their own lives.

Now, when it comes to relationships in general, the business between the two individuals involved is personal to them, not anyone else. Why do people feel the need to step in and make their opinions known when they see a couple that may be over a decade apart? It is still a relationship, and it is still personal to them. Therefore, they deserve the same respect and privacy all other couples receive.

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A common argument against age-gap relationships is that different phases of life are detrimental to the overall well being of those involved in these relationships. Being in different phases of life can lead to challenges in relationships among these individuals. However, we should leave it up to those involved to decide what works for them, what is right for them and what ultimately makes them the happiest. I think we often forget that we are only given so much time on this planet. If one finds themselves deeply in love with a person, regardless of the difference in age between them, who is to say they should not go for it and experience the love and joy that the relationship brings them.

Additionally, our current society does a solid job in advocating for “love is love.” Though this phrase has been traditionally utilized to defend and support homosexual relationships, it should be applied to age-gap relationships. Simply put, if two people are in love, let them bask in it, embrace it and fully experience its depth.

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Love is intangible. People do not get to decide when they fall in love or who they are going to fall in love with. Often, love reveals itself at the most unexpected times, not every time love is realized it is wanted. Again, we do not have a choice when it comes to love and natural human connection. When it happens, it should be appreciated to the fullest extent. As long as neither is experiencing unhealthy or inhibitory consequences of the relationship, then the relationship is fine.

Differences in appearance should not matter. Differences in backgrounds should not matter. Differences in age definitely should not matter. So, next time you come into contact with a couple in an age-gap relationship, swallow the judgement, evaluate why you even feel justified to judge and let people enjoy the people that bring them the most joy.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on June 20th, on Amazon!

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Sorry, But Getting Back Together With Your Ex Will Never Be A ‘Fresh Start’

Ah, the power of the ex. Is there anything more alluring than The One That Got Away? Probably not.

But before you go ahead and try getting back together, remember that life isn’t like Friends (Ross and Rachel), Sex and the City (Carrie and Big), or Grey’s Anatomy (Meredith and McDreamy). The appeal is real…but so is the drama.

It’s not really your fault: While you probably broke up for a very legit reason, your desire to rekindle an old flame is pretty normal. “We are wired for attachment and also for new experiences,” says licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago. “When we can have a bit of both by getting back together with a former lover, many of us jump at the opportunity.”

And let’s face it: Getting back together with an ex is just easier than spending hours swiping through Bumble (and going on craptastic dates). “We often aren’t interested in someone new because we have to get to know someone new and that takes time,” says Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship and professor at Oakland University in Michigan. “When with our ex, we already know what we like, don’t like, and how they act.”

It’s definitely possible to have more success with round two, Klow says—but you need to approach it the right way. Here’s how to get back with your ex without making a total mess of it.

1. Take it slooow.

I know, I know. The texts! The dinners! The sex! It’s all very exciting that you and your ex are hanging again. But before you go posting couples shots all over Insta and jumping right back into double dates with their parents, take a sec to chill.

There’s no proven formula for what speed you should move at (obviously…who could study that?), but Klow says it can be incredibly helpful to slow down and take a beat before you slap a label on things again. Why? Because you need time to…

2. Figure out what really you want.

Orbuch says this is your chance to lay all of your cards out on the table, so don’t be afraid to get real (like, really real) about what you need to be happy in a relationship. She recommends asking yourself what your expectations are in a relationship, as well as what qualities you need from a partner.

Was there something major missing before that your partner could actually fulfill this time around? That’s an important Q to be able to answer before reconciling. For example, did you feel like they took you for granted last time? Didn’t know how to speak your love language? That’s all fixable on take two.

But if you felt like they didn’t quite match up in terms of goals and values, that’s a different story. (Perhaps you’re super ambitious and they’re A-okay working at their dad’s company with no plans of moving up or taking it over someday—that’s likely not going to change tomorrow.)

You’ll also want to have your deal breakers in mind. “Then share these expectations with your former partner and have your former partner do the same and share the list with you,” Orbuch says. “This is important for all couples to do together, but even more important when you reconnect with a former partner. Be open and honest.”

3. View it as a new chapter in an old relationship.

“Yes, you’ve already dated and know one another, but time changes people,” Orbuch says. “So get to know your former partner again, ask questions, see what they think and feel.”

That said, “it’s impossible to have a truly fresh start with someone you’ve already dated,” notes WH advisor “Dr. Chloe” Carmichael, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Dr. Chloe’s 10 Commandments of Dating. “It’s really important to recognize that this is a rekindling of an old relationship, not the start of a new one.”

When getting back together with an ex, you need to do everything you can to separate fact from fiction and the past from the present. Ask yourself if some of the beliefs you have about this person are based on the behavior and statements they’re making to you now, versus who they were when you initially started dating and things were good.

“Women are especially vulnerable to sticking with their first impressions of people,” explains Dr. Chloe. So check yourself: Is it your mind telling you that this person is your rock-solid? Is that thought based on what has actually happened in the relationship or are you letting what you want things to be like overshadow how things actually were?

If you’re having trouble sussing this out, Dr. Chloe suggests try making a timeline of your past relationship, highlighting significant events—both good and bad. This exercise helps you see what your ‘ship was actually like versus your brain’s fantasy of it, and can help you pinpoint times when your ex didn’t live up to the image you’ve made yourself believe.

4. Talk about what you did when you were apart…

Now’s the time to speak up if you were with someone while you two were broken up. You don’t have to go into details. A simple, “I dated someone for a few months” is good enough—unless that someone was his best friend/coworker or anyone else that might trigger hurt or jealousy.

It’s important to at least mention it so that there are no surprises down the road, Klow says. If your guy is upset about it (even though, hello, you weren’t together anymore), then talk about it and address any concerns or fears—and then move on.

5. …And why you want to get back together.

Are you frustrated because your last date was a lousy kisser or turned out to be a d-bag, or do you really think there’s something positive and healthy worth pursuing with your ex? If it’s the former, Klow says that’s not a great reason to run back to your ex. But if it’s the latter, go for it.

Remember, settling is still settling, even if it’s with someone you’ve loved before.

You could get back with an ex…or you could just stay friends with them. These celebs did just that:

6. Listen to your gut.

If you found yourself ignoring some major issues the last time the two of you were a pair, then Orbuch says it’s important not to let that happen this go’round.

“Perhaps last time you were in the relationship with your ex, you didn’t see the red flags or didn’t listen to your gut,” she says. “[Maybe] you thought things would change, you didn’t believe in yourself or know what you wanted.” If you’re giving it a second chance, be sure you also trust your instincts if things start to backslide again.

You know that little ball of doubt in the pit of your stomach? It’s there for a reason…don’t ignore it if it comes back or grows.

7. Address old issues.

So, heads up: It’s pretty likely that old fights and problems are going to crop up again—it’s best to get ahead of them. You don’t have to reenact your Worst Fight Ever, but you should discuss the issue behind it, plus what you’re going to do to avoid another one of those in the future.

Talking about it when you’re both calm is key, says Klow, since you’re much more likely to get somewhere. “It is important for a couple to build on the past relationship, warts and all,” says Klow.

Note that if your ex is quick to sweep old issues under the rug, “that’s probably not a good start,” says Dr. Chloe. Feelings need to be validated—even if the other party doesn’t agree with them.

8. Have a trust chat.

“Given that the two of you have a past, trust has most likely been broken,” Orbuch says. “In many relationships, breakups occur because one or both of the partner have betrayed the other [in some way]. And trust, once it’s broken, is very hard to rebuild.”

Because of that, Orbuch recommends couples looking to rekindle their relationship have a “trust chat,” where you discuss what it means to trust one another and list realistic expectations for the relationship, as well as answer “what is fidelity and what does it mean to each of us as we go forward?”

During this talk, you’ll also want to decide what your definition is of commitment. “These are all questions that should be addressed in any relationship as you move forward, and even more so if you’re getting back with an ex,” Orbuch says.

9. Be ready to forgive.

Let’s say your ex cheated on you, physically or emotionally. You have to be truly willing to give them another chance, says Dr. Chloe—otherwise you’ll end up crucifying them for the past every time you get upset. (You know what I mean: They forget to call you back, you go on a downward spiral thinking about what they could be doing, then throw their past transgressions in their face when they ask why you’re annoyed.)

“It’s perfectly normal and okay to have old wounds, but you need to be able to talk about them calmly and respectfully together to avoid an unhealthy cycle of criticism,” Dr. Chloe explains. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a process, and if you’re struggling to move forward with it while being with your ex, you may want to hold off for a bit.

10. Collect your thoughts before bringing them up.

If you do notice ghosts from you past relationship coming up, it’s best not to speak about them the moment they pop into your head, says Dr. Chloe. This makes it all too easy for impulsive and unhelpful arguments to creep up on the reg.

It’s much, much better to write in a journal or talk to a friend until you have your thoughts together enough to have something constructive to discuss.

When you know what you want to say, approach it this way: “Here’s what’s been on my mind…” or “I could use some reassurance about….”

Always speak up about your feelings, but know that people respond best when it’s done in a thoughtful and organized manner.

11. Don’t expect everyone to be on board.

Just because you’re ready to move on with an ex, that doesn’t mean your family or BFF will be quite as keen on the idea. “They will remember what was bad about your ex,” Orbuch says. “And most likely because you’ve spoken negatively about the former partner to them, they will bring it up again as you announce to them about getting back together.”

When that happens, Orbuch says it’s important to remember that they have your best interests at heart. She recommends meeting their concerns with this: “I hear you. I understand your concerns and appreciate you telling me.”

Follow it up with the things that have changed about your ex and how you’ve discussed it all. You can also fill them in on your plan moving forward, and keep them looped in along the way.

12. Remember the bottom line: You’re still with the same person.

Sure, people change, but they’re usually more likely to stay the same. Basically, don’t think that things will be different after the “getting to know you again” stage is over. “It is very common for couples to fall back into the same patterns that they found themselves in the previous time,” says Klow.

Hated their habit of turning into a couch-loving sloth on Sundays? Or not a fan of how youranxiety subconsciously fed off of theirs, turning you into a big ball of stress?

Odds are, you’re going to deal with it again. So make sure they’re worth the time and effort. This isn’t a TV show after all….Life is short, and you don’t get endless reruns.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on June 20th, on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

There’s Only One Reason A Guy Ever Lets A Woman Go

Here’s an interesting piece by one of my female readers.

This may sound harsh, but it’s best to accept the truth.

I’m going to tell you something that might be hard to hear and even harder to accept. This is not your conventional breakup advice. I’m not going to tell you how to get your ex back.

Instead, I’m going to tell you why men leave, and that you shouldn’t bother wasting your time and energy wondering why he broke up with you or trying to get him back.

Because the truth is, if he let you go, he simply did not love you.

We need to stop confusing love with passion. We think that having a kind of “animal magnetism” with someone equates to love, maybe even to being soulmates.

As women, we are pre-dispositioned to connect those behaviors with love rather than lust. Lust is for one-night stands, not for the boyfriend who can’t stand to be away from you for more than a day and who can’t keep his hands off of you when he sees you, right?

Wrong.

I fell wickedly, insanely, and irrevocably head-over-heels in love with my ex-boyfriend. (We’ll call him … Dick).

When Dick broke up with me, I broke down. I became the crazy ex-girlfriend that I always thought I was incapable of being.

That is not who I am. I am the strong, independent type. Yet, there I was, acting like a foolish girl, hanging on his every text and making myself available in every possible way. Doing things for him when no one else would and still allowing him to treat me like complete and utter garbage.

I tried my damnedest to move on. Then either he would contact me or I’d contact him, and we’d go through a spurt of a few weeks where we’d get along great. Then there would be an epic blowout where he would inevitably bring up old drama and we’d stop talking for a few weeks. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This continued for longer than I care to admit, until one day he just disappeared after claiming to forgive me, and understand why I did some of the idiotic things I did post-breakup.

We were talking regularly again, and he just disappeared without a word.

Turns out, he even moved, apparently. When I finally did reach out, he stopped responding to my texts altogether.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the last bit. That is when I realized my mistake.

Dick was never in love with me.

Sure, he told me he was and maybe he even believed that himself, but you don’t just bail on someone you really love. You stick around and try to work your problems out. You don’t put someone you love in a position to become the crazy, obsessive ex-girlfriend.

If he ever really felt any type of love for me, he wouldn’t have put me through that. We would have worked things out like mature adults.

The reason he gave for breaking up with me was lame, and I’m not going to get into all of it.

The point is, he left because he didn’t love me.

Had he just admitted that, I would have given up trying to get him back a long time before I did, and we could have avoided all the unnecessary drama and dragging of each other through the mud. That’s all I really needed to know.

As long as I thought that he had feelings of love for me, I thought things could be fixed. Maybe if I just tried harder, things could go back to the way they were. We could be happy.

Once I knew that he didn’t love me, I no longer wanted to be with him.

This is what you need to understand. That ex-boyfriend who broke things off with you isn’t just “going through some stuff right now.” He didn’t love you.

Repeat after me: He didn’t love me. Let that be your mantra.

People don’t destroy what they love. I know it hurts to acknowledge that. It isn’t easy to accept.

It also doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, or with him for that matter. It just means that you are not right for each other. No matter how right it felt, if there’s no love, there’s nothing to fight for. Move on and find someone who does love you or get yourself a puppy. Trust me, a puppy will love you more than any man could ever try to.

The problem is that we confuse love with passion.

And believe me, I get it. I have never felt the way I felt with Dick with anyone else. The way he always kissed me like he was hungry for it, like it was the last time we were ever going to see each other. The way he rested his forehead on mine in between kisses. The way he couldn’t keep his hands off me. The way he said my name in bed.

He made me feel special — like I was the only girl in the world for him. Like he needed me with every fiber of his being.

That’s why I became so wickedly obsessed. I was confusing his sense of passion with feelings of love. I thought it was just for me, that his feelings for me brought that out in him.

The truth is, he probably kisses every girl like that. It’s just who he is. He’s a passionate kisser. He is a passionate guy. Unfortunately, that passion just never sparked any love that burned for me the way I wanted. That is a reality I now understand and this clarity has helped me move on from the entire mess.

Many of us have this romantic notion that we are supposed to have this crazy, magnetic attraction for the person who we are meant to be with. That love without passion is not real love, it’s not a “soul connection.”

The fact is, real love may be boring at times, but that doesn’t make it any less real.

Don’t spend your time trying to mend a broken relationship with an ex who cared so little for you that they left you crying and broken.

Don’t suffer a fool just because you fear you will never find that connection again.

Instead, spend your time accepting that you might not, and that if you don’t, that’s okay. You will be just fine without it.

You can be happy without that. I promise. But you absolutely will never be happy if you’re being consumed by “what might have been” and worrying about what you could have done differently.

The answer is simple. You could not have done anything differently and it would have never been. Because he did not love you. I cannot say that enough.

If he still loved you, he would still be with you. He would not have walked away.

I’m sharing this in the hope it will prevent someone else from becoming the crazy ex-girlfriend and putting herself through months or even years of psychological torment. I hope you will do better for yourself. If he breaks up with you, accept the finality. If he texts you and wants to see you, do not respond to his texts. Do not engage him.

And for the love of all that is holy, do not text him, do not go to his apartment, do not look him up on Facebook, and do not, under any circumstances, cyber stalk him and/or the new girl he’s dating.

Find another way or another person to fill your time with.

You will thank me (and yourself) for it later.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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