I am twenty‑eight years old and in love with a forty‑five‑year‑old man. My love for him is pure and clean. I know that he loves me too, but I am sure he will never have the nerve to tell me so. He doesn’t know I love him….
He is very respectful… but he is an alcoholic…. What would you advise me?
We are so glad that you have asked our advice! This indicates to us that that your emotions (feelings) are engaged in a struggle with your power of reasoning, and you don’t know which one to pay attention to. Most people allow their feelings to almost always win the struggle. They ignore reason and factual evidence because their feelings are so strong. They convince themselves that the feelings can be trusted and therefore the reason must be ignored. They follow their feelings, and then they write to us when everything doesn’t turn out the way they planned.
But you have written to us before making a bad decision. This simple act may save you years of pain and serious consequences. Or, you can ignore what we say, follow your feelings, and take a chance on what will result.
The fact that you are twenty‑eight and unmarried means that you may have begun to think about the possibility of a future without a husband. Just the thought of this may have caused you to determine to take advantage of every opportunity that might lead to a serious relationship. This thought may have also put your emotions in a state of high alert, making you consider options that you might never have been willing to consider just two or three years ago. The prospect of never finding a husband may have made you lower your expectations about the kind of man you are looking for.
The older man that you have told us about may be wonderful. He may be intelligent, well‑mannered, respectful, and even good‑looking. But for you, he has two strikes against him. First, he is too old for you. Statistically speaking, he will likely die twenty‑four years before you do. (If you think that being young and alone is bad, then what about being old and alone?) If you would want children with him, he would be old enough to be their grandfather. How would you feel if your seven‑year‑old came to you crying and said, “All my friends are making fun of me because Daddy is so old!” This man would be a senior citizen before your children even got to high school!
But even more serious than the age difference is the alcoholism. Do you believe your love would be enough to make him stop drinking? If so, join the millions of women who are suffering agony every day of their lives because they thought the same thing! If you could read the stories of the women who write to us, living with men who spend all the family income on alcohol, living in fear that their inebriated husband will beat them again tonight, and living with massive regret because of what their husband’s drinking has done to the children, you would be able recognize how dangerous a relationship with this man would be.
Listen to reason and stop considering a relationship with him. Put aside your feelings, as pure and clean as they are, and realize that this is not the man for you. Stop any activities that put you into communication with him. You probably think you can continue to be his friend, even without an emotional attachment, but this is a very dangerous lie to tell yourself. Instead, find other activities in which you can meet men your own age. We know it will not be easy, but it will be far better than continuing on the destructive path that you are on.
The apostle Paul said, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery”.1 The word “debauchery” is a general term that describes all kinds of behavior that is immoral. This principle taught by Paul the apostle shows the direct progression from becoming drunk to engaging in all sorts of wrong behaviors. Alcoholics excuse their immoral behavior because they were under the influence of the alcohol when they engaged in the activity; but are these the behaviors you want in your home? Is this the example you want for your children?
Just because you make a reasonable decision to cut off contact with this man, your feelings will not change overnight. It may take a year of not seeing him before you are able to overcome the almost uncontrollable desire to be near him, and before you will stop fantasizing about him. But if you listen to reason and stay away from him, it will get easier.
Don’t follow your feelings. They can’t be trusted!
Linda and Charles
1 Eph 5:18