Dear Miss Emily:

I am currently in a relationship with a 26 year old woman...I am 40. We've been seeing each other for 2 1/2 years now. Our relationship started by cheating on our spouses, so I am wondering if that might be part of the problem. It only started out as just sexual but it turned out fairly serious when she agreed to become my wife and even moved out of state together. Now I totally understand that there is a considerable age gap between us both, but am I being realistic here? Our relationship can best be described as "up and down"..when it's good, it's really good but when it's bad, it heads south...quickly! It seems as if it's stayed "south" after this last fight a few weeks back. She's very distant and her walls are certainly up and reinforced. I am fairly insecure myself, so I haven't made the situation much better with my whiny and clingy pleas for reassurance with what's left of our relationship. But I'm at the point whereas I am just tired of hurting and feeling as if this relationship is over. What is the best approach to take here?

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

I understand you feel a tremendous burden, now, for previous decisions you have made but, at some point, you need to face reality in order to move forward. To state the obvious -- the future is all we have. You know your need for reassurances from her is a turn-off, but that's a symptom and not the cause of your discontent. A fourteen year age difference is not insurmountable -- forty is still pretty young, but I do see you are looking at your life and saying, "This is what I have at forty, and why do I feel so unstable?"  If you don't think you planned this out well, imagine continuing to sit in this messy situation because you don't have the courage to change it.  Anxiety breeds when an individual feels powerless -- and that's your present state-of-mind. Have the big discussion with her, now, on where this relationship is headed and see if there's any chance of resurrecting it (I have my doubts). If not, leave the relationship. You don't have to suffer, endlessly, for a decision you made that turned out backfiring on you. And that's the unvarnished truth.