To my Love and those watching around us,
As a woman of official cougar status, I wasn’t looking for the relationship escalator when I started dating younger men. (The relationship escalator is the social expectation that if a relationship is serious it should follow the standard path of moving in together, marriage, children, etc.) I wasn’t even looking for younger men. I did, though, know that I was looking for something more long term. I had spent enough time dating, after my marriage, that I wasn’t afraid of something more serious. What did change was that when I started dating a younger man I realized I shouldn’t count them out.
Then THIS younger man came into my life… and it was very much like every other relationship I’d been in. It grew slowly. We would slowly spend more and more time together. And like I’ve written before, one night we had a really vulnerable conversation. That was the night I knew I wanted him to love me. And that night when he said he couldn’t envision us ever living together I felt my heart hurt a little bit in that moment. What was my hurt about?! I mean, he’s 12 years younger than me. He could want kids. (I’m definitely past that desire in my life.) He had just disclosed he would need to start looking for a new job that would clearly move him out of the area. BUT when I asked about “us” he suggested we just keep moving forward in our relationship.
And we did. Feelings continued to grow. We had our struggles that were, in hindsight, an effect of unbalanced feelings between us. Eventually he caught up with me and he clearly loved me for all of my authentic self. He encouraged me to be just as I was, BIG! I take up a lot of space. I want a lot. I ask for a lot. I can make a lot happen. I have big feelings and big emotions. I have a big heart and I love BIG!
As an older woman, I came to our relationship with a lot of “past”. I’ve been through so much. I was married at 19. I gave birth to my first son when I was almost 22. By 24, my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a chronic life threatening disease. My mother was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer when I was almost 25. She passed away 2 years later. At 33 our business crashed with the auto industry and we lost everything. And at 38 my marriage finally ended (I say finally because it was a really difficult 18 years of burying who I was really meant to be) and I was ready for Michelle 2.0.
My younger love didn’t have those experiences. But he seemed to see how my experiences made me the woman I am today. I took those losses and turned them into compassion for myself and others.
Now he’s living across the country from me. The love is as strong as ever. For me, the desire to be with him in California is strong. Thankfully, and I say thankfully because he’s not ready for the relationship escalator, my family keeps me here in Michigan. But that doesn’t mean I’m not working on a way to be out there regularly. I’m wired to make things work. I can find a path to getting everything I want and in this case what I want is to share my time between my family and him.
Do I have hopes that one day parts of the relationship escalator will be in our future? Honestly, I do. I would like to live with him. I don’t want more kids and I’m not one to put a lot of value on marriage. But I do want to be nesting partners (meaning we live together) if our relationship was still strong when my ability to move comes about. But that is a really long ways away.
The reality is that our relationship will change. It will. It might become more. It might become less. But it will change. I know that from experience.
We aren’t monogamous. We will continue to date other people. We will also continue to visit and love each other in whatever ways feel good to us.
Before him, I didn’t see much difference between the love I have for my loverships and my romantic relationships. But boy am I in deep now. Right now, I feel very emotionally monogamous. That doesn’t mean I will quit looking for more of that kind of deep connection though. Because the thought of having that kind of connection with more than one, that is worth the search for more love at home. But if I never have that with another while I have it with him, I’m ok with that too.
I know I need to find companionship here and he needs to find companionship there. But I’m not going to lie, I always want that big spot in his heart. As he certainly has the big spot in mine.
What is it about him? It’s the way he encourages me to be authentic in everything I do. It’s the way he looks at me like I am, in fact, magic. It’s the way he talks nerdy and seems to know a little bit about everything. It’s the dimples above his beautiful behind. It’s the way he can geek out about his hobbies and just the geekiness of him makes me pay attention. It’s the way he knows his flaws and is learning to let me help. It’s the way I say something possibly embarrassing and he just smiles and tells me how fun I am. It’s the way he holds space for me to lay it all down, to get it all out, nothing ever needing to be held back. It’s the way he trusts me to love him. <3