General Question

tan253's avatar

As we age is it harder to fall in love?

Asked by tan253 (2826points) April 15th, 2016

I’m 40 – I’ve been single for 3 years.
Every relationship I’ve entered into, which is 3, has never worked out.
I’ve liked the guy, never fallen any deeper and the intimacy was always forced on my end. I never enjoyed it and the relationships always ended, and I was fine. Now I’m dating a man, I have a child and so does he which I love, he has a great job and I’m slightly attracted to him. Yet, I can’t be intimate? As soon as it comes time for the intimacy part I shut down, I don’t want to be touched and I start feeling really uncomfortable. I want another child so it’s really important to me that I feel that connection. I’m starting to think that something is wrong with me. I love being on my own with my daughter. I’ve been that way for 3 years, is it possible I’ve lost the ability to love? Does that happen? Could it be a disorder? Attachment disorder? I’m really scared that I’ve lost the ability to be intimate, to feel butterflys in my tummy and I will be alone forever.
Sounds dramatic but I just want to meet someone that I can laugh with, have fun with and perhaps have a baby with. Yet all the men I’ve dated so far, whilst being initially attracted to them, they never work out as I just shut off. Any thoughts?

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36 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

One huge difference as you get older is that everybody collects commitments and responsibilities

And we are looking for long-term prospects, not simply fun dates.

Speaking for myself, it was easy to fall in love in my twenties because the consequences of a failed relationship were simply short-term heartaches.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Are you physically attracted to him?

If you are I would say you are perhaps used to being alone with your child and you’re subconsciously frightened of changing things. It sounds like you could be self-sabotaging things.

If you want things to progress, be honest with him and mentally note when you push him away. If you can’t find ways around it yourself, talk to a counselor.

I adore my husband, but when we got together I was pushing him away. Not sure why he put up with my shit frankly. I’m very glad he did though. I figured out what I was doing and gave myself a good talking to. I knew he loved me and that if I kept pushing him away, there were lots of women who would happily take my place. The truth was that I loved him too, but I was scared of commitment. I’m lucky he thought I was worth waiting for. If you’ve found a good and loving man, figure out what’s stopping you opening up to him.

tan253's avatar

Yeah @Earthbound_Misfit that does sound like it. I’m attracted to him but we have only been dating 3 weeks. He’s stayed the night and I didn’t want him to hold me or anything, I definitely pushed him away. I am not butterfly attracted to him but I’m attracted to the ‘idea’ of him and I love his son already – he’s gorgeous, so I must be extra careful here of course. I just feel as though, to be honest – if I wasn’t wanting another baby – I would be alone. I really like being on my own. What I want is butterfly teenage love – that pulls me out of myself. It’s really difficult. He’s very needy too but the others weren’t. I just wonder if my love hormones are all dried up.

CWOTUS's avatar

No one in this forum would ever be qualified to say – based only on your postings here – that you have any kind of disorder. I’m guessing, simply from reading your post and maybe some guesswork, that you simply haven’t found the right guy yet. Plus, you realize that with a child, it’s more important for just your sake that the guy you will be with has to be right for you, and for the child.

This is not to say, of course, that you don’t have any kind of relationship disorder. If you think you do, then that’s for you and a therapist or counselor to help work you through.

However, I can assure you from the perspective of a 62-year-old that it is entirely possible – and quite easy – to fall in love. Modifying living arrangements, now that’s another thing entirely.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@tan253 Were you abused when you were younger?

tan253's avatar

Beautiful @CWOTUS – are you still in love with your wife, or have you fallen in love again? I love that idea that no matter age we are we are still capable of love. I want to be loved!

tan253's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me – yes – I was.
Not sexually but physical and mentally – definitely.
That’s why I do have an anxiety disorder – but I’m completely functional – I believe. I don’t need meds, though some would disagree as I suffer from Health Anxiety quite badly. So yes I“m prone to nervousness. My dad has apologized to me many times for how he was growing up – and I got the brunt of it being the eldest, but we have a great relationship now and I’ve been madly in the love in the past!

tan253's avatar

Plus I’ve forgiven my Dad, but sometimes of course – now that I have a child, I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been for me being so young and not understanding why my Dad was always so angry and aggressive. I would HATE to ever make my daughter feel like that, and I don’t, I might over compensate by being to loving and not enough ‘tough love’ but I“m a great Mum and wouldn’t change a thing.

CWOTUS's avatar

No, my wife and I have been separated for nearly 15 years. I won’t go into the reason why that’s a separation and not a divorce here. Just that “it’s complicated.” However, about 8 years ago I fell head over heels for a woman who couldn’t make things between us work in her own world, and after hoping against hope for too long, I finally got word earlier this month that she’s engaged to another lucky bastard. So I’m wishing her well and still trying to get over her, but at least I can finally call it quits on that pursuit.

tan253's avatar

oh @CWOTUS her loss – but your kindness I’m sure was noted, that says a lot about a person.
I wish you all the best for sharing your love again!

imrainmaker's avatar

@tan253 – just curious, why you want another child if you’re happy living with your daughter and single parent. Would you be able to sustain it financially in future with 2 children and able to give good future to both?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@tan253 I’m so sorry but this completely explains how you are feeling. I suffered from health anxiety myself but got over it when I accepted my own mortality. That was a long process but in the end I recovered. My wife was abused and she has yet to recover. It’s a work in progress and I still love her. You can love again but you have to develop trust and it will take a special mate to make that happen.

tan253's avatar

Yeah @ARE_you_kidding_me you know what, I’m actually crying reading this because it’s true.
I’m 40 I need to accept that things are out of my control and by not accepting it I hold on far to tight and that gives me anxiety. Letting someone else in is taking time away from my daughter.
I need to accept a lot of things now as I get older and I just don’t want too but how freeing to accept our own mortality. How did you do that? I’m glad you hear you healed yourself and I’m sure your wife will too. Thank you

tan253's avatar

@imrainmaker – many reasons. I love being a Mum and I’m good at it, and some children are born to parents that don’t care. I’d love to have another child to bring into this world that is loved. I’d love my daughter to have a sibling rather than be an only child – and I’d love to have a child that has both parents growing up. I grew up with a brother and a sister and I’m close to them both and they are my best friends, they are family. I would love for her to have that also.
I can, of course sustain another child. If it doesn’t happen of course its ok. If I could adopt I would but a single parent trying to adopt is almost impossible. Her dad might have children too and that would be wonderful for her. I realise I’m 40 now… things don’t quite work as well as they use too down there ;)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@tan253 Have you ever tried talk therapy of any kind? Counseling? Psychotherapy? A specialized form of psychotherapy?

tan253's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake yep – for 10 years of my life. This is new to me though, this non attachment, fear of intimacy… I’ve never experienced it before. I will go and see someone. There’s every possibility that this man is just not right for me – no animal senses being stimulated and that’s fine but I just feel an ongoing theme that happens when I meet someone now.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@tan253 I’m not so sure she will because she cannot face her past. I’m there for her but she has to take that step before I can be there for her recovery. As for me… I basically just got fed up with anxiety and went into myself and ripped the guts out of my demons with my bare hands, brutally. I did it without meds, I became humble and aware of mortality. I can’t explain how you come to terms with mortality except that it’s key to being whole. Once you accept it then fear evaporates and you can do whatever you want.

tan253's avatar

Yeah – look if I were religious I’d be saying ‘Amen to that!’ – I absolutely agree.
Time to do the same thing I think.
Not sure if that means going sky diving, and bungy jumping or just hugging my inner child and crying my eyes out till I’m healed. ;)
We are such complicated beings really.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@tan253 Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Change and challenge is where life begins. Do go sky diving and bungee jumping. Cry your eyes out. Feel. Heal, let go.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


But as we age we ideally become more emotionally mature.

One should realize in time that the potential for falling in love is not an excuse to make poor decisions.

tan253's avatar

I like that – more emotionally mature. I’ll take it.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

(NSFW ) I was told that it takes two adults all night to do what they would normally do all night as teenager’s. Young Adults. So being frisky deminishes with age. I read it in a guide book to marriage.

tan253's avatar

Can you explain that @RedDeerGuy1 ?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@tan253 No. I’m a noobie.

janbb's avatar

I’ve been out of my marriage for four years and pretty madly in love with two guys since then; unfortunately, neither of them was available for a romantic relationship. I’ve been intimate with a guy I like quite a bit but am not in love with and that’s pretty good too. And I’m relatively old. So as a friend said about love “age has nothing to do with it.” Maybe you haven’t found the right guy, maybe you push them away or maybe you are anhedonic now. If it bothers you, get counseling and find out which it is.

I’ve found that the feelings I have at 65 are pretty close to the ones I had at 18; I just act a bit smarter.

tan253's avatar

Maybe just anhedonic with sex!?

janbb's avatar

@tan253 Yes. Only you know if you have sexual desires, just not for specific men or just don’t have the feeling at this point.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


I’m well experienced at intergenarational relationships.

I ignored girls obsessed with what they might be and instead looked toward women that knew who they were.

After the usual dating trial and error I married a sincere older woman and could not be happier.

Strauss's avatar

@tan253 IMHO, age has little to do with it, other than the ability to make mature decisions. I was 40 when we got married in 1988. We were very good friends, and when we realized there were romantic feelings, we discussed our options. We had both seen relationships fail to survive such transitions, and we both valued our friendship, and did not want to jeopardize that. We agreed we would be friends first and always, and to explore our romantic feelings for each other.

Long story short, we were married within a year, and are still happily married almost 30 years later.

tan253's avatar

I like that @Yetanotheruser – sounds civilised and you’re giving one another the freedom.
I feel pressured all the time in a relationship to ‘put out’ to be completely honest! ha

cazzie's avatar

I was married for over 10 years, but he stopped paying attention to me after about 3 years. I feel like I’ve been on my own for so long, I don’t know how to be any more. I was in a full-on romance for about a year, but it was long distance and after I had to go through some personal issues completely alone, as if I was in no relationship at all, was left just feeling angry, alone and frustrated. Now, I’m still trying, but I will never be able to reciprocate in the way he needs. I’m just too broken. I know I will be alone now and that has to be OK with me.

tan253's avatar

oh wow @cazzie – I’m so sorry to hear this, I don’t think anyone is ever broken. Those pieces that are missing from you are still there. There is a difference I think in being alone and being happy being alone. I’m happy alone, but I’d like to find love. You have love but you’re not sure how to be comfortable with love? How old are you @cazzie? I think the one constant we have in life is that it’s not that – it changes all the time and how you feel now – that too will change.
I feel for you as I know how you’re feeling – but I don’t believe you’re broken….

jca's avatar

@tan253: In the details, you say “I’m slightly attracted to him.” Maybe that has something to do with it?

When he slept over and you pushed him away, did you discuss with him how you felt? How did he take it?

cazzie's avatar

No, I’m pretty sure I’m broken. Years of feeling worthless as a woman do that. I know I’m great in other ways, so I concentrate on that. I just know I am no longer ‘romantic relationship’ material. I’m 48, so I’m no spring chicken either. At my age, I think it’s ridiculous to think I could have the attraction and romantic relationship like when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. It all seems overly sentimental and ridiculous. Someone tries to say something to me and I just laugh at them (not in a good way). I’m old, not very pretty (mostly because I can’t be f’d to bother looking after myself any more) and much too cynical now for it to be like it was before.

janbb's avatar

@tan253 Maybe what’s tripping you up is that the desire for another baby making you look for a connection where you don’t really feel one? Maybe you have to give up on one of the goals for now?

dxs's avatar

As a fellow person who has anxiety problems with a shaky relationship with family members, might I suggest weed? It’s not just a high and then back to normal. It gave me so much insight that my attitude actually changed. Don’t get me wrong, the high was great, but what really amazed me was the feeling afterwards. It’s as if a burden was taken off of my shoulders. It felt like I felt, for once, the feeling that most people feel instead of the feelings that I constantly feel when I’m plagued with anxiety.

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