For the past two years I have been in love with a man who is thirty-six years old, and I am only eighteen. The first time that I saw him, I felt something very special….

Recently I saw him again. We looked at each other, and this time I felt something even stronger. Now I feel nervous, and I’m too embarrassed to talk to him. I’m scared to get close to him, especially since he is so much older than I am. He doesn’t approach me either, but he does look at me a lot…. There are times when I have doubts because of the age difference. He’s already begun his professional career, and I’m just getting started.

Dear Friend,

It was a good idea to consult with us about your feelings and your future. But we encourage you to also consult with other people who have had at least ten years of experience with romantic relationships.

Do you think that people with a decade of experience would not understand how you feel? Does it seem that those people would be too old to relate to you as a teen?

If that is what you think, then keep in mind that the man you are interested in has probably had almost two decades of romantic relationships. He most likely began his first adult relationship the year that you were born. Isn’t he then the one who is too old to relate to how you feel?

There is no doubt that you are attracted to this man, and he is probably attracted to you. Physical attraction can be compared to little sparks of light or small jolts of electricity. Catching his eye and knowing that he is looking at you causes your brain to light up with chemical and electrical reactions. It feels fantastic, and obviously you want the feeling to last and to intensify.

However, what you are feeling is not love. Love has the prerequisite of knowing one another and understanding the other’s character, values, priorities, and preferences.

Physical attraction is like a seed that can never grow unless it is planted and then receives the right amount of sunlight and water. To grow into love, physical attraction must be accompanied or followed by significant time spent together and honest communication. Physical attraction by itself is an enjoyable experience, but it is not love.

We recommend that you read Case 184 to find out how we advised another girl who had a similar situation to yours. You see, physical attraction is common, and it unfortunately has very little chance of growing into love. In fact, wise people know that it is better not to take most physical attraction to the next level.

Acting upon physical attraction without taking the time to fall in love is why there are so many relationships that end badly. It is why there are so many children of single parents, and it is one reason why we have hundreds of Cases of the Week that involve marital unhappiness.

We wish you well,