You've been dating for a while. It might be six months. You see each other once or twice a week, text or talk on the phone every day, support each other through a crises or some other intensely personal scenario. While the relationship may not exactly have reached the point where you're finishing each other's sentences, it's obvious to you (and your friends) that you're not merely dating anymore; you're in a relationship. Perhaps your friends and family have been asking questions, like, "So, when is he moving in?" or even wondering out loud if the relationship is headed towards something serious. The thing is, you're not so sure yourself. Is that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when he's around romantic love? Or is he just your best bud?
It's often been noted that serious relationships between younger couples have a natural build, a build geared towards biology, ie. procreation and raising children. Older couples, by comparison, are about building a different kind of foundation, one that is often more about taking care of each other over the long term. That's why it's often said that the most successful matches among older couples are deep and committed friendships -- not sex that sizzles.
It's not always cut-and-dried discerning what kind of relationship you're in. Don't be fooled by superficial romantic trappings, like whether or not he brings you flowers or opens doors for you or pulls out your chair. Of course, you know whether or not this man can make your heart throb, or your lady parts tingle. Men, it should be said, tend to demonstrate their affection differently. Some men are huggers; many more are not. Some men touch or hug only when they think they might get sex. On the other hand, a large number of men will have enthusiastic sex and feel moderately romantic toward whatever woman they're monogamously dating. These are pragmatic men who subscribe to the theory of "Love the one you're with."
Should you keep dating someone you're fond of, but not in love with? That depends. If you enjoy his company and don't feel you'll meet someone better, why not? Are your feelings reciprocal? As a couple, are you more or less on the same page? Or do you feel badly he's apparently head over heels in love with you, when you don't feel the same way?
It's easy to get caught up in wanting to define your relationship, to label it love or friendship. The burden of youth is that a woman can waste a lot of time on her biological clock dating a man who will never father her children. The joy of middle-aged dating is that there's no baby-making imperative. As long as you sincerely care about each other and enjoy each other's company, that's compelling enough of a reason to keep seeing him.
Eve Marx is the author of eight sex books. Her titles include "What's Your Sexual IQ?," "Flirtspeak: The Sexy Language of Flirtation," "The Goddess Orgasm," and "101 Things You Didnt Know About Sex."
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