Dear Miss Emily:

I am 23 and I have been dating a guy that is 50 for about 10 months now. Not only does the age difference make it difficult, but he is also a coworker, so I have only told a few close friends the truth about us. We have gotten along great since we have known each other, and that is how we started dating. We both knew at the beginning that this wasn't going to be long-term... no marriage, no kids, no moving in together... just a fun, exclusive relationship. About 5 months into the relationship I told him I loved him, and he responded, "that's nice to hear." I assumed he wasn't ready to tell me it back and I wasn't going to pressure him. However, I finally brought it up the other day, and after a long, emotional discussion came to realize that while he cared for me, he didn't love me. He has been married (and divorced) and definitely has more experience when it comes to relationships. Maybe we have difference ideas of what love is. But when it comes down to it- he doesn't love me. Can you have a relationship without love? Is it so selfish that I want to have the person I love to love me back? I really like being with him, but I don't know what to do now. All along I thought he really did love me-- I have a drawer at his place, he cleaned out his garage so I could park in it, we were planning a week vacation together (all his ideas) -- and now I don't know what to think of us. Even though I was realistic about us not being long-term, I can't help how I feel and managed to put my heart out there to only get hurt. Now I don't know if any of it was even worth it... if I wanted to have a casual, "companionship" with a guy, I could've done that with someone without such the awkward situation. What should I do?

---------------------------Miss Emily's advice---------------------------

I don't think he misled you in any way based on the terms of the relationship you stated at the beginning of your letter. But no matter what you thought you wanted from the beginning, or agreed to when you entered this relationship, feelings change and yours did.  He has stated clearly what he expects, with no exceptions and, although I am sure he has loving feelings for you, he has the ability to separate that from being "in love" and all that this would entail. He's 50, you're 23, and I think you should chalk this up to the experience of having a relationship with an older man who knows what he wants, and had a mature approach to letting you know "the terms" without any misunderstanding. If you want "in love" don't waste anymore time with him, and don't take his mindset personally. Surely you are someone who can be deeply loved, but you chose a guy who is set in his ways, has a clear idea as to what he wants from you, his much younger 23 year-old co-worker  -- a woman young enough to be his daughter. He wanted sex, a young girl to enjoy what he had to offer, and a carefree approach to this relationship. Now you know for sure -- lesson learned. Only you can decide if you want to carry on with him knowing what you now know. Oh, and by the way, If you were a certain type of girl, you would go on that trip, if he's paying for it, and dump him after you got back! Ooh, am I bad.