[Two Pronged] Why am I attracted to older, married men?

[Two Pronged] Why am I attracted to older, married men?
'Now I am 44 years old and still single'

 Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

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 Dra Holmes and Mr Baer,

Please call me Sweet Angel. That is what my long time lover used to call me. I would like to know if there’s something wrong with me because I am attracted and derive pleasure from having relationship with older married men. Now I am 44 years old and still single.

Even when I was younger I did not like men my age. My classmates would tease me about liking men old enough to be my father, but that never bothered me. Two wives of the married men who I went around with in the past have called me names and that did not bother me so I hope you are reassured that you can say whatever you want.

Thanks and God bless,

xoxo  Sweet Angel

Dear Sweet Angel,

Thank you for your email, which is admirably clear and concise. You have a straightforward approach to your predilection for older married men: you are aware that it is not the way most women in your experience see relationships and nevertheless you are confident enough to pursue your own path yet curious enough to want to know more about your own nature.

It is possible that people attracted to older partners have unresolved issues relating to their own parent(s). For example a girl who loses her father in childhood, whether through a failed marriage or early death for example, or has a very inadequate (in her eyes at least) father whom she cannot admire may grow up looking for a replacement figure. She may set her sights on a teacher or professor or look further afield. Either way, she will be looking for a substitute and in the absence of any familial connection there is no bar to physical attraction also entering the mix.

Alternatively they may have had bad experiences with partners their own age and decide that an older more mature and more experienced partner can better meet their needs.

There are a number of possible explanations for your attraction to married men. For example, women who have no desire to commit to a relationship or to exclusivity, much less marriage, may consider involvement with a married man an ideal solution. There are clear boundaries as to how far the relationship can develop and thus, no unrealistic expectations. Another possibility is mate choice copying. Some women need to know that their choice of mate has been validated by another woman and what better example of this is there than that he already has a wife. In both these cases, the single woman may perceive that she has the better of the deal – she gets the romantic dinners and getaway weekends while the wife gets the household chores and changes the kids’ diapers.

These are generalizations, of course, but might cast some light on your own particular case, Sweet Angel.

Please write again if you wish to explore matters further.

All the best,

JAF Baer

Dear SA (Sweet Angel),

Thank you very much for your letter.

Actually, Mr Baer has come up with the most likely reasons you have a penchant for older, married men. Let us summarize his reasons and then I will add some of my own, ok? In descending order…

Paragraph 4 of his answer speaks of pragmatic reasons:

1. Boundary setting (if you have no desire for commitment, married men have parameters/boundaries that exclude marriage from the relationship from the outset);

2. Mate choice;

3. Escape from the drudgery (read: reality) and;

4. Enjoy only the romance.

Paragraph 3 speaks of the very same reason Benjamin Franklin advised “to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress” (1745).Ambassador Franklin gives the same reason Mr Baer does on for choosing an older person for a lover: They are so grateful!!! (italics and 3 exclamation points, Amb. Franklin’s)

Paragraph 2, are the reasons psychologists love to point to (maybe because this is often the deeper reason for this phenomenon, but not for everyone). A woman constantly looks for older, preferably married men because her father did not give her the love/guidance she needed, thus she is hoping to get it from a father substitute. Some people call this a “daddy issue.”

In addition, it is likely you also have a “mommy issue.” Sometimes a dysfunctional family does not result only in a woman looking for her father in her lovers, but also exacting revenge on her mother for the daughter losing out to the mother. You speak of “Two wives of the married men I went around with have called me names” and it not bothering you… implying that their having being upset about your relationships with their husbands might have been one reason for your engaging with these men in the first place.

However, while you were not bothered by their wives, now (or maybe even earlier) you seem to be bothered about your choice of partners. You ask if there is anything wrong with you because of your preference for married men. You then add: “wow I am 44 yrs old and still single.” The words now and still hint that perhaps you are considering a different way of life.

Sigmund Freud was the first “relationship expert” who unwittingly taught us that insight does not automatically lead to cure (in your case, would that be forsaking married men and enlarging your dating field to unattached and, perhaps, younger men?). Just knowing the possible reasons we shared, while one (or several) may resonate with you, is not always a sufficient push to make better choices.

Should you want help in doing that, please write us again.

All the best,

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.