How Do I Leave My Much Older Boyfriend?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: During these past two years I’ve been struggling to breakup with my boyfriend of 6 years, who is 24 years older than me. (I’m 28; he’s 52) I want to leave him, not only because of the age gap, but also because of his jealousy, his constant attitude of suspicion, his flirting with other women and lack of common interests. I left the house as we were living together for four years, but still this separation did not facilitate the breakup. I realize I am too emotionally attached to him, we work for the same company, he is best friend’s with my mother, and pretty much defines my social life.

Last year I made a decision to travel with school overseas, and during the trip I met a wonderful young man who is my same age. We now have a long distance relationship, and even though I know it is wrong to have these two lives running simultaneously, I have a terrible crisis every time I feel I might lose my older boyfriend (even though we are not officially together). I might have “daddy issues” as my father was absent, but I -know- he cannot provide me with the future I want: He already has four children, and he is extremely jealous. I must say I have a very strong sexual connection with my older boyfriend, and by admitting this I feel extremely embarrassed that this is what is holding me back? I know I am better than this, and knowing this and staying makes me feel worse.

How can I overcome this decision of leaving him? What process should I engage in to regain my confidence and self-esteem ? It is even healthy to have such an age gap in relationships?

A: There are many reasons people get into relationships with someone much older. Some of the reasons are fine; others not so much. Whatever the initial reason, you already know that you won’t have the life you want if you stay.

It looks to me that what is keeping you stuck is that your life has become too entangled with this guy to leave him easily. You work together. He is a friend of your mother’s. And you have a strong sexual connection — which often makes it hard for people to leave a relationship. In order to leave him, you are going to have to change more than a boyfriend. You’ll need to change the way you are living your life. You may need to find another job. You may have to put boundaries on when you visit your mother, if he is often there. If you live with your mother and she wants him to spend time there, you may need to find another place to live. You will have to accept some time without sexual intimacy.

From my point of view, this is all well worth doing. You’ve already discovered that you can find a more satisfying relationship. Whether or not this one works out, you’ve given yourself that very important piece of information. That should give your self-esteem a needed boost.

You are only 28. I hope you will make the leap. You deserve to have the future you want instead of settling for what your older boyfriend offers you. If you can’t make the break, as much as you want to, consider seeing a therapist to get the support you need.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). How Do I Leave My Much Older Boyfriend?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/23/how-do-i-leave-my-much-older-boyfriend/