Dear Miss Emily:

I am 42 years old and have been dating a 43 year old man for 2.5 years. We live 1 hour a part, I have a 10 year old and an 18 year old who are both in school. My family lives close by and my father has terminal cancer. My sons' father lives close by as well -- we are on good terms. It is important for my youngest boy to see his Dad as much as he wants. I won't relocate at this time because of all that holds me here. I am also a 3rd year student at community college, raising my sons on my own. The man I am dating lives alone and has 2 grown sons; one living on his own and one in college. He won't move here because he would have to travel to work and doesn't want to put miles on his new car. We get along great when we are together but constantly have issues when we are a part. It seems as though we are going nowhere. I have doubts and have for quite some time. I won't give up my space, and without fail put my sons needs before my own. My question to you is if this relationship was the right one wouldn't I know by now? Instead I am doubtful and frustrated. Is it time to move on ? I care very deeply for him, but I worry that's not enough. I don't want my heart to rule my mind. We have amazing chemistry but are very different. He has no friends. I've never met one, anyway. I have many, and I'm very social. He isn't social at all. I like to go out and enjoy life, he likes to stay home and watch movies. I am a very deep, expressive person, he isn't.

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

It all depends on what you want at this time in your life. For many, this kind of arrangement can work very nicely --  especially with someone like you. You like your space, you're raising a son, and he is your top priority. And I am glad to hear he is, because I receive many letters from advice seekers who don't really have that one down. Now, if you are looking for a relationship with someone who has your interests, and there's nothing wrong with that, this man--chemistry aside --appears not to be the man for you long term. You may not realize this but, despite "constantly having issues" when you are apart, if he were in your backyard, the relationship might not have lasted this long. We have different priorities at different times in our lives. You know what yours are, presently. I have a tendency not to believe in anything like destiny ("we were meant to be together") when it comes to relationships. It's often more a timing issue.Your guy, now, could be right for you at sixty, but not at forty-two.That said, the best lasting relationships are between two people who share many common interests, have similar political and religious beliefs (or same set of principles), and an ability to plan a future together.  Keep in mind, however, if you decide to seek greener pasture, finding the kind of relationship you want may take time -- and you need to be discriminative -- if not, your guy, who's an hour away, will look pretty damn good.