[Two Pronged] 22-year-old picks between a 57- or 63-year-old
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
My friends tell me I have a Cinderella complex. They are wrong. I am not waiting for a Prince Charming to come my way.
I am waiting for a man I can trust and call my own. Right now, I have limited my choices to two: a 57-year-old man who has been separated from his wife for the last 15 years. But he still drops our dates at the last minute when his children come to visit him. I think, if his children come unannounced, he should be able to tell them he has another engagement (and next time, could they call?)
I also know that the children keep on doing this because their mother encourages them to do so. Thank God she does not come with them, but I would not be surprised if she did in time.
The other is a 63-year-old man, divorced, who lives in America. He comes to the Philippines to visit me and also his family (mother, siblings) 3 times a year, staying for two months at a time. He is retired. He is very nice but he tells me things like: “I can’t wait to suck your nipples” via Facetime. Once, he also told me “I love it when you such my dick!” so I hung up on him. I told him to stop saying things like that, I do not like it and feel cheap.
The other one never says things like that! He respects me too much. In fact, there has not been any sex between us. He has not even kissed me on the lips. I told him I appreciate his waiting until I am ready. (Actually, I am ready na, but I like his waiting until I am)
I am 22. I did not go to college and work. I did not have to. My father, separated from my mother, is willing to support me. I do not know how he will react when he finds out the man I marry will be older than him. Who do you think I should choose?
Thank you for your email.
You appear to be very sure that your intended husband will be an older man, although you give us no insight as to why this is so. Whatever the reasons, this is fine except that, as you are no doubt appreciating, with age comes baggage, usually in the form of children and current/separated/divorced wives. There are of course a few single middle-aged men but they tend to have their own issues.
Of course you could admittedly be fortunate, find a widower who had no children and thus avoid the more obvious pitfalls. However, that is not the scenario that you have described.
Mr 57-year-old epitomizes these issues. Not only does he have a wife, however separated they may be, who meddles behind the scenes, he has children whom he does not hesitate to give priority over you.
This will, of course, continue ad infinitum unless you take action, put your foot down and agree rules which if he breaks result in your departure from his life. As for his "inconvenient" wife, you do not say whether you have any religious issues such as a burning desire to be walked up the aisle of a Catholic church or would be happy enough to live as a second wife.
If it is the former, clearly Mr 57 is disqualified (though one should never doubt the ability of a man with enough resolution and enough cash to obtain an annulment). If the latter, then it’s just Mr 57’s priorities that need immediate attention.
Mr 63 y.o. has similar baggage though you do not mention any problems with his children or his ex-wife. For you, the issue lies with the manner in which he expresses his feelings for you. Development of a relationship generally requires communication so that each party acquires an understanding of the other. Likes and dislikes are of course an integral element of this and responding to a partner’s cues is part of the process.
Failure to respond is also an important indicator of the extent to which a) the person understands their partner and b) is prepared to take account of their likes and dislikes.
Naturally, it will be necessary to differentiate between major and minor traits; a relationship where one party expects the other to humor their every whim is unlikely to prosper.
Reverting to Mr 63’s predilection for "earthy" language, you need to decide whether he is listening when you tell him you don’t like this. If he is and desists, that’s fine but if he isn’t then this is likely to be a sign that he won’t listen to other requests that you make in the future, which is not a good sign for a healthy relationship.
One final point. You present Mr 57 and Mr 63 as the sole candidates for your hand in marriage yet there are many more fish in the ocean.
You are only 22 years old and there is no obvious reason for haste. I wonder whether spending a little more time ‘fishing’ won’t yield a better catch than these two flawed specimens.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter.
I agree with Mr Baer that, especially since you are only 22, your options need not be limited to these two men. His suggestions — that you wait until you either know Mr 57 and Mr 63 better OR expand your choices to include some more age-appropriate men – are spot on.
However, because it is Mr Baer (and not me) who suggests this, you may not be inclined to take his suggestions seriously. The reason I say this is that Mr Baer is in the same age bracket of your suitors. Thus, he could remind you of your father who you seem to have mixed feelings about.
On the one hand, your father is a wonderful man who, by supporting your choices, made it possible for you to skip college and work. Your father supported you, not only financially, but far more importantly, emotionally which is not something many fathers are able to do. I do not necessarily agree that his decision to support you financially to the extent that you could do whatever you wanted with your time was the best decision he made, but I feel he did what he thought was best for you. In the end, that is what matters, that his heart was most probably in the right place.
However, on the other hand, while this is the man who supports you now, this is also the man who physically left you when he left your mother. Such feelings of abandonment should not be trivialized; its impact can still be felt many years after.
Your father may have had no choice but to (physically) leave you with your mother, because taking you with him was something the courts would never have allowed during that time. You may have accepted all this intellectually, but emotionally it may still hurt.
This could be one reason you seem curious about his response when he finds out you are marrying a man even older than him.
Such interest in how your father might react is not usually what a woman about to get married considers first – and you do not mention your mom at all.
I agree with you that you do not have a Cinderella complex. If you have a complex at all, more likely it is the Electra Complex. Mr Baer and I have written about this in a previous Two Pronged column.
In fact, there was another column https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/relationships/96234-clinical-notes-marital-infidelity-dad-mistress where I explained the Electra Complex more deeply.
Another way to “normalize” the Electra Complex is to call it the “Daddy’s Little Girl” complex. Apparently it is also a classic song typically played at traditional weddings while a bride dances with her father; a song the bride’s parents may shed a few tears over on such a happy occasion.
At other times, however, the song can be a bit creepy, especially if it is the father who has all these unresolved issues.
I am in no position to comment further on your father’s behavior or intentions, but at this superficial level, hear no warning bells about him.
However, if I were to hazard a guess, I think you are more likely to have some unresolved issues concerning your father. I assure you, this is not merely a facile conclusion based on the too-obvious observation that your two potential husbands are older than your father. It is more your intense curiosity about how your father would respond once you told him about your plans.
I think delving more deeply into your relationship with your father and your mother would be very helpful at this stage in your life. Two Pronged would be delighted to help you with this journey. Or, you may wish to go to a therapist, who might be able to help you more quickly.
I have no doubt doing the above will help you choose more wisely between either of your suitors or among others waiting in the wings for your hand or yet to wait in the wings in the future.
More than that, it will clarify and improve your relationship with your parents, which usually also lead to more mature and open relationships with others as well.
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.